How ammonia can damage your hair.

August 24, 2011 The Healthy Guy Uncategorized

How ammonia can damage your hair.

Men and women turn to hair dyes to experiment with a new look or hide grays. Colorists recommend touching up dyed hair every four to six weeks, as hair begins to grow out and reveal its natural pigment. Constantly subjecting hair to the harsh chemicals present in many dyes, however, will damage the hair shaft and cause breakage. Ammonia is one particular ingredient in permanent dyes that can compromise the health of your hair.

What is ammonia

    • Ammonia is an alkaline, or basic, substance with the chemical symbol NH3. The three hydrogen atoms and one nitrogen atom that make up ammonia form a gaseous or liquid substance that is highly soluble in water, colorless and strong-smelling. In the past, ammonia was utilized as smelling salts to revive fainting victims. The chemical now is used in household cleaners, fertilizers and hair dyes. Ammonia on the skin can cause a burning sensation, while inhaling it can actually lead to fainting.

How does Ammonia work

    • Permanent hair dyes work by chemically opening the outer layer of the hair shaft and depositing color in the core of the strand. The human hair cuticle resembles the scales of a fish. Ammonia causes the hair shaft to swell, which forces the scales of the cuticle to separate slightly. The peroxide can then penetrate the core of the hair shaft and change the pigment within. The amount of ammonia in hair dyes is usually less than 1 percent in concentration, but still enough to damage your scalp and hair.

Effects on your hair

    • Repeatedly dyeing your hair with mixtures that contain ammonia will damage the hair cuticle. Ammonia is corrosive, which means that it will wear away at the hair shaft. Under a microscope, hair that has been treated with ammonia will start to resemble Swiss cheese.  With the health of the cuticle compromised, the strand is less able to withstand stress and is more likely to break. Not only does ammonia in hair dyes cause breakage, it also damages the core of the strand. Ammonia causes hair color to fade by damaging the natural protein within the strand, called tyrosine. Tyrosine is an amino acid that produces melanin, which in turn colors your hair. Damaged Tyrosine reduces the hair’s ability to maintain its natural pigment.

The solution and alternative

    • Semi-permanent and natural hair dyes do not contain ammonia, but still deliver results. There are several products on the market, but we recommend to use permanent hair colors for a consistent grey coverage. We tested Sanotint hair care, it’s ammonia free, does not smell, easy to use, and covers grey. The product is made in Italy and sold in health food stores all over Europe and Canada.


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