I Failed Chemistry


Hairdressers are artists and chemists.  As someone who once passed chemistry on the mercy of my teacher (who gave me a 'C' for effort despite my 100% failure in my results) I take special pride in the scientific concepts behind what we do.

We are scientists.  We are chemists.  We are biologists.  And we look great doing it.

Hair is mainly keratin, a protein. Melanin is the determining factor behind skin and hair color, and it can also be found in the iris, the inner ear, and even the medulla.  The natural color of hair depends on the ratio and quantities of two other proteins, eumelanin and pheomelanin.  Reading about melanin sometimes hurts my brain; it can be found everywhere from hair to squid ink to genetic disorders.  Yet when a virgin to color services walks in wanting something new, melanin is what we start to fuck with.

When using a permanent hair color, the mixing of peroxide and ammonia with oxygen creates a chemical reaction called oxidation. Oxidation opens up the cuticle layer of the hair which allows the hair color to lift and deposit color into the hair.  The lower the amount of ammonia in the developer, the less the cuticle is raised.  Which is why we love 5 volume and why we rarely reach for 40 volume (picture nuking the hair strand instead of hugging it)  Oxidation is also why avocados turn brown after they have been opened.

Endothermic (absorption of heat) and exothermic (release of heat) reactions can affect the way we use lightening powders and why everyone is gaga over Guy Tang's new Balayage powder.  

Saturation, acidity and alkalinity, as well as incompatibility of certain minerals can all affect your color service.  Have you ever seen a foil start to steam?  Chemical reaction.  

Share your chemistry experiments (haircolor services) on Instagram and Facebook with #DestroytheHairdresser.