Ammonia has been used since the first hair color formulas were created more than 100 years ago. It is one of the two main ingredients – the other is peroxide – which is essential for achieving hair color changes in permanent and demi-permanent formulas. Here’s the scoop on this often-controversial ingredient.
How ammonia hair color works.
The role of ammonia is twofold: it opens the hair cuticle to facilitate the oxidation process which lightens the natural color of the hair and helps to develop the added color. Since the hair has an acidic pH by nature, ammonia also generates alkalinity to create a permanent color change, particularly when creating high lift shades. All permanent hair color needs a chemical alkalizer, such as ammonia or MEA (monoethanolamine), to open the cuticle so that the ingredients in the color formula can penetrate the hair shaft and create the desired shade.
Can ammonia cause allergic reactions?
0.5-1% of the population is truly allergic to PPD or PTD, allergic reactions to hair color are only triggered by PPD or PTD, the dye molecule that has been used in color formulas since they were first developed in the 1800s “It is almost impossible for ammonia to trigger any allergic reaction, in fact, ammonia is naturally produced in the human body.
When customers complain of having a reaction to ammonia, it is usually because they are sensitive to the smell, or to the allergens in added fragrances in hair color or have an itchy scalp due to the peroxcide chemical reactions that occur during the oxidation process.
Ammonia is a substance lighter than water and during oxidation becomes a gas that easily penetrates the hair shaft to create the chemical reaction. But once this is done, it is easily eliminated without leaving any residue. “But MEA is dense liquid that has a larger molecule.It opens the cuticle less, so it is necessary to compensate by adding a greater quantity to achive the same performance levels. As MEA is a dense liquid, it must be eliminated with great care or it will continue to oxidize and reactivate even after the customer has left the salon.
There are some solutions for MEA removal products like “Detox” shampoos with added ingredients to mitigate the damage that can be caused by MEA.
Ammonia hair color, MEA hair color,
Which one should I choose?
It all depends on what you want to achieve.
For for healthier chemical side effects, high-lightening hair and longer lasting permanent color with less damage, ammonia-based formulas are the still the best solution.