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Salon Color versus Drugstore Color

We all have them, the clients who do their own color, whether they get it from a drugstore or Sally's, they tell you it's just as good as the stuff you have. BZZZZ WRONG!!!!!
What is the difference between drugstore color and salon color? Without being too technical, it's the size of the molecule of color that's being injected into the hairshaft. Over the counter color has 80% oxidative dyes and 20% direct dyes, the big guys! And many times it's 25 volume used not 20vol like we can use.
Over the counter color is normally a liquid formulation which requires a large color molecule suspended in hair bubbles. In order to penetrate the hair shaft and get thru the cuticle layers- all 7 to 12 of them- the hairshaft must be opened wide to admit the color molecule into the interior of the hair. This ia accomplished by using more ammonia to open the cuticle layer wide enough to accept the the large molecule, and this is where over the counter color can cause damage. Most clients color their hair once a month, it they are gray or 6 times a year if they are pigmented, pulling the formula thru each time to refreshen the mid shaft & ends, putting ammonia over ammonia each & everytime!
Ammonia is the culprit, & with the higher peroxide volume and it will leave the hair rough in texture, the color will fade out sooner and the hair will lack shine.
Salon Color has much smaller molecules, uses less ammonia and has 100% oxidavtive dyes with no direct dyes and can work off of a 20volume peroxide system, which is all healthier for the hair.
So it's healthier, shinier and we have the ability to refreshen with a demi permanent that doesn't contain ammonia, so the hair shaft only gets one application of an ammoniated product. - Mags

It was about one year or so ago that they had a scientific debate about the ammonia or the peroxide causing damage to the hair and it was determined that the peroxide was more damaging than the ammonia. I was very surprised at the outcome. Could you shed some light on this; I know you are privy to the science labs and was wondering which one is the real culprit. I read this in a science journal. Thanks in advance.

Peroxide is the culprit but the ammonia is the side kick too. 

Ammonia is a colorless gas containing hydrogen & nitrogen. It's the most common alkaline material in color used with peroxide to provide lift by swelling the cuticle. Ammonia enables an oxidative haircolor to decolorize hair and develop new color most effectively.
Oxidative dyes that have ammonia- like permanent color- lift out the natural haircolor while depositing the artificial dyes.
The developer enables the oxidation reaction to occur so that the dyes can combine with one another and increase in molecular size, so they get too big to get out of the cortex and only gradually fade over time.
Ammonia is the usually alkali and up to 2.5% can be found in highlift colors in some companies, though that is reduced by half when mixed with developer and it continues to dissipate as the process progresses.
And this is a very important part because when hydrogen peroxide which has a ph below 3.5 mixes with the color that contains ammonia that is buffered to keep it between 9.0 ph and 10.5 ph, the high ph causes the peroxide to decompose which creates active oxygen, so the natural pigments is lighten & lifted. The higher the percenttage of peroxide the in developer, the higher the lift of the hair will be. And that's where the damage can occur, because the more peroxide you use the you destroy the natural pigments, and even though you are depositing artificial dyes in the hair, remember they will slowly fade, so there will be dead space in the corrtex until you fill it up again, so the fibers of the cortex have been expanded and that damage really can't be permanently restored, you can put proteins & ceramides to hold the hair up, but the higher the volume you use the more destruction you cause.
So try to use the lowest possible volume of developer you can, it will be healthier for the hair. Mix up the color and then drape your client, that lets the excess ammonia gas to get blown off, so the ammonia gas doesn't burn the clients scalp. - Mags

