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The enzyme tyrosinase and grey hair

When our first grey hairs appear, many people become aware of their own age. It often begins with individual hairs at the temples, which constantly increase until the whole head shimmers grey or white.

This is because of the lack of the pigment melanin in the hair. This pigment defines our natural hair colour, and is normally incorporated in the hair by the melanocytes in the hair follicles. If there is no or not enough melanin, instead of this the melanocytes incorporate small air bubbles in the hair’s layers of keratin, which our eye then perceives as grey or white.

Tyrosinase is highly involved in the formation of melanin from tyrosine. If there is an insufficient amount of this, the production of melanin is impaired and the hairs then turn grey.

What is tyrosinase?

Tyrosinase is an enzyme that consists of 511 amino acids, contains copper and catalyses the oxidation of the amino acid tyrosine. It occurs in almost all the earth’s creatures and is essential for melanin synthesis, i.e. the production of the colour pigment melanin in the body. In the case of people with albinism, for example, it is either absent, occurs in a low amount or in a changed form. The consequence of this is that there is no or insufficient melanin, and so not only are the hairs very light, but the skin is very light too.

The production of tyrosinase in the body is increased by the sun through UVB radiation, which in turn increases the production of melanin. This becomes particularly apparent through the tanning of the skin as a result of sun exposure.

How is tyrosinase responsible for the formation of melanin?

Tyrosinase triggers the formation of melanin. It converts monophenols to chinones, chemically highly reactive substances, which then bond of their own accord to form melanin. Consequently, the enzyme tyrosinase plays a key role for the skin colour, as well as the natural hair colour.

Tyrosinase and hydrogen peroxide

In the human metabolism, metabolic by-products such as hydrogen peroxide are constantly produced. Hydrogen peroxide damages the cells, and can thus attack the genome and cause serious health problems. If the body’s metabolic processes are functioning normally, the enzyme catalase neutralises hydrogen peroxide by converting it to water and oxygen. However, if the metabolism is impaired, e.g. by illnesses, medications, an unhealthy diet or stress, it is not capable of breaking down hydrogen peroxide as it usually does. We call this oxidative stress.

The breakdown of hydrogen peroxide is also vital for the functioning of tyrosinase. Hydrogen peroxide attacks tyrosinase by oxidising the amino acid methionine, a component of tyrosinase. This means that the structurally changed tyrosinase can no longer contribute to the production of melanin. Furthermore, the hydrogen peroxide inhibits further enzymes that help to repair the oxidised amino acids. Consequently, the body no longer has sufficient tyrosinase in its original form, which means it can no longer produce melanin. A visible result of this fatal process chain is grey hair.

A healthy lifestyle and targeted scalp care

The basis for lastingly maintaining the natural hair colour is a healthy metabolism, which keeps oxidative stress and thus the concentration of hydrogen peroxide in the cells, particularly in the scalp, low. To maintain these processes in the body, you should practice a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, exercise, low stress and no nicotine or excessive alcohol consumption.

You should particularly make sure to supply the body with sufficient vitamins and mineral substances, as well as antioxidants, as these reduce the level of hydrogen peroxide and thus oxidative stress. It is also necessary to sufficiently supply the body with all essential amino acids, as well as copper, as components of tyrosinase. Eating wholegrain products, pulses, cocoa and nuts is particularly helpful with this. Pay attention to a varied diet to lastingly supply your body with all vital components that are essential for a healthy metabolism. Because grey hair is often an indicator of a lack of nutrients. If there is a missing link in this chain and if it can’t be balanced out, the entire process is disturbed.

For targeted support of the scalp’s metabolism, we also recommend care with the anti-grey scalp lotion Dermosthétique Anti-Age Elixir Anti-Grey. The active ingredient complex it contains perfectly supports the hair follicles’ task to produce healthy and beautiful hair in the natural hair colour. A biomimetic peptide stimulates melanin production, plant extract of candle bush has an antioxidative effect, and thus effectively reduces oxidative stress. Minerals from the medicinal gemstone malachite supply the hair papilla with vital trace elements, and thus have an antioxidative effect. Thus, regular care of the hair and scalp with Anti-Grey Elixir by La Biosthétiquelastingly maintains the natural hair colour.