Bottle blondes have some promising news: A new hair bleach may be on the way, and it will be gentler for both people and planet. Japanese scientists are on their way to creating an eco-friendly hair bleach whose, uh, roots are in fungus. An enzyme from a strain of forest fungus naturally breaks down melanin, the substance that gives hair its color. Compared to bleaching with hydrogen peroxide, the enzyme would probably be easier on hair and skin.
Right now, researchers are still pretty far from turning theories into a product. More studies are required. "Although I expect [the enzyme] can degrade melanin by its oxidation, we don’t know the mechanism of the reaction," Dr. Kenzo Koike explained at a meeting of the American Chemical Society. "We should examine it and test it more and more." If all goes well, going lighter might become a much easier process in the near future.