Professional Hair Color

Professional Hair Color

Salon-Only hair color will consistently produce professionally fabulous results.
Salon-Only hair color will consistently produce professionally fabulous results.

How does hair color work?

Many of us love to change and enhance the way we look by changing our hair style and, in particular, by altering the color of our hair. But how much do we know about the process of coloring hair and the way it works?

Professional Hair Color - Advanced Techniques

Why does our hair have its natural color?

Hair is given its natural color by color pigments produced in the hair root called “melanin pigments”. There are two types of melanin pigments that determine hair color: “eumelanins” which create the darker shades (ranging from reddish-brown to black) and “phaemelanins” which create the lighter shades (pale yellow to red). The hair’s natural color is determined by the proportions of these different pigments.

“Grey” hair is an optical illusion created by a mixture of white (non-pigmented) and pigmented hairs. As hair grows from the root it can have a white base on colored hair.

White hair is created when melanin pigments are no longer present in the cells that make up the hair – either melanin production stops or the melanin is unable to be transmitted into the hair cells.

Professional Hair Color - Coloring Resistant Grey Hair

What are the Types of Professional Hair Color?

There are three basic categories of professional hair colors, depending on the duration of effect produced: temporary, semi-permanent and permanent.

Temporary hair colors modify the color of the hair temporarily and are readily removed by washing. These products tend to be ready-to-use (no pre-mixing) and contain “direct” colors – these color molecules are unable to penetrate the hair fiber and settle on the hair surface. The combination of these molecules with the natural hair color provides the new shade.

Semi-permanent hair colors are made of color molecules that are able to penetrate the hair. These colors settle on and within the scales of the cuticle, becoming established around the cortex without modifying the hair’s natural melanin. However, since these molecules are also not bound to the hair protein, the color gradually fades with washing. The color normally stays in for up to 6-8 washes.

Oxidative hair colors are easy to recognise. Normally the pack contains at least two components which have to be mixed together immediately prior to use. Oxidative hair colors change the natural hair pigments and give the hair – depending on the formulation – either “tone-on-tone” color (also referred to as “demi-permanents”) or “permanent”, lasting color. This type of hair color is the kind that is most commonly found in professional hair salons.

Permanent hair colors cannot be washed out and this is the more traditional way of permanently changing hair color around the world. They produce an effect that is resistant to washing and are chosen to provide long term color changes, ranging from a subtle to dramatic, as well as excellent coverage of “grey” hair.

The two components that are mixed consist usually of a tube that will contain the hair color precursors and an alkaline agent (the ‘color’) and a bottle that contains hydrogen peroxide (the ‘developer’).

Professional Hair Color - Regrowth Coverage

How does Professional Hair Color (Permanent Oxidation) Work?

The effect of each oxidative dye is based on the following components: an alkalizing agent – usually ammonia – and oxidation coloring agents.

The alkaline agent has the effect of opening the outer hair layer so that coloring and oxidizing agents can penetrate into the hair shaft more easily.

The starting materials for developing the new color are called color precursors which are very small, colorless molecules that only develop their own color nuance once inside the hair.

The oxidizing agent – usually hydrogen peroxide – is mixed with the color precursors prior to application. The oxygen is released by the reaction between the alkaline agent and the oxidizing product. It triggers the actual color-changing reaction. Large, colored molecules are formed within the hair’s cortex which are resistant to being washed out of the hair. Simultaneously, the oxygen released will lighten the natural melanin pigment in the hair so that the new color can be seen, effectively replacing the hair’s natural color.

“Tone-on-tone” colorants also include an oxidation step (for example, mixing with peroxide) but do not provide a marked lightening of the hair’s natural melanin pigment. Tone-on-tones traditionally enhance or deepen the natural hair color. The final color is quite durable and will gradually wash out after approximately 28 shampoos.

Professional Hair Color - Achieving the Cleanest Blondes

The Problem with Hair Color - Damaged Hair

The main negative side effect of professional hair color is that it damages the structural integrity of the hair. Ammonia is a severe corrosive toxin which not only poses health risks for both the client and the stylist, but also opens the hair cuticle by permanently blasting or corroding it apart. This is precisely why hair cannot b colors with ammoniated colors frequently without developing that "over-processed" or "fried" look.

While there are thousands of treatments on the market costing hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of dollars to repair over-processed hair that has been damaged by ammoniated color; the simple solution is to find a way to keep ammonia out of the hair color process while still achieving that permanent and beautiful result. Hair stylist know that if they were able to achieve permanent color results and still have healthy and undamaged hair to work with afterwards (which is the pallet of the hair artist) they would be able to produce stunning hair styles and enhance their client loyalty. Also, using a non-ammoniated hair color would enable a stylist to color their client's hair more frequently and not fear damaging their hair.

Professional Hair Color - Vibrant Reds

New Innovations

Hair coloring is one of the oldest cosmetic treatments and one of the most difficult. The dye chemistry and formulation is very challenging.

Recent innovations have occurred in three places. Firstly in the form of the product. In order to get good mixing of the dyes with the developer, the developer and tint need to be thin. However, thin products simply run off the hair. To overcome this, gel networks form within the product on mixing to turn thinner products into a thick and easy to apply final form.

The second area is in chelants. These are normally added to stabilise hydrogen peroxide. However, hair also contains metals such as copper that penetrate from tap water. In turn, these react with hydrogen peroxide to form free radicals that can damage the hair. By choosing special chelants that inactivate copper it is possible to achieve increased hair protection.

