Should You Choose Ammonia-Free Hair Dyes?

More and more people are coloring their hair these days, which has allowed for the range of colors and types of hair dyes to expand rapidly. Unfortunately, the number of harmful substances in hair dyes is also growing at the same rate.

Ammonia is one example of a harmful chemical widely used in hair dyes. This chemical is a growing danger to stylists, their clients, the environment, and even the ocean. With roughly 60% of women coloring their hair regularly, along with an increasing number of men doing the same, ammonia-based dyes are negatively affecting our entire ecosystem.

Is Ammonia Harmful to Hair and Scalp

When dissolved in water, ammonia forms ammonium hydroxide, which is irritating to the skin. Ammonia in hair dyes is applied to the human scalp. Ammonia can cause skin redness, itching, burns, and discomfort. Once absorbed through the skin, ammonia will eventually enter the bloodstream.

hairdresser dying client's hair in the salon

Ammonia vapors can irritate your eyes, throat, sinuses, and lungs. Ammonia can cause breathing difficulties as well as exacerbate respiratory health problems.

In addition to a strong offensive smell, ammonia is harmful to crops, forests, and marine life.

By choosing ammonia-free hair products, you can rest assured that you are not inadvertently releasing pollutants into the environment.

Why is Ammonia Used in Hair-Dyes?

In hair coloring products, ammonium hydroxide is used to support the lightening action of hydrogen peroxide and to prepare hair to accept color pigments. The alkaline properties of ammonia raise the cuticle and allow peroxide and dye molecules to penetrate the hair shaft.

Ammonia is highly efficient for permanent color changes. In the past, it has been the only option for providing full coverage of gray hair.

How does Ammonia Damage the Cuticle Layer?

Ammonia is used in hair dyes to open the hair’s cuticle, preparing the shaft to accept dye molecules. However, after repeating coloring with ammonia-based dyes, the cuticle layer is disrupted to such a degree that the scales cannot close back completely and hair may become dry, porous, and brittle. Natural moisture will continue to escape due to raised cuticles, while external moisture can easily enter and swell the hair shaft, leading to frizzy and unmanageable hair.

At the same time, the new dye doesn’t last long because the color molecules can escape through the raised cuticle. That is why the color washes out more quickly, and may even turn into a different and undesirable shade. As a result, you will need to apply color more often.

How does Ammonia Affect the Hair over the Long-Term?

The corrosive feature of ammonia destroys an amino acid called tyrosine in the hair shaft. Tyrosine regulates the production of melanin, and it is responsible for holding onto color—both the new and old. When tyrosine is destroyed, the hair’s ability to hold the color is significantly reduced.

Frequent coloring may cause irreparable damage to the hair shaft. The hair cuticle cannot lay flat because the ammonia makes the pH level of the hair more acidic. This causes changes in hair texture and leaves your strands porous and more fragile.

Switching to ammonia-free dyes helps preserve the integrity of your hair, reduces hair susceptibility to lose color, and makes your locks appear smoother and shinier.

The Problems with Using Ammonia Substitutes

Depending on the brand, the ingredients used to replace ammonia are:

  • Ethanolamine (also called monoethanolamine)
  • Cocamide MEA
  • Aminomethyl propanol (AMEA)

Ammonia-free dyes are not as natural as the manufacturers want a buyer to believe. Ammonia substitutes are popular because they don’t release a strong smell during the coloring process, but they are also just chemicals that act the same way as ammonia.

Ammonia replacement used in non-ammonia formulas such as ethanolamine can also be damaging to the hair when used at high levels.

Young blonde woman with curly up-do

How to Get Vibrant Hair Color without Using Ammonia-Based Hair Dyes?

  1. If you want to try color without fully committing to regular coloring, use temporary or semi-permanent hair dyes.
  2. If you are going darker, use a demi-permanent color.
  3. To correct/refresh the tone, apply hair gloss or hair glazing treatment.
  4. To combat brassiness, use purple hair shampoos.
  5. To prolong the time between salon visits, use temporary root touch-up products.
  6. Try ammonia-free permanent hair dyes.

