Onions, Coffee, And 9 Other Kitchen Items That Can Help Stop Premature Gray Hair

by Shellie Renee'

While women have long bemoaned their grays, in recent years silver hair has actually come in vogue. Women of all ages — teens included — are visiting stylists to get their hair professionally dyed shades of gray.

(When you get a chance, check out “Young Women Are Embracing Their Grey Hair Like Never Before — And I, for One, Am Rooting for It“.) In other words, people are choosing premature gray hair as a look.

So if you’re not of typical graying age, and you’ve noticed more than a couple of gray (or white) strands of hair recently, the good news is that you’re pretty on trend! Pardon the pun, but that’s the silver lining.

But trends aren’t for everyone, and not everyone is happy to go gray before their time.

Luckily, there are options. You could dye your hair any color you want (if you eschew chemical dyes, you can try natural products like henna or coffee). Or you can attempt some cool hacks we’ve found that some people use to try to stop premature grays in their tracks.

Even better, these home hacks, which involve products you likely already have in your kitchen, are cheap and super easy.

What Is Premature Graying?

a woman upset about her grey hair
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Gray hair is something that most of us will have to deal with at some point in our lives. It’s a natural change that happens when our hair follicles stop producing pigment, which usually happens gradually as we age. As follicles stop producing color, white, silver, or gray begins to replace the natural hair color.

Reportedly, 50% of people will have grayed, at least somewhat, by the age of 50 (Caucasians tend to gray the earliest, especially those with red hair). However, individuals who get gray hair before entering their 30s are considered to have premature gray hair.

How does it happen? More times than not, you can “thank” genetics. In other words, if your parents and grandparents experienced premature graying, there’s a good chance that you will, too.

What Causes Premature Gray Hair?

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There is a popular belief that stress can cause gray hair. However, the verdict is still out. Other factors such as a vitamin B12 deficiency, issues with your pituitary or thyroid gland, and even not getting enough copper (more on that in just a sec) in your system can lead to those pesky grays.

How Diet Might Affect Premature Gray Hair

a woman eating
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Studies indicate that people with gray hair (including premature grays) often don’t have enough copper in their systems. While no research has found that improving copper levels can prevent or reverse graying, that doesn’t stop people from trying. You can correct a copper deficiency by taking a vitamin supplement that contains copper or by eating more copper-rich foods such as whole grains, green beans, shellfish, dried fruit, and even dark chocolate.

Speaking of food, some things we consume might also contribute to graying, like artificial colors and sweeteners, and high quantities of salt.

On the flip side, foods like dark leafy greens, blueberries, salmon, sunflower seeds and even mushrooms have been promoted by some as helping to combat the gray.

And that’s not all. We’ve rounded up 11 home hacks, most that you can find in your own kitchen, that can help fight against premature graying.

1. Black Tea

a cup of tea
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The next time you decide to have a cup of tea, save some for your hair. If you’re a brunette, you can steep some dark tea along with a little dried sage, nettle, rosemary, or elderberry into a gentle natural hair dye. Chamomile tea is perfect if you’re a blonde, and rooibos tea works well if you’re a redhead.

2. Ginger

ginger root
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Ginger root contains a lot of powerful antioxidants that have been found to be beneficial for treating uneven skin tone. It can also be used as a topical treatment for fighting premature graying.

The best way to use it on your hair is to make your own ginger paste. Grate the ginger and mix with a little milk to form the paste. Then apply it to freshly washed hair once a week. After a couple of months of treatment, your gray strands might appear somewhat darkened.

3. Eggs

some eggs
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As mentioned, vitamin B12 deficiencies have been linked to premature graying. Eggs are high in B12 (in fact, all dairy products are). Feel free to eat them a few times a week. You can also apply an “eggcelent” DIY hair mask.

4. Almond Milk and Lemon Juice

almond milk and lemons
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People have been shampooing with milk for a while, but almond milk, in particular, might be beneficial for grays. Almonds are rich in copper, and some brands of almond milk might retain the mineral.

