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    Hair Dyes Without Hair Damage

    Model with long silky smooth heathy hair

    What if you could permanently dye your hair without the damage?  

    Its great news that we don’t need ammonia (and other allergens) in permanent hair dyes for them now to be effective.  Organic Color Systems , made by Herb UK, a company based in Lymington, England, has been available here in the states since 2002 and more and more hair styling professionals are embracing their line.

    I asked Marcie Rehkemper, industry professional and team member from, Organic Salon Systems, to tell us more about their ammonia free organic hair color line.

    How Standard Hair Dyes Work

    Most of us would associate permanent hair color with putrid smells and unavoidable hair damage. With the popularity of ammonia-free hair color on the rise, these concerns are becoming a thing of the past.

    Conventional ammoniated hair color is utilized to open the cuticle to allow the dye particles to penetrate the hair shaft. During this process the hair suffers a significant loss of protein and moisture. The pH of the hair is raised to such an irreversible level that after the process the cuticle remains open; the hair color then subsequently fades at faster rate. 

    Ammonia’s Negative Health Effects

    Exposure to ammonia has been linked to a multitude of negative health effects. For example, short and long-term exposure to ammonia has been linked to damage in the throat and lungs, eye discomfort, and painful scalp irritation. One study speculated that long-term exposure to ammonia may increase the rate of lung, stomach, urinary tract and lymphatic cancer.

    Some Mistakes Are Being Made

    Unfortunately, many hair color lines that claim to not feature ammonia, replace it with excessive amounts of Ethanolamine (MEA or ETA). The mistakes being made is the replacement of ammonia with MEA and without another alkaline base. Vast majorities are using a very high percentage of MEA; ergo, the same amount of hair damage is occurring.

    A Better Alternative Hair Dye

    MEA is a better alternative to ammoniated hair coloring systems (in its recommended amounts) because it does not raise the hair’s pH levels to that of ammonia’s.

    Most importantly, once the hair cuticle is expanded for dye penetration, MEA still allows for the cuticle to close when treated with a conditioner after the hair color treatments. The conditioning process restores the hair’s pH and locks in the hair color for beautiful, healthy looking hair.

    Your Solution!

    Eco-friendly and cruelty free hair company Organic Salon Systems provides ammonia-free hair color with MEA derived from coconut. These natural hair dyes feature over 60 color choices full of certified organic ingredients and are rich in anti-oxidants and plant-based nutrients.

    What is in this hair color line is just as important as what is not in it; this hair dye does not feature PTD’s, plastics, Sodium Laurel Sulfates (SLS), Thiogylates, and parabens, ingredients known to cause allergic reactions in some clients.

    About the author: Marcie Rehkemper is a licensed cosmetologist with experience as a hair stylist, instructor, technical assistant, and as a hair salon manager/owner since 1994. Marcie is an integral part of the Organic Salon Systems team; they are enthralled to be informing consumers about the benefits of using natural hair care products versus the not so innocuous conventional ones.

    To find the nearest salon using Organic Color Systems to please call this toll-free number: (888) 213-4744, or e-mail them at

    Barb Quinn on Google+  


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    What Type of Hair Color Should I be Using?

    Attractive woman with long straight copper colored hair

    The choice can be baffling when it comes to choosing the right hair color!

    Trying to navigate the world of hair color can be as daunting as learning auto mechanics. One mistake and you’re at the mercy of an industry insider, hoping your credit card can cover the bill. Learning the basic science of hair color however, can maximize your chance for success both at the salon and at home.

    Four main types of hair dyes used today (temporary, semi-permanent, demi-permanent, and permanent) are available to professionals and do-it-yourselfer. Each type has a specific chemistry, giving it certain capabilities and limitations of providing the color you want.

    Attractive woman with multiple tones of cool hair colors throughout her hairTemporary Hair Dyes

    Temporary hair dyes can only penetrate into the hair’s cuticle, or outer layer. The dyes are water-soluble, which means they rinse out with the first shampoo. They are applied to clean damp hair as a leave-in treatment.

    Temporary hair dyes can be used daily or on special occasions and are best used for refining hair tones. For example, if your blonde hair color is too golden, you can use a light violet-based rinse to create a more neutral or platinum effect. Temporary hair dyes do not cover grey hair; however they can often be used in-between permanent color applications to blend new growth.

    Temporary hair dyes are a good option for intensifying hair color and experimenting with different looks. Fire up red hair, add rich chocolate tones to brunette hair, or intensify black hair with a dark blue dye. You can even try temporary highlights with newer products that come in a mouse application

    Infogarphic showing underlying hair color pigments and the color wheelSemi-Permanent Hair Dyes

    Semi-permanent hair dyes penetrate into the hair’s cortex or inner structure and therefore stay on your hair longer. These dyes are typically made for shampoo-in applications with a processing time of 20-40 minutes.

    Semi-permanent hair color has no ammonia or peroxide, so it does not alter natural hair pigment (no lightening). The tiny color molecules eventually wash out in about 4-12 shampoos. Because the dye is applied to the entire length of the hair, distribution of the dyes can be unpredictable. For example, resistant grey hair may only receive up to 50% coverage where as porous, over-processed hair may receive 100% coverage and then fade more rapidly.

    Semi-permanent hair color is a good option for blending old highlights, achieving a darker shade, and blending grey.

