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Hair Care

A day with hair
Autism and sensitive scalp
Curly hair care
Choosing a conditioner
Color care for blondes
Color care for brunettes
Colored hair tips
Dandruff treatments
Dealing with frizz
Detangle tips
Drugs and hair loss
Dry scalp treatments
Dry scalp vs dandruff
First hair cut
Foods for hair growth
Gray hair
Hairbrush tips
Hair growth after chemo
Hair growth tips
Hair care for teens
Hair color
Hair loss
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Harmful hair habits
After hair transplant surgery
Hair transplant
Hair transplant facts
Hair transplantion risks
Henna hair dye
Manage brittle hair
No more split ends
Oily scalp
Old wive's tales
Permanent dye
Prevent grease buildup
Revive limp locks
Salon behavior
Save damaged hair
Scalp care
Scalp treatments for men
Shiny hair care
Sleep for great hair
Short hair care
Soft hair tips
Sulfate free shampoo
Summer hair tips
Sunlight and your hair
Tear-free baby shampoos
Vitamins for hair growth
Washing hair too often?
Why gray hair
Winter hair tips


Brittle nails
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How Permanent Hair Dyes Work

If you are thinking about coloring your hair, you might be interested to learn how hair dye works. Hair dye does two things at once: removing the hair’s natural color, and adding a new color with dye. Most permanent hair dyes have three active ingredients: peroxide, ammonia, and colorant.


Ammonia is used in hair dyes to allow the dye to penetrate the hair. The outer layer of your hair, the cuticle, is made of many tiny scales, and the ammonia separates the scales to expose the hair’s soft core. Once the cuticle opens up, the other chemicals can start to work.


Hydrogen peroxide is the main ingredient in hair bleach and also bleaching agent in hair dye. It strips the hair’s natural color, activates the colorant, and helps it bond to the hair shaft. Peroxide works by oxidizing the melanin in hair, turning it into a new, colorless molecule. It works faster on eumelanin, the pigment that creates brown and black hair, than it does on red-gold phaeomelanin, so depending on your hair texture and color, it affects your hair differently. Hydrogen peroxide can also bleach less permanent hair dyes, which is why re-dyeing your hair can have such unpredictable results.


The formulas for different colorants vary widely, so it’s difficult to generalize about them. Most modern hair dyes now include multiple color ingredients that react to form larger dye molecules once they bond to the hair shaft, so they are longer lasting and harder for competitors to duplicate.  The colorant enters the core of the hair shaft and bonds to it so it stays there for weeks or longer.

The exciting thing about artificial colorants is that they are not limited by the spectrum of colors produced by the two melanins, so you can dye your hair almost any color you can imagine.

Finishing Touches

Once all these things have happened, your dye is done working, but many dyes also include some ingredients to re-close the cuticle of the hair shaft and soothe the scalp as they work. Since this process uses intense chemicals and actually changes the composition of the hair shaft, it’s very stressful on your hair and weakens it significantly. It’s a good idea to be ready to take very good care of your hair after it’s dyed, if you want to avoid breakage, split ends, and other unpleasantness.

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