Anti-Gray Pill Raises Health Concerns

By Rebecca Jones

In another chapter in our never-ending quest for a fountain of youth, cosmetic company L’Oreal has announced that they are developing a pill that can prevent hair from turning gray. Sound too good to be true? That’s because it probably is.

The pill, which is scheduled to become available in 2015 contains a yet undisclosed fruit extract that imitates an enzyme that protects the production of pigment. The hope is that this extract will prevent the oxidation that affects hair cells and turns them gray.

Despite the fact that the company has been working on this supplement for over a decade there remain some major flaws in its application. First of all, if you already have gray hair this drug is not for you, for it to work it must start to be taken ten years before a person starts turning gray. Unfortunately no one knows when that will be; some people start turning gray in their 20’s while some never go gray at all. Basically everyone would have to hedge their bets and start taking this supplement at a very young age just in case they start going gray early on.

Problem 2, the pill has to be taken every day for the rest of your life or until you decide to embrace your inner silver fox. I think Dr. Maria Colavincenzo, from Northwestern University Feinburg School of Medicine, said it best. “There are some people who never go gray. What’s the point of taking a pill 10 years before you need it and take it forever if you’re never going to turn gray?”

On top of the high maintenance factor there is also the inherent health risks that come from taking a new supplement for an extended period of time. Dermatologists are concerned about how this pill will affect the skin and organs after long term exposure. Considering that this is a purely cosmetic supplement many believe that it would not be worth the risk.

While coloring one’s hair on a regular basis can be tedious and expensive I think we are a long ways off still from finding a safe and consumer friendly alternative. Despite the company drawing a comparison to the daily long term use of the hair loss drug Propecia, I think they have missed the mark on what the consumer will actually be willing to tolerate in their search for eternal youth.