Let’s talk about Haircolor Removers. They come by many different names, but there are essentially only 2 types of haircolor removers:
The first type of these products are essentially powders that are mixed with either water or developer and applied to the areas where haircolor removal needs to occur. These are basically persulfate based products, so for all intents and purposes they are powder lighteners (bleach).
Bleach is a decomposing agent, meaning it breaks down everything that it comes into contact with.
If we apply a persulfate based product to the hair, it will begin to decompose those completed dye molecules that are trapped in the cortex layer of the hair.
Now all of that said, a lot of times when people talk about color removal, they tend to speak in terms that make the completed dye molecules seem sort of independent of the hair fiber and that when you’re removing them from the hair, everything is hunky dory.
The key point to keep in mind here is that those completed dye molecules are PART of the hair fiber.
So when you’re using persulfates to decompose those artificial dyes you’re also decomposing the hair fiber itself.
Respecting your canvas is really important to your success.
The second type of haircolor removal products out there are called Color Extractors or Color Reducers.
These products use an ingredient called Sodium Hydroxymethane Sulfinic Acid (say that 5 times fast 😂).
There are essentially 2 key components to a completed haircolor molecule: the “dye” itself, which is responsible for the depth of color…and the “coupler” which is responsible for the tone of the color.
This ingredient causes the breakdown or “cleaving” between the dyes and the couplers of the completed haircolor molecules. This gives the perception that the oxidation process was “reversed” or undone.
However this is not the case.
What IS the case is that those couplers have been broken between the dye intermediates so you can no longer see the completed haircolor.
A key point to keep in mind with both of these processes is that when we color hair, those dyes become PERMANENTLY part of the hair’s internal structure.
That said, when we are “removing” artificial haircolor, we are either decomposing artificial pigments to a greater or lesser degree or in the case of color reduction making the dyes imperceptible by cleaving the couplers.
With either method of removal some part or all of those dyes still remain in the hair as they’re actually a part of the hair itself.
They don’t just disappear down the drain.