What is the best professional ammonia-free hair colour brand for your salon?

Before we jump to any conclusions, one should know the differences among the salon industry’s top professional colour lines – not all ammonia-free hair color is created equal.

First, let’s quickly remind ourselves the part ammonia plays in hair colour:

What’s ammonia’s role in hair colour?

Ammonia’s primary function is to raise the pH of the hair, open the cuticle, and allow for colour to enter the cortex. The more ammonia in a colour product, the higher the pH of the hair will become.

The average working pH of hair processed with ammoniated hair colour is 10-11, while the natural isometric pH of hair is 4.5-5.5!

NOTE: The pH scale is logarithmic, meaning with each rise in pH level, the new level is 10x more alkaline or acidic than the previous level – that’s huge!

This means ammonia-based hair colour  forces opening of the cuticle abruptly and  makes re-closing the hair nearly impossible, resulting in a major loss of protein and moisture, as well as imminent colour fading and damage.

What ingredient is used to replace ammonia in hair color?

Depending on the brand, you can find any number of these ingredients used instead of ammonia.

- Monoethanolamine (MEA)
- Ethanolamine- Cocomide MEA
- Aminomethylpropanol (AMP)

Here’s where the difference in ammonia free hair colour lines gets serious!

While MEA or Ethanolamine are odorless and not as corrosive as ammonia, the pH of the hair is STILL raised to an extraordinarily high level. The only thing most brands have achieved in removing ammonia is just that – the removal of ammonia – they’ve still neglected one of the most vital components of hair health – a balanced pH!

So, what can ammonia free hair color brands for professionals do to ensure the pH of the hair is kept intact?

The answer is simple – use heat to help open the cuticle. If a professional ammonia-free color line doesn’t use heat to help open the cuticle, they’re using MEA or Ethanolamine in the same percentages as ammonia, and are wreaking havoc on the structural integrity of the hair.

Aim for color lines that minimize the use of Ethanolamine and MEA, not ones that just simply swap ammonia for and odor-free alternative.

How do you remove Ethanolamine from the hair?

It has been postulated that this ingredient is hard to remove from hair.

Companies still standing by ammoniated hair color have used this aspect of MEA as a way to denounce its effectiveness, but have failed to realize one enormous detail.

The best ammonia-free hair color lineshave added Oleic acid (derived from olive oil) to safely remove any product left on the hair. However, some ammonia-free color lines haven’t caught on to this little trick – make sure to use brands that have!

Why is using an oil-based delivery system vital to ammonia-free hair color?

We’ve covered the primary role of ammonia, and it’s more desirable alternatives, but don’t forget – ammonia also has a secondary function.

When mixed with peroxide, ammonia neutralizes the existing color pigment, allowing color to further penetrate the cuticle.

Ethanolamine and MEA aren’t capable of doing this effectively.

So, an ammonia-free hair color line must have a color delivery system that compensates for the lack of ammonia.

The top-rated hair color lines have found an oil-based delivery system not only solves this problem, but that it actually works better than ammonia.

Fun Fact: Human hair is used as an eco-friendly method to clean up oil spills – that’s how much hair loves oil!

Hair absorbs oil before water, so using oil as a means of color molecule transport is not only effective, but optimal in any color line.

When deciding which ammonia-free color line is best for your salon and stylists, be sure to dig deeper into these type of ingredients!
(INFORMATION CREDITS WERE TRANSFERED FROM www.organiccoloursystems.co.uk)

Organic Hair Colour

Organic Colour Systems is the world’s only professional, non-diverted, natural and permanent organic hair color that is enriched with nourishing certified organic, gentle natural conditioning agents, ant-aging antioxidants, rejuvenating amino acids, nourishing vitamins, and soothing natural plant extracts. Organic hair color is 100% free of ammonia, formaldehyde, resorcinol, parabens, thioglycolates, and other dangerous toxins commonly found in permanent hair color, even the ones that market themselves as an “organic hair color”.

Organic Hair Colour Natural Ingredients

Organic Colour Systems is rich in certified organic ingredients, plant extracts, amino-acids, natural oils, vitamins, and other nutrients to make sure your client’s hair is left as healthy and vibrant as possible. Here are a list of our wonderful natural ingredients.

