The future of hair is non-toxic. At least, that’s the trend.
New technologies are emerging in the hair industry to align with society's growing values of environmentally friendly and non toxic living. It started with a few innovative companies such as Aveda, Natulique, Keune, La Biostetique and Original Mineral but is now a giant market. As a conscious consumer, it's important to know what new advances there are, because at the end of the day, it’s your health and your hair we’re talking about.
The reality is that currently there just isn’t a 100% natural organic permanent hair colour available on the market. But, you would have seen so many organic options advertised, right? A hair product can be marketed and certified as natural or organic if 85% natural/organic, which is misleading for those that don’t read the fine print. A permanent colour needs preservatives, oxidative agents and other chemicals for a better performance and shelf life. Let’s dive into the depth of a hair colour history and chemicals. What is inside your hair colour?
A modern history of hair colour started a century and a half ago. In the late 1800s, a young English chemist, Henry Perkin, revolutionised the hair industry forever by accidentally synthesizing the first dye. The colour was mauve.
Soon after, his chemistry teacher, August Hoffman, improved the formula to a colour-changing molecule (called para-phenylenediamine or PPD). Amazingly, this molecule is still used to this day. While the visuals can be stunning, PPD is known to cause dermatitis and face swelling.
In the early 1900s, ammonia became common in hair colouring as well, developed by the iconic L’Oreal. Ammonia’s special power is that it opens the cuticle to allow colour to enter the cortex. While effective, ammonia causes skin, scalp, and eye irritation, among other ailments, especially in larger quantities.
The latest technology advance, monoethanolamine, or MEA, was launched by L’oreal in 2010 . It’s an organic chemical compound that is made up of amine and alcohol. MEA mimics ammonia’s benefits but is less harsh on the hair, has less odour and causes very little or no skin irritation.
Through my hairdressing career, I’ve worked with several global brands and feel as if the giants of the industry are slow to respond to the change in consumer needs. So, I reached out to a boutique Australian brand, Original & Mineral, to better understand their ingredients and company mission, and have been working with them ever since.
Original & Mineral aligns with my environmental values, is vegan, cruelty-free and most importantly, uses a new technology that doesn’t include ammonia, PPD or resorcinol. Resorcinol is a popular colour agent and negatively affects wildlife and the human immune system. The brand doesn’t claim to be 100% free of chemicals as performance is important and uses MEA, however, they strive for the best option available and use bare minimum of chemicals along with the goddess of Australian natural plants and oils.
Often making a choice of environmental awareness and sustainability whether a consumer or a hairdresser is beneficial in a lot of ways. Regardless of the hair colour brand you are choosing, ask your colourist to explain to you risks and benefits in choosing the best hair dye for you.