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Not all Ammonia-Free Color is Created Equal

Before we jump to any conclusions, one should know the differences among the salon industry’s top professional color lines – not all ammonia-free hair color is created equal.

First, let’s quickly remind ourselves the part ammonia plays in hair color:

Ammonia’s primary function is to raise the pH of the hair, open the cuticle, and allow for color to enter the cortex. The more ammonia in a color product, the higher the pH of the hair will become and the wider the cuticle will open.

The average working pH of hair processed with ammoniated hair color is 10-11, while the natural isometric pH of hair is 4.5-5.5!

NOTE: The pH scale is logarithmic, meaning with each rise in pH level, the new level is 10x more alkaline or acidic than the previous level – that’s huge!

This means ammonia-based hair color makes the hair 600x more alkaline than it’s original state. This blasting open of the cuticle makes re-closing the hair nearly impossible, resulting in a major loss of protein and moisture, as well as imminent color fading and damage.

Depending on the brand, you can find any number of these ingredients used instead of ammonia.
– Monoethanolamine (MEA)
– Ethanolamine
– Cocomide MEA
– Aminomethylpropanol (AMEA)

Here’s where the difference in ammonia free hair color lines gets serious!

While MEA or Ethanolamine are odorless and not as corrosive as ammonia, the pH of the hair is STILL raised to an extraordinarily high level, if used in the same percentages as ammonia.

The only thing most brands have achieved in removing ammonia is just that – the removal of ammonia – they’ve still neglected one of the most vital components of hair health – a balanced pH!

So, what can professional ammonia free hair color brands do to ensure the pH of the hair is kept intact?

The answer is simple – use heat to help open the cuticle.

If a professional, ammonia-free color line doesn’t use heat to help open the cuticle, they’re using MEA or Ethanolamine in the same percentages as ammonia, and consequently, wreaking havoc on the structural integrity of the hair.

Aim for color lines that minimize the use of Ethanolamine and MEA, not ones that just simply swap ammonia for an odor-free alternative.

Most ammonia-free hair color lines use a synthetic source of Ethanolamine – produced by the reaction of ethylene oxide with ammonia.

However, there’s a natural source of Ethanolamine derived from the fatty acids in coconut, called Cocomide MEA. The natural emollients present in this form of MEA makes this option much more desirable in hair color.

The extraction method is more costly than cooking up some synthetic MEA in a lab.

Alas, there’s another problem with using Ethanolamine and MEA in higher than necessary percentages… the removal process.

It has been postulated that this ingredient is hard to remove from hair.

Companies still standing by ammoniated hair color have used this aspect of MEA as a way to denounce its effectiveness, but have failed to realize one enormous detail.

The best ammonia-free hair color lines have added Oleic acid (derived from olive oil) to safely remove any product left on the hair.

However, some ammonia-free color lines haven’t caught on to this little trick – make sure to use brands that have!

We’ve covered the primary role of ammonia, and it’s more desirable alternatives, but don’t forget – ammonia also has a secondary function.

When mixed with peroxide, ammonia neutralizes the existing color pigment, allowing color to further penetrate the cuticle.

Ethanolamine and MEA aren’t capable of doing this effectively.

So, an ammonia-free hair color line must have a color delivery system that compensates for the lack of ammonia.

Top-rated hair color lines have found an oil-based delivery system not only solves this problem, but that it actually works better than ammonia.

Hair absorbs oil before water, so using oil as a means of color molecule transport is not only effective, but optimal in any color line.

When deciding which ammonia-free color line is best for your salon and stylists, be sure to dig deeper into these type of ingredients!

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    Stylist Wanted – Denver’s Premier Eco-Friendly Salon

    My Hair Trip Salon Denver is looking for one great stylist / colorist to join our team. My Hair Trip is Colorado’s only green salon, barbershop, art gallery, and jewelry and apparel boutique. Our team has a great chemistry right now and the vibe in our shop is really great. It feels good looking forward to coming into work. We are looking for another great stylist that is focused on their career as an artist, and is positive and upbeat about being the best they can be at whatever it is they do.

    We give our stylists what they need to succeed. Our staff enjoys massive exposure we receive from 1st Friday Art Walks and other Art District events. Being located at 8th and Santa Fe, in the heart of the Art District is really great for us. There is foot traffic down here everyday, and there are lots of events in the district that bring people to our neighborhood, and in through our door year-round. We are a fully functioning art gallery as well as a premier salon, so we have a great pull for art district events and the walls of our shop are always full of great local art from all over the state. Our clients love it and so do we. Our stylists also receive commission on anything they sell in our boutique or gallery in addition to their product and service commissions. Our stylists start at 40% commission on services and can earn all the way up to 75%. Our product commission is 17.5% which is much hire than the average salons in Denver offering 10%.

    We have product and technique knowledge classes going on all the time. Our stylists can do as much or as little as they want to, as far as continuous education. Whenever one of our stylists go to a class, or workshop, or seminar and learn something new, they come back and show the rest of us what they learned, so we are all always on the cutting edge of styles, trends, and techniques. We also offer our stylists sales incentives such as tickets to shows, and education classes and events.

    We are an organic, eco friendly shop so we are looking for a stylist that is interested in using the chemical free products and services that we offer. We also really want to bring on someone who, either is passionate about organic, green living in their own life, or at least is interested and willing to learn more about what healthy green living is. Our stylists and their clients are loving the top of the line health and beauty products and services we provide.

    We use Organic Color Systems for our color line and we really, really love it! We only do business with other businesses that, not only have chemical free products and services, but that are also ethical and green throughout all aspects of their business.

    We carry Davines, Alterna – Bamboo, and Use Me products. Davines is our main product line and it is incredible, all of our clients are loving what we are doing for their hair with these product lines.

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