Chromatics Hair Color by Redken – Review 2012

Once again, thank you for visiting my Organic Hair Color Review blog, where I take a hands-on, unbiased approach to dissect, examine, and review organic, non-toxic, and ammonia-free hair color lines. For those of you who don’t know, I’m Melanie Nickels, master hair colorist and a ranking member & examiner for the American Board of Certified Hair Colorists, as well as the owner of the first organic & non-toxic salon in Southwest Florida, Raw Hair Organic Salon in Naples. I DO NOT SELL HAIR COLOR.

Chromatics is the latest color line on the market by Redken Laboratories, which was founded in 1960 by an American actress named Paula Kent. Paula dealt with frequent style changes in her career, and she was extra sensitive to many of the products that her hairdressers and make-up artists were using at that time. With the intent of changing the way these hair products were being used, she partnered with her hairdresser and formed Redken. Starting with only three products and an intensive education program for hairdressers, Paula and her business partner went out to change the world of hair care. By 1965, Paula had full ownership of the company. In 1993 Redken was purchased by L’Oreal and is now a global leader in hair care products, based in New York City on 5th Avenue. They sell the Redken product line in about 50 countries as of this writing.

Chromatics was launched in March of 2012. It was, and is, promoted as “The Haircolor Breakthrough”, and a “Prismatic Permanent Color. Zero Ammonia. Zero Odor”.  It is also marketed as leaving the hair “2X Fortified”, meaning that by using Chromatics hair color it will leave the cuticle fortified and account for 2X less breakage when using 20 volume Oil In Cream Developer and Redken Hair Cleansing Cream Shampoo vs. uncolored hair treated with a non-conditioning shampoo (per their company website). They also claim “100% Gray Coverage, Flawlessly”. Chromatics features a broad range of shades, which allows an experienced, talented colorist to custom blend colors that are a perfect fit for the client.

The technology behind how Chromatics fortifies the hair (per the company) is to surround the hair with protective oil (using the ODS+ Protein Extract Technology), propel the long-lasting color pigments & protein extracts deep into every strand of hair, and then 2X fortify it, leaving behind brilliant, multi-dimensional color. Redken claims 100% client comfort, 0% ammonia, 0% irritating odor, 100% gray coverage, with 48 amazing shades creating multi-dimensional 4D color results.

I was not about to miss the class offered at this years Premiere Orlando Hair Show on this one!  I was anxious to hear how Redken was going to backpeddle and present this non-ammonia color line as great and wonderful since the color that they have had on the market for all these years is one that is very high in ammonia and ppd’s and other chemicals.  It intrigued me as I wondered how they would promote this without contradiction to their current lines.

Well, the class was actually one of the better ones I attended at the show.  The educator was very good, and seemed to present good facts and information along with models and formulas for “real hair” scenerios instead of smoke and mirrors for the show.  Redken is promoting Chromatics as the latest and greatest cutting edge technology and as another option to the ammonia based colors.  I agree, except that other companies have been using these technologies like no ammonia and oil delivery system for at least 18 years.  That being said, it has been cutting edge and it’s about time more companies and stylists are finally catching on!

The educator did a great demonstration of how oil and water separate and that the oil in the ODS colors pushes or propells the hair color and then traps the color and oil into the hair giving great coverage, lasting color and condtioned hair.  He did also mention that MEA is used in place of ammonia and actually admitted (to my shock) that it is less aggressive than ammonia….WHAT, OH OH……REALLY…..better tell all those that have been running around teaching that MEA is bad and doesn’t rinse out of the hair, and dries out your ends!!!  That is a whole separate blog topic that we can tackle, but I’ve been battling that one out with most other well known and respected educators and chemists in the industry.  Let me just point out for now that MEA has been used in Shades EQ and I think this has been a favorite of most stylists for a very long time and used to gently freshen and condtion the ends of hair when coloring.  And, I have been working with a permanent ODS color line for 6 years and have not seen my clients hair getting dried out at all….quite the opposite in fact.

Ok, back to the Chromatics color.  One of the most interesting things about this line is that they have a Clear color that will lift the hair and will lift other color.  They said that clear and 20 vol developer can be used instead of a bleach cap, it can be used alone to “lift highlights”, and is great for breaking the base.

