Sandalore Regrows Hair!

A few months back, we received some interesting news regarding a chemical called Sandalore, a synthetic sandalwood odorant which smells just like sandalwood and consequently used in perfumes and skin cleaning agents. Amazingly, scientists were able to reverse hair loss by making the scalp literally “smell” sandalore through olfactory receptors. This is crazy because it’s the first time that a normal hair mini-organ can be regulated by a simple, cosmetically used odorant. When we associate smell, we tend to think of special cells confined in the nose that is triggered when molecules of odorant chemicals are recognized, but it turns out that this smell process is not just liked to the nasal passages. It turns out that we have olfactory receptors in our testis, lungs, intestines, skin, heart and even in the blood.

The study titled "Olfactory receptor OR2AT4 regulates human hair growth" was published in the Journal Nature Communications on September 18, 2018. It was partly sponsored by Giuliani Pharma S.p.A., a pharmaceutical company which sells synthetic sandalwood treatments.

Scientists were able to identify a receptor known as OR2AT4 which is known to be stimulated by Sandalore and was found to be located in the outer layer of hair follicles. When they applied synthetic sandalwood or Sandalore odorant to the scalp tissue, they noticed an increase in hair growth as well as the anagen phase, while a decrease in cell death. 

Interesting enough, a few years back, scientists discovered that Sandalore targeted receptors found in skin cells called keratinocytes. Sandalore helped repair damaged skin, facilitated wound healing and skin regeneration as well as stimulation of keratinocytes.

The method conducted to obtain this information was through temporal and occipital human scalp skin that was obtained by 20 healthy female donors (38-69 years old) who underwent a routine face lift surgery. Scientists bathed patches of human scalp tissue taken from the facelifts in Sandalore for 6 days to see if the OR2AT4 receptors might affect hair formation and they observed the following: 

1. 25-30% increase in growth hormone released in the Sandalore infused scalps known as IGF-1

2. Delay of natural death in cells linked to hair production

3. Increase in keratin levels, which signaled skin regeneration and hair growth 

In addition with Sandalore, the scientists also co-administered OR2AT4 antagonist called Phenirat, which was shown to silence the OR2AT4 receptor, inhibiting hair growth. This showed that the OR2AT4 receptors were required to sustain hair growth and may suggest as a target in hair loss therapy. 

The question is, can we simply use any type of synthetic sandalwood chemical on our scalps? Studies indicated that in order to achieve maximum hair growth, the scalp tissue had to be continuously stimulated by OR2AT4 receptors. I did some research and found out that Sandalore is a potential irritant and also an environmental concern related to aquatic toxicity. Those who want to use natural sandalwood or sandalwood essential oil will not see the same benefits as it does not have the same effect on hair loss since it does not bind to OR2AT4. Therefore, don’t go out buying sandalwood oil or attempting to make your own variation. But, if you really want to try to out, I googled Sandalore and saw that some companies, particularly perfume and cosmetic companies, are selling it for about $30 USD for 200g and it is readily available to the public. 

 Also, keep in mind that Sandalore’s potential in hair growth was only observed over a 6 day period and does not indicate whether these effects are permanent or capable of reversing baldness. The experiment was also carried out on scalp samples instead of on actual living people. 

Larger clinical trials are being planned after a preliminary clinical pilot study featuring twenty female volunteers showed promise. The results of the ongoing trial are expected to be published in January 2019 where they plan on replicating the study in a larger clinical trial. Obviously, this is interesting but until further results are shown, we would have to wait, but many scientists and dermatologists are excited to see the initial data and by the concept that human hair follicles can “smell” by utilizing an olfactory receptor. Until then, let’s see where the research leads us as we could be looking at an important new mechanism for hair loss prevention.


  • can someone point to the january 2019 research mentioned in the article?

    Ibrahim Ali Asghar
  • It would be interesting to see if this works for males as well. The study seemed focused on regenerating hair using female subjects.


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