Milbon's Scientific Discoveries


Discovery of “Melanin Delivery Malfunction” in Grey/White Hair

Disrupted Melanin Production

Hair starts to turn grey/white when it stops producing melanin pigment in the hair bulb, which is located at the root area. There are two known causes that may disrupt the melanin production: abnormalities with melanocytes*¹ as well as loss of naturally occurring melanocyte stem cells*² and melanocytes.

Melanin Delivery Malfunction

Milbon’s Research:

We studied grey/white hair from 3,451 people ranging in ages from their 20s through 70s. Through our close examination, we observed hair whose melanin production is still active yet appears grey/white. This is more prevalent among people with less grey/white hair when the greying process is in an early stage. What we discovered; melanin pigment is produced in this hair, however it is not delivered into the hair shaft.

Milbon’s Findings:

In our scientific analysis, we measured the quantities of expressed genes that are responsible for pigment production. Grey/white hair with active melanin synthesis showed a similar result as pigmented hair contrary to previous expectations. Meanwhile, the quantity of expressed melanophilin*³ that is in charge of delivering the pigment into the hair matrix*⁴ was reduced. This delivery malfunction results in the appearance of grey/white hair. In conclusion, hair in its early stage of greying may still produce pigment; however, the melanin delivery system needs to be reactivated in order to restore the appearance of pigmented hair.

Three Botanical Extracts that Reactivate Melanophilin

Milbon identified three botanical extracts that are effective in promoting the activity of melanophin: pueraria lobata root extract, thymus serpyllum extract, and chamomilla recutita flower extract. We confirmed that the daily use of a leave-in scalp treatment containing specific amounts of these ingredients can decrease the appearance of grey hair.

*¹Melanocytes: cells that produce melanin pigment
*²Melanocyte stem cells: cells that transform into melanocytes
*³Melanophilin: genes that deliver melanin pigment into the hair matrix
*⁴Hair matrix: cells that form the hair shaft

This research was conducted under the observation of Professor Mitsunori Fukuda of Tohoku University.
All graphic images are for illustrative purposes only.