When it comes to mental stress, the theory is that long-term psychological stress can increase levels of oxidative stress, which can then contribute to grays. Other research on mice has found that stress starts a chemical process that depletes the stores of pigment-producing cells. Translation? Loads of stress over time can result in a faded hue. “When stress is higher in our lives, that is when we start to see those hormonal shifts taking place inside of the body,” adds Brown. And because hair is sensitive to any kind of imbalance, you may start to see silver strands taking permanent residence.
That’s why Brown touts adaptogenic herbs—these are botanicals that stabilize physiological processes in the body and promote a sense of homeostasis. Essentially, they “adapt” to what your body needs in order to manage stress. In fact, functional medicine doctor Frank Lipman, M.D. says they work a bit like a natural thermostat: “When the thermostat senses that the room temperature is too high it brings it down and when the temperature is too low it brings it up. Adaptogens can calm you down and enhance your energy at the same time without overstimulating.”
And for hair care, Brown sings the praises of ashwagandha and shatavari: