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All About Hair Coloring

Chinese Supermodel Cica Zhou Weitong's auburn tresses.
Dec 30, 11:27 am

     Considering coloring your hair, but new to the process? Hair coloring is a powerful tool that helps express your individuality. But like all beauty technology it comes with its own vocabulary that may be confusing for the newbie, like glazing, foiling with tints, and threading. But understanding the fundamental mechanism helps achieve what may be the best for your hair.

     Coloring hair has been practiced since the ancient times, but it wasn’t until 1909 when Eugene Schuller, a French chemist who invented a commercial hair coloring (that later became a base for L’Oreal line), that the science of hair coloring began its evolution. Today, a whopping 75% of American women dye their hair!

     There are two main ingredients in hair coloring. Hydrogen peroxide, better known as an element in the developer that often causes sulfur loss leading hair to become dull-looking. The other is ammonia, a compound that acts with hydrogen peroxide to lighten the hair allowing new color to penetrate the cortex of the hair.

There are roughly three types of hair coloring:

Semi-permanent color: This lasts up to 6 to 12 washings depending on the porosity of the hair, and covers up to 50% of grays. This process contains no, or very low traces of ammonia and peroxide, making it a less permanent, but safer option for damaged hair. Semi-permanent color is also used to touch up previously colored hair. One of the benefits to using semi-permanent over permanent color is that you can achieve color variation throughout your hair much like your natural color.

Demi-permanent color: This lasts about 24 to 30 washings. This hair option does not contain ammonia, therefore the natural pigments of the hair are not lightened. Demi-permanent coloring is more effective at covering gray hair than semi-permament colors, but still less effective than permanent hair color. Its effectiveness all depends on the porosity of your specific hair. While you cannot achieve a lighter hair color with demi-permanent this is a preferable option for those wanting to go darker, with less damage to the hair.
     Like semi-permanent color, demi-permanent color can also be used to touch up previously colored hair and achieve a more natural hair color.

Permanent color: Ammonia and peroxide are both used during this process, allowing you to go from darker to lighter hair colors. The only “reversal” from this process is letting your hair grow out to your natural color. A resulting color is a combination of your natural hair color and the bottled shade. This is the only method to permanently cover gray, or go from dark to blonde. Regular touch-ups of 4 to 6 weeks are needed to control the darker roots.


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