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Alkalinity and Ph. The process of hair colouring.

27 Jan

Back2myroots :

A place to share thoughts and grow idea’s. B2MR

When it comes to understanding the chemistry of hair colouring. Get educated not mislead!                         

As Hairdressers when considering doing  hair colour . We owe it to our selves and indeed the client to do the best job possible, more than that give the best service and advise possible, suggesting colour that works with skin tone and eye colour. Work with the best products available, understand the chemistry of the product how it works reacts with hair, what condition with it leave the hair in. Spend some time reading the technical manual in the colour chart know and trust your product.

Many hair colours today claim great condition no Ammonia. However claims of no ammonia does not always mean great condition, some times we sacrifice one evil for another. When no ammonia is present in permanent colour another alkaline is introduced as a replacement or substitute.There has to be a presence of an alkaline for the colouring process to work

We are talking permanent colour.  The process is not the same in Semi or Demi colour but they to can be misleading in their chemical makeup! So always get informed read the black stuff ask questions.

It’s all so complicated. Education, technical knowledge, a greater understanding of the products that you are using is essential. Understand what MEA is another favorite derived from Ethanolamine. Alcohol Denatured. Do you know what this is? It’s alcohol derived from fermented grain used as an alkaline it can be very drying but because a grain by product marketed as being natural! Very misleading

Why does Ammonia get such a bad wrap just because it smells ? The damage it can cause depends on the strength being used and the way applied timing, heat, temperature,

Ammonia! GET’S A BAD WRAP SO THEY CAN RELAUNCH OR SELL A NEW CONCEPT

High lift Blondes have an extra kick! Most hair colour lines have high lift blonde range, these again have an alkaline from some source however it may be that extra lift is promoted. In many cases companies also add  Ethanolamine to their high lift colour to open the cuticle more! They don’t normally advertise or disclose this fact it’s disclosed in the small print on the instructions on the paper work inside the box .

So why is MEA  such an  innovation? MEA now promoted to replace Ammonia can any one enlighten me?

Definition: 

MEA Monoethanolamine:

Can be used as a selective absorber and plays an important role in the production of Ammonia! MEA Monoethanolamine obtained from the reaction of ammonia and Ethylene. Ethlene a bio fuel so we are back to grain Alcohol! but derived from grain so natural! does this make it ok ? Would you think that good for hair?

Definition:

Alcohol denatured:

A general term for organic ingredients that contain the OH (hydroxyl) group. Alcohols differ substantially in their properties ranging from water soluble solvents like isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol.
Sounds good too!

Definition:

Ammonia:

An alkaline ingredient used in some permanent hair color. Ammonia is an ingredient that results in a chemical action that decolorizes the hair. A colorless, pungent gas, NH3,  first step in the nitrogen cycle. 

Ammonia is generated by fish urine and by the decay of dead fish and plant material. Many professional hair colours have 0.4 to 1.2% Ammonia be aware some companies have levels way above this quite low level of working alkalinity.

The choice dead decaying fish or fermenting Grain both really a natural source.
As we can see although some companies portray natural less harmful chemistry it is not always the case. adding natural oils or waxes to protect scalp to make application easier are all part of this process.

This is why knowledge research are key and empowering when it comes to colouring hair and the choices we make on products must go beyond what the sales rep or promotion material say.

I am not trying to scare just inform encourage thinking research! I think that we also need to cover the important role that understanding Ph chart and the role that it plays in the hair colouring process and indeed the chemistry of all chemical services performed on the hair.

                                       review of  aPh balance chart.

A little help with Ph balance chart: When we do any chemical service on the hair be it. Colour. Perming. Relaxing. We have to create an environment that enables us to get below the surface layer the cuticle layer of the hair ,

This is the outer layer that serves to protect the inner structure from both damage and moisture loss, the inner layer being the cortex and Medulla.

Once we have decide on the service we are going to perform in this case colour. The formulation we choose will dictate the amount of deposit the more we open the cuticle the deeper the deposit.

So understanding Ph, lift, deposit, are key to being able to perform outstanding colour services.

                               Three layers of the hair structure.

Healthy hair should have a Ph of 5 to 5.5  when we introduce an alkaline be it Ammonia which comes in many different strengths the stronger the more it will open the cuticle. The same can be said for other colour drivers MEA, Dealcoholised grain products. All serve the same purpose to manipulate the Ph of the hair to create an environment for performing any chemical service. The stronger the product the more the cuticle will be opened and the more damage can be done.It is essential after a process to re balance the hair and close the cuticle and restore that natural balance of 5.5.

This can be done with a chemical balancing product these normally have a Ph of 2.5 when introduced to the hair it will close the cuticle and restore the ph balance of the hair to 5.5.

Always be aware to consider the hair condition and assess during consultation before deciding on any chemical service knowing and understanding the Ph of hair is key to keeping it healthy and allowing colour retention or retaining moisture after the perming process.

Part of the consultation process should address the condition, porosity, moisture level. issues of fading. colour retention. These are all things effected by the hair’s Ph level being at a correct level.

It is also during this consultation process to not only assess the hair both by touch and visual inspection. but through communication getting a fully in depth history of past products used and indeed products being used at this time.

