As people age, it is normal for hair color to go gray. For most, this first appears in the late 30s or early 40s; but for others, premature grays can happen as early as 20 and under. Is chemical hair dye the best way to cover gray on dark hair for everyone?

The human body has millions of hair follicles that generate hair and color or pigment cells that contain melanin. Over time, hair follicles lose pigment cells, resulting in gray hair color.

In this article, we will look for some common causes of prematurely gray hair, together with ways to slow the graying process down or prevent it.

Causes of gray hair

grey hair

Apart from age, there can be many causes resulting in a person’s hair turning gray. These causes below aim to help you find the best way to deal with your gray hair.


Scientifically, premature graying of gray hair is mostly connected to genetics. Race and ethnicity also play roles. Statistically, premature graying in white people may start as early as 20 years old, meanwhile, a person can be as young as 25 years old among Asian populations, and 30 years in African-Americans people.

Oxidative stress

Besides genetics, oxidative stress in the body may decide apart when the process happens to you prematurely. Too much oxidative stress could promote the development of diseases, including the skin-pigment condition vitiligo. Vitiligo can also turn the hair gray because of melanin cell death or the loss of cell function.

Health status

Autoimmune diseases are one of the health problems that may increase a person’s risk for graying early. White hair is also common in alopecia areata, an autoimmune skin condition that causes hair loss on your scalp and other parts of the body. When your hair grows back, it tends to be gray due to melanin deficiency.

Real-life stress


People widely think that stress may lead to hair becoming gray prematurely. It is found that the cells responsible for hair color can be run out when the body is under stress.

Vitamin deficiencies

Any deficiencies of vitamin B6, B12, vitamin D, vitamin E, or biotin can contribute to premature graying. That those nutritional deficiencies that affect pigmentation suggest color can return with vitamin supplementation.



A study from 2013 reported in the Italian Dermatology Online Journal, indicates that smokers are 2.5 times more likely to start greying before age 30 as non-smokers. Smoking is linked to premature white hair in both young men and women.

Hair products including chemical hair dyes

Hair products including hair dyes and even shampoos may contain harmful ingredients that decrease melanin, leading to premature hair graying. Many hair dyes contain hydrogen peroxide which is one such harmful chemical.

What should be the best way to cover gray on your tresses?

We cannot change genetics or aging factors. However, treating graying hair could allow color pigmentation to return if the loss is due to a medical issue.

Quitting smoking

Smoking has negative effects on your body and contributes to gray hair. And researchers have found a relationship between this bad habit and loss of hair pigmentation. The more harmful effects of cigarettes you figure out, the higher motivation you’ve got to quit smoking.

Foods with antioxidants

Your diet which is rich in antioxidants can reduce oxidative stress, playing a part in preventing gray hair.

Antioxidant-rich foods should include fresh fruits and vegetables, green tea, olive oil, fish, etc.

Vitamin supplements for darkening your gray hair

vitamins pills and tablets

If you notice a vitamin deficiency that leads to your hair turning white, you should consume more foods loaded with those vitamins.

For instance, seafood, eggs, and meats are great sources of vitamin B12, while milk, salmon, and cheese are rich sources of vitamin D.

Vitamin tablets that are available over the counter can also help.

Natural hair dyes

There are various types of chemical hair dyes that help hide gray hair, but many of them contribute to premature graying and can cause allergic and other bad side effects.

Natural remedies offer an alternative to slow down hair-graying without harming your overall health or causing further hair pigment damage.

Black Tea

There are more types of tea to use for both dark and light hair. Black tea is for dark hair, while chamomile is for blonde, and rooibos tea should be for red hair.

Here is how you should use black tea for dark hair

Boil 2 tsp black tea leaves in a cup of water and let it steep for a couple of minutes.

Wait for it cool down.

Apply it to your hair while massaging it in

Leave it for an hour.

Rinse your hair with cold water solely (without shampoo).

Repeat this process every two weeks.

Black Coffee for gray hair 

black coffe for hair

The coffee helps add a darker tint in your gray hair, which basically covers the gray for one week or so, depending on how frequently you wash your hair. It is one of the best way to cover gray on your dark hair (black, brown, etc.), but don’t use coffee when your original hair color is blonde.

How to do it:

Brew a pot of strong coffee and wait until it cools down. Then pour the coffee through your hair while massaging it in. Let it sit in your hair for about 20 minutes for good absorbance.

Finally, rinse your hair with cold water only (no shampoo). You had better do it twice a week.

Coconut and Lemon

One of the best natural ways to cover grays on blonde hair is with lemon. The coconut oil in this mixture shall help prevent the gray hair by preserving the pigment cells in your hair. Besides, there are also more beneficial effects of coconut on your hair such as hair growth promotion and moisture provision.

How to do it:

Mix 2 tbsp coconut oil with 1 tbsp lemon juice (squeezed from a lemon) in a bowl until it becomes one liquid.

Massage it from your scalp to the tips until everything is totally covered.

Leave it in for 30 minutes.

Rinse it out with cold water and mild sulfate-free shampoo.

Repeat the process twice a week.

Herbs to darken you white strands


Herbs with strong colors are considered to be popular natural dyes for hair.

If your natural hair is red, you will need calendula, marigold, rosehips, or hibiscus.

In case you have dark or brunette hair, you should use rosemary, nettle, and sage.

Last but not least, blondes can use calendula, marigold, saffron, rhubarb root, or sunflower petals.

How to apply?

Mix a combination of desired herbs (usually one cup or 4 tbsp will suffice) together in 2 cups of warm water and let it simmer and cool down for 30 minutes.

Pour it over your hair and massage it on the scalp and go down to tips.

Let it sit for about 1 hour.

Rinse it with cold water (and sulfate-free shampoo if you want).

Repeat the process once or twice a week.

We hope you could determine the reason why your hair turns gray and pick the best way to cover gray on dark hair. If you have any problems with your hair, do not hesitate to leave your comment here and we will discuss it together.

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