Metallic salts and compounds in hair colour:

17 Sep


Created as a source of advise education knowledge skill experience a place to share thoughts post comments and idea’s on matters relating to hair colouring skill and techniques and anything industry related.

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Do we really know what we are getting

In that wonder box of home hair colour!

It is my intention to shed some light and expose some truth around some of the nasty things found in hair colour chemicals that go unmentioned causing effects that can be dangerous!

Over view of products available:

THERE are many ways to color hair and many products which are used for coloring. The most widely used products fall into two classifica­tions—permanent hair colorings and temporary or demi- semi. It is essen­tial that the professional colour technician understand how the products in each group work and their effects on the hair.


Permanent colorings remain in the hair until they are removed by chemical means or until the hair grows out. The coloring cannot be washed out with soap and water. However, it can be changed if another shade is desired by using a colour remover or bleach and re-tinting the hair.

Permanent colorings are used to cover gray hair, to give decided changes in hair color, or to brighten or deepen an already existing shade.

There are two types of permanent hair colorings—those that penetrate in the hair shaft and the coating tints which develop on the cuticle.

The Penetrating Tints

Almost all permanent hair coloring is done with oxidation or penetrat­ing tints. These tints penetrate through the cuticle layer of the hair into the cortex and are there oxidized or developed by the peroxide to in­ soluble pigments deposited on the same place where the natural pigments occur. The distribution of the produced pigments inside the hair shaft in the same pattern as the natural pigment creates a natural-looking shade.

The tinting action of the permanent hair coloring stops as soon as the hair is rinsed and excess coloring is washed away so that the hair does not darken after the application.

Hair is not overly damaged if the penetrating tint is properly applied.Sometimes the penetrating tints  can even  seem to improve hair condition.

All oxidation or penetrating tints require a patch test to be given 24 hours before each application.

The coating tints develop on the outside of the shaft on the cuticle layer, obliterating light and producing unnatural colors. There are many kinds of coating tints stains, vegetable extracts and the metallic dyes.

Vegetable Extracts

In the past, many plants and plant extracts such as indigo, sage, camomile and henna were used for hair dyeing. However, today only henna finds continued use. Among its many disadvantages are the length of application time, uncertain results, and the unnatural red shades it produces. Over a period of time, henna coats the hair and suffocates the cuticle, making other chemical services inadvisable, It is impossible to remove henna from the hair.

So-called white henna is not henna at all but is magnesium carbonate application of white henna, with its strong alkaline reaction, tends to damage the hair.

Metal Salt Dyes and Metal Compounds

Metal salt dyes are usually composed of a solution of metal salt with thiosulfate. The metal salt dyes are called progressive dyes or color restorers, because each subsequent application increases the coating on the hair and it becomes progressively darker. These metallic dyes have a tendency to fade into peculiar colors. Those that contain lead turn purple. The dyes containing silver turn green, and those containing copper turn red.

There are some disadvantages of metallic salt dyes. There are relatively few shades of metallic hair dyes available limited by the properties of metal salts. However, the degree of color can be regulated by the frequency of application.

The more frequent the application, correspondingly the stronger the color. These dyes tend to produce quite dark and intense colors with frequent use. Metallic salt dyes can interfere with permanent waving they can and will cause a chemical reaction this can result in a heat reaction in some cases hair can dissolve or melt, so there are restrictions on using these dyes along with other forms of hair processing.{back to the stand test not done enough in salons seldom by the home hair artists.}

The advantages of metallic salt dyes if their are any! include their ease of use at home. The gradual change in color with repeated use is subtle so friends and associates may not actually realize you have started using hair dye. These dyes are relatively safe to use. Although made from metals, the modern formulas are not absorbed through the skin. There is usually no need for a patch test as it is extremely rare to become sensitized to metallic salts.


To determine if hair has been colored by a metallic dye, mix 1 oz. of 20-volume peroxide with 20 drops of 28% ammonia. Submerge 20 strands of hair in the solution and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. If the hair lightens rapidly, the hair contains lead. If there is no reaction after 30 minutes, the hair contains silver or bismuth. If the solution starts to boil and emits a foul odor, the hair contains copper. Hair that has no metallic salts on it should lighten only very slightly.

Henna Compound Dyes

The henna compound dyes are mixtures of metallic salts with organic intermediates such as pyrogallol. The colors achieved with these com­pounds are more natural looking than those obtained with the metal salts alone, but no lightening of the hair is possible and they fade easily. They are discolored by cold wave permanents, and hair treated with these compounds cannot be bleached or dyed until the metallic salts have been removed. [removing metallic salts] good luck with that!

Red Henna comes from the Dried leaves of the Privet [lawsonia alba] grown in Asia and northern Africa.

Natural henna comes from the crushed root.

Natural henna is sometimes mixed with compounds of Metallic salts to produce a range of different colours. Hair coloured with Metallic salt henna cannot and should not be coloured with any other products including Hydrogen Peroxide.

Warning :

If unsure do a strand test,[ Strong discoloration,an unpleasant smell. no colour change, uneven results down hair shaft, in some case applying permanent colour over    the top of Metallic salts can cause a high heat reaction!]

Henna can make appear shinny with more body and natural red hues depending on natural base level!

Henna Can over time build up on hair make it brittle it is not possible to chemically remove henna.

{Again before attempting any new colour strand testis essential!}


Temporary colorings deposit color on the outside of the hair shaft. They are generally removed by washing with soap and water, but some of the temporary types are resistant to one or two shampoos.

Temporary hair colorings are used to darken or to add highlights to normal hair, to impart color to gray hair and to eliminate yellowish shades from white and gray hair.

There are three kinds of temporary hair colorings:


For women who want only to highlight the color of their hair or add beauty to gray hair, rinses are the most satisfactory answer. Concen­trated rinses like the Clairol Come Alive series, while they wash out with soap and water, remain color true from shampoo to shampoo. The Come Alive series consists of Come Alive Gray, Come Alive Red, Come Alive Brown and Come Alive Blonde. They highlight mousy hair, and Come Alive Gray makes gray hair look more beautiful without unnatural blue and purple tones. The Come Alive rinses condition as well as color the hair. These rinses are easily and quickly applied and are valuable as an introduction to hair coloring.

Highlighting Shampoos

Some shampoos combine the action of a rinse with that of a shampoo to give highlights and slight color tones to hair. These shampoos gen­erally contain certified colors.{ some of these contain elements that build up in the hair}

Other highlighting shampoos do not contain coloring matter, but do contain a bleaching agent to achieve this effect. Their action is due to solid peroxide compounds present in a soap or detergent base.

Powders, Crayons, Mascaras, and Hair color Cremes

Powders are practically extinct today with the exception of the metallic powders which have returned to fashion for use in applying temporary hair streaks. again we are back with the metallic issues it builds up in the hair it causes chemical reactions.

Hair crayons are used to retouch newly grown gray hair in between tint treatments so that it blends with the tinted hair. The results are not comparable to regular retouching.

Read hair color instructions carefully

when in doubt, always do a test on a small strand first. But if you’ve made a mistake, don’t hide under a hat for months. Salons have color removers and their are some good over the counter removers B4 sold at Boots the Chemist. they will in most case take you right back to where you started, where hopefully, history won’t repeat itself.

I hope that this has and is helpful good luck with your next hair adventure:  


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7 responses to “Metallic salts and compounds in hair colour:

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