Ammonia-Free Permanent Hair Dyes

The following brands don’t use ammonia in their formulation and are advertised to give you a long-lasting color without using harsh chemicals:

Light Mountain Natural Hair Color & Conditioner is an all-natural hair color and conditioning program free of ammonia, peroxide, and other synthetic ingredients. The formula utilizes organic Henna and other organically grown botanicals. The downside is that the application is messy and time-consuming.

Shea Moisture Hair Color System doesn’t contain ammonia and uses natural and certified organic ingredients such as Organic Shea Butter, Flax Seed Oil, and Soy Proteins to minimize chemical damage and improve hair manageability and appearance. This permanent color system provides full gray coverage and can lighten hair a few shades.

Naturtint Permanent Hair Colors contain active plant-based ingredients and use ethanolamine as the alkaline medium to open the cuticle and to create a space for the micro-pigments to penetrate. The formula is claimed to provide gray coverage in one application, giving you vibrant color for up to 5 weeks.

Bigen Permanent Powder Hair Color provides lasting, rich color with excellent gray coverage without ammonia, peroxide, or other damaging chemicals. This deposit-only color contains seaweed and oriental berry extracts and leaves your hair looking smooth and shiny. The powder formula is activated by water and the entire process takes only 20-30 minutes. It works well for covering stubborn gray hair. The downside is that it can cause allergic reactions to some people.

a blonde woman shopping for hair dye

Disclaimer: All content on this blog is created for informational purposes only. It would be best if you didn’t use it as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

How to Minimize Damage to Your Hair from Bleaching

What is Bleaching?

Bleaching is an oxidation process that lifts the original hair color from your hair. Bleaching chemicals penetrate the cuticle and degrade existing hair pigments, thus removing the original color from the strands. This process turns your hair white or colorless. Bleaching kits contain bleach in powder form and a cream developer with hydrogen peroxide that must be mixed with bleach to activate it.

The outer hair cuticle needs to be lifted to allow penetration of bleaching solution into the hair shaft. During the bleaching process, the hair color changes gradually. Depending on your natural color, your hair may go through many stages of brown, red, orange, and yellow before reaching a white-blonde shade.

Gorgeous woman with bleach damaged hair lying at the shore

Possible Damage to Hair from Using Bleach

Unfortunately, bleaching agents don’t only affect color molecules in your hair. The bleaching process also weakens protein bonds, making the hair brittle and more fragile than before. The hair’s natural keratin is also weakened, resulting in structural damage to the hair.

Bleaching strips your hair of its natural oils that keep your strands healthy and moisturized. Bleaching chemicals can weaken the cuticle scales, leaving the inner core of hair exposed and prone to moisture loss. This leaves your hair feeling dry and overly porous.

In conclusion, bleaching is a harsh process that can leave your hair overly dry, brittle, frizzy, susceptible to tangling, and more prone to breakage, static, and split ends than previously.

Related post: How to Keep Your Bleached Hair in Good Condition

How to Minimize Risks of Damaging Your Hair

If you have been thinking about bleaching your hair, it is always better to consult a professional, especially if your hair is on the darker side. After the initial transformation, you can try to save money by touching up your roots at home.

However, if you bleach your hair at home, be aware that bleaching is a risky and time-consuming process that requires the use of proper techniques and the right tools to avoid long-term damage.  Here are a few helpful tips before you start.

1. Avoid drugstore brands of hair as they can cause severe damage and opt for professional-quality products available in salons or reputable beauty shops. Quality bleaching products also contain nourishing ingredients and conditioning agents in their formulation.

2. It is advisable to use the lowest volume which should be effective in removing your original color but is still gentle on your scalp and hair. Use no more than a 20-volume developer for light brown and dark blonde hair, while medium-dark and deep red hair need a 30-volume developer to be effective. If you want to go from dark hair to white blonde, you will need a more intensive bleaching treatment and professional help.

3. After selecting the right volume of the developer, you need to properly adjust the time to get the desired blonde shade. Leaving the bleach in your hair too long will fry the hair. If your hair is not completely lightened during the recommended time, rinse the chemicals out and reapply the bleach a few days later.

