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Study profiling Hair Pigmentation Patterns (HPPs) proves that stress can accelerate premature greying of hair, but greying can be reversible, when stress is reduced

Published: 02 July, 2021



In a STUDY titled ‘Quantitative mapping of human hair greying and reversal in relation to life stress’ published in eLife on 22nd June, research conducted at Columbia University showed the development of a new method for capturing highly detailed images of tiny slices of human hairs to quantify the extent of pigment loss (greying) in each of those slices, producing quantifiable physical timescales of rapid greying transitions. The study also measured thousands of proteins in the hairs and showed how protein levels changed over the length of each hair to better understand how stress causes grey hair. The study further showed that hair colour has the potential to be restored when stress is eliminated.

In this research, individual hairs from 14 male and female volunteers (x 100 hairs for each volunteer) were analysed. The results were compared with each volunteer’s stress diary, in which individuals were asked to review their calendars and rate each week’s level of stress. The investigators immediately noticed that some grey hairs naturally regain their original colour, when stress is reduced, which had never been quantitatively documented.

Speaking about the results, Prof Des Tobin, Full Professor of Dermatological Science, UCD and Director, Charles Institute of Dermatology and one of the Study’s Co-Authors said ‘Hair greying is a visible feature of human biological ageing, which was believed to be largely irreversible (outside of drug interactions) and hitherto has been linked to psychological stress, but only anecdotally.’

For full story, orginally published on UCD School of Medicine website, please see here: