A cure for grey hair which means millions will be able to throw away messy dyes may not be too far off, researchers have said.
Scientists found people who are going grey develop "massive oxidative stress" via an accumulation of hydrogen peroxide in the hair follicle, which causes hair to bleach itself from the inside out.
According to the FASEB Journal , the team, which includes experts from Bradford University's School of Life Sciences, discovered the accumulation of hydrogen peroxide can be remedied with a treatment, reports Sky News.
They described it as "a topical, UVB-activated compound called PC-KUS (a modified pseudocatalase)", the report said.
The treatment can also be used for people with the skin condition vitiligo, which causes a loss of pigmentation. In 1993 Michael Jackson claimed to have developed vitiligo.
Study author Professor Karin Schallreuter, a specialist in vitiligo, said: "To date, it is beyond any doubt that the sudden loss of the inherited skin and localised hair colour can affect those individuals in many fundamental ways.
"The improvement of quality of life after total and even partial successful repigmentation has been documented."
The research team made their discovery after studying an international group of 2,411 patients.
FASEB Journal editor-in-chief Gerald Weissman said: "For generations, numerous remedies have been concocted to hide grey hair but now, for the first time, an actual treatment that gets to the root of the problem has been developed.
"While this is exciting news, what's even more exciting is that this also works for vitiligo.
"This condition, while technically cosmetic, can have serious socio-emotional effects on people.
"Developing an effective treatment for this condition has the potential to radically improve many people's lives."