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The evolution of hair products a constant.

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The evolution of hair products a constant.

mike vallance

With the evolution of hair products so comes the need for us to be more responsible. To raise questions on products chemistry and safety and testing. We can no longer just blindly trust in the information we are provided with as being open and transparent. We have to take more responsibility in ensuring that products are safe for both stylists and clients. This has to be put before  making decision on the profitability of any given service. Some of the of the products  available to us today offer very big profit potential but we have to ask ourselves  does this profit out way the risk to health either short or in some cases long term.
Brief history:
When I first started out in the hair industry the products available to us were for the most part pretty basic.The things we did to hair were really very damaging. Over processing was a normal part of colouring and perming. Education and training was more salon based  there were no set standards no college courses
no governing bodies one did an apprenticeship trained on model nights progressed through the ranks. Ability drive ambition creativity all being a key driver for success.
I reflect on my early days in the salon the strong smells from that alkaline perm lotion and setting lotion never left the air, the smells of colour and bleach being mixed and applied. All mixed with the smell from clients smoking under hood dryers. The old smell of hair melting as perm lotion clashed with the build of metal traces from metallic blue rinses broken hair from over bleaching it all happened on quite a regular bases ! Are the old days.
My point being we no longer double process or i hope we don’t that would be doing a perm and tint back to back on the same day ! We colour balance. for the most part we have better products and better knowledge.
Of course the quality of products and how they perform can and does vary considerable.
In these early days perm lotion came in a gallon container after the stylist had wrapped a perm I would be allowed to put the cotton wool around the hair line carefully making sure  that the toxic lotion could not run into eyes, ears or get on clothes! I would then pour said lotion into a metal bowl and damp down each rod put plastic bag over top stick said client under hood dryer to bake or process. Any remaining lotion was poured back in the container. know wonder perms went frizzy and wrong!
Products changed as did knowledge with the onset of the acid perm and all perm lotion coming in individual packs lotion and neutraliser. The packs stopped salons using old product it raised the bar on the service looking and being more professional. The acid perms gave us more choice and options depending on hair condition an type. Better for the client and the stylist had to have more knowledge training had begun perming as a look and fashion stayed with us for a long time it still has it place in the market today.
Clients started wanting healthy products more natural herbal organic. This demand for so called healthy alternatives gave birth to the herbal and organic colour lines. It heralded a new phase in colour marketing and technology. Henna being a major leader  at the time for it was natural organic produced great reds tones and sheen’s . Not enough information was available on issues around build up and doing other chemical services.  Not many stylists  understood that once on the hair other chemical services were not possible. mainly due to the metallic trace elements and the staining qualities of the product  the way it woudl build up on the hair with multiple application.
One company lead the way  with herbal or organic hair colour and still does today. Ammonia free started to be promoted. Was ammonia on the way out ? Many manufactures and indeed salon owners industry professionals were taken in by the this new herbal organic explosion. No more smelly ammonia clients sucked it up .The truth is for the chemical process of colouring hair to work . We still need to lift the hair open or swell the cuticle to introduce the new colour molecule. As we know it’s a process of pigment control do we want to utilise or neutralise the pigment we are exposing in the lifting process it’s about. Formulation, timing, skill, knowledge.
I digress Ammonia free products for the most part still need a driver to interact with the Hydrogen peroxide in the developer.The difference is that ammonia is derived from rotting or fermented dead fish. In ammonia free herbal or organic colours the driver is sourced from grain that has fermented this creates a grain alcohol and this is whats used instead of the ammonia.Is it better? Is it a break through? Alcohol is though by some to be more drying and damaging. Ammonia smells! In either case  especially when using ammonia it’s the strength of the ammonia that is key to know. Some colours have less than 0.4% max 2% ammonia some as high as 7% thats a huge difference.
My point here being we have to ask questions about products we have to gain knowledge we cannot trust what we are told some colours have  an Ethanolamine added for extra lift of pigment especially high lift blondes. With the onset  of herbal and organic colours we were agin given new choices and options. We are seldom given all the facts unless we ask and push.As a former educator for a colour company we were often told this is hip pocket information not to be shared with salon owners or stylists. Or if a technical question was raised  we might be told that question like that would not be asked nor should they be answered . I was asking question above my pay grade.Those questions they would rather not deal with those Why’  questions. I was often pulled up for pushing buttons and asking to many technical questions. So even as an educator one has to push buttons. I wanted knowledge. I wanted  the truth!
How much do you know about the chemistry or do you just trust that they are better! Bio fuels are derived from the same source as some of the drivers in some of our herbal or organic colours. Monoethanolamine widely found in many ammonia free colours is worthy of some research of your own personally i would rather have a stable low strength ammonia in my professional hair colour any day.
With this came new technology in colour pigments nano technology small molecules of pigment colour options to change the chemistry of hair colour taking a permanent hair colour product and making into a semi permanent or even a toner huge leaps and advances. But do we ask the right question of the manufacturers the Why!  Why is it better. How does it it work.
Times change fashion stands still for no one looks style the need for new products. Perms are out of fashion wild big unkempt hair had it’s day sleek healthy strait hair is in demand. The new products come to market they have many names Keratin relaxers.
They were seen as a break through in hair technology marketed as such. A product to change our industry for ever. But as we now know in many cases un safe dangerous toxic. See these links for full topic’s
What is my point here?
We have touched on the changes that have taken place the development of products that are available to us.
we have embraced them we have trusted what the manufactures have told us. We have allowed them to dictate products and to control the markets.
In doing this we have lost the power to control the products we are expected to use. We accepted that perm lotion had to change/ we embraced and trusted that herbal and organic colour really was a major break through. In allowing this we opened the doors or negative advertising of ammonia based products. This opened the door to home colour.
 My question is now that formaldehyde/aldehydes have been exposed for what they are and i might add many other formulations are also being questioned.  We have to take a very different stand about what we want what we will accept in these products. Tinkering around with formulation trying to sell stylist on products without full disclosing chemistry should no longer be acceptable to any of us.
Other wise the next generation of relaxers will just be the equivalent to us excepting ammonia free colour or acid perms  without really asking the right questions without having all the facts prior to making choices… Of course in the industry there is a need a want a demand for ammonia free products. The point being that  in many cases we stylist accept what we are told without question.For things to change we have to change we have to take more lead more responsibility. Think health think safety think about your self and your clients get educated be informed . Thank you for reading this.