Beautiful woman with lightened hair taking a selfie

4. When bleaching dark hair, you should gradually lighten it before reaching a blonde shade. A resting period of at least a week between bleaching sessions will give your hair some time to recover from damage. Deep conditioning treatments work well between bleach applications.

5. If your hair has recently been permed or chemically straightened, bleaching can lead to excessive hair damage. It is advisable to wait at least two weeks for your hair to heal before putting it through the bleaching process.

6. Don’t wash your hair a day or two before the bleaching session. Let the protective coating of your natural oils prevent scalp irritation and protect your hair from over-drying. Paint your roots close, but don’t apply the mixture directly onto the scalp to avoid chemical burns.

7. Make sure to do a deep conditioning treatment one or two weeks before your bleaching session. Building up moisture in the hair before bleaching will minimize damage and help preserve the integrity of your hair.

8. Coconut oil pre-highlight treatment will protect your scalp and hair from burns and damage caused by bleach. Cover your hair with coconut oil and leave it overnight or at least an hour before bleaching. Apply the bleach with the oil still in your hair.

9. Make sure to rinse off the bleach solution completely from your hair. Any remaining chemicals in your hair can cause scalp burns and further damage to the hair.

10. Use a protein filler to balance out porosity, reduce the damage, and spread color more evenly.

11. For managing newly grown hair, apply the bleach only to the new growth and avoid putting the formulation on hair that’s already blonde to avoid damaging it.

Importance of Using Olaplex

The best way to protect your hair from the damaging effects of chemicals in the bleach is to use OLAPLEX Bond Multiplier. Olaplex works to minimize damage and repair the hair during the bleaching/coloring service. Olaplex No1 Bond Multiplier added to your lightener/bleach allows the hair to be lifted higher without serious damage. Olaplex reconstructs the previously broken bonds and protects your strands from further damage, enabling you to grow longer healthier hair.

A range of different bond multipliers has been introduced recently for a similar purpose – to protect hair from chemical damage and prevent breakage after coloring, bleaching, and texturizing treatments.

Smiling blonde girl sitting on the floor

Disclaimer: All content on this blog is created for informational purposes only. It would be best if you didn’t use it as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Six At-home Hair Glaze Products

Hair glaze refers to hair treatment that uses lightweight, water-soluble silicones to smoothen and coat the hair cuticle, thus enhancing its shine. The treatment softens and nourishes the hair leaving your strands healthy and shiny.

There are two types of Hair glaze: Clear and Tinted versions. Clear glazes soften your strands, enhance hair’s natural tone, and restore shine to dull hair. On the other hand, color-reviving glazes contain color pigments added to restore and maintain hair color, while adding a translucent coating to the hair shaft.

The effect of the glazing treatment will fade out gradually after washing several times with shampoos.

The Benefits of Using a Hair Glaze

a beautiful woman with shiny hair

Glosses and glazes are less intrusive than permanent dyes as these shine-enhancing products do not use ammonia and other harmful chemicals.

Hair glaze is a great add-on service that helps to seal freshly applied hair color into each strand, making it bright and glossy, and more long-lasting.

Applying a glaze can refresh faded colors or highlights, postpone further fading, and stretch the time between dye-job appointments.

The glaze puts a protective coating on the hair that shields the hair from external environmental factors that can fade hair color.

Hair glaze will infuse your dull and lackluster tresses with a burst of shine, giving your hair a gorgeous glow.

Hair glazes provide a gentle conditioning treatment for damaged hair; they also fill and smooth the porous cuticles and help the hair look and feel more beautiful.

Hair glaze treatments help minimize frizz and tame puffiness, making your hair soft to the touch and smooth.

At-home Hair Glaze Treatments

Hair glazing used to be a salon-only treatment, but now you can purchase hair glaze products at your local beauty store and treat your hair at home. This is a great alternative to expensive salon glazing services; you will save your time and money while creating an effect similar to professional glazing services.

