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Can natural hair color be restored?

As we get older, it’s common for our hair to start turning gray and lose its youthful color. While some embrace their silver locks, others long to restore their natural hair color. The good news is, there are options to help turn back the clock and reclaim your original hue.

What Causes Hair to Lose Color?

Hair gets its color from cells at the base of each strand called melanocytes. These cells produce melanin, which is the pigment that gives hair its color. As we age, melanocytes become less active, resulting in fewer pigment molecules with each new hair that grows in.

There are a few key factors that cause melanocytes to slow down over time:

  • Genetics – Your genes influence when and how quickly you’ll go gray. If your parents or grandparents went gray early, you likely will too.
  • Oxidative stress – Damage from free radicals can interfere with melanin production.
  • Hormonal changes – Declining estrogen and progesterone can affect pigment.
  • Illness – Conditions like autoimmune disorders, vitamin deficiencies, and anemia can speed up graying.
  • Smoking and sun exposure – These accelerate aging and oxidative stress.

While our natural hair color fades as we get older, the melanocytes are still present in the hair follicles. This means it is possible to potentially reactivate them and restore the original pigmentation.

Natural Ways to Restore Hair Color

For those seeking a subtler approach, there are some natural methods that may help restore hair color. However, keep in mind these techniques will work best for covering up minimal gray hairs, not completely reversing graying.

Foods That Boost Melanin

Some foods contain nutrients that may support melanin production. Getting more of these in your diet could potentially help enhance your natural hair pigment.

  • Copper: Shellfish, nuts, legumes, potatoes, mushrooms
  • Vitamin B5: Mushrooms, broccoli, avocados, eggs, poultry
  • Folate: Spinach, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, beans
  • Biotin: Salmon, eggs, nuts and seeds
  • Protein: Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans

Stress Management

Chronic stress takes a toll on your whole body, including hair pigment. Cortisol and other stress hormones may interfere with melanin production and accelerate graying. That’s why relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, and massage could help slow the graying process by lowering stress.

Scalp Massage

Gently massaging your scalp increases blood flow, bringing more nutrients to follicles. Some natural healers recommend using antioxidant-rich oils like coconut, amla, or olive oil to massage the scalp daily. This may support melanocyte function, but concrete evidence is lacking.

DIY Recipes

There are lots of kitchen recipes using common ingredients that claim to reverse gray hairs. However, there is no scientific proof these homemade colorants work. They may temporarily stain hair, but won’t affect melanin inside strands.

Some examples include:

  • Black tea rinse
  • Sage tea rinse
  • Henna and amla paste
  • Curry leaf hair masks
  • Beetroot and coconut oil mixture

Medical Treatments to Restore Pigment

For more significant results, you may want to explore medical options to restore hair color under a doctor’s supervision. Treatments like phototherapy and micropigmentation deposit pigment into hair strands.


Low level laser treatments, also called photobiomodulation, may help reactivate melanocytes. Wearing a laser device cap for 20-30 minutes daily exposes hair follicles to visible red light and near infrared rays. This encourages cellular activity and stimulates melanin production.

Small clinical studies show phototherapy increased pigment in patients with early graying. However, results seem to depend on the device, treatment duration, and individual factors. Maintenance treatments are needed to sustain the effects.


Micropigmentation (also called microblading for eyebrows and scalp) tattoos pigment into hair strands. Using a handheld depositing pen, the technician implants color molecules into the cortex of each strand. This creates an illusion of fuller, darker hair.


  • More defined hairline and fuller appearance
  • Each strand has deeper, richer color
  • Lasts 6-12 months as hair grows out


  • Longer lasting color compared to topical dyes
  • Ammonia-free and unlikely to cause allergy
  • Minimally invasive with no downtime


  • Expensive – $600 to $2000 per session
  • Temporary results that must be maintained
  • Risk of infection if improperly sterilized

Permanent Hair Dye

The most commonly used method to cover gray hair is permanent dye. This chemically alters the underlying pigment through a reaction with the hair cuticle and cortex. Ammonia and peroxide open the cuticle to inject color molecules inside the strand.

While easiest and most affordable, keep in mind:

  • Harsh chemicals damage hair over time
  • Root regrowth is visible every 4-6 weeks
  • Frequent dyeing makes hair drier and more brittle

Consider spacing out dyeing sessions every 2-3 months to allow hair to recover. Also use a nourishing hair mask weekly and trim damaged ends regularly to maintain healthy hair. Choose an ammonia-free formula if possible.

The Takeaway

While completely reversing gray hair is challenging, there are treatments that can temporarily help restore your natural color. Options range from natural remedies to medical procedures and permanent dye. Consider your budget, lifestyle, desired maintenance, and hair health when deciding on an approach.

Keep in mind we all grow older, and gray hair doesn’t detract from beauty or worth. Let your graceful silver strands be a mark of distinction if you feel comfortable doing so.