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Hair gets its colour from a pigment called melanin, and there are two types - black/dark brown, and reddish-yellow. Produced by cells called melanocytes, these two pigment types combine to produce an incredible variety of hair colours, from platinum blonde, to auburn, to black. 

Once these pigments are produced by our melanocyte cells, they are passed on to other cells in our body that produce keratin, the main protein that makes up hair. Keratin is the same protein that builds our nails, and is naturally colourless, so as we age and our bodies start to produce less pigment cells, less colours will be deposited into our hair protein. This explains why we eventually lose our hair colour and end up grey, and then completely white.

But it's not just ageing that affects our hair colour - environmental factors such as smoking, poor nutrition, and thyroid problems can also increase how quickly we go grey. But what about stress? Despite many people's suspicions that a particularly stressful time in their life made them go grey early, there's not much scientific evidence to support this. It's not that the theory has been disproven, the problem is that subjecting people to high levels of stress as part of a scientific experiment isn't exactly ethical, so no one's been able to figure out how to adequately investigate this in humans.

However, a study conducted last year with mice revealed some ntriguing results. Researchers found that high levels of stress hormones can cause the colour pigment cells to migrate away from the hair folicles in their rodent subjects. Could something similar be happening in humans? 

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