You know Mags you are the first to tell me about not applying the color till it's had a few minutes to let the gases to their thing. That makes so much sense and yet it is not taught... I check on Robert's board daily but don't post much as there are 3 women over there that know EVERYTHING (or think they do as 2 of them are so called BCH's). You know more than the 3 of them know... It's ashame as Robert works hard to keep it going but few people post there as they have been chastised so many times by the 3 people that are egotisitcal, self indulgent, grandious snots. I am so glad to have this place to post and not have to worry about being made fun of.
Even though I've had a great education and have been taught by most of the great top educators in the world, I never throw that in someones face, because my goal is to educate, to teach stylist how to be better at their job, to understand how to do thing correctly, efficently and to understand why they are doing what they are doing.
I had a terrible thing happen to me before I was a hairdresser, I went to have a perm for a 7-UP commercial and they sent me to a * Hairdresser to the Stars* in Beverly Hills and the perm he gave me burnt all my hair off and my hair, still in the rods were in the sink & I had chemical burns on my scalp with blood pouring down my face while I was screaming in pain, and I NEVER want any of you to do that to anyone else, so I'll teach you the correct way, and if I don't know something I'll find it out for you.
So that's the difference between a know it all and an Educator. I'm an Educator, I want & need you to understand how to do thing correctly.
Never become so much of a Expert that you stop gaining expertise.
View life as a continous learning experience.
There are no dumb questions, just the question NOT asked.
Open your minds to learning, follow manufacturers directions, treat your clients hair like Gold as that is your source of income, let the artist in you take over the helm to create, design and evolve into the best stylists that you can possibly be. - Mags
Thank you Mags! You have helped me understand color- and what it does. I have been so afraid of color( I shouldn't be- I have been out of cosmetology school for 11 yrs. now), but they don't teach any of those things. You have helped me see it in a whole new way! I am so grateful to have found you and to have received much needed help from you! I felt really dumb for asking anything at first- since I am far from being a student, but by reading all of the other posts, it makes me feel so much better knowing that others don't have all the answers and they still need help too.
Thank you so much for giving us your time and much appreciated attention!
I just read this post and I must admit..You, Mags, are a class act! Thank you for your approach to it all.
Hi Mags, I just found this tread and pointed it out to my business partner. He has only just started his hairdressing training ( even though he has been working in the salon for almost 2 years ) In AU most trainees go to a government recognised learning institution to get "the basics" tought to them so there is a standard nation wide. However it is very clear that the standard has a wide variance. For a long time I have not been happy with the training provided to our apprentices, it is very sad that there seems to be no one governing the educators where they go to learn. They get paid very well to teach but it seems that it only serves to make our job harder in the salon and that the salon has to retrain these kids in the NOW way of things and on top of that the trainees are conditoined that there is only one way of doing hair as opposed to alowing them to develope their own style and creative flair.
Sorry I stepped onto my soap box and got of the track.. What I was going to say is that I got hiim to take note of this site and read to him what you said about ammonia and developer. He was very excited and will be coming to see every one very soon ( his name is DOM ) No doubt if he is armed with real info he will get more out of the limitted education that he is required to take part in to get his licence. Not that he will get out of being a great hairdresser, he aint going to have it that easy, he has me behind him.
I also want to warn you that he maybe bugging you with heaps of question.
Another thing that I wanted to ask was, Why do some drug stor colors last longer then salon color? As in being more durable.
Not that I have personally tested any OTC color, but this was asked of me by a young girl who colors her own hair. She said that she enjoyed having her hair colored at that salon but didnt understand why it never lasted as long as the ones that she did herselve at home.
I told her that some have pigments that stain the hair which give that appearance of it lasting longer but was really a stain on the cuticle that she was seeing. which is fine if she wants the stay with in that tonal family ( as in the reds that she loved ) but would create a challenge if she was to move away from reds or want to go lighter. We didnt get into the damage part of it, she was to concerned as long as her color stayed in the hair. This was asked of me by the young girl on reception at the place that didnt some printing for us not by a client ( so it wasnt our coloring that wasnt staying in the hair, just so every one knows,, hehe)

That is correct Phill, drugstore color is 80% oxidative dyes and 20% direct dyes - like food color type dyes, that stain the hair's cuticle and never really get into the cortex but that stain like you said is murder to get off, that's if you can get it off. You can add accents or enhansers to permanent color to make it like the drugstore stuff as those are mostly made of direct dyes. - Mags
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