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Canities is the fancy word for premature greying of the hair, and most people have some amount of greying, from very sparse, to fairly widespread.
The color, density, and styling of hair have a colossal bearing on one’s self-esteem, especially in today’s times where a person’s first impression may turn out to his or her last impression. However, increased longevity of human life means that we spend an increasing proportion of our lives sporting signs of aging on our scalp. The most dramatic age-related change in hair is the onset of hair graying or canities, which is the gradual age-dependent dilution of hair color to gray or white, also known assenile canities (canities (L.), canus, hoary, gray). The graying of hair occurs due to an admixture of normally pigmented, hypomelanotic, and amelanotic melanosomes. White hair is the endpoint of graying. The age of onset of senile canities appears to be genetically controlled and inheritable. The average age for Caucasians is mid-30s; for Asians, late-30s; and for Africans, mid-40s. A good rule of thumb is that by 50 years of age, 50% of people have 50% gray hair. 
The darker the hair color, the more noticeable early graying will be. Particular hair colors are associated with some ethnic groups. The Fischer–Saller scale, named after Eugen Fischer and Karl Saller, is used to determine the shades of hair color [Table 2].  Majority of the human population (80–90%) fall into the U to Y category (dark brown/black hair) of this scale.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING PHYSIOLOGICAL AGING (CANITIES)?
The type of hair fiber keeps on changing with age. Neonates... have unpigmented lanugo hair while adults have short (mostly pigmented) vellus hair or fine pigmented intermediate hair and long terminal hair shafts. Similarly, surface morphology also shows variation with age, particularly with the reduction in the cuticular scale size. The synthetic capacity of hair bulb melanocytes is maximum during youth. An average scalp hair follicle usually receives 7 ± 15 melanocyte replacements from an outer root sheath reservoir to the hair bulb, which occurs in the first 45 years preceding the onset of gray hair. Different theories have been suggested for the age-related gradual loss of pigmentation. This includes exhaustion of enzymes involved in melanogenesis, impaired deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) synthesis, loss of telomerase, loss of antioxidant mechanisms, and anti-apoptotic signals. Table 3 shows various changes that take place in a white hair bulb during canities. The net result is that fewer melanosomes are incorporated into cortical keratinocytes of the hair shaft. Cessation of pigment production by melanocytes in the hair matrix area surrounding the dermal papilla is a slow process resulting in slow outgrowth of graying hair at the pace of normal hair growth. All hair bulbs do not decrease pigment incorporation in the growing hair at the same time giving “salt and pepper pattern”to the scalp hair.
It has been observed that hair graying pattern depends on gender, age of onset, and smoking habits, with smokers having higher chances of having canities. Temporal area is involved in males first while in females, it is the frontal area. Age of onset also affects the area of involvement; parietal and occipital areas are involved in patients of young age while frontal area is involved in late onset group.
WHY DOES PREMATURE CANITIES OCCUR?
Premature canities is a common cause of referral to dermatologists. It occurs most commonly without any underlying pathology, but is said to be inherited in an autosomal dominant manner. It is different from poliosis which is circumscribed hypomelanosis of hair. The diseases associated with poliosis are given in Table 4. The pathogenesis of premature canities has not yet been clearly elucidated. A hypothesis that pH and cysteine level of melanosomes play critical roles in determining the course of mixed melanosomes leading to dark, light, or red hair phenotype has been proposed because of the diversity of human hair pigmentation. The role of pH in controlling mixed melanogenesis has attracted much attention as it is seen that tyrosinase activity is progressively suspended by lowering the pH, with a shift to more pheomelanin phenotype.[8-11] Concentration of cysteine in melanosomesis another control point in mixed melanogenesis. Chemical hair straightening is done by alkaline disruption of the disulphide bonds in the cortex of the hair shaft. It causes considerable damage to the hair because of the pH (9–12) of the chemicals leaving the hair dry and fragile. In a questionnaire-based study, Shetty et al. reported that 22% of the cases experienced graying of hair also.[8,12] There is definitely a role of trace metal ions in hair pigmentation. Copper ions are required by tyrosinase at its active center; thus, it is likely that copper ions in melanocytes are necessary to maintain normal color. Fatemi Naieni et al. compared the mean copper concentration in patients with PHG and controls and found lower mean serum copper concentration in the cases.
Data suggest that oxidative stress can also play a major role in the premature aging of skin and hair. This theory has been widely accepted these days. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) or free radicals, generated by a variety of internal and environmental factors may result in direct damage to various cellular structural membranes, lipids, proteins, and DNA. To combat these free radicals, our body has endogenous defense mechanisms such as antioxidative enzymes which include superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase as well as non-enzymatic antioxidative molecules like vitamin E, vitamin C, glutathione, and ubiquinone. The production of these endogenous defense mechanisms decreases while that of free radical increases, resulting in aging.
APPROACH TO MANAGEMENT OF PREMATURE CANITIES
...Recent experimental work indicates that cinnamidopropyltrimonium chloride, a quaternized UV absorber, delivered from a shampoo system, is suitable for photo protection of hair, while simultaneously providing an additional conditional benefit on hair, Solid lipid nanoparticles have been developed as novel carriers of UV blockers for use on skin and hair, offering photoprotection on their own too by reacting and scattering ultraviolet radiation (UVR).[ 24]
Recent advances in the management of aging hair and scalp are anti-aging compounds. Shampoos are largely ineffective as anti-aging agents due to water dilution and short contact time, and antioxidants such as vitamin C and E in these preparations protect fatty substances in the shampoo from oxidation, and not the hair.
— Portions excerpted from Sehrawat M, Sinha S, Meena N, Sharma PK. Biology of hair pigmentation and its role in premature canities. Pigment Int 2017;4:7-12.
