Why is Ammonia Used in Hair Color?
Ammonia’s primary function in hair color is to blast open the hair’s cuticle, while eliminating previous pigment, allowing new particles to penetrate the hair’s cortex.
How Does Ammonia Affect Hair?
Ammonia drastically alters the hair’s pH, causing an inability for the hair cuticle to close. This means more damage and fading because the hair cannot lock in color, moisture and protein, and over time the cuticle begins to resemble Swiss cheese.
In addition to damaging the hair’s structural integrity, ammoniated hair color also damages the hair’s naturally occurring tyrosine levels. Tyrosine is responsible for the hair’s ability to hold and lock in both its natural and deposited color.
Ammonia degrades the hair’s protein structure which can lead to banding, hot roots and colors that fade off tone.
Last, but not least, ammonia’s corrosive nature damages both the sebaceous glands of the scalp, which are responsible for maintaining the hair’s natural and balanced moisture levels. This leads to brittle, dry hair that is more prone to break and split ends.
How Does Ammonia Affect Health?
As more and more people are dying their hair either at home or in the salon, we are coming to find out just how many people are allergic to this ingredient. Adverse reactions range from mild to severe, including headaches, rashes, nausea, coughing, irritation of the eye and eye lids. A severe form of allergic reaction is anaphylactic shock. When this occurs, the mouth and tongue swell and the airways constrict. Anaphylaxis can be rapidly fatal, and there have been isolated cases of hair dyes causing anaphylactic shock. In fact, many hairdressers have to end their career early due to prolonged exposure to ammonia hair dye.
What are alternatives to ammonia hair dye?
Currently, ammonia-free hair color that is formulated with Ethanolamine is the most effective and safe permanent hair color on the market. However, the molecular size of Ethanolamine is much larger than that of ammonia. Meaning, some companies may use more Ethanolamine than necessary to achieve the same results with ammonia. It is advised to seek an ammonia-free color line that minimizes the use of Ethanolamine, and opens the cuticle with gentle heat.
There is also concern about Ethanolamine being adhesive-like, and sticking to the hair. When this happens each time the hair is washed the water oxidizes the color, causing discoloration. It is advised to see a color line that uses Oleic Acid in their color line, for this removes the excess Ethanolamine.
Ammonia-free Hair Color – What’s the Difference?
As a salon owner, I chose to offer the safest hair color available that excludes ammonia, uses Ethanolamine in small amounts, and maximizes the use of organic ingredients. With that in mind we chose Organic Color Systems as our ammonia-free hair color because they meet our suggestions of using a small amount of Ethanolamine, gentle heat, and Oleic Acid. See the difference yourself.