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Let's Talk Alkalizers

There are 3 common alkalizers used in most oxidative hair color products. I want to share with you what I have found about these alkalizers and what makes them different.

Before we get into it though, what actually IS an alkalizer and what does it do?

Most of the time, we think that of alkalizers as ingredientS that create lift. I mean, if a product is alkaline, it can lift right?

Well, kind of.

One purpose of an alkalizer is to maintain alkalinity in the tube or bottle of hair color. All oxidative color IS alkaline in the tube or bottle. They NEED to be alkaline in order for the dye molecules to survive and not degrade and break down.

Another purpose of using an alkalizer is to raise the pH of the hair and diffuse and swell the cuticle layers so that the hair coloring process can occur. Without alkalinity, no swelling of the hair is going to happen and no oxidative dyes are going to get deposited into the hair, ultimately no hair coloring is going to happen.

Lastly, an alkalizer initiates the "oxidation process" with the developer. When the developer is mixed in with the color (+ alkalizer), the alkalinity allows the developer to release oxygen and create "lift".

So, let me share with you what I know about the three most common alkalizers used:

1. Ammonia:

- Ammonia is a gas based alkalizer which means that it can dissipate and evaporate in a short amount of time.

- Ammonia is the most common alkalizer used in permanent color.

- It's the smallest in size with a molecular weight of 17

- Ammonia is highly efficient in swelling the cuticle layers

- Colorant with ammonia as the main alkalizer will generally give best lift and most optimal gray coverage especially on resistant hair.

- Most color lines have between 1.5 - 3.5% of ammonia in each tube or bottle.

2. MEA:

- Also knows as monoethanolamine- is used in most ammonia free permanent and demi permanent colors.

- MEA is a liquid based alkalizer and will not dissipate from the hair.

- MEA has to be removed from the hair or it can continue to process, oxidize dye molecules and dry out the hair

- MEA is odorless- but just because it is odorless does not mean that it is not a chemical.

- MEA is larger in size than ammonia with a molecular weight of 61

- MEA does not have the power to efficiently fracture melanin and create sustainable lift for brighter lighter color + gray coverage.

- Most color lines have between 6-10% MEA for permanent colors. (significantly more than what's needed with ammonia)

3. AMP

- Also known as aminomethylpropanol- most commonly used in demi permanent colors.

- Molecular weight of AMP is 89

- Larger molecules make it more difficult to penetrate through the cuticle layers and into the cortex meaning less chance of efficient lift- perfect for deposit only results.

Hope this was helpful!

Until next time,


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