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The truth about organic and ammonia free hair colour!


Ammonia free hair colour has become a major trend in the hair colour industry.

"Ammonia free" sounds -  good, healthy, natural and above all - safe.

BUT, what ingredients are used instead?

It's time we asked the question - instead of assuming that because a hair product is "ammonia free" it has to be better for your health.

Remember when fat free was the best thing ever for our evergrowing overweight community - then we found out that the fat was replaced by chemicals, and sugars, both of which had the potential to cause other adverse outcomes.


Lets look at the basics here - for hair to change colour some form of chemical reaction has to take place, unless you resort to beetroot which can give a beautiful red, and stains equally as well, but the colour will wash out after a short time.

There needs to be some kind of alkaline product in hair colour to raise the PH level of the hair so it will take in the colour. If not the colouring will not take place.  For the colour to enter into the hair shaft, the cuticle layers  (like fish scales on the outside of the hair) need to lift to allow the colour pigment to enter. Many different products can be used to achieve this process. None of them as yet are perfect. Some work more efficiently than others therefor creating less damage, or ongoing issues with the hair and skin.


Ammonia is one of the products used in hair colour that allows the colour pigments to enter the hair shaft.

Ammonia has been the subject of bad press, much maligned as the "bad boy" in the colouring process, unqualified claims and general misinformation by, and to, a believing public - encouraged by those who stand to gain the most from ammonia free products.  

Most people do not react to the ammonia in hair colour - they react to the PPD's in hair colour. PPD, and PTD are the ingredients to avoid!

Wikipedia states - The toxicity of ammonia solutions does not usually cause problems for humans and other mammals.

Ammonia is produced in the body and is commonly found in nature. It is essential to the body as a building block for making protiens and other complex mollecules. In nature ammonia occurs in soil from the bacteria processes.

CIR expert panel - The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) includes Ammonium Hydroxide on its lists of direct food substances affirmed as Generally Recognised as Safe.

In the US the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel conducts independent safety reviews of ingredients as part of the cosmetic safety process with the results published in the International Journal of Toxicology.

 Ammonia is listed in the Cosmetics Directive of the European Union (see Annex III, Part1). It is allowed for use at a maximum concentration of 6% as NH3, and must be labelled "contains ammonia) if the concentration is above 2%.

Ammonia is listed in the Cosmetics Directive of the European Union (see Annex III, Part I). It is allowed for use at a maximum concentration of 6% as NH3, and must be labeled, contains Ammonia if the concentration is above 2%. - See more at: http://www.cosmeticsinfo.org/ingredient/ammonia-and-ammonium-hydroxide#sthash.WTdORGh9.dpuf


Depending on the brand of the colour you can find varying degrees of these ingredients used instead of ammonia.

- Aminomethylpropanol (AMEA)

 Works to adjust PH levels. It’s been shown to cause mild dermal (skin) irritation and sensitization, may contain DEA. In its pure form Aminomethyl Propanol is irritating due to its high level of alkalinity, but is buffered when used in cosmetics. It is classified in the EU as irritating to the eyes and skin, and harmful to aquaticorganisms and may be contaminated with carcinogenic nitrosamines. Generally acceptable in low doses.

Wikipedia states: used for the preparation of buffer solutions.[2] It is also used in cosmetics.[1]

- Cocomide DEA & MEA

Derived by reacting the mixture of fatty acids from coconut oils with diethanolamine.  Acute exposure can cause nausea, breathing difficulties, vomitting and diarrhorea. Occupational asthma has been reported after prolonged contact with this chemical.

Wikipedia states:

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) lists coconut oil diethanolamine condensate (cocamide DEA) as an IARC Group 2B carcinogen, which identifies this chemical as possibly carcinogenic to humans.[3]

In June 2012, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment added cocamide DEA to the California Proposition 65 (1986) list of chemicals known to cause cancer.[4]

Cocamide DEA has a high irritation potential.

- Monoethanolamine (MEA) 

Wikipedia states: also called 2-aminoethanol or monoethanolamine (often abbreviated as ETA or MEA), is an organic chemical compound that is both a primary amine and a primary alcohol (due to a hydroxyl group). Like other amines, monoethanolamine acts as a weak base. Monoethanolamine is a toxic, flammable, corrosive, colorless, viscous liquid with an odor similar to that of ammonia.

It is believed that this product does not rinse completely from the hair - therefore remaining residue had been claimed to cause darkening of colour and weakening of the hair shaft.


Phenylenediamine is known to cause health concerns, such as skin irritation. Exposure to phenylenediamine can occur during manufacturing or during the use of hair dyes. According to the Product Safety Summary Sheet by DuPont, Para-Phenyenediamine (PPD) is labeled as toxic and can cause adverse effects on aquatic organisms and could cause long-term effects in aquatic environments.[21]


For the scientists at the B-spot research laboratories the results are clear : "Ammonia still remains the only colouring agent which has been tested for over 40 years. Unlike its substitutes currently in vogue it dissipates rapidly and its residues disappear with rinsing. For this reason we preffer to rely on a tried and tested method using extremely low doses (1.3%) rather than following trends".

The patented pure nanopigments in 010Plus only require the cuticle to open very, very slightly to allow the minute pigments to enter, therfore only the smallest amount of softening is required of the cuticle - with an outcome of far less damage, and therefor, far less processing times required (10 minutes), compared to its rival colour processes.


Dont assume that because a hair product is ammonia free it is better for your health, or the health of your hair. The importance of private research by individuals on hair colour products can not be overstated.

Chemical doesn't always mean bad, and natural doesn't always mean good.

Some form of chemical reaction has to take place for hair to change colour.

There is nothing organic about the hair colour process, - organic is a term for food and the soil it grows in - not hair colour.

Ammonia alternatives are purported as safer because of their low odour properties, if this was true then carbon monoxide which has no odour should not be deadly!


 Diethanolamine  http://www.preventcancer.com/consumers/cosmetics/diethanolamine.htm
 Ethanolamine  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanolamine
 Ammonia  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ammonia
 "US food and Drug Administration (FDA)" Ammonium Hydroxide"  http://www.fda.gov/food/ingredientspackaginglabeling/gras/scogs/ucm260862.htm
"Cosmetics ingredients review" http://www.cosmeticsinfo.org/
" http://www.cosmeticsinfo.org/ingredient/ammonia-and-ammonium-hydroxide
" http://www.cosmeticsinfo.org/product/hair-dye-and-hair-coloring-products
Monoethanolamine (MEA) :https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanolamine
Aminomethylpropanol (AMEA) http://www.cosmeticsinfo.org/ingredient/aminomethyl-propanol 
Cocamide DEA/MEA http://www.ecostore.com.au/ingredients/cocamide-dea-mea
" http://www.ceh.org/news-events/press-releases/content/lawsuit-launched-testing-finds-cancer-causing-chemical-in-100-shampoos-haircare-products/



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