These products can be used on all hair types and textures, including color-treated, highlighted, and virgin hair. Hair glazes contain no ammonia or peroxide and they generally won’t harm your hair as long as you stick to the package instruction. They are rather inexpensive, easy to apply and maintain, and are just as effective as the ones found at salons.

How to Apply Hair Glaze

In most cases, hair glaze is applied to clean, wet hair and left in for up to 20 minutes before it is rinsed out. Some hair glazes are heat-activated while others contain penetration enhancers that will give you desired results without the use of heat. Generally, hair glazes should be applied using a color brush to ensure that every strand is covered with the product. The product needs to be applied slightly below the roots, paying attention to the ends.

For tinted glazes, it is important to use gloves and thoroughly wash any area of skin that comes in contact with a glaze to avoid staining the skin. Make sure that the product is fully rinsed out from the hair.

Below are several popular home glaze products that will extend the life of permanent hair color and keep your strands silky and shiny for weeks. Keep in mind that the terms “glaze” and “gloss”, as used in these shine-enhancing products, are often interchangeable.

Best At-Home Hair Glaze Products

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1. John Frieda Liquid Shine Clear Hair Glaze

This ammonia/peroxide-free formula enhances hair shine without affecting hair color. It improves texture for silky smoothness by filling in damaged areas inside the hair. This light silicone-based product gives hair a silky and smooth feeling without weighing hair down or leaving a greasy residue. It provides immediate shine, helps tame frizz, and improves the appearance of your hair.

This clear glazing treatment can be used to boost hair shine for every shade of color-treated, highlighted, or natural hair. It is easy to use and makes no mess in the shower. It can be left in the hair for several minutes after your shampoo and conditioner or can be used once a week as a 20-minute shine enhancement treatment.

2. John Frieda Brilliant Glaze for Brunettes 

This ammonia-free formula contains a blend of mild semi-permanent dyes and shine boosters, to add a hint of glossy brown color and extend the life and tonal richness of brunette hair.


  • Gives a youthful look and shine to dull brown hair
  • Enhances hair color, keeping the highlights bright and shiny
  • Extends the life of hair color and prolongs the time between salon appointments
  • Turns gray hair into a natural-looking blonde color
  • Leaves hair soft and manageable
  • Results intensify with each application

3. Sebastian Cellophane Clear Shine (Walmart)

The hair cellophane uses silicon-based polymers to seal cuticles and add a beautiful shine to your hair. It won’t deposit any color in your hair. However, this treatment will likely make your color last longer and appear more radiant. Your hair will feel smoother and silkier, especially if your strands are chemically processed and look dull. The treatment also helps tame frizz and flyaways.

It can be used with good results on relaxed or Japanese straightened hair.

The treatment lasts for about 12 washings and fades away with each shampooing. Once needed, you can reapply it.

How to use: Clear cellophane is easy to use at home, while the colored version should be applied by a professional for best results.

If you use a clear treatment, you can apply it either with your hands or with the dye brush. Apply to partially dried hair (about 75%), using enough product to cover every strand.  Put on a shower cap and apply heat for 20 -30 minutes. By applying heat you will activate the product to give you the best results.

Let your hair cool after removing the shower cap, then rinse with lukewarm water.

Update: Read the ingredient list carefully to make sure that the formula doesn’t include parabens.

a woman with hair glaze treatment in her hair

4. Clairol Professional Radiance Color Gloss (discontinued)

This semi-permanent hair color comes in 21 glamorous glosses. It is used to revive color and add shine to color-treated hair or to enhance and brighten natural hair color. It helps to eliminate yellow tints from lightened hair.

The formula is free of ammonia and gentle to your hair. It has to be mixed with a developer before application. It takes 15-20 minutes to process depending on if you use heat or not.

This shine booster is suitable for colored, permed, or relaxed hair. It works great for hair that looks dull and lifeless, making it look healthy and shiny for up to six weeks. The product will gradually wash out of your hair during that time.

