P&G announces first permanent hair dye molecule with reduced allergy risk

By Andrew MCDOUGALL contact

- Last updated on GMT

New P&G hair dye molecule ME+

Related tags: Hair coloring

Procter & Gamble’s new ME+ molecule is the first hair dye to provide full permanent colour performance & colour spectrum with reduced risk of developing allergy.

Developed by the Wella Salon Professional division, P&G claimed it will revolutionise hair colouring at last week´s Annual Conference of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV).

“The development of ME+ represents a major step forward in hair dye technology, enabling to create hair colorants that reduce the risk of inducing allergy compared to the pPD/pTD based options,”​ says Dr Bianca Piraccini, dermatologist at the University of Bologna.

“It is important to keep in mind, however, that the risk for developing a hair dye allergy with ME+ is not zero, severe allergic reactions can still happen, but the induction of an allergy is less likely with the new ME+ technology.”

New molecule

The new molecule, chemical name: 2-Methoxymethyl-p-Phenylenediamine, is the product of more than 20 years of research and development utilising state-of-the-art in-silico modelling techniques.

“Its development was only possible because of the latest scientific research and in-silico modelling techniques that enabled us to identify a suitable molecule structure,”​ explains Dr Rene Rust, principal scientist with P&G.

“The biggest challenge in this work was to find a molecule that combines the two desired characteristics: outstanding colour performance and a reduced risk of inducing allergy as compared to the current technology with pPD and pTD.”

Whilst P&G concedes that it cannot 100% claim that it causes no allergic reaction, the replacement of pPD (para-phenylenediamine) and pTD (para-toluenediamine), which are essential for high colouring performance but also the most common allergy triggers, should make allergic reactions to hair dyes less likely in the future.

Reduce allergy NOT remove

Allergies to pPD occur when the body’s immune system (in this case, the T-cells) mistake pPD as a harmful foreign molecule and induce an allergic reaction.

The Consumer giant’s scientists say that by creating a molecule that is not easily recognized by T-cells, the likelihood of an allergy induction by ME+ in previously non-allergic people is reduced.

“To fully understand why ME+ is such an important advancement, we have to look at how a hair dye allergy can be triggered in our body: Skin sensitizers have the potential to induce allergic reactions and – in rare cases – these allergic reactions can be severe,”​ explains Dr Carsten Goebel, immuno-toxicologist with P&G.

“Reducing the skin sensitization potential with ME+ means that therefore, the likelihood of inducing an allergic reaction is reduced,”​ he adds stating that data backs this up.

The molecule is therefore designed for those who want to start colouring their hair but have not done so before; but not by those who have had previous allergic reactions.

“P&G is very aware that allergy is a concern among people who dye their hair and that there is a growing interest in ingredients that reduce the risk of inducing an allergy in the cosmetic industry,”​ says Dr Bryan Murphy, Section Head at P&G.

“It is in response to this demand that we have spent decades researching and developing this breakthrough molecule.”

P&G is planning to introduce ME+ as part of the Wella Professionals portfolio as early as 2014.

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