Hair Color: Ammonia vs. Ammonia-Free – What We Are Not Being Told

It is no secret that every company tries to come up with creative and alluring marketing tactics. Their existence depends on selling their products to their consumers so naturally they will make their latest products seem to be ground breaking discoveries. Well.. with hair color, most of the time it is more about what they ARE NOT telling you vs. what they DO tell you. 


We all know what is trending in beauty right now.. do the words “organic,” “natural,” and “plant-based” sound familiar? Sure this may be true for some of the ingredients in the products being sold to us, but what about all of the ingredients? Are we being told the whole truth, or strategically being fed a little white lie?

Remember this:
or·gan·ic
adjective /ôrˈganik/
1. Of, relating to, or derived from living matter
2. Of, relating to, or denoting compounds containing carbon (other than simple binary compounds and salts) and chiefly or ultimately of biological origin
3. (of food or farming methods) Produced or involving production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial agents
4. Of or relating to a bodily organ or organs
5. (of a disease) Affecting the structure of an organ
6. Denoting a relation between elements of something such that they fit together harmoniously as necessary parts of a whole
7. Characterized by continuous or natural development

Now by calling a hair color line organic, that would mean all of it is organic. The public tends to be misled when a color line is labeled “ammonia-free.” People believe there are no other chemicals in it. Why? Because that is what is trending, that is what will sell at the moment, and that is, in many cases, all a consumer needs to see to feel it is chemical free. 

Here is the truth for permanent color:
In order to permanently color or lift a client’s hair color, it is necessary to open the cuticle for the color molecules to penetrate the cortex, or to clean out pigment. How is this done? With a chemical. Common chemicals used to do this are: Ammonia (can be found in nature and can be man made), p-Phenylenediamine (PPD)(as a photographic developing agent), and monoethanolamine (MEA) (used in detergents and polishes). Ammonia has been used the longest in hair color and can be used safely with a professional and knowledgeable stylist. The other two chemicals still have no known long term results of use. 

Different brands have different amounts of ammonia in their color. If you want to know what is being used on your head, just schedule a consultation to find out what chemical is being used to permanently color your hair, and how much it contains. Demi permanent color does not contain ammonia, why? It is only depositing color, not lifting or cleaning out your natural color. 

Don’t be fooled by all the fancy oils and distractions brands use to mask what they don’t want to tell you. Which ever brand you choose to go with remember how important it is to trust the stylist you are seeing and ask questions you  may have concerns about. As long as you are going to a stylist that is knowledgeable about the brands they use, know how to use them, and can answer questions you have, you will feel more comfortable. 

My opinion: I trust hair color with ammonia in it. It works the best for me, it is the most efficient, and has been used the longest and has the most studies on it. 

Thanks for reading and beware of what brands do not tell you!

Pictures: Hair color by Gabie Vossler  

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