Why is my hair color changing?
I am asian and always had dark dark black hair. In the last two years however, my hair has been changing colors. My hair is becoming brown-reddish to the point that people ask me what color I use to dye my hair. I've never dyed my hair in my life. What could make my hair change colors? I'm not anooyed with it, just curious.
oops more details. I 'm 24 and I guess I have as much sun exposure as anybody else.
for those who are wondering, it's not that it "looks" brown-red". My hairdresser did ask me what color I used to dye my hair. She had a hard time believing I never dyed it.
Sun can be one contributor, frequent use of a swimming pool full of chlorine can be another.
Here is the full science blurb....
Melanocytes do not color hair as it is originally formed. Fresh hair, under the skin, has no color; it picks up color as it lengthens. The hair is going to grow if the hair is colored or not. The hair shaft develops in the follicle, surrounded by melanocytes. The melanocyte pigments enter the hair shaft cortex by diffusion through the cuticle and keratin. So the important fact is that the melanocytes act independently of the growth of hair. Melanocytes simply behave as melanocytes and the pigment is “picked up” adventitiously by the growing hair.
There are two types of pigment that give hair its color; these are eumelanin (brown/black) and pheomelanin (yellow/red). A low concentration of eumelanin in the hair and low concentration of pheomelanin will result in an ash blond color; while more eumelanin, will result in a “dirty blond” or light brown color. Even higher eumelanin will result in deep black pigmented hair. Pheomelanin in low concentrations causes a yellow tone, increasing to strawberry red, with higher concentrations causing increasing red color effects. Pheo- and eu- melanins usually occur paired, and create the many varied effects we see, such as auburn hair.
Pheomelanin breaks down more slowly than eumelanin when oxidized, which accounts for darker hair turning red to orange to yellow during the bleaching process. That is also the reason why mummies all have red hair.
Color producing melanocytes are not sensitive to light stimulus, per se. However, keratinocytes are very sensitive to light. When exposed to sunlight, keratinocytes release melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH), which binds to the melanocyte activating receptor, Mc1r on the melanocyte. Thus the melanocytes are activated and produce pigment. Melanocytes increase their production of pheo- and eu- melanins, as programmed by the genetic make up of the individual.
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