May 7, 2013 at 12:50 PM ET
Put down the tweezers and step away from the mirror. Those wily and wiry strands of gray hair may soon be a thing of the past.
A team of European researchers believe they may have accidentally stumbled upon a permanent fix for gray hair. (George Clooney, if you’re reading this, please don’t lose the silver locks.)
While looking for a cure for vitiligo, a condition that causes the loss of skin pigment, researchers found a treatment to reverse the pigment loss, and it undid gray hair, too!
According to the study published in The FASEB Journal, gray hair develops from the buildup of hydrogen peroxide in the hair follicle caused by “massive oxidative stress” (cellular wear and tear)—the same thing believed to trigger some forms of vitiglio. As we all know from unfortunate experiments in junior high, hydrogen peroxide bleaches the hell out of hair. When the chemical shows up inside the hair follicles, instead of turning our strands a spectacular shade of red or brassy blonde, it makes us go gray.
People with vitiligo have low levels of the enzyme catalase, which breaks down pigment-killing hydrogen peroxide. So the scientists created a cream with pseudo catalase, put it on the skin and hair and had participants sit in the sun to activate it. And voila: The patches of gray hair and pigment-less skin disappeared.
Chances are, more studies are needed to make sure this proprietary solution works the way it appears to. But here’s hoping researchers will fast-track the crap out of it. I’m one year away from the big 4-0, and lately I’m realizing that I’ve got more grays than I could possibly tweeze without ending up with a massive bald patch. And covering up that telltale sign of aging with hair dye isn’t a solution I’ve much been looking forward to.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.