If there is something that I would want to write about hair very insistently, it is an article on vegetable hair dyes . I have finally been able to compile all the information about it and today I present it to you in a “question and answer” format, to serve as a guide. Let us begin:
What determines the natural color of the hair?
Before we start talking about dyes, it is worth knowing that the person responsible for the color of your hair is a pigment called melanin . Specifically, there are two types of melanins:
- The eumelanin , which results in dark tones
- The pheomelanin , which provides clear range
Just TWO pigments, combined in different proportions, give rise to any shade. What practice is nature … And gray hair ? Well, they are nothing more than the result of stopping producing melanin.
From here, if you want to change the color of your hair, you have three main options: remove the natural color of your hair (lighten it), add color (dye it) or combine both.
How do I clarify the tone?
This process is commonly used hydrogen peroxide, more commonly known as hydrogen peroxide . This compound chemically reacts with the melanin in your hair, removing its natural color. Here is the birth of a boat blonde. Respect .
By the way, this process is irreversible. To color your hair, you will need to grow it back or dye it (which leads to the next question).
How do I color my hair?
Easy, adding a coloring. I’ll explain it to you below. Without a doubt, this question is the one that contributes the most to the entire article …
How do hair dyes work?
You should know that dyes can be classified according to the duration of their effects or the origin of their ingredients . Let’s look at the first case. Broadly speaking, there are three main types of coloring:
- Temporary : the dyes used are of high molecular weight, so they remain on the surface of the hair fiber, without penetrating it. For this reason, the colorations are removed after the first or second shampooing. Advantage? They do not damage the hair as they do not contain substances such as hydrogen peroxide or ammonia. Now, basically the only thing they add is shine.
- Semi-permanent : unlike previous dyes, the dye molecules are smaller in size, which allows them to partially pass through the hair fiber. Although their coverage is low, they are alkaline formulations resistant to several washes (from 6 to 12) capable of providing reflections, tinting highlights and coloring gray hair. As in the case of temporary ones, they do not have bleaching power and in their formulations you will not find ammonia or hydrogen peroxide. Be careful, because sometimes we wrongly classify colored bathrooms in this category. By the way, there are also demi-permanent colorations, similar to the ones I just described, but with small amounts of hydrogen peroxide in its formulation. These would be halfway between the semi-permanent and permanent.
- Permanent : in this group we would have the dyes themselves. As its name suggests, this type of product ensures that the color persists indefinitely (until the hair grows back), being the most used in hairdressers. These formulas use hydrogen peroxide and ammonia (or similar). In this case, the hair can be bleached to simultaneously dye it with shades lighter, darker or identical to the natural color, or else dye it without removing the melanin with a shade equal to or similar to the original. These do cross the hair fiber and act at the level of the cortex. With them, gray hair is perfectly covered. The inconvenient? Hair suffers more.
Regarding the origin of the coloring agents, these can be:
- Synthetic organic: there are both temporary, semi-permanent and permanent and, without a doubt, they are the most used in hairdressing salons. I do not extend myself further, because I want to focus on the last group.
- Metallic : based on metallic salts such as silver nitrate or lead acetate. Do you remember the Grecian 2000? Well here is an example. Currently, this type of dye is almost in disuse.
- Vegetables : these are substances of botanical origin rich in pigments. In the next section I will tell you more.
What plants are usually used to color hair?
Among the most used botanical species you can find henna and chamomile:
- Henna or jena (better known as henna , its name in English). This plant is the queen of vegetable dyes. It is the dried powdered leaves of the Lawsonia alba , Lawsonia spinosa or Lawsonia inermis species and owes its coloring properties to the presence of Lawsona(2-hydroxy-1,4-naphthaquinone). To color hair, henna is dissolved in slightly acidified hot water and applied as a poultice on the head. Its color is deposited inside the hair shaft, so we could say that it is a semi-permanent color. In brown hair you can get mahogany tones and in blondes more orange colors; no more. If you see advertising claims that you can get black or blonde tones, it is because they mix the powder of this plant with other substances. Are you looking for an authentic vegetable coloring? Choose the so-called “natural” hennas or those combined with other botanical extracts (indigo, turmeric …), but free of metal salts and p-phenylenediamine (PPD); the latter is used to darken it ( black henna ) and is associated with cases of dermatitis. More things: the so-called neutral henna actually comes from the Cassia obovata plant and does not provide any type of coloration, it is only used to strengthen the hair. Do not confuse it.
- Chamomile or chamomile . Both the Anthemis nobilis (Roman chamomile) and Matricaria chamomillae L. (German chamomile) species can be used to provide a yellowish-golden hue. In this case, it is the powdered flowers that give the coloration thanks to apigenin (1,3,4-trihydroxyphiavone), its active principle. Also to azulene , present in chamomile extracts, tinctorial properties are attributed. Of course, do not expect to apply it and turn blonde. Its effectiveness has been highly questioned and there are those who argue that what it mainly contributes is shine that, well, it can also be useful. By the way, you can also use its flowers to make a homemade scrub.
- Other species : Indigo leaves are often mixed with henna to produce brown and black colors. Also the leaves and walnut shells . Likewise, there are those who argue that tea can be used to modify reflections and coffee to darken the tone of the hair. Both honey and cinnamon appear to have some bleaching action, and turmeric can provide yellow highlights. The centaury is able to bring bluish reflections to white hair and the infusion of rhubarb root a golden tone to the hair. All this, very subtle, do not believe that it is the panacea.
So, is it better if I use vegetable dyes?
Well, woman, like everything in life, dyes of botanical origin have certain advantages over metallic or organic ones, but also certain disadvantages . For example, in general, vegetables are more eco-friendlyand they do not cause allergy or sensitization problems like some organic dyes used in hairdressing salons. Although they are not exempt from it for the simple fact of being plant extracts.
The color, at best, is semi-permanent, so its power to cover gray hair is low and, therefore, its effect will disappear after a few washes. In addition, the range of shades that you can get with them is limited, the hair can be rough due to the presence of tannins and their application is somewhat cumbersome. As always, it all depends on what you are looking for.
Final manifesto : gray hair is beautiful
- Bolognia JL et al. (2012) Dermatology. Third Edition. Page 2548
- Wilkinson JB et al. (1990) Harry’s Cosmetology
- Alcalde MT et al. (2002) Hair coloring (I). General concepts
- Alcalde MT et al. (2002) Hair coloring (II). Vegetable coloring
- Alcalde MT et al. (2002) Hair coloring (III). Metallic dyes
- Alcalde MT et al. (2003). Hair coloring (IV). Temporary coloration
- Alcalde MT et al. (2003). Hair coloring (V). Semi-permanent coloring (1st part)
- Alcalde MT et al. (2003). Hair coloring (VI). Semi-permanent coloring (2nd part)
- Alcalde MT et al. (2003). Hair coloring (VII). Permanent coloring (1st part)
- Alcalde MT et al. (2004). Hair coloring (VIII). Permanent coloring (2nd part)
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