So, I purchased the Chromatics by Redken color, with my own money, and took it to my salon in Naples, Florida to put it to the test.  I did my own hair with the Chromatics color and  did a base breaker with the clear on my  co-worker on one of my very few days off (yes, I work on my days off…in the salon). We video taped the process of doing the base breaker so you can see how it worked.  Please excuse the absense of my face and the presence of my dogs as I told you, I had color on my hair and it was a “day off” from the salon so my family joined me in the fun.

Overall, I felt that the color worked well, covered gray no problem, & did not irritate my scalp.  There was no smell, it was easy to mix(equal parts) and had a good working consistency.  I don’t know the % of MEA, but they also use m-aminophenol and then toluene 2.5-diamine and resorcinol for pigment.

For my co-workers base breaker, I used clear with 20 vol and processed at room temp for 12 min.  She did experience itching.  She has wheat allergies, but I do not see any wheat listed in the ingredients so she may have been experiencing sensitivity to the peroxide, because there is no ppd’s or pigment and no listed fragrance.

On a scale of one to five (5 being highest) I rate it a 3.75.

If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to post them here, or contact me directly.

Hope you enjoy!


Inoa from L’Oreal – The big boys “Go Green”

In March of 2010, L’Oreal Professionnel launched what was tagged as being a revolutionary new hair color system that does not contain ammonia and has “supreme respect for the hair” called INOA. The name INOA stands for “Innovative No Ammonia”.  Of course, as one of the top organic colorists in the country, I was immediately excited. L’Oreal, the owner of INOA, is one of the largest companies in the world, not just in the beauty industry. So, I figured with the kind of money that they have to put into innovation, research & development, as well as the incredible amount of talent they have at their disposal in their labs, I thought for sure it would be the end-all-be-all in the non-toxic hair color world. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it and try it in my own salon, Raw Hair Organic Salon in Naples, Florida.

EDITORS NOTE: In the interest of full-disclosure, I want to make it clear that I am a high ranking member of The American Board Of Certified Hair Colorists, which is the organization that I quote several times in this review regarding Inoa. I am not only a member of the ABCH, I am an examiner / evaluator, and educator as well. However, I did not and was not involved in any of the Inoa testing or the review of Inoa that was done by the ABCH organization, nor did I have any input. The Inoa product that I personally used for my review was purchase BY ME, with my own money. It was not given to me nor was it purchased at a discount other than the normal trade discount price. 

After a discussion with an Inoa professional at their elaborate  booth at one of the largest beauty industry trade shows in the country, I purchased the product and took it back to my salon, Raw Hair Organic Salon in Naples, Florida for testing.  I took the INOA one-day class (required to purchase INOA products), I watched a number of Inoa videos online as well as read some company and semi-independent literature before I used it.  I found a video by Fashion In Motion, that was obviously filmed at a runway show somewhere. There was an interview with Mr. Colin Ford, a 40 year industry veteran, and Education & Events Director at L’Oreal Professionnel. I found it quite interesting that 2-3 sentences into the interview Mr. Ford back-handedly bashes Ammonia color by saying, “It’s (ammonia) effective in what it does but there’s some negatives about ammonia, like the pungent odor for a start, plus it can cause some irritation of the scalp, so it’s not a pleasing experience.” What makes this so interesting (for those who don’t know) is that his company, L’Oreal, owns no less than 500 product lines, and a number of them are made up of ammonia-based hair color treatments. He also claims that (INOA), “leaves hair in a natural state.”  In a different Inoa advertising video they state, “Inoa is a breakthrough ammonia-free technology.”  I also found a couple other video’s online that were made by some very well-known L’Oreal Professionnel salons, owned by some very well-known celebrity stylists, who made statements telling clients “Inoa has no ammonia”, and “(Inoa is) The first 100% ammonia free hair color.”  At that point, I got really interested…because I’m pretty sure (ok, I KNOW) that’s not a true statement, since I’ve been using a 100% non-ammonia, oil delivery hair color which was developed in 1994. So, I scrolled down a few pages on my Bing! search and found an interesting little .gov website with this little tidbit that I hadn’t heard about: Turns out the U.S. government ordered L’Oreal to cease making the claim that this line has “No ammonia” (Advertising Code Commission File Number 2012/00770).

