Hair colours are one of the most common hair services we do in Singapore. Almost all ladies we know have coloured their hair before. Whether it is to cover gray hair or don a new look, hair colouring has become a pretty normal thing to do. In fact, to cover gray hair, some of us even go to the salon or DIY hair colour at home every month.
As common as it is, however, regular hair colour is made of ingredients that can be pretty harsh. While we are not gulping down the hair colours, the scalp is one of the most absorbent part of the body and will absorb much of the chemicals you put on it. Some of these toxins will be removed by your liver with pee but some remain in the body for months.
Hence, it is not surprising to see warnings for pregnant ladies or those whose immunity has been compromised. This may be the reason why more and more people have been turning to organic hair colours, which has fewer chemicals and more natural ingredients.
We cannot guarantee this for the future but at this time, there are NO organic hair colours out there that use 100% natural ingredients, at least not consistently effective ones.
Regular hair colours work like this: Ammonia opens the cuticle of the hair, deposits the colour pigment within, which then closes with a good conditioner.
What organic hair colours tend to do is to replace ammonia with a less problematic substance. This is because ammonia has been proven to cause respiratory issues, breathing difficulties and allergies. In fact, most professional ammonia free hair colour use Ethanolamine (MEA) to replace ammonia as it also does the job of raising the pH of the hair so the colour molecules can penetrate.
They may call themselves "organic" or "ammonia-free" but not all organic hair colours are the same. Many organic hair colour brands still contain some ingredients that can be considered toxic such as PPD and resorcinol, though at much lower concentrations.
The Natulique range of base colours, for example, has 73 shades of colours which has less than 0.02% of PPD within, one of the lowest in the industry. Of the 73 shades, more than 10 shades are already PPD 0%.
Some of the PPD-free shades in Natulique
If you are still worried or your scalp is highly sensitive, you can go for their Natulique ZERO that has ZERO percentage of PPD, Resorcinol, Ammonia, Parabens or SLS. Although very few salons carry this range on demand.
Another organic brand, AVEDA Hair Color Pure Tones replace PPD with 0.3% of TDS. TDS is still somewhat toxic but has been proven to be less likely to cause allergies compared to PPD.
However, most organic hair colours are already better than regular hair colours due to their lower concentrations of the toxic chemicals.
As mentioned earlier, organic hair colours contain a number of other chemicals, some of which still contain low levels of toxins. This means that it is still possible for sensitive people to get allergies even for organic hair colours.
That is why stylists advise those with skin sensitivity to do a patch test a few days before the hair colour to minimize the chance of allergies
There is a misconception that you can only colour your hair black or brown with organic hair colours. If you can accept 0.02% of PPD within the hair colour, you can achieve beautiful hair colours like this:
Mocha Brown by Gene by Ginrich
Gene by Ginrich is yet another salon we love to recommend for AVEDA Hair Colours as the stylists here know how to spice up your hair with AVEDA's natural shades.
If you're looking to bleach / lighten your hair though, do remember to look out for brands that also use ammonia-free bleach and whitener. Using ammonia bleach with organic hair colours defeats the purpose of using ammonia-free shades as the mix will cause it not to be ammonia-free. From what we understand, both O'Way and Natulique carry such products.
Granted, you may try some organic hair colours that do not cover grey hair well. Henna is one of them - while it is 100% natural, it doesn't cover grey hair well and consistently... which defeats the purpose of hair colouring.
What most organic hair colours do instead is to include an ingredient called PPD. While PPD is not danger-free, it is less harmful than ammonia and is essential for covering grey hair.
One hair colour brand that contains small amounts of PPD and covers grey hair really well is O'Way hair colour, which is available at Focus Hairdressing, Be U Hair Studio, Risel Japanese Hair Salon and many more.
Colour Herbe at Koinonia Salon is yet another brand that has proven to achieve grey hair coverage really well!
You may hear less knowledgeable hairstylists dissing organic hair colours on how fast the colour fades. Well, it all depends on the brand of organic hair colour itself. As mentioned earlier, MEA is often used as the replacement to ammonia for as a pH adjuster to open the hair cuticle. The higher the concentration of MEA though, the faster the hair colour fades as the cuticles will find it difficult to close and lock in molecules.
It is important to find one which finds the right balance of MEA and other ingredients so that the colour lasts while still maintaining its low levels of toxicity.
It's never pleasant getting your hair done at a regular salon because they tend to deal with hair colours that contain ammonia.
With ammonia eliminated from most organic hair brands, it is no wonder why organic hair salons tend to smell much better!
Have you ever gotten an organic hair colour? Share your experience with us below!