It might surprise many people to know that olfactory – or smell – receptors are found in other human body tissues besides the nose. As well as the gut, lungs and heart, among others, olfactory receptors can also be found in human skin, including the scalp. These receptors are types of proteins which bind to odour molecules. An olfactory receptor found in hair follicles has been found to bind to Sandalore, a common man-made chemical used in soaps and perfumes. Sandalore, which mimics sandalwood fragrance, helps to strengthen hair strands and protects them from damage. Sandalore thus helps reduce hair loss, while promoting healthy hair regrowth.
How Sandalore Works
It’s already known that wounds heal faster under lab conditions when human skin cells are exposed to Sandalore. The odorant promotes keratin, a fibrous protein which forms the key structural component of the epidermis. Keratin also plays a crucial part in the wound healing process.
This is the first time ever that it has been shown that the remodelling of a normal human mini-organ [a hair] can be regulated by a simple, cosmetically widely-used odorant.
How to Trigger Rapid Hair Growth
Professor Ralf Paus, a scientist at the University of Manchester, via The Independent
So it wasn’t going to be long before somebody looked at how Sandalore might improve hair regrowth. The same keratinocytes found in skin are also present in hair follicles.
Keratinocytes are cells which produce keratin. Just as the (outer) epidermal layer of skin comprises 90% keratin in its structure, the cortex of the hair strand is almost entirely made up of keratin. This fibrous protein is what gives hair its strength and resilience. So the more keratin your hair follicles produce, the more hair you keep during its natural growth cycle.
Sandalore works by prolonging the anagen, or growing phase of the hair growth cycle. It also delays the transitional catagen phase, which lasts about two weeks. The reduction in cell death allows the proliferation of keratinocytes to continue unchecked. Still, promoting hair growth is only one side of the coin. Questions remain about whether Sandalore can actually reverse hair loss. It’s the final phase of the hair growth cycle, the telogen phase, when hair falls out.
The Science Behind Sandalore
The expressed olfactory receptor targeted by Sandalore is OR2AT4. This receptor does not ‘smell’ the chemical in the traditional sense, rather it sends out chemosensory signals. OR2AT4 receptors are found on the outer layer of the hair follicles. This places them in the front line for keratinocyte stimulation and the production of keratin.
The Sandalore and OR2AT4 interaction also increases IGF-1 secretion, a growth hormone found in the hair’s root sheath. IGF-1 is primarily manufactured in the liver and is an important requisite for human development and growth. The uptick in IGF-1 when Sandalore is administered to the scalp suggests the perfume ingredient does promote hair growth.
Researching Sandalore As A Hair Loss Cure
This leads to a reduction in keratinocyte apoptosis and a 25% increase in IGF-1, so prolonging the anagen phase
Recently, there has been a joint study carried out by British and German researchers on the effect of Sandalore on hair loss. The two research facilities involved were the Monasterium Laboratory, Skin and Hair Research Solutions GmbH and the Department of Cell Physiology, Faculty Biology and Biotechnology at Ruhr-University Bochum, both in Germany; and the University of Manchester’s Centre for Dermatology Research and MAHSC and NIHR Biomedical Research Centre. They published their findings on 18th September 2018 in the Nature Communication medical journal. The study was sponsored by the Italian firm Giuliani Pharma S.p.A., who already sell synthetic sandalwood products.
It’s important to note these results apply only to synthetic sandalwood
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Results proved promising, concluding that Sandalore targeted the expressed olfactory receptor, OR2AT4. This leads to a reduction in keratinocyte apoptosis and a 25% increase in IGF-1, so prolonging the anagen phase. There was also a corresponding 25% decrease in TGF-2, another protein regulator of the hair growth cycle, but one which progresses hair loss.
The researchers proved these encouraging results were linked to OR2AT4 by co-administering Phenirat. The two chemicals taken together reduced expression of OR2AT4, in turn inhibiting hair growth.
There are two important points to consider about the study. The first is that it involved a very small sample, and the second is that it was carried out ex-vivo, ie, outside a living human body. Researchers took four scalp donations left over from facelift surgeries, experimenting on them for six days. So a long-term cure for hair growth using Sandalore on a real living scalp is yet to be proved.
Still, the teams concluded that the study results offered promise of a Sandalore-based hair loss treatment for the future. A clinical trial is currently underway, with results due early 2019.
Sandalore As A Hair Growth Application
It’s important to note these results apply only to synthetic sandalwood and not to the genuine product itself. Applying sandalwood oil topically to your scalp will have no effect on hair growth. At best it will make you smell heavily of sandalwood; at worst, there may be some allergenic side effects.
Even with Sandalore, it’s difficult to gauge the dosage and whether it penetrates the skin deeply enough to have any effect. There are several Sandalore products on the market, including an Argan Sandalore® oil blend made by Rejuvenile. While the company states the Sandalore content might prolong the hair growth period, they add that it’s not a medical product.
Research on Sandalore has shown that it can stimulate hair regrowth, but an effective cure is still a long way off.
References and further reading
- The whiff of sandalwood makes the human head sprout more hair, by Yvaine Ye, Sept 18, 2018
- This Common Perfume Ingredient May Boost Hair Growth – But There’s A Catch, by Robin Andrews, Sept 19, 2018
- Odor-sensing protein spurs hair growth, by Erika Gebel Berg, Sept 18, 2018
- Your Hair Can ‘Smell’ and it Might Just Like the Smell of Sandalwood, by Yasemin Saplakoglu, Sept 26, 2018
- Sandalwood Scent May Prevent Baldness And Regrow Hair – The Belgravia Centre