How to Increase Melanin in Hair

About Dr Jaspreet Sarna
Dr. Sarna is an MD (Skin & VD) and Gold Medalist from Baroda Medical College. She has a decade long experience in treating hair loss and working on hair regrowth. She believes stress management is the key to good health.
Melanin is a pigment found in our body that determines color. This article lists down ways in which you can increase melanin levels in your hair thereby preventing greying.
How to Increase Melanin in Hair

Delaying the onset of hair greying are universal goals today. Although hair greying is a natural phenomenon, premature greying is today taking the world by storm. The answer to managing this lies in managing the melanin – the natural pigment present in your hair. The question that follows is how to increase melanin in hair? Read on to know more. 

Most of us are concerned about how our hair looks. Hair adds up as a bonus point to our personality. It makes us look beautiful. As we age your hair starts graying. Graying hair makes your appearance older. People complain of graying hair even at younger ages. This is probably due to the pollution and products that our hair has been affected by.

Most of us choose to color our hair when our hair turns gray. It is well known to all of us that hair color constitutes harmful chemicals. These chemicals do not only deteriorate the quality of our hair, it eventually makes our hair brittle and weak which falls out. It is wiser to opt for a natural alternative. One of the methods to restore our hair color is through melanin production.

Melanin is a naturally occurring pigment and determines the hair colour. When melanin production slows, hair greying begins, often leading to hair whitening. Having grey hair as we age is normal, however premature greying might not be that normal in most cases. Premature greying can be occurring due to a variety of reasons. 

Thus, boosting melanin production can help in dealing with premature greying as well as greying in general. Here, we will discuss how to increase melanin in hair through practices and food intake that maintain a healthy melanin balance in the hair. 

What Is Melanin?

Melanin is found in the human body and other living organisms that determine the color. It is a natural pigment that is responsible for the color of our hair, skin, and eye. Cells particularly responsible for melanin formulation are melanocytes. Every human body has the same number of melanocytes but they might produce more in some people than others. This is why the pigment of people's skin, eyes, and hair color is different. 

People with more melanin have darker skin and hair tones. The production of melanin depends on our genetics. You inherit the number of melanin your body produces. Melanin helps protect you from UV rays but is not enough. When your body is exposed to sunlight, it produces more melanin. People with lighter skin tone or having less melanin in their skin are more prone to skin cancer than people having more melanin. 

In this article information regarding melanin production and its impact on hair is provided. Lower melanin production results in the graying of your hair. Graying hair makes you look older. The best alternative to hair coloring is increasing melanin levels. This article will examine if melanin treatment for hair is possible. As melanin is helpful in the protection of the hair from sunlight's harmful UV rays; people often devote their time in search of how to increase melanin for hair. 

Why Does Hair Lose Colour? 

There are various reasons for the loss of melanin in your hair. Age, genetics, lifestyle and a variety of deficiencies play a role in this. Let us look at each of these. 

  • Age 

With age, the hair colour changes. The hair colour gets darker as you move from childhood to teenage. Slowly, with age, the melanin production slows and by the age of 50, most people start experiencing greying of hair. 

  • Genetics 

Premature greying may be a result of genetics. It is possible that early greying has been inherited from previous generations. 

  • Damage from sun 

Extreme exposure to the sun can impact melanin production in the hair. Ultraviolet rays can destroy the melanin in the hair and damage its natural shade. 

  • Stress 

Chronic stress leads to a lot of health issues like anxiety, hair greying and other cardiovascular complications. Sleeplessness, high blood pressure, anxiety and loss of appetite are the most common symptoms of stress. 

  • Smoking 

Smoking creates congestion in the blood vessels leading to restrictions in the blood flow. This impacts the hair follicles as well leading to hair fall and premature greying. 

  • Deficiency of vitamin B12 

Vitamin B12 is instrumental in the production of red blood cells. A deficiency of vitamin B12 impacts the oxygen supply to the hair follicles causing hair greying. 

  • Usage of chemical products 

Sulfate, paraben and silicones are today present in most of the hair products that we use. These are harmful to the health of the hair and are closely linked to premature greying of the hair. If you’re looking at how to increase melanin in hair, you should switch to products with natural ingredients. 

Importance of Melanin in Hair 

Melanin apart from giving the hair its natural characteristic colour also has protective functions. 

  • Regulating the colour of your hair 

By now you know the melanin gives the hair its colour but you’ll be surprised to know that the hair is originally white and gains the colour only after it emerges from the hair follicle. Melanin, which is found in the cortex or the middle layer of the hair, is of two types – eumelanin and pheomelanin. Different combinations of these two types produce different hair colour types. These colours can be one of the five types, black or dark brown, light brown, yellow (or blonde), red, white. 

Eumelanin is the dark form of melanin and is divided into two types – brown eumelanin and black eumelanin. This is the most commonly occurring melanin in human hair. If the black eumelanin is in huge concentration, the hair is black. Similarly, brown hair results from a high concentration of brown melanin. Conversely, a low concentration of black melanin results in grey hair and a low concentration of brown melanin makes the hair yellow or blonde. 