With so many products that manipulate our Ph mantle opening the cuticle to deposit anything from stains to silicone based products that over time will build up in the hair, note they can cause issues when trying to get even deposit in the colouring process.

This is why it is essential that as stylist’s we have a good all round knowledge of products and how they work on the hair during any chemical process.

Healthy hair should have a Ph of 5 to 5.5  when we introduce an alkaline be it Ammonia which comes in many different strengths the stronger the more it will open the cuticle. The same can be said for other colour drivers MEA, Dealcoholised grain products. All serve the same purpose to manipulate the Ph of the hair to create an environment for performing any chemical service. The stronger the product the more the cuticle will be opened and the more damage can be done.Healthy hair should have a Ph of 5 to 5.5  when we introduce an alkaline be it Ammonia which comes in many different strengths the stronger the more it will open the cuticle. The same can be said for other colour drivers MEA, Dealcoholised grain products. All serve the same purpose to manipulate the Ph of the hair to create an environment for performing any chemical service. The stronger the product the more the cuticle will be opened and the more damage can be done.

Ok a brief stop to review Ph now we can move onto developers with so much more knowledge of the colouring process.

Developers:

This really is such a huge topic and so important choosing the correct strength is the key to success. Developers play such a huge role in the degree of lift and deposit we decide upon, allowing us to expose the pigments we utilise in the hair colour process. The formulation we chose to attain our target colour is a a blend of chosen colour level of developer timing. It’s just like baking the perfect cake! Mess with the recipe it will fail.

Lets work off an example of level 6. Dark Blonde. 6N on most  international colour charts

Depending on the level of peroxide we opt to use. We are going to introduce colour or add undertone from the hairs natural Pigment. {remember level 6 } This gets a little complicated, mainly because in some circles we are mislead as to lift we should expect, from any given strength or volume of  Hydrogen Peroxide. 10 volume or 3% Peroxide: In some circles it’s suggested that it does not lift. I would disagree with this thinking.

The lift you get, is enough to expose the pigment in the hair at that given level. So on our level 6 we would expose Red Orange, by Introducing this warmth into our equation. We have to decide on the role  it plays, how will it influence our colour.

Do we want to Utilize or neutralize the shade exposed? At this point we should consult our shade chart and yes the colour wheel, choose the shade to do the job not just the shade that you like in the swatch! The higher the volume of peroxide the more lift the more pigment to consider.

Note: 

Take a look at a colour wheel if 10 is the lightest then it sits in the yellow segment.

So working from our level 6 what shade would we expose trying to get to level 10? is it possible to get their? lets see.

* 10=  pale yellow off chart

* 9 =    yellow

*8  =     yellow orange

* 7 =    orange

* 6 =    red orange

And so on down the scale.

Level 6 + 10 vol 3% 1 level  still level 6 but with pigment exposed. red orange

Level 6 + 20 vol 3% 2 levels through level 6 up to level 7 orange pigment exposed.

Level 6 +  30 Vol 9% 3 levels through level 6 and 7 into level 8 Yellow Orange pigment exposed.

Level  6 + 40 vol 12% 4 levels through level 6, 7, 8. and into level 9 exposing yellow but still a warm yellow.

4 levels of tint lift. Will not give you lift from level 6 to level 10 you will always struggle with the issue of warmth. { even with a high lift Blonde using adjusted formula with a violet base to neutralize the pigment exposed}.

You should be able to see from this example, that as we lift hair from it’s natural level we expose pigment.This exposed pigment becomes part of our colour formulation,  seeing as we have introduced this pigment into the colour equation  we have to  decide do we want to utilise it or neutralise it. thus creating our target colour. Now we can take time to review and digest the very key points raised for creating perfect colour.

Fact:

Ask your self this question which is the stronger 10 volume hydrogen peroxide or 40 volume?

be honest. I would say that 75% would say 40 Volume!

The fact is they are both the same. the only difference is the 40 vol stays active for longer.[see timing chart]

Think of it like this you have a glass of water in each hand. One glass has 1 alkali dissolving tablet in it this represents 10 vol. The second glass has 4 alkali dissolving tablets in it. This represents 40 vol strength wise they are the same, the only difference is the 4 tablets will fizz for longer.

The difference is not the strength is the longevity of the action in this case lifting! so we are back to formulation and timing.

Having made it this far on our Colour bus journey.We can now appreciate the careful balance that is hair colouring. Having a fuller understanding of the hair’s structure, how we can manipulate it’s Ph, to facilitate the hair colour process. Have a better understanding of lift deposit and how to utilise and neutralise the pigments we expose and use towards out target colour.

You can see the hair colouring process is quite complex and does require thought and knowledge when trying to achieve the very best results.

In closing it was brought to my attention by someone who sent me a question via a hair site about Ph saying that they could not find any information on the subject, I thought this very odd but having looked through the NVQ the offcial guide [Hairdressing foundation] I have to say  i find it very odd that this topic is not covered in some depth.

If you want information on topic’s to ask question go ahead use the section on the Blog.

I hope this is found useful
MikeB2MR
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