Stopping grey hair with science

By Deanna Utroske contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Human skin color

Stopping grey hair with science
NYU researchers Makoto Takeo, Wendy Lee, and their team have identified the molecular pathway that manages hair (and skin) color. And this latest ‘cure for grey’ is making headlines well beyond the hair care and beauty industries.

Cell Reports, an open-access journal focused on new biological insights, published the team’s work late last week. Already mainstream press outlets, including Newsweek.com, have picked up the item as a ‘cure’ for not only grey hair but also for the skin pigment condition vitiligo.

Paper work

Like all published research, this work is fundamentally a new piece or next step in understanding. Thanks to Takeo, Lee, and their team, we have a fuller understanding of the functioning science behind natural hair color.

The paper is titled, “EdnrB Governs Regenerative Response of Melanocyte Stem Cells by Crosstalk with Wnt Signaling,” and documents the researcher’s analysis of genetic mouse models. The team used both loss and gain-of-function models to learn more about the protein coding gene Endothelin Receptor Type B, or EdnrB.

“Overall, our findings reveal a vital role for Edn/EdnrB signaling in regulation of adult melanocytes in vivo and its action in conjunction with the Wnt pathway,”​ explain the researchers in the article abstract.

Press angle

The popular press has picked up the commercial potential of this research: It “could one day lead to cosmetic treatments that restore graying locks to more youthful colors such as brown, blond and red,” ​notes Jessica Firger in her article for Newsweek.com.

Discoveries in this area seem to be coming fast these days. And it may be that the sheer amount of new data means novel treatments and technologies will soon come to market. In March, Cosmetics Design reported on the discovery by scientists at University College London of the grey hair gene​. “These findings have potential forensic and cosmetic applications as we increase our knowledge on how genes influence the way we look,” ​observed that studied lead author Kaustubh Adhikari.

Putting it in context

The science that may ‘cure’ grey is coming together at a curious time. Ageless looks are popular across generations, while age management and wellness products are sharing shelf space with anti-aging ones.

Fashionable young consumers are dying their hair grey​, while women whose hair has turned grey naturally are looking to keep the new color looking its healthy best. To meet these expectations, specialty raw material companies like Croda are testing ingredients on grey hair​. For instance the conditioning agent Crodazosoft DBQ has “been shown to provide consumer-perceivable softening benefits on grey hair,” ​according to the company.

Grey is, perhaps, here to stay. And, the new science on color will only make hair color choice a reality for every consumer.

Find the Takeo and Lee article on EdnrB here​.

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