Hello once again and welcome to The Organic Hair Color Review blog!
For those of you who have not visited this website before, my name is Melanie Nickels, and I am the editor of the Organic Hair Color Review website ( www.organichaircolorreview.com ). Here is my quick (thus incomplete) bio so you know right from the get-go who I am and why I’m qualified to write a review that warrants your time and attention: I have been a stylist for about 17 years. I was internationally trained, part of Inter Coiffure, a Broadway stylist on the hit show “42nd Street”, and certified by numerous companies such as Deva, Curlisto, OCS. I am also a ranking member of the American Board of Certified Hair Colorists, as well as one of only 19 exam evaluators nation-wide. I am the only organic / non-toxic / ammonia-free educator in the entire ABCH organization, having taught organic / ammonia-free hair color classes at the 2011 and 2012 Energizing Summit in Los Angeles, CA. I hold two college degrees: Accounting and Business. I am the founder / owner of Raw Hair Organic Salon in Naples, Florida. It was the first non-toxic / organic salon in all of Southwest Florida. I still spend about 50-60 hours a week, every week, behind the chair. I am the hands-on founder / creator of Raw Hair Organics and Rod’z Organic Grooming For Men, both being complete 100% natural / organic salon quality lines of hair products. If you go to my website, you can read more about those and see pictures of me in the lab getting my hands dirty and creating products (lol). Lots of good information and some reviews there as well: www.rawhairorganics.com . As a color specialists, I have worked with many major color lines on the market, ammonia and non-ammonia. I am the editor of Organic Hair Product Review website as well( www.organichairproductreview.com ).
Today, my review is of Organic Color Systems, or Organic Colour Systems, or OCS (however you may know them). In my effort to achieve full-disclosure, I purchase ALL items that I review with my own money. I do not own a color line and am not paid by any color company, work for any color company, or get compensated in any way. That goes for this week’s review as well. I do, personally, use Organic Color Systems in my salon, the Raw Hair Organic Salon in Naples, Florida. I was one of the first people to take on Organic Color Systems when they opened their distribution facility in Clearwater, Florida many years ago, and I personally know the former owner of that facility, Mr. Hilton Bell. Under the new & current ownership, I did complete training to become and educator for OCS about 2 years ago, however I have not done any work for them and thus I have not been compensated by them. Per my request, I asked to not be listed on their website as an educator so I can remain independent. I have a good relationship with OCS, current and former employess, educators, and it’s owner, Mr. Scott Mitchell. HOWEVER, my professional integrity is very important to me, thus my statement of full-disclosure. I will never, ever show any bias in a review that I write, regardless of who owns or works for that said company. I will never put myself in a position of damaging my professional integrity that I’ve spent an entire career building. Period. If you read any of my reviews, you will clearly see that I am FAIR, ACCURATE, UNBIASED, and HONEST in my evaluations. I sincerely hope that the people who own, run, and work for the color companies that I review would use the information to create better products for all of us, and not take those critiques personally. So far, that has been the case (as it should be).
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it:
Organic Colour Systems (known as Herb UK Ltd.) was founded in 1990 Lymington, Hampshire. Their goal was to create non ammonia-based haircolors using natural ingredients due to the chemical allergies and sensitivities of one of the hairdressers. To the best of my knowledge, they weren’t the first to do so. Farouk Systems was. Now, Herb UK Ltd. is the largest independently owned brand manufacturer of hair products in the UK. Their operation is state-of-the-art, and they export to no less than 30 different countries. The factory was designed this way to be able to cope with the increased world-wide demand for non-toxic products. It was also designed with the ability to adapt to changes in the market without long delays or down time. It has all of it’s own filling lines, so it can control packaging and filling in-house.
The company is in the process of establishing concept salons throughout the world, including the United States. They offer excellent training, and when you need to call for technical help, you can get it (at least in the U.S.). However, a few years back, I called Herb UK Ltd directly with some questions. As a matter of fact, I called them twice and emailed. My contacts were never returned.