5. Mark Hill Only Takes a Minute 60 Second Detox Gloss Treatment 

This creamy, sweet-smelling formula contains Argan Oil, Sea Silk, and vitamins to moisturize and protect your hair while adding shine. You can use it in place of a conditioner, so it saves you time. The product is advertised to take just one minute, but you may want to leave it for a few extra minutes to ensure a deeper condition. The treatment leaves hair moisturized, shiny, soft, and easy to style. If your hair is in good condition, you only need to use it once in a while.

a beautiful woman with glaze treatment in her hair

6. Shu Uemura Color Lustre Cool Blondeir?t=klikkutakcom 20&l=am2&o=1&a=B00B7F09JY 

This post-shampoo toning treatment restores the vibrancy of blonde hair, refreshes platinum tones, and takes off unwanted yellows and warm tones from blonde hair. It subtly deposits color pigments to prolong the intensity of your color and prevent fading between salon visits.

It is free of ammonia and silicone and is enriched with Linseed Oil and Musk Rose Oil to nourish and hydrate your locks and keep hair soft, shiny, and manageable.

It is an expensive product, but it will last for an extended time as you only need a little drop of it per time. The tube lasts for approximately 12 applications, depending on the length and thickness of your hair. To keep your hair in a perfect blonde shade, you need to use it after every 2-3 shampoos.

Apply the treatment to towel-dried hair and leave it on for 5-10 minutes.

a happy woman with shiny long hair after glaze treatment

Disclaimer: All content on this blog is created for informational purposes only. It would be best if you didn’t use it as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

The Differences between Hair Gloss and Hair Glaze and which Option to Choose

Shiny hair is a sign that your locks are healthy, which is what the majority of people hope to achieve. When your hair is healthy, the cuticles tightly cover the hair shaft, making the surface of your hair smooth. A smooth, healthy strand of hair reflects light like a mirror, giving it a shiny appearance.

Chemical treatments, excessive heat, chlorinated water, and extreme environmental conditions can cause hair damage, disturbing the naturally smooth cuticle layer and leaving your strands looking frizzy, dull, and lifeless. Your hair color may also lose its vibrancy and fade faster. Such over-processed and damaged hair has a rough and porous surface meaning it can’t reflect light.

Fortunately, there are hair treatments that can restore shine and make your locks look fabulous again! Hair glosses and hair glazes are the best solutions for overly porous lackluster hair.

These shine-enhancing treatments are gaining popularity because of their ability to smooth the hair surface, giving your hair the desired luster. Both treatments are pretty easy to apply, and can be used on any hair type, including virgin, color-treated, and highlighted hair.

a sensual woman after hair gloss treatment

Hair Gloss vs. Hair Glaze Treatment

These two treatments differ from one another in the way they work. Hair glosses work by penetrating the hair shaft and sealing the cuticles. Hair glaze products simply coat your strands and just sit on the surface. Another difference is how long the treatment will stay in your hair before being washed out. But let’s look at it a little closer.

Hair gloss usually contains peroxide in its formula. The peroxide can lift the cuticle and penetrate the hair shaft, allowing for the depositing of color pigments inside the hair shaft. Hair glossing treatment can change hair color by a full shade with effects lasting about 4-6 weeks.

Hair glaze is a temporary shine treatment, which doesn’t contain ammonia or peroxide and cannot, therefore, open the cuticle. This treatment gently coats your strands with shine or/and semi-permanent color. Consequently, the effects are considerably more short-lived compared to hair gloss and last only a week or two.

Both treatments give a similar result – glowing and healthy-looking hair. Although hair color experts consider them to be two separate types of products, manufacturing companies often use the terms “hair gloss” and “hair glaze” interchangeably. What’s even more confusing is that many hair dye manufacturers add the word “gloss” to their products for marketing purposes.

Let’s Try to Simplify It

At this point, trying to make a clear distinction between hair gloss and hair glaze treatment is useless and can even add to the confusion. So, in this article, we are going to talk about two formulas regardless of the name on the packaging.

  1. The first is a mild, short-lived formula that just coats the hair shaft.
  2. The second formula penetrates the hair shaft and lasts up to six weeks.

Both formulas are available in two options: clear and tinted.

Before you decide between these options, you should talk to your stylist about desired results. Also, ask questions about the product they are going to use.

