Is Ammonia-Free Hair Color the Best Choice?

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As much as we love the endless options that hair color can give us, there are drawbacks. The truth is, hair color just really isn’t all that great for your hair, or your body. That’s why ammonia-free hair color has always caught our attention. But, is it really better for you?

“[Ammonia-free] may not actually be worse, but it is equally as harmful,” says celebrity colorist and owner of Juan Juan Salon in Beverly Hills, CA, Jennifer J. That’s because it still contains other chemicals, like peroxide, to activate the color when it is mixed together. However, “ammonia-free hair color is usually better for your hair than color with ammonia in it, but it really depends on how much ammonia content the specific color line has in it,” adds Jennifer J. 

The pros: According to celebrity hairstylist Francky L’Official, ammonia-free color is best to use when you are coloring your hair for the first time, you want to cover your first gray, or you just want to add some shine and warmth to your natural color without dealing with the hassle of having to touch up your roots every four weeks. “Most ammonia-free color disappears gradually each time you shampoo,” says L’Official. “I personally love working with ammonia-free color because of the shine of the color and the way it makes hair feel.”

The cons: Some stylists aren’t fans of ammonia-free color because they say it’s not strong enough to totally change a person’s shade. “It also won’t cover 100 percent of gray hairs if a person’s hair is coarse in texture. But, it has already changed and improved a lot in the last two years and is becoming better at doing that,” says L’Official. 

So where can you find it? Some of the country’s top hairstylists, including L'Oréal professionnel artist and celebrity hairstylist Jennifer MacDougall, are fans of L'Oréal Professionnel INOA, which debuted in 2010 as the first ammonia-free, permanent in-salon hair color (a major beauty breakthrough). MacDougall says INOA is her top choice for creating beautiful, shiny, rich hair color. “I love the fact that it has no harsh ammonia (and no odor), and my clients love having their hair colored with it.”

The good news is that new and less-damaging hair color products are always being created. And, if you're dealing with any ammonia-related scalp issues, you'll also want to read this surprising way to stop scalp irritation caused by hair dye.

What do you use to dye your hair?

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4 Comments
  • Tina Duncan
    Posted on

    I agree with Paul. My stylist turned me on to organic systems and I Love it! I still color my hair with same frequency as regular color, but my hair is shiny and healthy. I have thick dark brown hair. It was dull and lifeless before she started using organic systems. My sister had thin badly damaged hair and now it's beautiful with organic systems.

  • joann
    Posted on

    I wanted to know if it was safe to use Revlon colorsilk ammonia free hair color

  • Melissa Salazar-Blake (IG @msb_hair)
    Posted on

    I am a salon professional currently using Schwarzkopf's Essensity. I had to find a non ammonia alternative due to developing allergies with the previous color line I was using. I've tried Redken Chromatics as well, and currently looking at OWAY color line to compare. As an artist/colorist and professional I think it's important to stay informed of the newest developments out there that are creating healthier alternatives to "what we've always done." Not just for my own personal health and safety, but for my clients' as well!

  • Paul Zamora (My Hair Trip Salon Denver)
    Posted on

    Organic Color Systems is 100% ammonia-free and peroxide free, it covers all greys, we use heat to open up the hair to receive the color along with pre-treatment instead of harmful chemicals. There is a healthy alternative to traditional, professional color lines but most stylists / colorists like the ones interviewed here feel to invested in there lines to change.

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