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Haircare|Healthy Hair Info

by Hollis on Sep 28, 2012

Can Honey Lighten Hair?

By Hollis

sabina-karlsson

Many women with natural hair prefer to seek out natural alternatives for lightening their hair color before turning to conventional store bought dyes. I’ve always heard that honey is one of the best and only ways to lighten hair naturally because of the peroxide it contains. Honey has many uses when it comes to hair. It attracts moisture, contains vitamins and minerals, is antibacterial and has incredible healing properties. But is there any proof that it actually works as a hair lightener? Or have you just been pouring copious amount of honey on your hair when you should have been saving it for tea?

 

Hair lightening science

It’s true that honey contains peroxide. More accurately it contains an enzyme, glucose oxidase, that can produce peroxide. But keep in mind that peroxide is only an effective bleaching agent at the right concentration and at the right pH level.

 

Concentration: how much peroxide is in honey?

How much peroxide do you need to lighten hair?  To fully bleach hair it takes a solution of peroxide at a concentration of 6% or 3% can be used over time to gradually lighten hair. Glucose oxidase in honey can react to release peroxide under the right conditions.  (It’s also important to note that only raw honey contains this active enzyme.)  When honey is diluted with water, the enzyme can produce about 1 millimole of peroxide per liter which is about 1000 times less than the 3% solution required to bleach hair. This is far too little to have a significant effect on your hair.

But still, just for the sake of argument let’s say that you used a LOT of honey on your hair. Would it work then? Well, only if the pH was right.

 

The pH required for bleaching hair

Peroxide solutions must be “activated” by increasing the pH because peroxide is not very reactive at pH below 4.  Typically, peroxide is mixed with ammonia because it has a very high pH. The pH of honey is between 3.2 and 4.5 which is far below the range required for effective hair bleaching.

What about mixing honey with conditioner?  Conditioner has a pH in the 4-5 range (conditioners work better on the acidic side because it increases the positive charge of the good stuff that sticks to your hair.) So even mixed with conditioner the pH is still too low to be effective.
The easiest way to activate the peroxide in honey is adding distilled water. When honey is mixed with distilled water, a form of hydrogen peroxide forms in the honey that can then be used as a natural “dye.”

The bottom line

Blonde babes beware - IF you use the right kind of honey and IF the enzyme is still active and IF you dilute it properly and IF you get it to the right pH level and IF you get it on your hair before it’s used up by reacting with the rest of the organic stuff in the mixture, then you would STILL have only about 1/1000 of the amount you need to bleach or drastically lighten your hair.

So it turns out that while Winnie the Pooh was blonde, it wasn’t from bathing himself in all that honey! If you’re trying to turn your dark hair into a beach blonde hue, honey won’t do the trick. But if you have realistic expectations and are looking to gradually lighten your hair only a shade or two, honey is perfect! Want to make more of a statement with your hair color? Try spicing it up with Henna or Hair color. If you’re looking for other ways your tresses can reap the benefits of honey, treat yourself to this honey hair spritz!

 

Source: Beautybrains  <– I Love them

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  • loni

    Just found this article. My daughter wanted her hair lightened without damage so we tried honey. It lightened her hair lighter than she wanted. Thats a lot of “ifs” in The Bottom Line, but we must have had them all. I just mixed 1T of dark organic honey with 3T filtered water, spritzed her hair and left on while she did homework. She washed her hair in shower and to our surprise- light caremel highlights. She has natural brown hair.