The beauty industry has long focused on prolonging the health of skin and hair cells. However, many so-called innovations are little more than cosmetic, with temporary fillers, plumpers and colourants adjusting your appearance for fleeting moments. Lately, however, the industry is seeing innovations that are genuinely working on the physiology of ageing and its effects on the body.
For the past few years, beauty industry insiders have been aware of emerging research into hair greying and have been eagerly awaiting a major launch from L’Oréal’s hair division.
Now, that first-of-a-kind product is due for release. Kérastase Densifique Serum Jeunesse has been designed to discourage grey hair from appearing, while restoring shine, volume and softness to mature hair ($90, available in June 2015).
It contains a complex of protecting antioxidants called Anti-Ox Cellular and is said to give visible results within 30 days. From initial use hair feels noticeably improved, soft and supple like the hair you had in your 20s.
Referred to as a “youth activator”, the lightweight serum works internally and externally on the hair. It was created after groundbreaking research from the L’Oréal laboratories discovered the pathway to the deterioration of melanocytes in the scalp (skin cells that are responsible for producing colour in hair).
“The greying and whitening process is due to a progressive decline in melanin stem cell population caused by the cells’ very specific sensitivity to oxidative stress,” explains Dr Bruno Bernard, L’Oréal Fellow and Scientific Director at L’Oréal Research and Innovation. “We believe this sensitivity is one of the main causes of the hair greying process. By using the Anti-Ox Cellular we can expect it will protect the melanocytes against oxidative stress, resulting in a slowing of the hair greying process.”
The L’Oréal researchers discovered that a loss of melanocytes in the scalp also creates coarser and more porous hair and that oxidative stress effects follicle proteins, leading to hair thinning.
Accordingly, Jeunesse also contains five per cent stemoxydine, the key hair density-increasing ingredient in Kérastase’s popular Densifique range.
Bernard says he believes in the near future they will be able to prevent hair from greying altogether. “We have identified possible hair ageing targets already, so I am totally convinced we will be able to stop hair from greying in the future.”
In the late 1990s, a team from the University of Otago decided to study the breakdown of cell energy and its contribution to disease in the body.
The team researched mitochondria, structures within cells that are responsible for their levels of energy.
“The mitochondria age 10 per cent per decade from the age of 30, gradually getting less and less oxygen,” explains MitoQ New Zealand CEO Greg Macpherson. “When the mitochondria are not working well, they spew extra free radicals, leading to more damage.”
The team discovered that if they simply added a positive charge to the mitochondria’s own natural antioxidant, CoQ10, they could significantly boost antioxidant levels within these little powerhouses, leading to greatly improved cell health.
This positive charge is said to allow the antioxidants in MitoQ to penetrate the mitochondria 1000 times more effectively than traditional antioxidants are able to do.
The resulting discovery is available as MitoQ supplements ($74.95, mitoq.com) and MitoQ skin serum ($149), and the science behind the products features in more than 200 international research publications.
Because MitoQ began life being tested as a drug, according to research scientist and group leader of the University of Cambridge MRC-Mitochondrial Biology Unit Dr Michael Murphy, it is more tested than almost any other supplement on the market today.
According to the team, the simple message is that if you take MitoQ supplements you will age better.
“You’re reversing things rather than just stopping them,” says Murphy.
Since its launch, the product has been gaining a cult following, with everyone from those concerned with healthy ageing to MS and diabetes sufferers, to women going through menopause spreading it through word of mouth and on review sites.
For skin, users note an improvement in age-related concerns such as texture, lines and wrinkles, skin tone and pigmentation from using both the supplements and serum. The company currently has two new formulations due for release for heart health and blood sugar.
Watch this space: Super Serum
In a few months, the hotly awaited One Truth 818 Serum, based on the work of molecular biologist Dr Bill Andrews – whose career is dedicated to researching a “cure” for human ageing – will launch.
The new serum contains the TAM-818 molecule developed by Andrews and his team, which is known to aid telomere rejuvenation. Telomeres are found at the ends of cell chromosomes.
As we age, our cells divide and the telomeres shorten. Once the telomeres get too short they are no longer able to replicate sufficiently and this is linked with organ decline (remember, the skin is the body’s largest organ).
TAM-818, and by default One Truth 818 Serum, is said to be able to reverse signs of ageing, improving skin firmness and smoothness, and reducing lines and wrinkles. tam818.com