If you decide to do a glossing treatment at home, make sure to carefully read the directions for use. Take time to learn about the product and the results you can expect.

Clear vs. Tinted Glossing/Glazing Treatments

As we already mention, hair shine treatments are available in two versions – clear and tinted. Both versions will provide you with glamorous shiny hair and help extend the life of your current hair color.

Colored glossing/glazing treatments work to enhance and maintain the underlying color and to add shine.

Clear glossing/glazing products do not contain color, which makes them suitable for every shade of natural or color-treated hair. Clear glosses/glazes seal the cuticle layer and coat the hair shaft with a transparent shine.

The Longevity of Hair Gloss and Hair Glaze Treatments

The stronger formulas of hair shine treatment penetrate the hair shaft and produce more lasting results. The effects last for three to six weeks. The longevity may vary among brands and whether you have received the treatment in a salon or have done it yourself.

The milder formulas are a short-term solution, lasting one to two weeks since they only coat hair strands. Both formulas fade away with normal hair washing.

a beautiful woman with hair glossing treatment

Benefits of Hair Shine Treatments

  1. Shine-enhancing treatments are relatively mild and less damaging to your hair and scalp compared to regular dyes. A shine treatment provides intense conditioning for stressed, dull, and lifeless hair. It helps to temporarily fix the damage, prevents flyaway hair, and minimizes the appearance of frizz. To maintain the results, use sulfate-free products that are designed for colored hair.
  2. Both treatments protect the color from washing out fast and stretch out the time between color appointments. Shine treatment helps seal freshly applied hair color, creating a protective film that helps reduce fading. It also helps revive your color once it starts to fade.
  3. Hair gloss/glaze treatment can fix a bad dye job. If your color has turned out a little brighter than desired, the glossing treatment can help adjust the tone.
  4. Gloss/glaze treatments can tone down brassy highlights and orange hues in blonde and brunette hair while eliminating yellow from grays.
  5. The milder formulas cover the hair shaft, leaving hair shiny, smooth to the touch, and easy to style. They cannot change the existing color, but do bring back the natural shine to hair that feels dry and dull.
  6. You can change your color whenever you want as shine treatments will not interfere with any type of chemical treatments you may decide to do.
a sensual brunette with shiny hair

Which Hair Gloss/Glaze Treatment to Choose?

The decision depends on your preferences and the specific needs of your hair.

If your hair color has started to fade, but you are not ready for the next color service, look for a gloss/glaze with color pigments to get your rich shade back. Tinted shiny treatments can provide decent color refreshment between permanent color services.

For those who are not happy with their current color, a tinted shine treatment can make subtle corrections to a previously applied color. If the color turned out a little brighter than desired, the tinted hair gloss/glaze can help adjust the tone.

If you are a brunette and want to balance out brassy highlights, look for a colored hair gloss or glaze.

If you are blonde and your hair is getting dull and brassy, go for a clear product.

Individuals with virgin hair can use the treatment to make their hair healthier-looking and shinier. Clear treatments make the natural color more beautiful due to increased light reflection.

Tinted shine treatments can be the perfect way for hair color newbies to experiment with colors without commitment.

If you want to cover your gray roots, opt for a stronger and tinted glossing product. The stronger hair glossing formula, especially the tinted one, will efficiently mask growing roots until your next salon appointment. Mild and clear formulas will not provide the full coverage of gray hair. However, they can smooth the cuticle layer and add a hint of tone to blend in a few pesky strays.

If you like your hair color (natural or dyed) and only want to add shine and softness, look for a clear gloss or glaze. A clear shine treatment will revitalize hair’s natural brilliance, soften the strands, and refresh faded lengths and ends.

If you prefer not to use chemicals on your hair, a milder formula that just coats the hair shaft is less likely to contain any harsh ingredients.

If you prefer doing hair shiny treatment at home, the mild and clear formulas are quicker and easier to apply.

a gorgeous woman with glossy hair

Disclaimer: All content on this blog is created for informational purposes only. It would be best if you didn’t use it as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment.