Update 1/21/20. It seems like for most people, going gray as we get older is a fact of life -or is it? Lately, several products have come to the marketplace touting their ability to reverse gray hair. Darkenyl is one of the latest of these products. So, does Darkenyl work? Where can you get it? In this review, let's look at the research on this product and try to figure it out. We'll also discuss potential side effects too.
What Is Darkenyl?
Darkenyl is a product touted to restore hair color. It's an ant-gray product. It's not a dietary supplement but rather a substance that is applied to the scalp.
According to the company which makes the product (Givaudan), Darkenyl is a combination of:
- Taxifolin glucoside
Taxifolin glucoside is said to be an antioxidant and simulator of stem cells while N-acetyl-tyrosine is an amino acid that helps us produce melanin, the dark pigment in hair and skin.
What Does Darkenyl Do?
On the product website, the company claims it will:
- Boost the proliferation of stem cells in the hair bulb
- Improve melanogenesis in the melanocytes of the dermal papilla
- Reduce free radical damage in melanocytes by improving antioxidant defenses
- Stimulate the recovery of natural hair pigmentation
- Boosts proliferation of stem cells into the bulb
In a Givaudan news release from October 30, 2018, the company states the Darkenyl compound can:
- boost stem cell proliferation by over 30%
- reduce free radical production in hair follicles by 53%
- help protect existing melanocytes by over 189%
- deliver its melanin synthesis precursor to reactivate melanogenesis (hair pigmentation) by over 364%
These statistics are impressive but it's not known if these results are published in a clinical journal or not.
The news release also states that a clinical study was conducted where Darkenyl was compared to a placebo. After 4 months of use, those given Darkenyl had 3x less white hair than those using a placebo. Those using the darkening hair product showed over 56% less white hairs than those using a placebo.
These results are also very impressive. It's not known if these results are based on a study published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
In 2021 researchers at Givaudan released the results of a study they conducted that compared active ingredients in a hair-darkening serum to a placebo. Darkenyl is not mentioned, but Givaudan is the maker of that product. The serum contained both taxifolin and N acetyl tyrosine. The participants were 44 men over the age of 50. After 4 months of once-daily use, those using the key ingredient had darker hairs than those taking a placebo.
Next, let's look at the research for the two ingredients which make up Darkenyl: Taxifolin glucoside and N-acetyl-tyrosine.
Taxifolin, also known as di-hydro-quercetin is a plant chemical called a flavonol. Flavonols are a part of a larger class of compounds called flavonoids. Flavonoids are found in a variety of foods, such as citrus fruits and onions, to name a few.
As you can tell from its other name, taxifolin is chemically related to quercetin, which is found in tomatoes, broccoli, and kale.
Taxifolin is an antioxidant, so it helps reduce the deleterious effects of too many free radicals. The overproduction of free radicals can play a role in health like cancer and diabetes. Too many free radicals can also damage hair follicles, causing loss of hair color too.
So, can taxifolin help your hair?
Researchers in Russia noted a taxifolin preparation helped improve skin and hair that had been damaged after a chemical burn. This was a mouse study and not a human investigation.
In an earlier study, researchers in Japan reported that a combination of ingredients – which included quercetin – improved hair growth in mice, similar to Minoxidil. No mention of reversing gray hair was mentioned.
This study is interesting. Since taxifolin is related to quercetin, it's easy to think taxifolin might have a similar effect. But, since we are not mice and this study involved many ingredients, we can't say if quercetin/taxifolin would work in the same way in people.
Ironically, in another mouse study, researchers noted taxifolin and the flavonoid, luteolin, inhibited the formation of melanin – but also increased the enzyme which stimulates melanin production (called tyrosinase ).
This is a strange finding. How could taxifolin and luteolin both reduce melanin production and increase the enzyme which makes melanin?
The reasons for these odd findings are not understood. Could it be even though taxifolin and luteolin increased tyrosinase production, they also reduced how well the enzyme worked at producing melanin? Since this was just a mouse cell study, it' may not be relevant to people.
Most of the research on taxifolin involves lab animals (mice and rats) or isolated cells.
This is basically the amino acid tyrosine. Tyrosine is required to produce melanin. The process of making melanin is called melanogenesis. Foods that contain tyrosine include nuts, beans, cheese, meats, and fish. There are actually many different types of melanin, each having different colors. For example, two types of melanin are:
- Eumelanin (brown/black pigment)
- Pheomelanin (red pigment)
Feeding dogs tyrosine has been shown to alter the color of their hair. This is intriguing. However, no human studies on this topic can be located. So, it's not known if taking tyrosine supplements would restore hair color in people.
In theory, applying a tyrosine-containing substance (like Darkenyl) directly to the skin /scalp might improve the production of melanin. Other than the research presented by Givaudan, clinical studies to further substantiate this claim cannot be located.
Tyrosine also helps us make thyroid hormones (T3 and T4). As many know, hypothyroidism is associated with hair loss. Interestingly some evidence suggests high levels of thyroid hormone may restore hair color. Might this be another reason tyrosine is part of the Darkenyl molecule?
It's an interesting theory. While there seems no doubt thyroid hormones play a role in hair follicle health and hair color, reversing gray hair is complicated. For what it's worth, nobody with hypothyroidism has ever told me their thyroid medicine reversed their gray hair.
Who Makes Darkenyl
The company, called Givaudan (Givaudan.com), sells flavor and fragrance components to various food, beverage, and cosmetics companies all over the world. According to Bloomberg, Givaudan was founded in 1795 and has over 13,000 employees.
Givaudan is located at Chemin de la Parfumerie 5 Vernier, 1214 Switzerland. See the company Wikipedia page for more insights.
Where Can You Buy Darkenyl?
Darkenyl may not yet be available in the US as a stand-alone product. Attempts to locate it at stores like Ulta, Target, Walmart etc. were not successful. When checked, neither Amazon or eBay carried it either.
This may be because the compound is so new to the marketplace.
This substance may be found as an ingredient in other hair color-restoring shampoos and topical applications. One product that contains the Darkenyl substance is called S3D ColourBack. This product also seems to not yet be available in the US.
Darkenyl Side Effects
No side effects were known when this review was created. There are no known drug interactions, but because it contains tyrosine, if you take any medicine for high blood pressure, Parkinson's disease or depression talk to your doctor and pharmacist.
Because the product is applied topically on the scalp, if you have any skin/scalp conditions, it speaks to your dermatologist prior to using it. Testing the substance on a small part of your skin first may help reveal any side effects you may experience.
Does Darkenyl Work?
It's hard to say. In theory, the ingredients in Darkenyl make some sense. The Givaudan company has presented some very interesting findings which are sure to have people looking for a natural way to restore hair color excited. For now, let's say I'm intrigued. I'd like to see their research published in medical journals and replicated a few times by others. See the comments below on what people say who've tried it.
How well it works may vary according to the degree of gray or white you have. If their research is taken as gospel, one thing that seems certain is if it's going to work, you should see results after about 3-4 months of use.