Is Soma Complete Colour the solution to all of our coloring challenges as claimed??  Lets find out what my experience testing this color line revealed.

If this is your first visit here, let me introduce myself; I’m Melanie Nickels, the editor here of The Organic Hair Color Review website. I am a ranking member of The American Board of Certified Master Haircolorists, and an exam evaulator for the organization. I am the only organic educator as well. I have been a stylist & salon owner for over 17 years. I opened Southwest Florida’s first organic/non-toxic salon, the Raw Hair Organic Salon in Naples, Florida, seven years ago, and it has been featured on many news stations and news outlets since. I work behind-the-chair 5 days a week, and my reviews come from that hands on point-of-view. I am not a scientist or a chemist.  I have many certifications in a number of different color lines, both ammonia & non-ammonia. I have taught classes the last two years at The Energizing Summit, which is the premiere event in Los Angeles for The American Board of Certified Haircolorists. This year, I will be teaching three classes at The Premiere Orlando Hair & Beauty Show, one of which is a hands-on overview of at least 4 different ammonia-free and/or organic hair color lines, from an unbiased point of view. If you are a beauty professional, I would highly encourage you to sign up for one of these inexpensive or FREE classes early…they fill up FAST. I hold two college degrees: one in Accounting and one in Business.

I do not work for, nor am I compensated by any hair color company. I DO NOT SELL HAIR COLOR. I am certified to train haircolorists by some hair color manufacturers, but at the present time I choose not to. I do not receive free product, discounted product, or any financial compensation from any hair color company whatsoever. When I review a hair color line, I purchase it myself with MY OWN MONEY, at the normal price. I believe that if you ask a company for free product to review, your evaluation is immediately tainted with bias. I do everything I can to eliminate any possible bias in my reviews, and keep them as professional as possible.

That being said, I am the founder/creator of my own professional quality hair product line, Raw Hair Organics. I also have a pet line and a men’s line coming out in the near future. These products are sold on our website and several salons & health food stores throughout the world. However, if you read any of my past reviews, that will never cloud my honest, professional judgement of a product. For more information on my background, and my products, visit . My goal is to help guide hair color manufactures in the process of making better, safer products for us all…not to bash, discredit, or otherwise discourage their efforts. I believe that comes across loud & clear in my reviews. I appreciate the professionalism shown to me by most companies and their representatives, and I hope to always return that.

In short, that’s my very basic (yet incomplete) bio. Now, on to the review.

Soma Organics was started in 1995 by two friends: one a chemist, one with a business management background. It was founded in the area around Toronto, Canada. I believe that now they are owned by Wahl Professional, which is a company that manufactures clippers out of Northern Illinois in the U.S.A.  Soma has a focus on quality and environmental impact. Their products are 100% biodegradable (per their website), and they formulate all of their own products. I tried to find out more info on what exactly they are doing regarding environmental impact, but I was not able to find anything in particular, other than the products being 100% biodegradable as previously stated.

Soma created the Complete Colour Line to “Truly Perform”. It is a deposit-only, no lift permanent color “without fading”, and you can tone highlights without “bumping” or lifting the base and do low lights without fading or filling. Their line has 19 intermixable colors which allow for more stylist creativity and  less salon inventory, both major pluses for a stylist or salon owner.  Soma should be commended for directing attention to these details.

Soma Complete Colour, according to the company, adapts to the specific clients hair porosity, thus no “grabbing too dark”. They claim only one application is needed. The line was formulated by stylists to create translucent, blending, multi-tone, and opaque shades from ONE tube. It was created to mix perfectly with their developer for BOTH bottle AND brush applications.

Side note: (To be both translucent and opaque doesn’t seem possible, but maybe I’m wrong). Perhaps they are talking about if you double the color, like 2:1 color to developer.

Soma Complete Colour claims “100% gray coverage without fading brassy, even while using 20 volume developer”. They also claim “No Ammonia – No MEA”. These are great claims!

I was very excited to give this color line a try since it has been created by some colleagues of mine that haven’t seen eye to eye with me on my support of and teaching on non-ammonia hair color and the salon industry shift into the organic world.  Are they finally starting to agree with me??  They are now saying some of the same things I’ve been talking about for the past 7 years.  So, I took the product to my salon, The Raw Hair Organic Salon in Naples, Florida, to give it a hands-on try. Here is what I found:

First of all, I’m not quite sure how it can be a “Complete Colour Line” when it is a deposit only color.  If you are a working stylist / colorist like me, you need a color line that has lifting abilities as well.  So I would need to have this color line along with another one in order to satisfy the needs of my entire color clientele, which is quite large.  Secondly, the color choices are limited.  I personally have no problems mixing and creating color formulas from a small selection of pigments, but many stylists struggle with that.  Consider your own skill level before you make a financial investment in this color line.

