Q: Does gray hair grow faster than normal colored hair? My hair is curly, so maybe the gray hairs are less curly and more visible.
A: No. Gray hair actually grows no faster or slower than pigmented hair does. However, when the hair turns gray it can often undergo
more changes than merely color, many times changing in texture, porosity and wave pattern. Actually, turning gray is a misnomer,
since the hair actually goes gray when the melanocytes in the hair follicle stop producing melanin (which gives the hair its color)
and the newly growing hair fiber emerges without pigmentation.
It should be noted that the decline in melanin production by the melanocytes is not typically an
all or nothing proposition, since there are multiple melanocytes in a follicle and they don’t usually all completely “shut down”
suddenly. As the individual melanocytes weaken and cease function (whether from genetic, environmental or medical/chemical influence)
they will produce less and less melanin. This means that the hair will very gradually shift from normally pigmented to unpigmented
over a significant period of time.
Where the suddenness of the transition comes in is that as the pigment is gone from the hair, the
hair can shift in texture and porosity (and as a result in wave). The hair shaft will contract and become more opaque the tighter the
cuticle layer becomes. These last transitions can occur more rapidly as a result of conditioning and regular hair care, which can
result in the gray hair becoming more apparent in what seems like a rapid pace. Let’s face it, if the only difference was a lack of
pigment, then the gray hair may not be easily noticed. Yet, if the hair is a different texture and has a different wave pattern while
being different in pigment, then it is significantly more noticeable.