Japanese scientists have created what could be world's first 'green' hair bleach.
It is an environmentally friendly preparation for lightening the color of hair on the head and other parts of the body without the unwanted effects of the bleaches used by millions every year.
Kenzo Koike, a chemist with Kao Corporation's Beauty Research Center in Tokyo, has isolated an enzyme from a strain of Basidiomycete ceriporiopsis, a type of 'white-rot' fungus that has also shown potential to degrade and clean up pollutants in soil.
Traditional hair bleaches rely on hydrogen peroxide. But the bleaching usually has to be repeated. Plus, hydrogen peroxide is a harsh material, whose repeated use can leave hair brittle and lifeless, with almost no sheen. It also can irritate the scalp and other parts of the body.
Those unwanted effects have set scientists on a quest for milder bleaching agents. Koike said that his new "green" hair treatment might be the long-awaited solution.
The enzyme has the added benefit of combating the effects of free radicals, highly reactive agents produced by hydrogen peroxide responsible for making hair brittle, dull, and difficult to manage.
The researchers said that the enzyme could be added to traditional hair bleaches to prevent hair damage, leading to haircare products that use less hydrogen peroxide.
The research has been presented at the 237th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.