"That first silver strand is a defining moment – and used to signal the start of middle age. For a woman, it’s one of the most defining moments of getting older — that day when you peer into the mirror and spot your very first silver strand of hair,” says Claire Coleman of Daily Mail UK.

A woman expects her first grey hair to appear in her late 30’s or 40’s. But new research reveals a worrying trend. The alarming news for women today is that we are losing our natural hair color much earlier. In fact, according to a new study published in
Life & Style, almost a third of British women under the age of 30 have already started to go grey, and two-thirds of them blame it on stress. Silver strands show the strain, making more women under 30 go grey.

John Frieda, the haircare brand that carried out the research, thinks it’s so significant that it has come up with a name for this new consumer demographic — GHOSTS — Grey Haired Over Stressed Twenty Somethings. "While we knew that, broadly speaking, the reason most women colour their hair is to cover grey, we’d always assumed that younger women use home hair colourants as a fashion accessory. However, increasingly it’s about covering grey hair. I’ve also definitely noticed an increase in younger clients coming into the salon asking for colour to cover their grey,” says Nicola Clarke, creative colour director for John Frieda.

Trichologist Philip Kingsley hears women’s complaints about grey hair a lot. “Greying hair is synonymous with ageing and in our modern “youthful” culture, we delay the appearance of ageing as much as we can,” he says. While men get given the silver fox sobriquet when they start to show signs of salt and pepper, when it comes to women grey equals grandma. From society’s perspective, a woman with grey hair is over the hill and has reached the end of her reproductive life.

 Writer Sarah Harris began going 'silver' at 16 but she chose not to hide it and go au naturelle.

Grey hair is actually hair that has no pigment and is the result of the melanocytes — the cells that produce pigment — becoming damaged or dying. This happens naturally as we get older, and some scientists argue that exactly when is governed by your genes, rather than by your lifestyle. For the majority of people, greying hair is not down to something you’ve done, but to genetic factors beyond your control. However, other experts argue that there’s an increasing body of information that points towards the idea that premature greying is, in fact, the result of stress.

In his book The Hair Bible, Philip Kingsley talks about the way that stress can affect the body. “We know that stress uses up vitamin B, and experiments with black rats deprived of B vitamins resulted in their hair going white,” he says. He’s not the only one to acknowledge a possible link between stress and going grey. Japanese research suggests that hair follicles are susceptible to the same sort of stresses that damage DNA. This type of stress, known as oxidative stress, is caused by exposure to cigarette smoke, UV light and pollution. There is also an association between emotional stress and oxidative stress, which means that the GHOSTS blaming their grey hairs on stress might have a point.

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