Almond milk also contains vitamin E, which can contribute to healthy hair and scalp while you’re treating your gray hair.

Also, if you add some lemon juice to the milk, the antioxidants in the juice will also give you a healthy boost.

5. Potato Peels

potatoes and potato peels
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Potatoes contain a myriad of nutrients including vitamin B6 and C, copper, potassium, manganese, phosphorus, niacin, dietary fiber, zinc, and pantothenic acid — all of which might help to stave off gray hair.

Peel a couple of of raw potatoes, then boil them. Strain the liquid and add some lavender oil  (to remove any potato smell). Let it cool. Then pour the mixture into a glass container that has a lid and use it as an after-shampoo rinse. Don’t rinse out; just style as usual. Users of this method purportedly will gradually see less gray hair over time.

6. Apple Cider Vinegar

a bottle of apple cider vinegar
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There’s not nearly enough time to get into all of the ways the internet says apple cider vinegar can benefit your health. For starters, it is claimed to regulate your blood sugar levels, reduce breakouts, treat warts, enhance blood circulation, and even help you to lose weight.

At a minimum, applying apple cider vinegar as a rinse on your hair can make it soft and shiny. It is also claimed to stimulate your hair follicles, which can help stimulate growth.

When it comes to premature graying (and graying, in general), some claim that topical treatment can actually reverse gray hair growth, because of properties that help to feed your hair from the inside out.

Because apple cider vinegar is so potent, we recommend avoiding using straight vinegar. Mix it with one part distilled water first. Oh, and don’t worry about the smell. It will dissipate a few minutes after applying it.

7. Wheatgrass

wheatgrass drink and powder
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Wheatgrass is another natural wonder remedy. It contains a particular antioxidant that can keep excess hydrogen peroxide (which can strip away your hair pigment) from entering your hair follicles. Called catalase, it’s an enzyme that slows down our body’s natural production of hydrogen peroxide.

The best way to take advantage of the benefits of wheatgrass is to take a shot of it every morning.

8. Blackstrap Molasses

a bottle of Blackstrap Molasses
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If you’re low in iron or copper, molasses will help to get your system back on track. In fact, two tablespoons of it can provide you with 14% of the copper that you need daily.

You can help to cover gray hair you already have by using molasses as a “pre-poo” treatment (which is basically a way to treat your hair before shampooing it).

If you use it regularly, it can darken your hair (which is why this works especially well for brunettes). We recommend blackstrap molasses, because it’s a high-quality molasses.

9. Coffee

a coffeemaker and cup
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Coffee also works well to cover grays for women with dark hair. The natural color of coffee beans makes coffee one of the easiest natural ways to cover up gray strands.

The most effective way to use coffee as a natural dye is to brew a pot and let it cool. Pour a cup of the cooled coffee into your favorite hair conditioner and apply it to your hair as you would normally. Cover it with a plastic bag, and let it sit for an hour. Then rinse with cool water. Apply as such each time you wash your hair until you achieve your desired color!


10. Onions

some onions
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How do onions help to prevent premature graying? Good question.

The key ingredient is sulfur, which has properties that are claimed to stop gray hair over time — and even keep your hair from thinning out.

Peel an onion. Cut it up, put it in a juicer, and strain the juice. Massage the onion juice into your scalp, and let it sit for 45 minutes before washing and rinsing.

For the record, for this to be the most effective, you’ll need to repeat this process no less than three times a week, which is admittedly a smelly business.  Lemon juice and aloe vera can help with the odor.

11. Dark Chocolate

a Hershey's kiss

This is undoubtedly one of the sweetest natural ways claimed to combat premature graying. Like molasses, dark chocolate contains plenty of the nutrient copper.

The best part is, the recommended application is oral! For overall health benefits, studies have recommended eating 1 to 2 ounces a day. Enjoy!