As stated above, this colour line is ammonia free, MEA free, and formaldehyde free.  They make the claim of “100% gray coverage”.  There are several good, nourishing, soothing, and strengthening botanical extracts like aloe vera, keratin, wheat, silk, sunflower, nettle, and more. Great stuff! I applaud them for that.

Note: the ingredient list says “may contain: ammonium hydroxide”.  Underneath that it says: “color shades do not contain ammonia, only bump-it and bump-it xtra contain ammonia. ”

Being a working,  ammonia-free / non-toxic / organic hair colorist, I have had a conflicting opinion with some of the Soma representatives who are professional colleagues of mine that I have great respect for on the topic of MEA.  They believe it is bad for the hair, and they have made that very clear to me. Frankly, as a professional colorist that uses haircolor with MEA in it ALL day EVERY day for the last, oh, 7 years or so,  I disagree. (You can find out more about the MEA vs Ammonia topic in one of my previous postings titled: MEA vs. Ammonia,with a link on the left hand column). With that in mind, they (Soma) created this color line with no ammonia and no MEA. Great. But Instead, they use AMP or Aminomethyl Propanol.  I don’t have a problem with this subtitute ingredient as long as it follows the Cosmetic Ingredients Review Panel regulations of using concentrations of 7% or less and that it should not be used in products containing secondary amines because they could cause harmful carcinogenic nitrosamines to form.

Soma uses a combination of PPD’s (p-phenylenediamine), Resorcinol, and TDS (toluene-2,5-diamine sulfate) for pigment.

Ok, on to my experience.  I prepared to use the Soma Complete Colour on a very good client of mine. I clarified the clients hair prior to application and then followed the manufacturers directions for gray coverage.  I mixed equal parts of 6N colour with 20 vol developer.  The consistency was nice and easy to work with….like that of greek yougurt.  There was no offensive smell or fumes, no irritation noted on scalp other than my client said she felt a slight tingle.  The directions said to process for 30 minutes at room temperature, but I left it on for 45 minutes. So far, so good.

As for the results?  Well, as I was rinsing the color, I could see that there was a problem….it looked lighter than it should.  After towel drying and starting to blow dry my clients hair, I could see that it was not just lighter….it did not cover the gray as promised.  The company says it has a “translucent coverage”.  Now, I have worked with over 12 similar ammonia free color lines, and have lots of experience with translucent coverage, so it’s not like I don’t know what I’m doing or that I don’t know what I’m looking at…this was more like transparent!  For the first time ever, I actually had to re-color my clients hair!  I had told her I was testing out a new color line before we got started so she thankfully was understanding and not upset, other than having to spend more time at the salon when she was super tired.  But as you can imagine, I was not exactly happy!  Needless to say, I went back to my usual non-ammonia color line and re-colored her hair.  Which, by the way, turned out perfect.

Another interesting side note, is that, it seems as though the creators and ambassadors/educators for this company (Soma) / colour line still don’t truly believe in ammonia-free hair color, even though they say they are “so excited” about creating and bringing this non-ammonia colour line to the market.

I’m inserting this advertisment and flyer for an upcoming class that I received on 2/11/13.  Be sure to read the 5th statement under day ones class!!

From their mailer:

“We are bringing in Board Certified Haircolorist Lisa Kelley and world-renowned color chemist Dr Said to show you what the color and product manufacturers do not want you to know and to help you prepare for the ABCH examination.  To get both Lisa Kelley and Dr. Said on the same stage together is a rare opportunity.”

(Click on the link below)



I’m getting mixed messages, to say the least!

Are they for or against non-ammonia hair color??…’s hard to create and promote a non-ammonia color line when you are teaching classes on ammonia color being better for the hair.  Something is wrong here….what a disappointment!

All in all, yes, I like the fact that they, Soma Organics, is working to create better hair products for clients and the environment. I like the fact that they are trying different things in the lab. No company that is working hard in the lab to create better products should be bashed. But as for the performance of the product as a whole, it’s back to the drawing board for this one. The effort is commendable, but more work should have been done on the Research & Development side BEFORE the line was launched to the public. “Field” R&D is always a risk and a big no-no, in my opinion.

I give the Soma Complete Colour a rating of 1 out of 5.

I always welcome your questions and comments, as well as recommendations for future hair color reviews.

Next month, I will have TWO new hair color reviews posted, so make sure and SIGN UP for email alerts direct from The Organic Hair Color

Until next month, here’s to great, healthy hair, and great, healthy hair stylists.