The third is in ‘conditioning’. In terms of the colorant product itself, innovative conditioning polymers have been incorporated into some hair colorant creams, which are able to penetrate in to the cortex of the hair and help reinforce hair weakened by the coloring process. Furthermore, new formulations for “in color” conditioners are able to give longer term durable conditioning to colored hair. When hair is colored with permanent colors a unique fatty acid is removed from the hair surface. This changes the surface from being hydrophobic to hydrophilic and in turn this changes the interaction of uncharged conditioning molecules with the hair surface. As a result new conditioning molecules have been designed that match the surface energy of the hair fiber to help them deposit and spread on the surface.

Professional Hair Color - Going from Light Hair to Dark Hair

Hair Color Innovations from Europe Just Arriving at Salons in the United States Now

Probably the most remarkable and innovative professional-only hair color line available in the world today is Organic Color Systems. This ammonia-free, permanent, salon-only professional hair color line comes in 67 intermixable shades providing the highest amount of creativity to the colorist. Because the product is 100% free of ammonia, their is no damage to the client's hair and the structural integrity of the hair is maintained and even enhanced by the deep polymer conditioners.

Instead of ammonia, this hair color uses cocamide, a naturally occurring fatty acid that is derived from coconut oil. When heat is applied to cocamide it becomes a swelling agent which will swell the hair shaft. Organic Color Systems suspends the cocamide in a moisturizing oil to soften the hair cuticle and prevent any damage to the hair that the swelling may cause. The end result is a gently opened cuticle capable of accepting the color pigment, conditioners, and organic nutrients contained in Organic Color Systems formula. These ingredients penetrate deep into the hair shaft rather than just below the hair shaft (as in the case of using an ammonia corrosive found in other colors which only damages the surface cuticle achieving a very shallow penetration). When the heat is taken away from the cocamide, the hair shaft contracts back to its normal size and the undamaged cuticle closes up as completely as it was before the process.

This revolutionary approach achieves many desirable effects. First, it virtually eliminates fadage. Because the oxidized color is sealed deep within the hair saft itself, the pigments have little chance of fading or detaching from the hair shaft. This achieves a truly permanent color result. Second, it leaves the hair undamaged and even enhances the structural integrity of the hair through the deeply penetrated polymer conditioners and organic nutrients sealed in the hair shaft. Third, the swelling process makes grey coverage a non-issue. Traditionally, with ammoniated color, grey coverage is difficult because grey hair tends to have a more corse and difficult to open cuticle. Because Organic Color Systems swells the cuticle rather than tries to blast it open, the coarseness of the surface cuticle is inconsequential. In other words, it more difficult to corrode the surface of corse hair, but corse hair will swell the same as non-corse hair.

Professional Hair Color - Coloring Ethnic Hair

Organic Color Systems - At the Forefront of Hair Color Innovation

Organic Color Systems has been pushing the envelope of hair color innovation from years in Europe and it is quickly catching on throughout salons in the United States.

The 67 intermixable colors have a perfect thin consistency achieved with a complex and precisely designed gel-network that adds structure to the liquid color. This thin consistency enables fantastic mixing of the color with the developers but provide structure so that they do not simply run off the hair. Further, and true to form, the consistency is completely customizable to the stylists tastes. A full line of developers, only utilizing pharmaceutical-grade peroxide, compliment the line and come in both liquid and cream activators. If a colorist desires a thicker consistency, more cream activator should be utilized. If a thinner consistency is desired, more liquid activator should be utilized. Somewhere in between, why not mix them?

Organic Color Systems has also added specially engineered chelants to their color which stabilize the pharmaceutical-grade hydrogen peroxide in the activators. These chelants were uniquely designed not to react with copper, that are often found in tap water, to form free-radicals that are damaging to the hair. By designing special chelants that inactivate copper, Organic Color Systems is able to achieve increased hair protection.

Finally, Organic Color Systems has included the finest certified organic ingredients and conditioners into their hair color to actually substantially enhance the overall health of the hair through coloring it. These ingredients include chamomile (Anthemis Nobilis), comfrey (Symphytum Officinale), orange (Citrus Dulcis), and grapefruit (Citrus Grandis), as well as vitamins C and E. These conditioners and antioxidants slow down or prevent post-coloring oxidative reactions in the body. Although necessary for life, oxygen is a highly reactive molecule which can cause damage by producing free radicals. Antioxidants prevent and repair damage done to the body by these free radicals. Because these conditioners and anti-oxidants penetrate deep into the hair shaft, and are sealed in by the cuticle, the hair color process provides the deepest and long lasting deep-conditioning treatment available on the market today.

Additional Information

Additional information on professional hair color can be found at Organic Color Systems. Organic Color Systems is exclusively distributed throughout the United States and Canada by Organic Salon Systems and can be purchased on their website.

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Comments 5 comments

lcg4jc profile image

lcg4jc 6 years ago

Wow what an informative hub. I really enjoyed that you included the videos of the coloring procedure and how you explained all the different types of products available. Thank you for taking the time to have put this up on hubpages.

Blessings to you


Michelle Cowen 6 years ago

I love the videos on hair color in this hub. As a salon professional and owner, I found these quite informative!


Jack Honoway 5 years ago

These are excellent videos. What a flexible hair color product line!


SalonExpert profile image

SalonExpert 5 years ago

Love this article and these videos. These products ROCK and I am fully committed and engaged in the organic lifestyle.


Janet Lewis 4 years ago

Love Organic Color Systems products, they have saved my life and saved my career. I never could have imagined how much more money I would make as an organic salon!

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