At that point, I pulled out the tubes and bottles from the Inoa system and started reading them myself. Here is the REAL SCOOP: The Inoa color DYE does not have any ammonia. However, part of the procedure requires the stylist to use a product called “INOA Post”. It is a shampoo that is to be used after the hair color procedure is done, and yes, it’s got ammonia in it. A bunch. Misleading?  Well…sorta…yes. At the very least, confusing.  That’s how I feel, and the United States Government apparently agrees with me.

I also wanted to share the review and test results of my colleague, Andre Nizetich, President of the American Board of Certified Hair Colorists (ABCH). In summary (and I will take the liberty to VERY loosely quote him, since we are good friends), here are his INOA findings:

~Said it took 3X longer to mix and 3X longer to apply compared to other leading brands. ~Said entire process took 19 minutes, while other brands took about 7 minutes.  This is mostly due to having to mix a separate oil ingredient as well as somewhat poor consistency of the hair color.

~Said INOA doesn’t allow the stylist to be innovative, due to the their difficult tube dispensing system. It’s great for begining stylists MAYBE, but not for ones who want to be creative. Andre also thinks it would be hard to complete a single application with 4 ounces of color.

~Said INOA produced a “course cuticle” and “became increasingly difficult to comb the hair the more it was exposed to the sun.”

Here are my personal thoughts on INOA:

Price: INOA is expensive. It has a higher cost per application.

Gray Coverage: Not great. It’s very hit-or-miss, sometimes it covers, sometimes it doesn’t. There have been complaints of color fading  off -tone. The ABCH test called it “significant fading”, and “mixed results” on gray coverage.

Damage:   My colleagues (not me personally) found it had a tendency to damage the hair on the second application and more so with further subsequent applications. This is disheartening, as one of the main reasons I, as a sylist and salon owner, use organic and ammonia-free products is to avoid damage to the hair. If I can’t give a client better, healthier hair after a couple of visits (if not at the first visit), then I’m not happy.

Irritation: No significant irritation.

The “Green Factor”: INOA is not organic, not natural, and appears that it is not cruelty-free or eco-friendly. PETA (whether you like them or not) has publicly ridiculed them. However, they have announced that they will, as a company, be cruelty-free by 2013. Time will tell.

Ammonia: Marketed as “Ammonia-Free”, but the system itself has plenty. In the one of the latter steps, you wash the clients hair with a product called “INOA Post”. It has  ammonia in it. The reason I was told is that it needs it to wash out the residual oils from the “oil delivery system”. However, it is the only product in the INOA line that has ammonia in it. I’ve seen a number of reviews that state that the entire line of INOA is ammonia based, and that is simply not true.  Make sure when you choose a review of a product line to guide your purchasing decisions, that the reviewer is  unbiased and that they don’t have a financial motive to comment one way or another.

General Application: I found the color to have a consistency that wasn’t difficult to work with. I personally found the entire process taking almost 3 times as long (19 minutes compared to about 7-ish minutes), which for me was excessive.  There is  one  step called the “Dry Emulsification”, where you massage it through the clients head. It adds  more time to the process, but I’m used to that because the color line I use on a regular basis at my salon has a similar step. Some stylists might find that to be a problem.

Client Experience: Without being exhaustive in my description, I’d have to say that I’m not happy at all with the fact that INOA isn’t clear in their marketing regarding the “ammonia-free” claim. I own a high-end organic, non-toxic salon. I get a lot of clients that come to me who either have terrible allergies or allergic reactions, cancer or undergoing cancer treatments, auto-immune disorders, or are pregnant.  There is ammonia in the INOA Post shampoo, plain and simple.

Melanie’s LIKES: Good selection of colors, good consistency to work with, low MEA. The amount of MEA is the same as their demi colors which is the “lowest on the market” according to the L’Oreal educator.

Melanie’s DISLIKES: Too many steps with the 3 part system (oleo oil gel, developer, and color), not good gray coverage, ammonia in Post Shampoo, high cost (the tubes of color are little – have to use more than one).

If I have to rate on my scale of 1 to 5 (five being highest, one being lowest), I’d rate it overall a 2.

