L’Oréal’s anti-grey pill, a daily medication based on a secret fruit extract, is scheduled to launch within the next four years.
Bruno Bernard, head of hair biology at L’Oréal, told The Sunday Times:
“We have a watertight proof of concept with this, and we think it will have a market among men as well as women.”
Although L’Oréal has been researching the pill for more than a decade, scientists acknowledge it will take at least another 10 more to chart its effectiveness, because hair-greying is such a slow process.
The bad news for people whose hair has already started to turn grey, the scientists believe the anti-grey pill won’t reverse the process.
“Ideally you would take it (the pill) for your whole life,” said Bruno Bernard.
“But realistically we would encourage people to start using it before their hair goes grey because we don’t think it can reverse the process once it has started.”
Hair cells are at their best between puberty and the age of 25. Once people hit 30, the hair cells slump into an “oxidative stress” process and their defense against toxins breaks down summoning the appearance of grey hairs.
The new anti-grey pill is designed to protect the hair cells.
According to researchers, the absence of a protective enzyme called tyrosinase-related protein 2 (TRP-2) causes hair pigment cells to die as people get older.
But, instead of developing a synthetic drug that mimics TRP-2, L’Oréal screened thousands of natural compounds humans are exposed to already and found one in the fruit.
Des Tobin, professor of cell biology at Bradford University’s Centre for Skin Science, told The Sunday Times:
“With people living longer and working longer, they are in the grey zone for longer, and the demand for something like this is huge.”
George Cotsarelis, a hair cell expert at the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine, said although he was skeptical, if the company had found a way to prevent pigment cells from dying off it could be “very interesting”.