Hair turns gray because of your body produces less melanin as you age. While genetics play a large role in when an individual starts to gray (2016 research linked graying to a gene called IRF-4), certain lifestyle factors can speed up the process. "There are factors that happen on the outside—known as oxidative stressors—that include UV rays, hair color, and even things we do that are supposed to be helpful—like shampooing and conditioning," says Jay Small, a hairstylist and educator who helped to develop the brand. "All of these outside elements can slowly erode the hair, and make the environment on the scalp harder to process [new growth]. " Things like pollution, smoking, and other substance use can also have the same effects on hair aging.
Additionally, Small explains that many of the things we do to our current hair on a regular basis could be making our future strands worse. "Imagine if you were to use a shampoo that has negative ingredients in it, and you put in on your scalp thinking you're cleansing it but really, below the surface, your body is having a reaction to the chemicals and saying, 'please stop,'" Small says. "Because of that, it sends all of these reactive oxygen molecules to that area to protect the body, and that's the oxidative stress that's happening below the skin."
Aside from oxidative stress, regular old emotional stress can also impact the rate at which your hair starts to gray. Research has shown that when your body goes into "fight or flight" mode, it releases a chemical called norepinephrine into your hair follicle, which messes with the melanocyte stem cells that give your hair its pigment. And because our bodies process vitamins and minerals differently as we age, Small says that nutrient deficiencies can also play a role.
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The Arey team took all of these factors into account when developing the "Not Today, Grey" supplement, and the result was a daily pill made with a combination of vitamins and minerals that suppress gray hair growth. "We know that people beyond the age of, say, 20, have been exposed to UV damage, use shampoo, and might have used hair color. We are combating the free radicals from all of those oxidative stressors with our proprietary ingredients, which go in as antioxidants and clear away free radicals," says Allison Conrad, one of Arey's co-founders. "Some of the vitamins and minerals are also meant to increase cell turnover, which reduces as we age, so it makes sure we're producing those cells and creating an environment that better sets the hair up for success."
Vitamins B6 and B9 work to "optimize the body's function," setting a foundation for the rest of the supplement's ingredients to work to their full effects. Vitamin B12 and a Chinese herb called Fo Ti fuel melanin production, which helps hair keep its pigment, while PABA, vitamin D, and copper protect the hair from premature graying. It's also got vitamin B5 to stimulate cell turnover, selenium to defend against free radicals, and vitamin B7 to improve the protein structure of your hair.
"We’ve identified the vitamins and minerals that are needed to help grow healthier hair," says Small. "And we wanted to make the body more easily able to take these vitamins and minerals, which [the supplement] does by getting rid of oxidative stress." A qualitative study conducted by the brand found that 91 percent of the 30 participants saw less gray hair growth and smoother, thicker, fuller hair overall.
Though gray hair is an inevitable—and often celebrated—part of life, if you're not quite ready to embrace your own natural aging process just yet, this supplement might just be exactly what you need.
Dealing with hair loss? Check out everything you need to know, straight from a derm, in the video below.
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