Difference Between Gray Hair and White Hair (With Table)

The graying of hair is as natural a process as the aging of the human body. Other than old age, even certain illnesses can trigger your hair to turn gray. A chemical called melanin gives your hair its natural colour. Pheomelanin produces red and blonde colours.  Eumelanin gives your hair the darker colours of black and brown.

A decrease in the levels of melanin produced by the pigment cells present under your scalp causes your hair to lose its natural colour. 

Gray Hair vs White Hair

The difference between Gray Hair and White Hair is that the former is a result of the natural loss of your hairs original colour with age (or due to an illness). When your hair completely loses its natural pigmentation (melanin) you are left with white hair.

Gray hair is formed at a stage where hair strands still have some melanin content left in them. White hair grows when pigment cells are unable to produce more melanin.


 

Comparison Table Between Gray Hair and White Hair (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonGray HairWhite Hair
DescriptionIt is a mixture of white and naturally colored hair. Hair that begins to lose its natural colour and becomes partially white is what we call gray hair.When your hair loses its entire natural colour, it becomes white. Hair that has lost all of its pigmentation (melanin content) is what we call white hair.
Melanin (the chemical that lends our hair its natural colour)Gray hair is formed at a stage where hair strands still have some melanin content left in them.White hair grows when pigment cells are unable to produce more melanin. Hair strands completely lose their natural colour.
Age of occurrencePeople usually start seeing their hair turn gray in their 40s, mid 30s or, sometimes, even in their mid-20s. Other than a person’s age, certain illnesses trigger ones hair to lose its natural colour.It usually takes 10 years for grey hair to turn completely white. Certain medical conditions (Marie Antoinette syndrome) could trigger hair to turn white vey quickly.
Genetic causesGenes are a major determinant in knowing when a person’s hair starts graying. People with blonde hair have a higher tendency to turn gray. Such is not the case with people with naturally dark hair.Once it starts to gray, your hair continues to lose its natural colour and eventually turns white.
Other causesAs we age, hair loses its natural colour and turns gray. However, vitamin B-12 deficiency, thyroid disease, vitiligo, alopecia areata, neurofibromatosis and tuberous sclerosis are some illnesses that can cause premature graying of hair. Graying of hair is also linked to smoking Tobacco and stress too.Once it starts to gray (owing to the reasons mentioned in the column to the left) your hair continues to lose its natural colour and eventually turns white.

 

What is Gray Hair?

It is a mixture of white and naturally colored hair. Hair that begins to lose its natural colour and becomes partially white is what we call gray hair. The chemical melanin lends your hair its natural colour. Gray hair is formed at a stage where hair strands still have some melanin content left in them.

Mostly, a person’s genes determine when one gets gray hair. However, certain illnesses make this happen at a faster rate. People usually start seeing their hair turn gray in their 40s, mid 30s or, sometimes, even in their mid-20s.

Vitamin B-12 deficiency, thyroid disease, vitiligo, alopecia areata, neurofibromatosis and tuberous sclerosis are some illnesses that can cause premature graying of hair. Graying of hair is also linked to smoking Tobacco and stress.

 

What is White Hair?

When your hair loses its entire natural colour it becomes white. Hair that has lost all of its pigmentation (melanin content) is what we call white hair. White hair grows when pigment cells are unable to produce more melanin. Hair strands completely lose their natural colour. 

It usually takes 10 years for grey hair to turn completely white. Certain medical conditions (Marie Antoinette syndrome) could trigger hair to turn white very quickly.

Once it starts to gray your hair continues to lose its natural colour and eventually turns white.


Main Differences Between Gray Hair and White Hair

  • What we call gray hair is a mixture of white and naturally colored hair. Hair that has lost all of its pigmentation (melanin content) is what we call white hair.
  • Gray hairs still have some melanin left in them. White hair grows when pigment cells are unable to produce more melanin. White hair strands have completely lost their natural colour.
  • Your genetics are the main determinant of when you’re hair starts to gray. Certain illnesses trigger premature graying of hair. Hair eventually loses its entire colour and becomes white.
  •  Usually, people in their 40s or mid-30s notice gray strands on their head for the first time. Sometimes, one’s hair starts graying in his/her mid-20s. It usually takes 10 years for grey hair to turn completely white.
  • B-12 deficiency, thyroid disease, vitiligo, alopecia areata are some illnesses that can cause premature graying of hair. Hair eventually loses its entire colour and becomes white.

 

Conclusion

Losing your natural hair colour with time is an inevitable process. As we age, cells under our scalp manufacture less and less melanin. Sometimes, certain illnesses cause the same to happen at a faster rate. Gray hair is the intermediate stage of your hairs transformation from its natural colour to white. Eventually, once your hair has lost its coloring pigments, it turns white.


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