The Truth about Ammonia?

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I’m often asked at my seminars and via Facebook about all these hair dyes without ammonia that are currently being glorified on the market. Current market leaders of such products claim that hair dyes with ammonia are dangerous and outdated. Why then do they continue offering not only their ammonia containing product lines, but also courses and training based on these? And above all: what do I tell, as a hairdresser, my customers who want to lighten their hair tint? Here some clarification:

What is Ammonia?
Ammonia is a very volatile substance used for neutralizing or swelling the hair. Because of its volatility, its smell is a bit pungent and can hardly be covered by perfumed oils. Ammonia is a substance which can also be found in nature in many forms.

What are the benefits of ammonia in hair dyes?
In order to anchor the color pigments permanently in the hair, it must be opened by a swelling process. For this purpose, ammonia is quite outstanding. Brilliance, effective gray coverage and color durability of ammonia based hair dyes are excellent. Due to said volatility, a somewhat peculiar smell can arise during application, but it is equally assured that the hair is not swollen excessively. The pH-value and the swalling of the hair are gradually restored by evaporation of the ammonia. Ammonia has the capacity to improve the color performance and also some protective properties, so that the hair will not be overstressed.

Are there alternatives?
The alternatives to ammonia smell better, because they evaporate to a less extend. In practice this means, however, that the pH-value remains constant and therefore can increase the swelling of the hair. Nevertheless, if you want to achieve an optimum gray coverage, the swelling capacity of these alternatives is generally not as good as with ammonia based products. Furthermore, if the hair is not rinsed intensively, there’s a risk of remaining alkalinity in the hair, which means that it remains somewhat swollen. The advantage of the alternatives is really only the fact that the scent is a little more comfortable in use.

Ammonia is wrongly designated as a substance of concern in hair dyes. Rather, the color performance is improved and it’s very safe to use. Ammonia is also a well-tolerated substance which is present in nature and the human body in greater quantities. So what do you think: why are there still so many ammonia based hair dyes, when ammonia is so bad after all? Because the classic lines – dyes containing ammonia – work and sell very good, and they therefore do not need a nice Marketing? In addition, there are many more nuances in ammonia-based dyes than in ammonia-free colors. And among us, dear collegues: what do I say to the customers who want to wear their hair blond? Lightening dyes without ammonia do not exist, because it is impossible without ammonia!

So you see, there are no hair dye producers who managed to completely avoid ammonia.

3 comments… add one
  • Yves Dalens Nov 23, 2014, 5:43 pm

    What you say is really the truth Paul, thank you so much ! For 30 years i've never seen a better formula than color dies WITH ammonia ! All these erzats WITHOUT ammonia are just an additionnal business for the major companies…

  • Jan 29, 2015, 8:17 pm

    good articles

    • Alex Jan 31, 2015, 5:25 pm

      Thank you!

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