All About Hair Colors

Choosing Right Hair Colors

Today more and more people are coloring their hair. Some choose hair color for added shine and body while others choose hair color for gray coverage. Looking for the color that is right for you can be baffling. There are so many choices. And many people are concerned of the effects of the chemicals on their bodies. Repeated exposure to certain chemicals in hair color may cause a number of symptoms including rashes, nausea, hair loss, itchy scalp and flaking scalp. Understanding the types of hair color available and their ingredients will help you understand which color is right for you. All hair colors are not created equal. Some colors contain many synthetic ingredients, and a large amount of toxic or allergenic ingredients. Look at your labels. Do the research about the ingredients. Be selective about what you expose yourself to. Many stylists become chemically sensitive because they are exposed to so many chemicals and fumes on a regular basis.

The first category of hair color is a temporary hair color. These colors usually last for 1-2 shampoos. The spray on colors for Halloween and some "rinses" are often temporary. This may not be the case for blonde hair or porous and chemically treated hair (perms). These hair types may be extremely porous and may act as a sponge, holding the color molecules for an extended period of time in random places along the hair shaft.The ingredients in these colors may often be FD& C dyes, which may or may not be food grade. A temporary hair color is usually applied to dry hair in the spray form. If the temporary color is a liquid, it can be applied to shampooed hair. Follow manufacturer’s instructions and call the manufacturer if you have questions.

The second category of hair color is semi permanent hair color. These colors usually last for only 4-6 weeks. These colors have the ability to blend gray hair without lightening the color of the other hairs. The ingredients of semi permanent hair colors vary from brand to brand. Some use strictly food grade dyes, or FD & C dyes, with an alkalizer to open the hair shaft slightly. Other semi permanent hair colors may contain oxidative dyes similar to that of permanent hair color, but use an alkalizer to allow the oxidative dyes to deposit on the outside of the hair shaft. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and processing times and call the manufacturer if you have questions.

Another form of semi permanent hair color is the botanical hair color henna. The henna plant, also known as the LAWSONIA plant, can be a semi permanent hair color under certain conditions or progressive. You must not have extremely porous hair in order to take advantage of the temporary quality of the plant dyes. The henna plant comes in red tones. To alter the shade of the henna, some companies use a variety of ingredients. These ingredients may vary including: metals, oxidative dyes or other plant pigments such as indigo, madder root, turmeric or walnut. Metals may be extremely toxic to the body. Henna usually comes in a powder form and is mixed with water, coffee or black tea and applied to dry hair as a paste. The processing time varies from 15 minutes to several hours with a cap and heat depending on the effect you want to achieve.

Another type of color is a progressive dye. Progressive dyes deposit more color the more often you use them. The color builds with the frequency of application. Some progressive dyes may contain lead and other toxic metals. If you use a progressive dye and then decide to get a perm or a relaxer, you may run the risk of your hair melting away as the perm might have a reaction with the metals in your hair. Read the ingredients and make an educated choice.

Always follow manufacturer’s instructions and call the manufacturer if you have questions.

Permanent hair colors come in a variety of brands with a variety of ingredients. Some permanent colors have more natural ingredients than others as well as different concentrations of oxidative dyes. Oxidative dyes are chemicals that actually go into the hair shaft to develop into a color. Permanent hair color can use ammonia to open the hair shaft or monoethanolamine. Ammonia gets a bad rap. Ammonia in small concentrations is not toxic to the body and is necessary for some colors to cover gray or lighten the hair. Monoethanolamine is a chemical that has an odorless fume. In large concentrations (similarly to ammonia) it can be toxic. Monoethanolamine does not cover gray as well as ammonia and cannot lighten the hair as much as ammonia can. If you hair fades quickly and is extremely porous or damaged, a monoethanolamine color may be better for you, but it really depends on the brand. Some ammonia colors can be extremely conditioning depending on the other ingredients present in the hair color such as natural oils. Many colors tout "no resorcinol" but still contain a 2-methyl resorcinol. Many colors may lead you to believe they are natural when in fact they may contain one natural ingredient and the rest synthetic chemicals.

Lastly, what's the difference between a home color and a professional color?

Professional colors usually come with more choices, including strength of developers, while Home Kits are usually designed for gray coverage and one to two levels of lightening. To take a brunette to a blonde usually requires about 5 levels of lightening. A stylist can apply color in highlights, low lights or creative application of hair color in different shades. The fee they charge is for their time, their expertise in application and their knowledge of style.

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