" Chemical-Free Hair Dye " - a term that is googled by at least 1000 people every month. A sign of an ever greater awareness of how polluting they are and an object of concern for our health.
Whether it's to revive a dull color, to drastically change color or to cover gray hair , hair dyes are used to strengthen self-esteem and to affirm one's identity and uniqueness.
Unfortunately, the increase in colored hair also corresponds to an increase in medical bills: allergic reactions to hair dyes are skyrocketing. The simple reddening of the skin is the mildest allergic reaction while in the most serious cases it can lead to much more complex and serious intoxications and reactions.
All of this has led all of us to increasingly seek ammonia-free hair dyes, possibly without chemicals and with the most natural ingredients.
But can there be hair dyes without chemicals?
To find out, we must first understand how chemical dyes act on our hair . So read on and we'd see whether or not they're a mirage to aspire to.
Chemical hair dyes, with or without ammonia, are the best known and most used method for dyeing hair, a method available to all of us, available not only in the hair salon but also in the supermarket near the house. Unfortunately, as can also be seen from the statistics, they are also not the healthiest choice.
With this article I do not intend to make gratuitous terrorism against chemical dyes, on the contrary! I simply want to give you the opportunity to read this article to gain more awareness of how dyes affect our hair.
In order to continue with the article, I invite you first to read the post dedicated to hair structure: HOW and WHAT is hair made from? Everything you should know! so as not to find yourself at the end of this article even more confused than before.
In order to read we first learned the alphabet, in order to understand how dyes act on our hair, whether they are chemical or natural, we have to start from the base..that is, from the structure of the hair:
The summary you find in the picture below will help you later to understand how chemical hair dyes act in comparison to natural hair dyes, such as henna and herbal hair dyes.
click on the photo to see it enlarged
The natural color of our hair
as you were able to ascertain in the article that I have just invited you to read , it depends on many factors controlled by different genes, among which we also count:
- the quality of the pigments present in the bark of the stem
as well as
- the amount of minerals present
which varies from person to person. Hence the infinite variety of unique nuances that each hair has.
The best known and most widely used method of dyeing hair is chemical hair dyes .
With very fast shutter speeds and very versatile as regards the colors that can be obtained, hair dyes are usually the first option for those who need to dye their hair.
Fortunately, in recent years, thanks to the internet but also to word of mouth, awareness of how they act on our hair and the damage they can cause to our hair is increasing and people are asking and looking for hair dyes today without chemicals and they learn more and more about the other alternatives that the market offers for dyeing hair.
You who are reading this article also fall right into this category.. you want to know and learn more about the options for coloring your hair, whether or not there are hair dyes without chemicals and you want to make your choice in full awareness!
Well, speaking exclusively of chemical hair dyes, based on the duration and/or resistance of the colouring,
we can distinguish 3 types of hair dyes:
1. Temporary hair dye
How does temporary hair dye affect our hair?
- color tone on tone . In fact the chemical dyes used in the formula, anthraquinones, indoamines, azo dyes have a high molecular weight and consequently cannot penetrate the cuticle of the stem
- it is the least aggressive hair dye compared to other hair dyes on the market but it is also the hair dye that lasts the shortest (a couple of shampoos).
- changes hair color for a short time, emphasizing natural reflections or giving new ones
- the covering effect is very low because the pigments are deposited on the cuticle and will be rinsed away at the first shampoo
- it does not contain hydrogen peroxide so it does not allow to obtain a lighter color than the natural color of the hair
- he can't dye and cover his white hair
2. Semi-temporary hair dye
How does semi-temporary hair dye work on our hair?
- colors the hair thanks to the basic pH which opens the scales of the cuticle. The scales closing, they retain the pigment in the hair, giving a new color to the stem
- it fails to lighten the hair because it does not assume an oxidative dyeing process
- it usually includes nitrate, azo or metallic dyes in its formula that resist up to 10 shampoos. The dyes are deposited on the cuticle without modifying the deep structure of the stem
- manages to dye and color white hair in a non-lasting way (the color resists for a few shampoos).
3. Permanent hair dye with or without ammonia
How does permanent hair dye (with or without ammonia) affect our hair?
- it modifies the natural color of the hair through a chemical reaction of oxidation which makes it possible to lighten or darken the hair
- the oxidation reaction takes place at the level of the bark therefore the chemical dyes must go beyond the cuticle
- being able to go beyond the cuticle means opening the scales thanks to a basic pH . Once the scales are open, substances and dyes are deposited under the cuticle of the stem, at the level of the bark, which create dye molecules through oxidation reactions
- it is the most aggressive hair dye on the market because it deeply modifies the structure of the hair to color the hair
- it lasts over time precisely because once the coloring process is finished, it will be part of the hair structure forever
- covers white hair
The main difference between permanent hair dyes and temporary or semi-permanent hair dyes?
Unlike other dyes (temporary or semi-permanent), permanent hair dyes open the scales of the hair cuticle to be able to penetrate inside the shaft and destroy the natural melanin pigments of our hair.
