Updated 02 March 2016

Scientists find the grey hair gene

Finding the gene that makes us go grey could help scientists develop ways to prevent it in the first place.


Researchers from the University College London in England report that they have finally found the first gene linked with grey hair.

Forensic and cosmetic applications

After analysing the genetics of more than 6 000 people of mixed ancestry in Latin America, they are now sure that your genes play a role in the greying of your hair, but also how genes influence your hair shape and density.

Study author Kaustubh Adhikari said: "We already know several genes involved in balding and hair colour, but this is the first time a gene for greying has been identified in humans."

Read: 10 interesting facts about your hair

Analysing a diverse mix of people has never been done on this scale and the findings have great potential for developing forensic and cosmetic applications.

The gene linked with grey hair is called IRF4 and though researcher knew this gene plays a role in determining our hair colour, it's now for the first time linked to the greying of hair

The study not only helps researchers understand why hair greys, but allows possibilities of finding ways of delaying hair greying.

Another gene, called PRSS53, was also found and this one seems to influence hair curliness.

Read: My boyfriend is obsessed with my curly hair

"It has long been speculated that hair features could have been influenced by some form of selection, such as natural or sexual selection, and we found statistical evidence in the genome supporting that view," Adhikari said.

"The genes we have identified are unlikely to work in isolation to cause greying or straight hair, or thick eyebrows, but have a role to play along with many other factors yet to be identified," he said.


Nature Communications, 1 March 2016,

Read more:

Scientists find new clues to why men go bald

What causes hair loss?

Different genes determine blonde hair around the globe



ManYour body

Live healthier

Quit smoking »

How to beat triggers that make you crave a cigarette

You need to learn how to beat the behavioural, environmental and emotional triggers if you want to succeed in quitting smoking.

Hygiene »

Your showerhead may be bathing you in germs

You probably think showering will wash away dirt and germs, but your showerhead might dump nasty bacteria on you instead that may cause lung infections.