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All natural hair color ?

by Bill Trotter  ·  July 8th, 2017

The myth of all natural hair color

As a colorist I started this blog for generic consumer education. I said that I would never trash a specific brand or companies. I live in Florida where there is an inordinate amount of Aveda beauty schools. Now I am all for getting your cosmetology degree. What I am finding is that Aveda does an awesome job of brainwashing students with Aveda propaganda. It is very difficult to educate new talent with any other education other than Aveda. They will argue that’s not what we were told at school. I personally believe that many different techniques and color classes will improve the way you view precision color and cuts. There is more than one way to skin a cat and it comes from you using many different techniques.

They all seem to have bought into the all natural myth. I don’t want to just bust on Aveda – there are so many companies coming out with (finger quotes) all natural products. The only thing that is all natural to tint the hair is Henna. The problem with Henna is you can only go darker with your color. You can not use any other chemicals on your hair if you have had a Henna. This is what we call a meltdown. The hair will actually turn to mush and be destroyed.

I have used Aveda and a myriad of other products that claim to be natural. The problem with this is if you have natural ingredients in a bottle sitting on a shelf, that product will go rancid. The proteins in natural products must be suspended in a preservative. There are no FDA regulations on hair products thus allowing all companies to use some very nasty preservatives.

Other than the heavenly fragrances Aveda uses in their products and their pop up concept salons they are no different from any other product lines or salon model. I actually bought a bottle of grapefruit and honey shampoo. I asked my class to taste it. What? Yes, taste it. Tell me if it tastes all natural. I went through all the ingredients on the back of the bottle and could not find one natural ingredient.

Which of these statements are true ?:

All these statements are false. This is advertising at its best. Tell them your products are all natural. Tell them its made from lemon grass and avocado.

My salon is surrounded by these all natural concept salons. My beef is the misinformation they sell to consumers. These people are being snowed. There is nothing natural about hair color.

I am disturbed when a client with bleached yellow hair tells me she went to an all natural hair care salon because her hairstylist said the products are more gentle or better than the rest. That my friend is propaganda and simply not true. This is all a company branding themselves. All advertising all the time.

To prove my point here is more information on the chemistry of hair color.

Hair color is a matter of chemistry! The first safe commercial hair color was created in 1909 by French chemist Eugene Schuller, using the chemical paraphenylenediamine. Hair coloring is very popular today, with over 75% of women coloring their hair and a growing percentage of men following suit. How does hair color work? It’s the result of a series of chemical reactions between the molecules in hair, pigments, as well as peroxide and ammonia if present.


Hair is mainly keratin, the same protein found in skin and fingernails. The natural color of hair depends on the ratio and quantities of two other proteins, eumelanin, and phaeomelanin. Eumelanin is responsible for brown to black hair shades while phaeomelanin is responsible for golden blond, ginger, and red colors. The absence of either type of melanin produces white/gray hair.


People have been coloring their hair for thousands of years using plants and minerals. Some of these natural agents contain pigments (e.g., Henna, black walnut shells) and others contain natural bleaching agents or cause reactions that change the color of hair (e.g., vinegar). Natural pigments generally work by coating the hair shaft with color. Some natural colorants last through several shampoos, but they aren’t necessarily safer or more gentle than modern formulations. It’s difficult to get consistent results using natural colorants, plus some people are allergic to the ingredients.


Temporary or semi-permanent hair colors may deposit acidic dyes onto the outside of the hair shaft or may consist of small pigment molecules that can slip inside the hair shaft, using a small amount of peroxide or none at all. In some cases, a collection of several colorant molecules enters the hair to form a larger complex inside the hair shaft.

Shampooing will eventually dislodge temporary hair color. These products don’t contain ammonia, meaning the hair shaft isn’t opened up during processing and the hair’s natural color is retained once the product washes out.


Bleach is used to lighten hair. The bleach reacts with the melanin in hair, removing the color in an irreversible chemical reaction. The bleach oxidizes the melanin molecule. The melanin is still present, but the oxidized molecule is colorless. However, bleached hair tends to have a pale yellow tint. The yellow color is the natural color of keratin, the structural protein in hair. Also, bleach reacts more readily with the dark eumelanin pigment than with the phaeomelanin, so some gold or red residual color may remain after lightening. Hydrogen peroxide is one of the most common lightening agents. The peroxide is used in an alkaline solution, which opens the hair shaft to allow the peroxide to react with the melanin.


The outer layer of the hair shaft, its cuticle, must be opened before permanent color can be deposited into the hair. Once the cuticle is open, the dye reacts with the inner portion of the hair, the cortex, to deposit or remove the color.

Most permanent hair colors use a two-step process (usually occurring simultaneously) which first removes the original color of the hair and then deposits a new color. It’s essentially the same process as lightening, except a colorant is then bonded within the hair shaft. Ammonia is the alkaline chemical that opens the cuticle and allows the hair color to penetrate the cortex of the hair. It also acts as a catalyst when the permanent hair color comes together with the peroxide. Peroxide is used as the developer or oxidizing agent. The developer removes pre-existing color. Peroxide breaks chemical bonds in hair, releasing sulfur, which accounts for the characteristic odor of hair color. As the melanin is decolorized, a new permanent color is bonded to the hair cortex. Various types of alcohols and conditioners may also be present in hair color.

The conditioners close the cuticle after coloring to seal in and protect the new color.

#consumer information salon
# Bill Trotter
# Destin Hair colorist

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