It sounds too good to be true. An April 2013 study will no doubt leave the hair dye industry seeing red. According to a joint group of researchers at Germany’s Institute for Pigmentary Disorders at E.M. Arndt University of Greifswald and the UK’s Centre for Skin Sciences at the University of Bradford, they’ve come across a cure for gray hair. First, a mini science lesson: Gray hair is the result of oxidative stress that causes hydrogen peroxide to accumulate in the hair follicle. In response, the hair strand then essentially bleaches itself, from the inside out. In the study, the process appears to be thwarted with the application of a topical complex called PC-KUS, which converts hydrogen peroxide to water and oxygen. The research also revealed that the compound worked similar magic for a group of 2,411 patients with the skin condition known as vitiligo, which is marked by white patches on the skin caused by pigment loss.
Could it really be true-finally, a cure for gray hair?
Quite possibly, says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Medical Center’s department of dermatology.
“The idea that loss of pigmentation in the hair and skin are related is extremely interesting on a basic science level,” he says. “The traditional treatment of gray hair with hair dye is cosmetic and doesn’t get to the root of the problem,” he explains. “A treatment that prevents or reverses the underlying graying process would revolutionize our approach to hair care.”
While the news may have blondes, redheads and brunettes of every tone rejoicing worldwide, the news is also groundbreaking for patients who suffer from vitiligo, a common condition that significantly impacts quality of life, says Zeichner.
And the findings once again show how oxidative stress plays a role in many diseases, from cancer and heart disease, to wrinkles and now even gray hair.
“The role of oxidative stress in depigmenting conditions further reinforces the need for antioxidants, both topically applied and ingested through a healthy diet,” advises Zeichner.
Luckily, there’s no deprivation here; antioxidants are an often deliciously sweet and energizing diet addition. Simply serve up another helping of super antioxidant-rich foods like blueberries, strawberries, Red Delicious and Granny Smith apples, cherries and green tea. If you’re a fan of beans, red, kidney and pinto varieties pack the most antioxidant punch.