    Hairstyle with three toned hair colorDemi-Permanent Hair Dyes

    Demi-permanent hair dyes work differently than temporary or semi-permanent dyes in that the color molecules start out small so they can penetrate into the cortex. With the help of peroxide, the small molecules bind together to form large color molecules that are trapped inside the cortex. The color lasts around 6-8 weeks depending on frequency of shampoos. Like semi-permanent color, the absence of an alkalizing agent (typically ammonia) means that the natural pigments of the hair will not be disrupted and your hair will not lighten.

    Demi-permanent hair dyes are a good option for achieving a darker shade. It’s also great for coloring over-processed/damaged hair or growing out old color. For instance, if hair has been colored or highlighted and the person wants to return to their natural color, demi-permanent color can be used to cover the lighter hair without altering the new-growth.

    Dimensional Hair Color

    Permanent hair dyes

    Permanent hair dyes works similarly to demi-permanent dye, except for the presence of an alkalizing agent. The alkalizing agent opens the cuticle and swells the cortex, leaving the hair’s natural pigment vulnerable to the peroxide. The color molecules can then bind to the natural pigment, creating a permanent change.

    One misconception about permanent color is that it won’t fade. Any color deposited into the hair will eventually fade. The permanent change can then be seen as the hair is left lighter than before the color was applied. For this reason, a refresher is required every so often to keep your hair color looking its best.

    Permanent hair dyes are a good option for covering grey hair or lightening hair. To create the best results, there are two important rules to keep in mind about permanent hair color: 1) it can only color natural pigment and will not work on color-treated hair and 2) it can only lighten up to four shades. This commonly creates a problem for women who have been dying their hair blonde for years. Over time, they notice that the same color doesn’t seem to make them blonde anymore. This is likely due to darkening of their natural color over time and four levels of lift are no longer enough.

    Four things to keep in mind

    1) If hair has been pre-lightened; semi-permanent color may act as demi-permanent or permanent color causing the pigment to stay in the hair longer.

    2) Many shampoos have a high pH which acts like an alkalizing agent in the hair, thus allowing dye to bind with natural pigments. When the pigments fade, the hair will be left lighter than before color application.

    3) Read home color kits carefully because the words “semi” and “demi” are often used interchangeably in marketing. Check ingredients for hydrogen peroxide (also called dioxidane and dihydrogen dioxide). Peroxide will indicate that its demi-permanent color.

    4) Ammonia is just one of many alkalizing agents, so it can still be a permanent hair color if it says “ammonia-free”. Alkalizers are more difficult to identify since there are so many, but the most common are: mono-ethanolamine (MEA) and ammonium hydroxide. Also look for compatible ammonia derivatives such as alkylamine, ethylamine, triethylamine, alkanolamine, monoethanolamine, triethanolamine, or aminomethylpropanol as well as alkali metal carbonates such as sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide.

    For more great hair color ideas check out our Pinterest Hair Coloring Ideas Board.

    Barb Quinn on Google+  


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    Will Hair Dyes Give You Cancer?

    Woman Applying Hair Dye to Her Hair at Home

    Hair dyes are under the microscope!   

    With cancer rates on the rise in the United States, many women are worried that chemicals in hair dyes will put them at risk.  To ease your concerns, companies have begun marketing “natural” and “organic” products.  Most women are now left with the question, “Can my hair dye give me cancer or is it all a bunch of hype?”

    The good news is that you can keep coloring your hair!  Many studies have been conducted in the past 30 years to test hair dyes for the risk of cancer.  So far, there is absolutely no confirming evidence that hair dyes cause cancer.

    Where did the rumor start?

    In the 1960’s, one study found an increased risk for urinary bladder cancer in male hairdressers.  Even though the results of the study were never confirmed in previous or subsequent investigations, the issue became a focus and scientists began testing the ingredients of hair dyes in laboratories.  Two chemicals were identified as carcinogens in rats, and those chemicals were removed in the mid1970’s.

    a study of hair stylists found increased cancer rates for lung and larynx cancers, bladder cancer, and multiple myeloma.  However, this study had several limitations.  The first problem was that the study was a retrospective case study, meaning that the cases of cancer were found by looking at historical medical files to find people who were hair stylists.

    This leads to the second problem.  These historical documents are missing other critical information about the case (i.e. length of time in career, whether the person was a hair colorist or a barber, etc.).

    The third problem is that hair stylists, as a population, are exposed to other risk factors, environmentally and behaviorally, that would cause certain cancers.  For example, smoking and binge-drinking are common among people in service professions; a majority of hair salons are located in older buildings that have sub-standard ventilation; and most hairdressers work in urban locations.

    Breast Cancer Awareness Pink Ribbon

    Many other studies have produced varied results when lab animals are fed hair dye chemicals. (Note also, is ingesting a chemical dye relevant to putting it on your hair?)  Results are varied based on type of animal and amount of chemical.  The most recent findings by the International Agency on Research of Cancer, (IARC) are that the arylamines in oxidative hair dyes (chemicals that cause cancer when fed to animals) are NOT toxic to humans when absorbed or inhaled.

    Should I use “organic” or “natural” hair color to be safe?

    At this time there is no evidence that the new class of “organic” hair dyes are any safer than typical hair dyes.  In fact, the opposite is true.  Most of these products contain the same ingredients that are in question in other hair dyes.  As of today, any new ingredients simply have not been tested long enough to determine a cancer risk.

    So what’s the bottom line?  Don’t be fooled by marketing scare tactics and be rest assured that there is no cancer epidemic due to hair dyes today as we speak.

    Barb Quinn on Google+  


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