The influence of hair bleach on the ultrastructure of human hair with special reference to hair damage

Okajimas Folia Anat Jpn. 2011 May;88(1):1-9. doi: 10.2535/ofaj.88.1.


The influence of human hair bleaching agents with different bleaching strength on the ultrastructure of human hair was studied using a transmission electron microscope (TEM) and an energy dispersive X-ray spectrometer equipped with TEM (EDS-TEM). Two kinds of bleaching agents were used: a lightener agent with a weak bleaching effect and a powder-bleach with a stronger bleaching effect. From the comparison of the bleaching properties obtained by the electronic staining of black and white hair samples, it was suggested that the permeability of hair was increased by bleaching, and there was an increase of the stainability of hair subjected to electronic staining. The bleaching action provoked the decomposition of melanin granules and the flow out of granular contents into the intermacrofibrillar matrix. Some metal elements were detected in the melanin granular matrix by EDS-TEM. As a result, the diffusion of metal elements into the intermacrofibrillar matrix promoted further damage to the hair by catalytic action with the hydrogen peroxide in the bleaching agents outside the melanin granules. Further study will lead us to the edge of the development of a new bleaching agent, which reacts only with melanin granules and causes the minimum of damage to outside the melanin granules.

MeSH terms

  • Hair / drug effects*
  • Hair / pathology*
  • Hair / ultrastructure*
  • Hair Bleaching Agents / adverse effects*
  • Hair Bleaching Agents / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Melanins / metabolism
  • Permeability / drug effects
  • Spectrometry, X-Ray Emission


  • Hair Bleaching Agents
  • Melanins