HERE'S A NEW SOLUTION TO PREMATURE CANITIES
New RevivHair REV with Grey Hair Reverse and Hair Stimulation is a novel leave-in serum that targets greying hair three different ways, all without the use of colorants and dyes.
It's one of the first products to combine award-winning new ingredients Greyverse and Darnkenyl to address both the appearance of grey and thinning hair:
A number of our serums utilize the remarkable properties of enzymes. Components like Superoxide Dismutase, CoQ10, and Catalase provide great benefits to skin, scalp & hair.
Here are just some of our products with phenomenal enzyme components:
TelomErase 6-in-1 Multi-Corrective Serum
RevivHair Stimulating Shampoo
RevivLash Lash & Brow Stimulating Serum
All about Enzymes
The purpose of enzymes in a cell is to increase the rate at which reactions occur, to allow the cell to build things or take them apart very quickly. This is because at the temperature and pH level of most cells, chemical reactions such as for cell growth and reproduction do not proceed fast enough to maintain cell viability. Enzymes accelerate the rates of reactions by more than a million-fold, so reactions that would take years can occur in fractions of seconds with the appropriate enzyme.
An enzyme is formed by stringing together 100 to 1,000 amino acids in a specific order. The chain of amino acids then folds into a unique shape. This shape is what allows the enzyme to carry out specific reactions. Enzymes work by a shape recognition; the substrate must form a complex with the enzyme so they can lock together to transfer energy and form a reaction. This reaction is what binds the substrate to the enzyme’s reactive site.
Enzymology in Cosmetics
The cosmetics industry has been using enzymes such as pumpkin for resurfacing and smoothing skin for many years. Enzymes have also proven useful to treat skin conditions related to skin aging, acne, congestion and pigmentation. Their most common benefits, described in detail below, include free radical scavenging, protein breakdown, structural reinforcement, antibacterial benefits and exfoliation.
While the benefits of enzymes have long been known, interest in enzymology for cosmetic and dermatology applications has more recently grown. This is due in part to advances in optimizing their functionality, safety and stability in cosmetic systems to provide skin and product protection—not to mention their natural and renewable status.
Indeed, coenzymes and cofactors in cosmetics, such as the well-known coenzyme Q10, represent a safe way to promote the efficient functioning of skin’s enzymes. Coenzymes and cofactors generally have low molecular weights, enabling them to penetrate through the stratum corneum to help activate the enzymes that are present. They also are stable and relatively easy to formulate into cosmetics.
Free Radical Scavenging
One area where topical enzymes have shown significant benefits is in skin protection. Enzymes capture free radicals, preventing damage to the skin caused by environmental pollution, bacteria, smoke, sunlight and other harmful factors. In this capacity, enzymes work successfully on the surface of skin, without the need to penetrate deeper to reach living cells.
Perhaps one of the most ubiquitous protective enzymes is superoxide dismutase (SOD). This enzyme, often extracted from yeast, is found in almost all living organisms and works to protect the cells from free radicals in aqueous environments. It also is found in barley grass, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, wheatgrass and most green plants.
SOD, in combination with catalase, is responsible for protecting skin proteins from aging due to oxidation. It works by dismutation, a process by which a highly reactive oxygen free radical is converted to a less reactive form. This is important to aerobic cells. If the oxygen molecule is not completely reduced to two water molecules (by accepting four electrons), the partially reduced superoxide radical will remain and can cause damage to skin.
SOD is used in cosmetics and personal care products as an anti-aging ingredient and antioxidant. It has been shown to prevent wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, help with wound healing, soften scar tissue, protect against UV rays and reduce other signs of aging.
— Excerpted from Cosmetics & Toiletries:
Addressing greying hair isn't just a vanity issue; it's a scalp and skin health issue too.
Premature greying of the hair is a condition known as canities; the diminishing of pigment in hair producing a range of colors from normal to white that is perceived as gray.
It is a complex multi-factorial process mainly considered to be an interplay of nutritional, genetic and environmental factors. Nutritional deficiencies like vitamin B12 deficiency, severe iron deficiency, chronic protein loss, copper deficiency are often found associated with premature greying of hairs. Other factors that have been incriminated are low serum ferritin, and low serum calcium and vitamin D3 levels.
Smoking is another factor that is considered to be related to premature greying of hair. Smoking results in generation of huge amount of reactive oxygen species leading to increased oxidative stress culminating into damage to melanin producing cells, melanocytes. Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays is considered to initiate similar processes in hair follicles resulting in premature greying of hair.
It turns out that a key factor in hair color loss happens to be the buildup of hydrogen peroxide in the scalp and hair follicles. As we age, our bodies become less able to neutralize that hydrogen peroxide, which interferes with an enzyme that is responsible for producing the pigment in hair. The graying begins when the synthesis of melanin (the natural pigment that gives hair its color) is disrupted.
Another recent study in Nature Medicine suggests that sun damage may very well speed up the graying of hair. The study found that when UV exposure damaged skin, melanin-producing stem cells migrated upward to the skin to produce protective pigment (a tan) but abandoned their position in the hair follicle.
While there are many other factors that can contribute to graying hair (genetics, ethnicity, stress etc.), these studies suggest there are steps you can take to slow down or minimize graying hair:
The revolutionary ingredients, like Greyverse and Darkenyl, found in our RevivHair REV Stimulating Serum may help prevent hydrogen peroxide buildup and target tyrosinase to help prevent the loss of hair color and the appearance of darker hair, naturally without dyes or pigments. Another included ingredients (also mentioned in the study) may help: Methionine Sulfoxide Reductase.
Additionally, wearing a hat or applying a UV protection product for the hair (more specifically, the scalp) whenever you're outside, may help as well. Wearing a hat to shield UV damage is something we should be doing anyway!