Being that INOA is L’Oreal’s first leap into the non-toxic /organic / ammonia-free hair color market, I know that in time they will come out with a better product, or significantly improve the product. In fact, at the time of this writing, they have already (as this review was in the process of being done) relaunched a new INOA and introduced Redken Chromatics.  As stated above, they as a company just have way too many resources at their disposal to not get this product to the point where it is THE best in it’s segment, or at least very close to the top of the list. L’Oreal has been around since 1907, they are a multi-billion dollar company with a rich history of innovation and development. They understand the paradigm shift to TRUE ammonia-free and organic, non-toxic hair color. Again, time will tell if they raise bar or not.

Feel free to contact me directly with comments or questions, as well as suggestions of color lines that you would like to see me review.

Until next time, here’s to good, healthy hair and good, healthy hairdressers.

Let’s Try A Milkshake

Is a Milkshake a healthier coloring option for you? It sounds yummy…let’s find out!  Today I will evaluate and discuss the Milkshake hair color line in detail and see what conclusion we come to.

For the last 15 years or so, I’ve been a master haircolorist, and a good number of those years I have been working with organic and ammonia-free color lines. I DO NOT SELL HAIR COLOR. Whenever  a new one comes out, I like to give it a try and see how they rate (according to me). Milkshake was no different. I picked some up at a show and took it to the salon to try it myself, and here are my results.

Milkshake is part of a company named concept from Italy. They started in 1999 in the Italian professional sector,  one the most difficult and competitive regions in Europe. The founder and creator is a gentleman named Ivano Panzeri. They are now exporting to 26 foreign countries (according to their website). That’s very impressive. They have a conditioning permanent color, creative permanent color, delicate permanent color oil, conditioning semi permanent color, conditioning direct color, conditioning temporary color, and something called Color Juice. They also have a hair products line called Milkshake as well. According to a company statement from the March 3rd, 2008 launch that I found online, the color line is a permanent color based on nanotechnology. An oxidation dye that can permanently transform the natural pigmentation of the hair, giving rise to an unbelievable shiny look as well as to intensive, vibrant colors. Intensive, uniform and long-lasting results with rich, shiny tones are ensured by the “NanoBioGenius” technology. I’m not sure what that means, and never could get an explanation. The colors are enriched with sunflower oil and fruit extracts such as mango, tangerine, and raspberry. They also state that it has a nice honey fragrance. Milkshake has a patented complex called Integrity 41r  (helianthus annuus) as an antioxidizing mix which they claim makes the dye last longer. Sounds OK, so I put it to the test. For my evaluation, I used the Creative Permanent Colour.

Pros: Super clever name…love it!  Natural honey and milk proteins (well the milk protein is good for strengthening the hair, but honey is more for moisturizing and soothing); sunflower seed oil (which is the above mentioned helianthus annuus) used as an antioxidant and would be a natural sunscreen, mango, raspberry leaf, and mandarin orange extracts.  Good working consistency, good gray coverage, large tube, cost effective, hair feels good and appears shiny.

Cons: 2% ammonia (a known irritant gas that is highly corrosive when mixed with water.  It makes me cough and burns my eyes and overpowers the claimed nice honey fragrance); methylparaben (preservative  that mimics estrogen); wheat protein (not a problem for me as it is a great strengthening protein for the hair, but may be an irritant for people that have wheat allergies); mixing ratio of 1:1.5

Mixing and preparation seemed easy enough. The writing on the box is exceptionally tiny, which makes it tough to read, of course. Application of the color was average, no surprises.

When applying this color line, I just use a standard technique. Nothing special.  The application was easy and straight forward.

As far as the cost, a 5 oz tube is/was pretty much in line price-wise with everyone else. (I have yet to decide if I am going to post wholesale prices of product in my blogs yet, due to the mix of customers & professionals who might view this blog. I will make that decision by the time I post the next review).

So, my overall opinion / rating on a scale of 0 to 5 stars is hard to give, because it has 2 % ammonia, so it’s not really an ammonia free color. And, it’s not organic.It just has some natural ingredients in it. I decided to rate it here because they tout all the natural ingredients. I’ve also heard people describe it as “all natural” (including reps), but I believe that they have it confused with their hair products line of the same name, not the color line. I will review those products on my other blog, Organic Hair Products Review, in the coming weeks. After a very polite conversation with the Milk Shake technical director David Gulino, I also think they (others) may have it confused with Milk Shake Delicate Color Oil, which in the interest in fairness I will review in the coming weeks. I, for one, look forward to that!

