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Vitamin E to combat white hair?

It is normal for hair to turn white over the years. Several factors, including genetics, stress, and external aggressions, can accelerate this natural process. The onset of white hair can be difficult for some people who feel it ages them. Can vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, delay their appearance? Or, even better, can it help to repigment them? The answers are in this article.

Summary
Published April 23, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 4 min read

Vitamin E to slow down hair whitening?

Hair whitening, also known as canities, is a completely natural phenomenon that affects every individual. It typically occurs around the age of 35, although some people who are genetically luckier still have colored hair at 50. Besides heredity, several factors can accelerate hair depigmentation, including oxidative stress. Indeed, several studies conducted with smokers and/or people frequently exposed to the sun have shown that free radicals damage melanocytes, the cells that synthesize melanin. One of the main pathways through which oxidative stress causes permanent damage to melanocytes appears to involve the mitochondria, whose DNA is particularly fragile. As a reminder, mitochondria are intracellular organelles found notably in melanocytes and essential for cell functioning. The accumulation of mutations in melanocytes due to attacks from free radicals hinders the synthesis of melanin and leads to premature whitening of hair fibers.

One of the ways to prevent graying is through the protection of melanocytes and their organelles from free radicals. This is the role of the body's antioxidants such as superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione, and ubiquinone, but their activity and number are sometimes insufficient. An external supply of antioxidants may then prove useful. Vitamin E is a good candidate for this. Indeed, its aromatic chemical structure allows it to neutralize free radicals by donating an electron, thus preventing them from altering melanocytes. Vitamin E could therefore protect melanocytes from oxidative stress and prevent the loss of melanin in the hair. However, while it seems relevant to think that this molecule, taken orally or applied topically, could slow down hair whitening, no scientific study has to date demonstrated this effect. Several studies conducted on vitamin E have illustrated its photoprotective action on hair fibers but have not allowed to conclude about its ability to slow down graying.

Despite its antioxidant properties, it is currently impossible to assert that vitamin E can prevent the onset of gray hair.

White Hair: Can Vitamin E Repigment It?

When white hair becomes a source of insecurity and embarrassment, it may be time to take action to recolor it. Some treatments exist for this purpose, but they generally provide mixed results. As for vitamin E, no scientific evidence has been provided to date regarding its effects on white hair. Moreover, white hair is not solely due to the loss of melanocyte activity, but also to the gradual decrease in their number. Thus, even if vitamin E could reach the melanocytes and restart melanogenesis, it would only have an effect if there are still melanocytes present in the hair follicles.

Advice : Today, the best way to combat white hair is to request a hair dye from your hairdresser. Although the result is temporary, it is the most effective method to regain your color.

Sources

  • PETERS E. & al. Towards a "free radical theory of graying": melanocyte apoptosis in the aging human hair follicle is an indicator of oxidative stress induced tissue damage. The FASEB Journal (2006).

  • TRUEB R. M. Pharmacologic interventions in aging hair. Clinical Interventions in Aging (2006).

  • CODERCH L. & al. Efficacy of antioxidants in human hair. Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology (2012).

  • SEIBERG M. Age-induced hair greying - the multiple effects of oxidative stress.International Journal of Cosmetic Science(2013).

  • TRUEB R. M. The impact of oxidative stress on hair. International Journal of Cosmetic Science (2015).

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