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New Hair Bleach is Environmentally Friendly: “Green” Lightening Product Made from Enzymes
Researchers from Japan have developed an environmentally friendly hair bleach that can lighten hair on the head and other areas of the body without the damaging effects associated with the use of products that contain hydrogen peroxide.
New “Green” Hair Bleach
Information about what may be the world’s first environmentally friendly hair bleach was released at the 237th Annual Meeting of the American Chemical Society. The meeting is being held in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The new hair bleaching agent comes from an enzyme from a strain of Basidiomyceteceriporiopsis, a type of fungus that is used to break down and clean up pollutants found in soil. Scientists discovered that this enzyme also degrades melanin, the pigment that gives hair a dark color. They believe it is the first enzyme ever found to have this characteristic.
The enzyme also is an antioxidant, which means it can fight free radicals produced by hydrogen peroxide and the damage they cause. This is important because although the enzyme is safe and effective in bleaching melanin, it needs a small amount of hydrogen peroxide to complete its chemical reaction.
Researchers are working on incorporating the enzyme into traditional hair bleaches that contain hydrogen peroxide and setting up trials on humans. Although these new hair bleach products will contain some hydrogen peroxide, the addition of the enzyme will significantly reduce the amount of the harsh chemical needed and will also make the hair bleach more effective and convenient to use.
Scientists are still uncertain how the enzyme affects melanin. They believe it breaks down the pigment through oxidation, but the exact mechanism is still unknown. This information may help researchers improve the end product even further. It is also uncertain when the new environmentally friendly hair bleach product will be available for consumers.
Traditional Hair Bleach
Traditional hair bleach, which uses hydrogen peroxide, bleaches hair by oxidizing, or breaking down, melanin. As hair grows, the new growth is dark and, if the individual wants the hair to be lighter, he or she needs to bleach the hair again, typically every two to three months. Repeatedly bleaching the hair eventually causes damage from the hydrogen peroxide, leaving hair brittle, dull, lifeless, and hard to manage.
Hydrogen peroxide also can irritate the scalp and other parts of the body. Women who use hydrogen peroxide to bleach hair on their face, especially above the lip, can experience redness, dry skin, burning, and even blisters.