That all being said, on my 0 to 5 stars scale of being natural and/or organic, I rate it a 0.

On my 0 to 5 scale, taking into account that it IS NOT ammonia free, I rate it  2 stars.

If you don’t run an organic salon, or a “green” salon, or aren’t concerned about your health or the health of your clients, by all means, give it a try.  However, I think there are better choices out there for people like me who run an organic / non-toxic salon.

See you about the second week of July for my next review. In the mean time, sign up for my other blog, the Organic Hair Product Review site right here on wordpress.

Feel free to contact me directly with questions or comments, as well as suggestions for product lines that you would like to see me review.

Until next time, here’s to good, healthy hair, and good, healthy hairdressers.

TREND Update

On the Organic Hair Color Review site, I am going to take the liberty to talk about trends and techniques, etc, that are going on in the industry when I feel there is relevance. Today is one of those days. I just read a “Trend Alert”, dated last night, that is reporting Balayage as “the hot new color look”. Well…, here is where you learn about the importance of using a stylist that is a member of the ABCH, the American Board of Certified Haircolorists, or at least one who makes a point of taking continuing education classes at least a couple times a year EVERY YEAR. I know stylists who have been doing hair 20+ years, and almost never, if ever, take a class.  And they really, honestly think that they are up-to-date as far as the work they are doing on their clients. And when they finally do go to a class, in their minds it’s just a reason to “party”, because they are away from their husbands or significant other for a night or two. Thus, what they actually get out of the class or classes is minimal because, most likely, they weren’t in the best of shape for learning because of what they were doing the night before until 3:30am. I know many stylists who think this is perfectly O.K. Not that I’m against having a good time, but in this economy you need to get serious about your career if you want to survive and thrive. As far as the ABCH, this organization is filled with some of the brightest colorists in the world, and has a membership of technical educators from around the country who bring a wealth of knowledge and the latest “trends” from across the world to us here in the U.S.A. That being said, the ABCH has educators who have been teaching the Balayage method for years. YEARS. That means as a consumer, you would have been walking around with this look YEARS before the name of it even reached the mainstream. You could have had Giselle Bundchen’s look 2-3 years before she had the look. Think about that.

So, that all being said, I wanted to share that yes, you can get the “new” (sic) Balayage look using organic hair color. I do this procedure on a regular basis in my own salon, Raw Hair Organic Salon in Naples, Florida. I have a good mix in my clientele, with some who have the means to get their hair done anywhere in the world by anyone they choose to have do it, using any product they choose to have on their hair. I do use the balayage method on these clients, and all my clients who request it or that I feel would look good on them, and I do it with organic color. For this procedure, the organic color line that I’ve used that I’m the happiest with for this technique in particular is Organic Color Systems, or OCS. That doesn’t mean that another color might work just as well or better, it’s just the one that I find works best for this that I have personally tried (again, I do the very best I can to not show any bias, yet I want to be as open and honest as possible with professional stylists that might be reading this). As the BeautyStat article states, instead of using foils, the stylist will actually paint the highlights on. What I do for this at Raw Hair Organic Salon is this: To brighten the hair for the summer, I lighten the hair using the Ombre’ Balayage technique, or, to give added dimension, I use color and my signature “Reverse Balayage” technique. The hair comes out beautiful every time. To learn my “Reverse Balayage” technique, you’ll have to come to one of my classes (lol). I also will make sure that they purchase the highest quality shampoo & conditioner to hold the color and resist fading. I don’t want this blog to seem like I’m trying to sell my own products (which I’m not), so if you want to what I’m sending my clients home with as far as daily products, send me a message privately and I will tell you. If you are a stylist, and you learn these techniques, you will have a significant advantage over the salon down the street from you. And that matters.

Hopefully this weekend, I will post the first of many organic hair color reviews. My first one is exciting, and you may very well hear some things from me that aren’t in their product literature or on their label (go figure). Until then, here is to good, healthy hair and good, healthy hair stylists!

Hello world!

Welcome to my organic hair color blog! Today, I’m just setting up this blog, so it will be a few days until I start reviewing products and telling you about it. In the mean time, please check out my profile and you’ll get an idea as to why I’m qualified to run this blog.  I can’t wait to get started!