Know­ing hair colour bet­ter

Kan­ishka Ram­chan­dani in con­ver­sa­tion with Maria Cas­tan, Wella’s Sci­en­tific Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Ex­pert from Ger­many, on the truth about hair colour.

Hair - - Editor's Letter -

It has al­ways been a plea­sure to meet Maria Cas­tan, Wella’s Sci­en­tific Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Ex­pert, and on the few oc­ca­sions that I have in­ter­acted with her, she has left me feel­ing more sci­en­tif­i­cally knowl­edge­able with her easy-to-com­pre­hend ex­pla­na­tions, and has al­ways re­sponded to all my queries in de­tail. So, when I heard about the am­mo­nia vs. no-am­mo­nia hair colour tug-of-war, I was nat­u­rally ea­ger to speak to Maria about it.

How hair colour works?

Maria took me through a de­tailed pre­sen­ta­tion on how hair colour works and acts upon the hair shaft. She showed me vi­su­als of the var­i­ous treat­ments and pro­cesses that their team of ex­perts had un­der­taken to eval­u­ate the dam­age done on dif­fer­ent kinds of hair strands. This re­search was part of Wella’s en­deav­our to dis­pel the myths about hair colour.

"We in­tend to make the con­sumer cu­ri­ous about the dif­fer­ence be­tween am­mo­nia and no-am­mo­nia per­ma­nent colour and help them make an in­formed choice."

Maria said, “Hair colour is pre­dom­i­nantly used for grey cov­er­age and then for fash­ion. In In­dia, the pop­u­lar­ity of hair colour is on a rise. Cur­rently, the gen­eral per­cep­tion of con­sumers to­ward hair colour is that no-am­mo­nia is less dam­ag­ing, just be­cause there is no foul smell.” She fur­ther ex­plained, “Hair colour has two com­po­nents — the tube that con­tains the dye and the al­ka­lizer, and the de­vel­oper, which is hy­dro­gen per­ox­ide. The de­gree of con­cen­tra­tion of each of th­ese in­gre­di­ents is what causes hair dam­age.”

Wella Pro­fes­sion­als has been at the in­ter­na­tional fore­front of colour in­no­va­tion for over 133 years. Since the brand be­lieves in pro­vid­ing su­pe­rior hair pro­tec­tion and colour re­sults, hair dam­age is a very cru­cial as­pect for it, which can­not be ig­nored. Af­ter ex­ten­sive re­search and anal­y­sis, Wella de­cided not to go down the path of ‘no-am­mo­nia’ for per­ma­nent hair colour.

Maria ex­pounds fur­ther, “Lat­est per­ma­nent colour prod­ucts claim­ing no or low am­mo­nia typ­i­cally re­places am­mo­nia with another al­ka­lizer — that is MEA. Nei­ther MEA nor am­mo­nia on their own are good or bad — it largely de­pends on the con­cen­tra­tion of the al­ka­lizer (am­mo­nia or MEA). We have also not seen any ad­van­tage of am­mo­nia-free per­ma­nent colour prod­ucts in terms of hair pro­tec­tion. This is ev­i­denced by both in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal test data we con­ducted, as part of our reg­u­lar in­no­va­tion bench­mark­ing process.”

Speak­ing in de­fence of am­mo­nia, she said that am­mo­nia smells be­cause it evap­o­rates. So, the smell is an in­di­ca­tion that the in­gre­di­ent has done its work, which is ac­tu­ally a good thing. More­over, the am­mo­nia mol­e­cule is smaller, which al­lows it to com­plete its task quicker (that is to open up the hair cu­ti­cle). MEA, on the other hand, is a much larger mol­e­cule, which is re­quired in higher con­cen­tra­tion. You also need a lot of wa­ter to rinse it off, con­di­tion­ing and oil treat­ments as fol­low up for hair’s main­te­nance; and it might also lead to hair break­age.

From the con­sumer’s point of view

Al­though the gen­eral per­cep­tion is that only no-am­mo­nia prod­ucts are safe, it is not re­ally so. Maria says, “With am­mo­nia, there is less pro­tein or lipid dam­age. The tech­nol­ogy that we use in Wella's Kole­ston Per­fect re­quires the in­gre­di­ents to in­ter­act with the hair pro­tein to cre­ate the colour. This al­lows for deeper pen­e­tra­tion and long last­ing ef­fect, un­like com­pet­i­tive hair colour, which de­vel­ops out­side the hair, thereby mak­ing colour pen­e­tra­tion dif­fi­cult. The lesser the dam­age to the hair shaft, the more long last­ing the colour would be. Our find­ings have been en­dorsed by the In­sti­tute of Tri­chol­o­gists, which also con­ducted its in­de­pen­dent re­search.”

Re­gard­ing Wella's new hair colour cam­paign, she opined, “The con­sumer to­day lacks ed­u­ca­tion; we aim to cre­ate aware­ness amongst the end-users about am­mo­nia. We in­tend to make the con­sumer cu­ri­ous about the dif­fer­ence be­tween am­mo­nia and no-am­mo­nia per­ma­nent colour and help them make an in­formed choice.” Ac­cord­ing to Maria, am­mo­nia is the best al­ka­lizer till date and sci­en­tists are yet to dis­cover a bet­ter mol­e­cule than am­mo­nia to do its job.

In­no­va­tions ahead

When asked about the in­no­va­tions that she is work­ing on cur­rently, Maria elab­o­rated, “We are try­ing to cre­ate a new range of hair colour — one that gives your hair nat­u­ral colour and shine. We are also look­ing at the big ques­tion of hair colour al­ler­gies. We don’t know enough about al­ler­gies. It is best to do a patch test ev­ery time you colour your hair as you can de­velop an al­lergy even if you didn’t do so the pre­vi­ous time.”

Im­ages cour­tesy Wella Pro­fes­sion­als

Maria Cas­tan, Sci­en­tific Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Ex­pert, Wella Pro­fes­sion­als

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