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Types of Hair Coloring Products:
Semi permanent, Temporary & Permanent


If you haven't colored your hair before, it may seem intimidating to work your way through the dozens of hair color products on the drugstore and salon shelves. You may decide to visit a professional salon for your first coloring, or for advice on the right shade to use. But coloring your hair at home has never been easier, and it's ten to twenty times less expensive than having it done in a salon. As long as you follow the directions, you shouldn't have any problem getting the hair color you want in less than an hour.

Semi Permanent, Temporary and Permanent Hair Dye

There are three main types of hair color: temporary; semi-permanent, and permanent. They are labeled by how long they last, which is an effect of their ingredients. Temporary hair color will wash out in 6-12 shampoos; semi-permanent may last up to 26 shampoos, and most "permanent" hair colors will last around four to six weeks. The difference between the types of hair color is the chemicals in the formulas. Temporary hair color deposits dye on the outside of the hair shaft, where it washes away relatively quickly. More permanent hair color relies on larger amounts of hydrogen peroxide and ammonia to move the color molecules inside the hair shaft, to the cortex of the hair.

Active ingredient in hair color products

Hydrogen peroxide is one of the main ingredients in most hair colors. Its role is to help develop the color and makes it last longer. Before hair color was widely available, many women used peroxide to lighten their hair, creating the epithet, "peroxide blond". Because peroxide use removes sulfur from the hair, peroxide blonds also suffered from dry, fragile hair that broke easily. With today's modern formulas, the action of the hydrogen peroxide is limited; conditioners used after coloring help restore softness and moisture to the hair.

The other main ingredient in hair color is ammonia, which opens the outer layer of hair so that the dye based color can be deposited in the cortex. Ammonia used to be the tell-tale odor behind new hair color, but new hair colors have gentler fragrances and downright delicious fragranced oils and conditioners to make the hair silky and perfumed. Other additives include essential oils and avocado or jojoba oils for adding softness and shine.

Apply an at home hair color product

The hardest thing about using a hair color product is getting organized and comfortable with its application. In addition to wearing the plastic gloves provided in the kit, you should have a hair clip, an old shirt that buttons, a damp rag for wiping up spilled drops of color, a mirror and either an old towel with a big safety pin or with a hole cut in it. Put on the old shirt and fasten the towel around your neck before starting to color, and make sure you're not wearing anything underneath that you would have to pull off over your head. Apply the color as it says in the directions, separating portions of hair and getting the color down to the roots, then working outward. Use the clip to pin your hair up on your head while you wait the 25-45 minutes for the color to work. If you use this method, you won't have problems when you go to shower the color from your hair.

If you try coloring your hair, you may find you've gotten a color that you don't like and don't intend to live with. When this happens, don't re-color your hair! Take the package (if you still have it) or the information on the brand and type of color to a salon and have a professional do the correction. Removing unwanted color is a job for a specialist: those who have tried it at home have invented new and abhorrent shades of green and orange. And remember—hair color is an adventure in chemistry. Always use the patch test, and if you have any doubt about the color, use the strand test too.



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