This we know: If your parents or grandparents went gray and did so early, then chances are you will, too. But in a relatively new twist, this 2016 study found the exact gene responsible for gray hair. The study looked at the genomes of more than 6,000 people from Latin America and identified 18 genes that influence hair traits, including IRF4, which previously was known for producing light hair in people of European origin but now is associated with gray hair.
“This is the first time a gene for graying has been identified in humans,” said lead author Dr. Kaustubh Adhikari, a researcher at University College London, in a press release. “As hair grays something happens that causes this gene to produce even lower levels of melanin. Now we can ask more specific functional questions,” Adhikari told Newsweek.
Then again, if you're sporting the salt-and-pepper look these days, it may mean simply that you've accumulated some life experience and earned your stripes — whether you choose to dye them or not.