A Top Colorist's Favorite Adaptogenic Herbs For Hair Care

A Top Colorist's Favorite Adaptogenic Herbs For Hair Care Image

Have these herbs on hand.

Gray hair is inevitable at some point. And no matter where you are on your journey to platinum, a collection of tips can help you along the way—from how to care for your new silver texture to how to transition to a gorgeous gray. 

If you’ve found yourself here, chances are you’re curious about premature graying, or gray hair before the age of 30: As influential hairstylist Christin Brown, a curl and silvering expert, tells us on an episode of Clean Beauty School, it is possible to prevent an early onset with a few lifestyle interventions. For example, she recommends “using things that can really be beneficial toward helping your body adapt, especially when it comes to stress.” Like, well, adaptogenic herbs. 

A colorist’s favorite adaptogenic herbs for hair care.

First, let’s discuss the role of stress in graying hair: Oxidative stress does a number on the body in terms of accelerating aging—and for hair, that often means loss of color and/or strands. We repeat: Hair graying is a natural part of aging, but research has shown that the amount of free radical damage and oxidative stress on the follicle can speed up the process. 

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: 

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The takeaway. 

Gray hair happens to us all down the line, but managing stress is a helpful way to prevent an early onset. Of course, stress management is much easier said than done, but adaptogenic herbs have been used for thousands of years to promote full-body balance—and according to Brown, they’re a worthy addition to your hair care routine.  

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