L'Oreal patents a 'secret potion' for gray hair

But the treatment is no easy ride. It seems you'd have to use it forever.

By Jonathan Berr Jul 12, 2013 7:31AM
Man with gray hair (© Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)L'Oreal SA (LRLCY), the world's largest cosmetics company, may have found a cure for gray hair.

New York Magazine
stumbled across a patent application for what L'Oreal calls a "secret potion that will prevent gray hair. Forever." 

It isn't clear how this elixir will be transported from the chemists' beakers to actual human heads. A spokesperson for L'Oreal Paris' U.S. business didn't respond to requests for comment.

The Paris company has been researching graying hair for a while. Its research is focused on a fruit extract that works like an enzyme called TRP-2, which makes pigment-producing cells called melanocytes. They would in theory keep hair from going gray, according to a 2011 ABCNews.com report.

It appears as though this new patent is related to this previous research. However, there are a few catches with this miracle cure.

For one thing, as New York notes, L'Oreal's formula includes something called putrescine, an organic chemical compound creates the foul odor in a variety of things such as rotting fish and bad breath. The other is the effectiveness.

Bruno Bernard, head of L'Oreal's hair care unit, was quoted by the U.K.'s Daily Mail in 2011 as saying that a patient would "ideally" take the company's treatment on a daily basis for the rest of their lives. To make matters worse, people would need to start using it "before their hair goes gray because we don't think it can reverse the process once it has started."

Then why bother?

Doctors, of course, are skeptical.

"What's the point of taking a pill 10 years before you need and take it forever if you're never going to turn gray?" asked Maria Colavincenzo, an assistant professor of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in a 2011 NBCNews.com report.

Indeed, it seems easier to live with gray hair than jump through these hoops to avoid it.

Follow Jonathan Berr on Twitter @jdberr

More on moneyNOW

Jul 12, 2013 11:35AM
I didn't know having gray hair was an illness requiring a 'cure'.  Good gracious, I should file for disability!
Jul 12, 2013 11:08AM
how about curing male pattern baldness instead of gray hair? gray is awesome, bald is not
Jul 12, 2013 11:14AM
Jul 12, 2013 11:07AM
Another worthless cure for narcissistic people in a disposable culture. Newsflash: 95% of you still look old even though you don't have gray hair.  
Jul 12, 2013 11:21AM
Whoever said that graying hair needed to be cured?
Jul 12, 2013 11:36AM
I have my own cure..I Don't Care........:)
Jul 12, 2013 11:24AM
Stupid MSN. The article itself says it doesn't "CURE" anything - rather it prevents it if it hasn't already happened. Another misleading headline to draw you in and disappoint.
Jul 12, 2013 10:07AM
I started going gray at a young age (15) and found it to be a great asset.  Chicks dig the salt and pepper and I was the hero of the dorms my freshman year in college.
Jul 12, 2013 11:50AM
They cannot help me......my hair turned grey.....and then turned loose!!!!
Jul 12, 2013 11:21AM
What happened to aging gracefully?  How vain!  How stupid!
Jul 12, 2013 11:37AM

Color in a box is my answer as I can either go and stay grey or color my hair as my mood dictates. Also, what happens if they come back 20 years from now and say.. Oops, this needs to be started at birth, it stunts your growth, it shortens your life, your hair falls out when you reach 40, your kids will come out mutant ninja turtles or...etc., etc..


Jul 12, 2013 11:17AM
Let's give it out for free. We can call it Obama hair
Jul 12, 2013 11:15AM
When they can cure  baldness, I will take note. This is not worth either the money or the time.
Jul 12, 2013 11:41AM
My mom was totally gray at 28.  A close friend was going very gray in high school.  I don't think it's a narcissistic thing to color your hair at such a young age.  Both colored their hair.  They just wanted to look their age and not quite a bit older.  
Jul 12, 2013 11:22AM

Put this on the list with the other dumb inventions

Jul 12, 2013 11:07AM
I have quite a few questions about this "cure". Like what are the potential side effects, would it keep ALL your hair from going gray( arm, nose, leg, ear hair, ect.) and what would be the financial cost over say a period of ten to fifteen years?
Jul 12, 2013 11:45AM

It's just a patent.  This probably hasn't been commercialized yet because L'Oreal is well aware of all the impracticalities that have been mentioned.  They probably just patented the idea to keep someone else from trying to profit from it.

Jul 12, 2013 11:22AM
If this elixir affects melanin producing cells... why not try to target melanocytes of the skin to treat vitiligo, a disfiguring autoimmune condition where skin loses it pigment.  (think Michael Jackson)
Jul 12, 2013 11:33AM
And then when millions of women actually die their hair (and some men too), simply for vanity's sake and/or because  they don't like the color if their hair, then why bother taking a pill?
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