The ‘Three R’s’ 
”Reputation. Recommendation. Retention”. 
It’s not built on that constant looking for new clients it’s looking after what you have! It’s investing in your self and your business and those around you.


This journey, this career, is wonderful – challenging, inspiring, and yes, hard work.

Our industry is in constant change and is sometimes criticised. For lacking vision in some areas. However there is an ever growing body of professionals. That have a firm commitment to our industry, they have a passion for change, to raise standards through education and sharing. Leadership, education and team incentives.Will over time and with commitment give any individual that ability to do exceptional work and to be more creative. Leadership and management help create an amazing work environment for all concerned. So key for success for all concerned.
This journey. This career, is wonderful – Challenging. Inspiring and yes can and will be hard work. but the rewards are worth all the effort.
Thank you all for letting me share some thoughts with you today.These are inspirational, passionate, industry professionals.They have a vision. These are the people I want on my bus to learn from, share with, take a journey with. Get inspired. Connect with driven motivated industry professional. challenge your self. invest in ones /your self 

Are you driver or passenger !

 There are no guarantees in life and ones career and career choice is no different thing happen and its how we deal with them that defines us. Jobs change relationships come and go the one thing that remains after training is our skill both hands on creative and the ones we learn about people and communication about caring about being a team player. Constantly developing new skills staying current is so very important.


I also think that we need to always look at the Why. Ask the question Why are we in business whats it for? OrWhy do we want to go into to business what is success? Why do I suggest this I think by asking and exploring the why we get to the motive behind why we want to be in business what is true success. Why the will also help us to understand our true values this in turn helps us to follow the path to the success we want  and desire. It will help us to surround ourselves with the right team those who share our values and vision.


Remember. Salon success. Stylist success. Business success are all linked together it’s Team success. Its never about any destination only ever about a journey taking the right people on that journey makes it enjoyable maybe even fun!

The salon and the S word now available in book and e book format for links to purchase and reviews Click here or on the image. 


The Salon & the ‘S’ Word

 Written by Mike Vallance

Mike B2MR


My web site is Back2myroots: B2MR feel free to check in

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