Have you ever wondered why your haircolour didn't turn out the way you expected? Or what the difference is between ammonia and non-ammonia based lines? This blog describes how exactly permanent colours alter your hair in an irreversible way, and hopefully that will demystify some things for the masses, helping all to understand that colouring hair is in fact, utilizing chemistry! Stylists are eccentric artists AND mad scientists.
-alkalines are used in hair colour to raise the ph level of your hair making it more basic (not unlike ugg boots and starbucks ;p). This relaxes and lifts the cuticle. The most common alkaline used is ammonia.
-the peroxide that we mix with the colour breaks down disulfide bonds inside your hair shaft to make the melanin more accessible. The released sulfur can be detected by that all too familiar smell. The peroxide then removes your natural melanin to make room for the artificial pigment. It requires oxygen to do this.
-the synthetic colour molecules start out as monomers, but once inside they group together to form polymers. This basically means that they bind together to make themselves bigger. This is how the molecules are able to stay in the hair shaft. Therefore, a haircolour cannot be permanent without peroxide.
-ammonia free haircolour uses monoethanolamine as a substitute. It also lifts the hair cuticle, but not as much. Monoethanolamine is an organic chemical compound. In hair colour it is coupled with emollient oils, which is another reason it is less damaging.
-colour is not capable of lifting previously coloured hair. It can lift virgin(natural) hair up to 4 levels, but if your hair has been previously coloured and you would like to go lighter, you must first use a colour remover or bleach. This is often why putting box dye on your hair doesn't work out. You may end up with "hot roots" where the natural regrowth is brighter and true to tone, but the ends remain darker.
-semi-permanent colours are what we refer to as vivids, or direct dyes. Direct dyes contain no ammonia or ammonia substitute, no peroxide, or any chemical for that matter. They deposit colour directly onto the hair shaft, and essenstially coat the hair in noninvasive colour molecules that will sooner or later wash away. Direct dyes will last longer on bleached hair because it is much more porous, and the molecules are therefore absorbed deeper into the hair shaft.
-even after understanding how different types of haircolour work, it is not such a simple matter of picking a shade, mixing, and applying it. Many factors will affect the end result, including how porous the hair is, how dry or damaged it is, and how the underlying pigments will mix with the new artificial pigments (for example if you start with yellow blonde and put a blue direct dye on, you may end up with green hair).
-Factors controlled by your stylist (or may be uncontrolled if you are doing it yourself at home) that can change your final result are: peroxide strengths, ratios, whether it is being put on dry or wet hair, how long it is left on for, whether or not heat is added, and whether or not the product in covered in some way.
-Factors that can affect the final result that your stylist has NO control over are: medications (prescriptive or recreational) that you may be taking, if you have well water or heavily chlorinated water at home, if you are a smoker and especially if you smoke in your home, or if you are a frequent pool swimmer.
-hopefully this helps you appreciate your hairstylist a little bit more, and encourage you to not be timid in telling them your hair history. Especially with long hair, that box dye you did two years ago will still affect your new colour. So if you choose not to tell your stylist about it, even about the temporary rinses you've been doing, please don't blame him/her if your hair colour is uneven in the end. Like any relationship, a lot of problems can be avoided by just being honest.
Thanks for reading