The age-old question is can food actually change your hair color? The short answer is yes, your diet can influence hair pigmentation. While hair color is largely genetic, eating certain melanin-boosting foods and maintaining a healthy diet supports your natural hue.
This article explores how nutrients like copper, vitamin A, and protein promote melanin production to subtly enhance hair color over time. We’ll overview which food groups to focus on, detail the mechanisms of how nutrients impact pigment deposition, and provide actionable dietary tips.
Core factors like genetics and aging are covered to contextualize what parts of hair color are within our control. Read on to learn how small tweaks to your diet can help delay grays and enhance your natural God-given locks.
Can food change hair color?
Yes, the foods you eat can have an impact on your hair color. While hair color is largely determined by genetics, certain dietary factors can affect the production of melanin, the pigment that gives hair its color. A nutritious diet with plenty of micronutrients can support healthy hair growth and enhance your natural hair color.
What food can change hair color?
There are several types of food that can influence hair color by increasing melanin production or depositing pigments:
- Foods high in copper like sesame seeds, cashews, and shiitake mushrooms. Copper helps produce melanin.
- Fruit and vegetables high in vitamin A like sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach and kale. Vitamin A is essential for hair growth.
- Walnuts, almonds, and pumpkin seeds with vitamin E. Vitamin E protects hair follicles and color.
- Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel containing omega-3s. Omega-3s keep hair moisturized and healthy.
- Iron-rich foods like spinach, lentils, and beef. Iron deficiency can lead to low melanin.
- Protein sources like eggs, turkey, and yogurt. Protein is needed to build hair keratin.
- Green tea, which has antioxidants that may prevent graying.
- Berries with antioxidants that reduce hair damage from the sun.
- Curry leaves and black tea, which contain pigments that may darken hair.
How does food change hair color?
Food can change hair color in a few key ways:
- Melanin production – Melanin is the pigment that gives hair its color. Copper, vitamin A, protein, and iron in the diet help stimulate melanin production and increase pigmentation.
- Antioxidant protection – Antioxidants from foods like berries, green tea, and nuts protect hair follicles from oxidative damage that can deplete melanin and cause graying.
- Direct pigment deposition – Some foods like curry leaves and black tea contain pigments that may tint the hair shaft, adding subtle darkening effects.
- Improved hair health – A nutritious diet supports faster, healthier hair growth. Hair is able to hold onto color better when the strands are strong.
So while food cannot radically change your natural hair color, eating melanin-boosting, hair healthy foods can help enhance your natural pigmentation and subtlety influence your hair hue over time.
Tips for using food to change hair color
If you wish to naturally enhance your hair color through diet, here are some tips:
- Consume copper-rich foods like cashews daily to promote melanin.
- Get plenty of protein by including eggs, meat, fish, and dairy in your meals. Shoot for around 50 grams of protein daily.
- Take a vitamin A supplement if you don’t eat enough vitamin A-rich fruits and vegetables.
- Drink green tea and berry-infused water 3 times a week for antioxidants.
- Use curry leaves, dried or fresh, when cooking 2-3 times a week.
- Consider taking an iron supplement if iron levels are low.
- Massage oils like coconut, olive, or almond into your hair weekly to condition.
- Stay hydrated and minimize use of harsh hair products or heat tools.
- Be patient. It can take weeks or months to notice subtle changes from dietary changes. Consistency is key.
What factors determine hair color?
The main factors that determine hair color are: genetics, melanin concentration and type, age, environment/sun exposure, and hormones.
Genetics play the biggest role, controlling what types and ratios of melanin pigments are produced. As we age, melanin production typically slows, causing graying. The sun can lighten hair over time while environment pollution can darken it.
Hormonal changes also impact melanin production. While we can’t change genetics or age, diet and lifestyle habits can help maximize melanin production within one’s biological potential.
What happens to your hair when you diet?
When calorie restriction causes substantial weight loss, the stress of dieting can briefly impact hair in a few ways:
- Hair may seem thinner as hairs naturally shed at higher rates initially when dieting. However, this shedding phase is temporary. Coloring hair also may be a reason for hair thinning.
- Hair growth may slow down since hair is nonessential tissue. Less nutrients get directed to hair follicles. This effect is reversed when normal eating resumes.
- Hair can become dryer and more brittle as the body produces less beneficial oils. Hydration is important.
So while dieting can stress hair in the short-term, normal fullness and growth resumes with normalized eating habits. The impact is temporary and reversed when the diet ends.
What changes your hair color naturally?
A few factors lead to natural changes in hair color over time:
- Genetics – Certain genes lead to early graying or premature hair color changes.
- Aging – As we get older, melanin production slows and oxidation damage accumulates, causing gray hairs.
- Environment – Sun exposure can lighten hair over time. Pollution may gradually darken hair.
- Hormones – Hormonal shifts from pregnancy, menopause, or thyroid issues impact melanin.
- Illness – Certain medical conditions lead to lowered melanin concentration.
- Medications – Some drugs, like chemotherapy, alter hair pigment deposition.
- Stress – High stress may accelerate depletion of stem cells that produce melanin.
While we cannot change intrinsic factors like genetics and aging, external factors like sun, pollution, and stress can be managed to help delay or minimize natural hair color changes.
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Andriya Ruth, is a beauty specialist with more than 10 years of experiences. She loves to test new beauty products and techniques to innovate novel beauty procedures for her clients and knowledge. Further, she contributes to several beauty magazines and blogs as a leading author/reviewer.