• Organic Chamomile
• Organic Aloe Vera
• Organic Bergamont Fruit
• Organic Citric Acid
• Organic Citrus Extracts
• Organic Coconut Oil
• Organic Coconut Plant
• Organic Comfrey
• Organic Comfrey Root
• Organic Fennel Seed
• Organic Grapefruit Seed Extracts
• Organic Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
• Organic Jojoba Seed

• Organic Lichen Extract
• Organic Orange Peel Extracts
• Organic Sea Mayweed
• Organic Soy Oil
• Organic Sunflower Extracts
• Organic Sweet Almonds
• Organic Vitamin B5
• Organic Vitamin C
• Organic Vitamin E
• Organic White Willow Bark
• Organically Grown Geranium
• Amino Acids
• Anti-oxidants

Organic Colour Systems is the only organic hair colour that has been used worldwide for over 20 years in 40 countries.

Made with the finest ingredients available today, the purity of our organic hair colour promotes the integrity, health and beauty of the hair.

Formulated without waxes, artificial gelling agents or cream thickeners, the natural viscosity and silky texture allows for a smooth, even application without running.

A colour process absent of volatile gases releases energy evenly throughout the hair for enhanced precision and control. Replacing synthetic, chemical fragrances are custom essential oil blends added to the hair color formulation just before application which creates a more natural, aromatic color experience for you and your clients.

Key Benefits of Organic Hair Colour with Organic Colour Systems

It’s 100% Ammonia Free

The oil base of the colour is alkaline so it raises the pH of the hair, but at the same time it acts as a conditioning agent softening the hair’s cuticle and allowing it to be opened with gentle heat. This eliminates the need for ammonia. Ammonia is a very effective way of opening the cuticle, however it opens the cuticle so much that while the colour is going in essential moisture and proteins are going out.

Lower percentage of PPD’s

Eliminating ammonia allows us to use the lowest percentage of PPD’s possible while still achieving a permanent result. Ammoniated color requires much higher loads of PPD’s since ammonia breaks down the natural pigments in the hair when mixed with peroxide. Therefore, ammoniated colors require a lot more pigment – otherwise it would all wash out at the shampoo bowl.

Although the amount of PPD (.1%-2%) in Organic Colour Systems is low enough for us to advertise our hair colour as “PPD Free”, we feel that doing so would be disingenuous. Please note that permanent hair colors contain some PPD’s regardless of what they may advertise, but many have a low enough percentage to enable them to legally advertise as “PPD Free”. As a salon professional, you should only rely on your own, independently administered, patch test especially for clients that give any indication of allergic reactions to PPD’s before applying any permanent hair color.

Organic Hair Color that Contains Truly Certified Organic Ingredients

Organic Colour Systems is the only permanent colour line available today with certified organically grown ingredients. It is as natural as possible, while still allowing you to obtain professional results.

Us of a natural Alkaline Agent

Our organic hair colour line contains an alkaline agent that is naturally derived from coconut oil rather than ammonia or other synthetics as our pH adjuster.

Key Difference between ammoniated colour and Organic Hair Colour

Ammonia blows open the cuticle taking the hair into the 10.5 – 12 range on the pH scale. We use a moisturizing oil base with a small amount of ethanolamine to open the cuticle to a pH level of 9. We are able to close the cuticle back down with our Organic Care line returning the hair to it’s isometric point of 5.5, which is the ideal pH of hair.

Key Difference between Organic Colour Systems and other non-ammonia colour lines

We commend other colour lines that have removed ammonia from their formulas as it is an extremely harsh chemical and no longer needs to be in hair color. Unfortunately, the vast majority have replaced it with ethanolamine which poses no health concerns as long as the amount used is reasonable. However, because they are only replacing the ammonia with ethanolamine and with no other alkaline base, they are using a very high percentage and consequently have not decreased the pH level that the hair is taken to, so the same amount of damage is occuring.

Organic Colour Systems Activators vs. other Peroxide Developers

All permanent hair colors contain oxidative pigments which means that they have to come into contact with oxygen in order to materialize. Peroxide is simply H2O2. Water with an additional oxygen molecule that can be split off easily to activate the pigments. Our peroxide is pharmaceutical grade which means it is the same peroxide found in eye drops, and therefore gentler then industrial grade peroxide.

Our Treatments vs. other hair treatments on the market

Our treatments are reconstructors and they work inside the hair shaft rather than applying a high percentage of silicone to the outside of the hair shaft. Although that gives the hair shine and a silky feel, it is entirely cosmetic and eventually becomes detrimental as it builds up on the hair shaft and does not allow color to penetrate. By doing a wet stretch test you can determine exactly what the hair may be lacking before any color or perm service allowing you to prepare the canvas before creating your work of art.

Information Credits courtesy of


Not All Ammonia Free Hair Colour Brands Are Created Equal

Organic Colour Systems