As of this writing, all of their products are produced in the UK, and none are made in the United States. They don’t test their products on animals (nice), and they don’t use any animal ingredients either. They use Certified Organic Chamomile, Aloe, Comfrey, Orange and Grapefruit. Any “chemical ingredients” that are necessary for hair color are used in reduced percentages. They only use the minimum amount that is needed in order for the product to still be able to function or perform at the professional level that we hairdressers require. The company has made a commitment to implement an environmental policy that is within the framework of Good Manufacturing Practices for the Cosmetics Industry, Section 5 (GMP does audit companies such as Herb UK). It is ammonia-free, cruelty free, and vegan. As a company, Herb UK Ltd strives to make the most natural and gentle products that they can.
Herb UK Ltd. does not use ammonia or resorcinol in their products, and they are paraben-free. They use a very small amount of MEA, to replace the ammonia and are VERY open to sharing these percentages unlike some other companies. In my circles, I have found there to be a great discussion about MEA vs Ammonia in hair color. Check out my posting on that topic for more detailed information. Before I briefly explain the issues behind the discussion, I will state that so far as I know, NOT ONE person that has come to me with the argument against MEA has anywhere near the experience that I have using it on clients, and some of the most vocal detractors aren’t even behind the chair any more (for the sake of this discussion), or have NEVER even been behind the chair. With all due respect, being a chemist in a lab creating hair color is totally different than being an experienced colorist with every-day real-world hands-on experience. (I know from working with my own chemists on my Raw Hair Organics line)! The argument that I hear from those people and others in the industry is that MEA doesn’t rinse from the hair and dries it out. That has NOT been my experience! Please research what source that information is coming from….do they own or work for a color line that uses ammonia?? (Usually). Anyway, OCS uses oils to soften the cuticle, then gentle heat along with the MEA to open or swell the cuticle so that the color can penetrate.
There is PPD’s or Paraphenylendiamine used for pigment in this color line, but again, a minimal amount of .6% on average.
There are 65 intermixable colors including special concentrates, extra brights, and also direct dye intensifiers and no limits. They have different developers available: liquid, cream, and a liquid enzyme developer that is water, hydrogen peroxide, water soluble polysaccharides, and polymers that range from 5 volume to 40 volume. According to the class that I took, this enzyme developer does not activate until you apply heat, and it can process the color in 1/2 the time. (I don’t use it in this way, but find it is good for resistant gray coverage). They do have a NN series as well, which does not contain double pigment, but rather more oil to help soften the hair more. There is also an ammonia-free lightener that uses potassium persulfate that gives up to 7 levels of lift. It can be used on or off the scalp.
The color is a liquid and comes in a 5 oz bottle. It is mixed 1:1 (color to developer). Exept the high lift series, which is 2:1. Because the percent of MEA is so low and the working PH is 9, you place an open ended plastic bag (like for perms) on the head and process under medium heat (100 degrees) for 10-15 minutes and then room temp for 15-20 minutes. I pretty much process all my clients 30 min. (15 under heat/15 out). It doesn’t hurt it or make it go darker if you leave it on longer. There have been a few times that I’ve had a clients color on 45 minutes. FYI, if you are like me and do your high lights and color at the same time, remember that this is all going to go under the dryer, so you will use a lower level developer for your high lights (like 10 vol instead of 20 vol.)
Speaking of high lift blonds, if there is one area that this color line is a bit weak, it is this. Because there is no ammonia and it does not contain double the MEA for these, you will only get 3 levels of lift. You can add 1/2 scoop to your formula to give extra boost and/or Concentrates for toning, but I personally don’t care to do that.
I find you get the same or better gray coverage as any other line I’ve ever worked with. The color is more translucent and natural looking instead of heavy opaque looking. Therefore, you get a softer outgrowth or line of demarkation which allows many clients to go a week longer than they normally did on average for a retouch. I do recommend pre-washing or clarifying clients before coloring. It is good to make sure there is no build-up of wax, silicones, and other chemicals since this is a gentle color and won’t cut through all that, and this will help with resistent gray to give additional coverage as well.
I find the colors are true to color chart and fading is minimal and is on tone and not brassy. If you are used to traditional hair color, I would formulate 1 level darker than current formula. For instance, if you normally use 6N, then use 5N instead.
Overall, I find this line to be a great option for ammonia-free haircolor that allows you to work with and offer a healthier haircoloring experience for yourself and your clients!
I give Organic Color Systems a rating of 4.5 out of 5
Attached are my you tube videos of my own color retouch.