Pheomelanin is the brighter shade of melanin and has a reddish hue. In higher concentration, it gives the hair a red colour. When mixing with brown eumelanin, the result gives your hair an orange tinge popularly known as ginger. 

  • Protection against sun rays 

This is also one of the major functions of melanin. The melanin in the hair and skin offers protection against the UV rays of the sun. Thus, it is important to know how to increase melanin production in hair. A higher concentration of eumelanin over pheomelanin provides higher protection against the sun. This means that darker skin or hair is more protected against the harmful rays of the sun compared to lighter shades.

Is It Possible to Increase Melanin Production in Hair?

The simple answer is yes. Here it must be noted that the loss or the slowdown in melanin production due to age or genetics is not reversible. However, it is always possible to control the other factors such as sun exposure, smoking, and stress. The studies have proven facts regarding the possibility of melanin production. Taking care of vitamin deficiencies in the body and limiting the usage of chemical hair products or shifting to natural and herbal hair products can go a long way in increasing the melanin pigment in hair as well as reducing the destruction of the melanin. We will look at the methods on how to increase melanin in hair in subsequent sections. We will also answer questions like can Ayurveda reverse grey hair.

How to Increase Melanin Production?

The melanin production for hair may not be safe though. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) warns not to use such pills. The association warns people against its harmful effects. Since the color of the eye is also determined by the amount of melanin your body produces; the extra melanin that the pills can produce might prove to be harmful to your eyesight. And you would never be involved in such a risk that might damage your eyesight just to change your hair color!

Besides the chemical consumption through pills which is prone to have side effects on the human body; there are other ways through which melanin production can be increased. Among the numerous ways, some of them are presented in the upcoming part of this article.

Sun Exposure - Tanning

Exposure to the sun for prolonged periods has proven to be helpful in melanin production. Though melanin has some protective properties; it is not enough to protect your skin and hair from harmful UV rays. These emissions could lead to serious skin diseases therefore it is not advisable to expose your body to sunlight for tanning even though it would help in melanin production.

Melanin induced products

The products that contain lutein, probiotics, Astaxanthin, lycopene in their ingredient list are highly encouraged to be used. One of these helps melanin production of melanin. If it is particularly for hair that you are concerned about increasing melanin content in your body, you could use hair dye that has less harmful chemicals and they are based on melanin. 

How to Increase Melanin in Hair Naturally?

Other than melanin other factors are responsible for graying our hair. Age, hormonal imbalance, use of chemical-induced products, stress, and genetics play a major role in the graying of hair. Hair dyes could not only damage hair but they are only a temporary method to color your hair. If you wish to have a longer impact on your hair melanin production would certainly help. 

The methods that are previously discussed in the article might not seem effective. You must have wondered and asked yourself about how to increase melanin in hair Ayurveda remedies. The search comes to an end as there are proven Ayurveda facts regarding the hair color preserves that help in delaying the graying process of hair. It answers our question about how to boost the melanin in hair using ayurvedic medicines naturally.

 Ayurveda texts emphasize not involving in activities that provoke pitta in our body. Pitta and dosha control the digestive system and metabolism as per Ayurveda texts. It is advised not to involve yourself in pitta and dosha-provoking activities as it might be a major obstruction in melanin production. The ayurvedic medicine that would answer the question regarding how to increase hair melanin is discussed in the upcoming texts on this article.

Ayurvedic Herbs to Increase Melanin Production in Hair

If you are looking at how to increase melanin in hair Ayurveda options, there are many. These ayurvedic herbs are useful in promoting the production of melanin in the hair – 

Bhringraj

This particular medicine is very effective in solving the issue of graying hair at a young age. It could be infused in oil and used as hair oil or could be mixed with hair masks in powder form. It has darkening properties that are believed to be an agent to boost melanin for hair growth.

Vibhitaka

Vibhitaka is a fruit from one of the deciduous trees which has similar properties as bhringraj. It has similar benefits that could be used to boost melanin content for your hair. It helps in boosting melanin in hair follicles. Just like bhringraj, vibhitaka can also be used as hair oil or used in hair masks. 

Mango seed

Mango seeds are rich in vitamins and minerals. It contains antioxidant properties that help in melanin production in hair. Use it as a paste and apply it to your scalp. It will not only help in preventing the graying of your hair, but it will also help strengthen the hair follicles and promote hair growth.

Triphala

Triphala is an ayurvedic medicine that helps in improving melanin for hair. It can be used as a supplement and taken with honey orally before you go to bed. Its properties will help prevent grey hairs and can also be used as a cleanser for your hair instead of shampoos that are full of harmful chemicals. 