Natural pigments that will later be replaced with synthetic pigments that will form inside the bark thanks to oxidation reactions.
The transformation that takes place inside the stem is at this point irreversible and all the chemical substances necessary for the chemical oxidation reaction to take place penetrate the stem and the scalp reaching the hair bulb.
Are permanent chemical dyes harmful to our hair?
PERMANENT hair dyes, with or without ammonia, are dangerous for the health of our hair, but also for our health in general. Why? They penetrate not only into the hair, but also into the bulb and capillaries that vascularize it, transporting toxic substances at very high doses throughout our body .
Apart from the fact that all the chemical substances contained in the hair dye formula end up in our blood, as already established, our hair loves an acid pH ( the sebum that lubricates the hair is a substance with an acid pH ). But in order to change the natural color of our hair, permanent chemical dyes create an alkaline, aggressive environment which opens the scales of the cuticle to allow the dyes to penetrate inside the cortex of the hair.
How is the alkaline environment created on our keg?
Thanks to the alkalizing agents present in the formula of the hair dye.
Once upon a time, about 20-30 years ago, permanent hair dyes were only based on ammonia, ammonia which in recent years has been replaced with other ingredients that play the same role.
What is the role of ammonia in hair dye?
"Ammonium hydroxide" or the famous "ammonia" , a volatile substance with an acrid and pungent smell, is nothing more than an alkalizing agent necessary to create an alkaline environment and to maintain the correct pH in oxidation reactions . Identified over the years as a very aggressive ingredient for our scalp and hair, hair dyes today use the advertising claim "without ammonia" or "no ammonia" to lead us to think that they are less aggressive on our hair and scalp!
It is obvious that to create an alkaline environment and to be able to chemically color our hair, in the absence of ammonia, other alkalizing agents are used, some of which still release ammonia but having a less pungent odor they are "demonised" less. Another alkalizing agent often used is for example ethanolamine , which however is no less aggressive than ammonia on our hair and skin. But in the meantime, using a hair dye with a claim " without ammonia " has led us to believe that it is less aggressive on our hair.
So, in the light of what I have just told you, I leave it up to you to decide whether ammonia-free hair dyes are the most delicate to use on our hair.
The lower percentage of chemicals in an ammonia-free hair dye compared to ammonia hair dyes will certainly be less aggressive on our hair, but remember that it always ends up irreparably changing the structure of our hair.
Another aggressive agent present in permanent hair dye is the oxidizing agent that is
the hydrogen peroxide .
What is the role of hydrogen peroxide in permanent hair dye?
The hydrogen peroxide present in the hair dye allows the hair to be bleached, modifying the melanin and helps in the formation of oxidation pigments. Thanks to her we manage to obtain a lighter color than our natural color.
Synthesizing the chemical hair coloring process in a few words, very small molecules are able to cross the cuticle thanks to the alkaline environment created and are subsequently oxidized into colored molecules, capable of transmitting their color to the keratin of the stem.
Unfortunately, chemical hair coloring weakens the stem which loses its elasticity and resistance and makes the hair dull and lifeless.
Once the chemical hair coloring process is finished, to make the hair shiny again, an acid neutralizer is used which restores the acid pH of the hair and thanks to the silicones present in the formula of the chemical dye, the hair will look healthy, soft and shiny .
But it is only an appearance due to the action of silicones on our hair .
The hair may also be shiny again because the scales of the cuticle close again but the changes made by the chemical coloring of the hair have taken place at the level of the cortex, therefore in the heart of the stem, structurally modifying it forever. It will be enough to observe the state of health of our hair application after application to understand how much it suffers.
Based on the type of hair we have (fine or thick) we can also notice, who before, who after, how our hair becomes increasingly fragile and dry.
We could do all the wraps in this world, unfortunately the process started with permanent hair dye is irreversible and hair will never go back to its initial state. And with each new chemical dye, we're only making his health worse.
And as if this weren't enough, the balance of the scalp is also altered.
To conclude, the answer to the question which is also the title of this article is more than evident: chemical-free hair dyes are a real mirage.
As we have been able to ascertain , coloring hair chemically implies complex chemical reactions inside the stem , so when you are tempted by yet another advertising claim dedicated to hair dyes without ammonia and without chemicals, pick up the article again and remember what you have learned here .
But then, are there any alternatives to chemical hair dyes to be able to dye your hair safely?
Well yes, there is a natural alternative that Mother Nature has made available to us, a 100% natural hair dye, namely henna . Natural hair dye that won't be able to meet the needs of all of us, it doesn't have the same versatility as chemical hair dyes but if you're among the lucky ones who will be able to try it, I'm sure you'll never want to go back to chemical hair dyes.
Don't turn up your nose.. henna doesn't mean you have to turn red as you mistakenly think!
Even if you have a lot of white hair, used consciously and mixed with other equally natural dyeing herbs, you can obtain a varied range of colors. You can learn more about the topic here too: Early white hair? Cover them naturally with henna and herbal dyes
But the pros and cons of natural hair dye vs. chemical dyes and how they act on our hair I will tell you about it in the next article.
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