Hair Color Explained

Hair Color Explained

Understanding what you need for a perfect color reasult

Permanent, semi permanent, direct dye, oh my!

With so many types of hair color on the market, it can be confusing. I hope after this post, you’ll have a better understanding on the type of hair color available and the meaning behind there names.

Of course my knowledge is based on professional product’s. Even thought the discription bellow should apply to store bought color, I cannot guarantee that they are the same.

Before we get started, we need to familiarize ourself with what the hair is made of. I’m only going to focus on what the hair color’s directly effect. Don’t worry, it’s not that bad.

Hair color interact with two important hair component’s. The cortex which is comprised of the majority of the hair bulk and the cuticle which is the protective layer surrounding the cortex. Both cortex and cuticle are made of keritinized protein, similar to your nail.

In most part, Professional color comes in Permanent color, Demi or Semi Permanent, Direct Dye and Temporary colors. I’m not going to address lightener (bleach), as it’s not really a color.

Permanent Color

When mixed with hydrogen peroxide (h2o2) and applied to the hair, small color molecules penetrate the hair cuticle, into the cortex, to bind to the natural protein of the hair. Consequently, having the ability to lighten the hair, or darken it, with  100% grey coverage, making it the most versatile and most commonly used color in a Hair Salon.

For all this to be possible, this hair color face one challenge and that is, the protective layer surrounding the hair shaft, the cuticle. The cuticle must be made to open to allow the pigment to be deposited into the cortex. The ingredient commonly used to do this, is ammonia. Without this ingredient the pigment would never pass the hair surface and would wash away.

What about ammonia free color you say? They are permanent as well! True. And that’s because the ammonia was replaced by a substitute ingredient that does the same exact job.

Semi Permanent & Demi Permanent

These color are both very similar in behaviors. So I’m going to combine them here. They are also a 2 part mixture. But the hydrogen peroxide is very low in alkaline, as this color isn’t meant to be permanent. Semi and Demi Permanent have no ammonia or it’s derivative.

The pigment of these color’s don’t go into the cortex of the hair. They are happy to lodge themself just under the cuticle. Trapping themself enough to be long lasting, just not enough to make them permanent.

The major difference between Semi and Demi is that Demi goes just a little deeper under the cuticle and sit’s at the edge of the cortex, making Demi Permanent lasting longer then Semi Permanent.

These colors cannot lighten the hair. All they can do is change the hue of the existing color, at the same level of darkness/lightness or darker.

One word of caution. Many store bought brand’s use odd description or title’s that gives the impression that they are Semi or Demi Permanent. Phrases like “wash out in 12 shampoo’s”. These are actually permanent color’s that will fade in 12 shampoo’s but will not wash out completely. To be safe, you should ask a professional.

Direct dye

These dyes have become extremely popular because of there brightest and vivid color shade’s. They are not mixed with any hydrogen peroxide and are ammonia free. Application is easy. They are directly distributed onto the hair. These pigment will slightly lodge itself at the edge of the cuticle making them semi permanent. It’s possible that the color could reach the cortex if the cuticle is significantly compromised. Which could result in hair staining.

Temporary color

They are just that. Temporary. Ususaly one shampoo and they are gone. They come in multitude of way’s, commonly in spray or mousse format including in liquid’s and in hair gel’s. They sit at the surface until washed out.

This is just a quick overview of hair color types. New product’s are created all the time and rules change without notice. If in doubt. Ask question’s to fit your personal need’s.

One Response

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