Henna 

Henna or Mehendi can be used as a natural dye replacing the chemical formulated hair dyes. It also has antioxidants that promote melanin production makes your hair long and strong

Hibiscus 

Hibiscus is a natural remedy to graying hair as it has vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant properties. You can use it as oil or mask whichever is suitable for your hair type. It will promote melanin production and also improve the quality of your hair. You can also consume it orally by making yourself a cup of tea using hibiscus flowers. 

Gooseberries

Gooseberries or amla is one of the main ingredients of many of the hair products sold in the market. It is Vitamin C rich and also has antioxidants. Both of these contribute to melanin production and helps prevent the greying of your hair at a younger age.

Can Melanin Help to Restore Hair Color?

Melanin is the pigment that is responsible for our hair color. If melanin production is stopped or reduced our hair will eventually lose its color and it will turn gray with time. Graying of hair may be caused due to hormonal imbalance, stress, use of chemicals, nutritional deficiency, or poor health condition. If your hair is turning grey due to one of the reasons above it is possible to restore it by increasing your body’s melanin production.

But if your hair is turning grey due to genetics it is impossible to restore your hair color through melanin production. It is recommended to either be used to the natural process of life or to dye it using less harmful chemical-infused colors.

Similarly, if your hair is turning grey as a process of aging you can delay it up to some extent. As you age, your body cannot function as it used to, as a result, the melanin production is reduced, and eventually, hair loses its color. It can be delayed by improving the melanin level.

Foods That Can Increase Melanin in Hair 

If you are looking at how to increase melanin in hair, managing your diet correctly can go a long way in increasing melanin production as well as reducing its degradation. Conversely, greying might also be occurring due to certain nutritional deficiencies which if addressed, can give the desired results. Food that is full of vitamins and has antioxidant properties is believed to be helpful in melanin production for hair.

Here we look at the various nutrients essential for a healthy melanin level and the foods that are rich in these nutrients. You must always consult your nutritionist to give you the best diet plan. 

Consumption of supplements 

Melanin production can be boosted through the consumption of some of the vitamins and minerals also.

Iron 

Food containing iron can help in melanin production that would be helpful for your hair. Found in dark green vegetables (such as spinach, broccoli), tomato, banana, dark chocolate, lentils, nuts (cashew, peanuts), seeds (flax seeds, pumpkin seeds), dark chocolate and fish. Include these in your diet if you’re looking at how to increase melanin in hair naturally. 

Copper 

Take sufficient amounts as cereals, chickpeas, nuts (almonds, cashew), seeds (sunflower and poppy seeds), sweet potato, avocado, dark chocolate, liver and seafood such as oysters.

Antioxidants 

Fighting free radicals is very important if you want to know how to increase melanin in hair. Antioxidants fight free radicals which target healthy cells such as melanin-producing cells. Food items such as blueberries, beans, leafy green vegetables, dark chocolate and artichokes are rich in antioxidants. 

Catalase 

This is a naturally occurring enzyme that neutralizes hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide builds upon hair follicles over time and causes oxidative damage which is one of the reasons for greying of hair. If you’re looking at how to increase melanin in hair, include cucumber, onion, sweet potato, spinach, celery, kale, pineapple, peaches, watermelon, cherries and apricots in your diet to provide a sufficient amount of catalase to your body. 

Vitamins 

Lack of vitamins such as A, C, B12 is also linked to greying of hair. If you’re looking at how to increase melanin in hair, you must include in your diet, foods that are rich in vitamins. 

o Vitamin A – stimulates the oil-producing glands in the hair follicle and keeps the hair moisturized. Found in carrots, kale, spinach and sweet potatoes. 

o Vitamin C – fights free radicals and prevents melanin breakdown caused by them. Citrus fruits such as orange, lemon and other fruits like berries, papaya, cherries, guava, strawberries are rich in vitamin C. It is also found in broccoli and sprouts. 

o Vitamin B6 and B12 – these help in melanin production. Vitamin B12 also helps in red blood cell production which keeps the oxygen availability to the hair follicle regulated. Vitamin B6 is found in spinach, potato, beans and turkey. Vitamin B12 is found in eggs, chicken, lamb, pork, seafood and fortified cereals as well as dairy products. 

Here we discussed the various approaches on how to increase melanin in hair. You can accelerate the rate of melanin production by consuming the right food as we discussed above. It is equally important that you maintain a stress-free and healthy lifestyle by adopting exercise for hair growth and health.

Side Effects of Melanin in Hair

Premature graying hair is an issue. Solving it through melanin is a good idea. But excess melanin production may result in other problems. Melanin is not only responsible for your hair color but the color of your skin and eyes too! If you are focused on how to increase melanin content in hair; you might overlook the side effects it has on your skin and eyes. 

The increased level of melanin can cause hyperpigmentation. It also can cause a problem and result in poor eyesight. Anything you want to indulge yourself and your body, you are advised to balance it out. Never exceed the levels as advised by your doctor. It is recommended you discuss with your doctor before opting for any of the above measures.

 

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