The secret of why our hair goes grey …and the shampoo that could reverse its effects


It’s a dark day for grey hair: scientists think they know why our locks lose their colour. Too much bleach.
However, it’s not necessarily the stuff that comes in a bottle but our natural supplies of hydrogen peroxide, which plays a vital role in many bodily processes.

Wear and tear on our bodies leads to dangerously high levels building up in the roots of our hair, blocking the production of pigment, Bradford University researchers found.

Grey hair is a tell-tale sign of the inevitable ageing process – but scientists are testing a drug which could reverse it

Their study raises the tantalising prospect that a shampoo or potion that cuts levels of hydrogen peroxide will restore grey or white hair to its natural shade or even stop us going grey in the first place.

The researchers are already testing such a drug on three friends whose brown hair has turned grey and expect to know within the next two months whether it works.

If it does, millions would welcome the prospect of a more permanent and natural alternative to expensive dyes. However, even if it works, the drug would take several years to reach our shelves.

Experiments found high levels of hydrogen peroxide in grey hair and lower than expected levels of three enzymes, including one that usually keeps hydrogen peroxide in check, the FASEB Journal reports.

Researcher Karin Schallreuter, who collaborated with colleagues at two German universities, said: ‘This discovery is a major breakthrough in the understanding of hair greying and opens up some novel ideas to combat the scenario.’

She said young women who use hydrogen peroxide-based dyes to lighten their hair should not necessarily worry. In older women, though, such dyes may speed up the greying process.

It is thought that genetics control if and when a person will go grey, although stress, alcohol, smoking and poor diet are believed to accelerate the process. Most Britons spot their first grey hairs around the age of 25.

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