Organic Colour Options

We’ve all heard about the potential dangers of the chemicals in hair colours. Ammonia, PPD’s, resorcinol…ocs gas maskcolour is full of chemicals that are known to cause skin reactions, allergies and cancer. For those with allergies to colour or concerned about their health, there are more natural, chemically-reduced, allergy free colour options that don`t compromise the look of your colour. In fact, some actually work better, last longer and produce more beautiful results because they don’t damage the hair to the degree that traditional colours do.

In recent years, many colour companies have removed ammonia from colour due to their customers’ growing awareness of the dangers of this chemical. This is great news for consumers, but removing ammonia is not enough. There are far more dangerous and controversial chemicals that are still present, and in some cases unnecessary, in colour formulations. Some ingredients, like PPD, are difficult to remove entirely from permanent colours because that is what gives colour deposit and grey coverage.  But this and other chemicals can be greatly reduced if not eliminated entirely.

Of course, for those concerned about using any chemicals at all, there are 100% natural, vegetable-based semi-permanent colour lines out there (not including Henna, although that’s an option), which are great for those that are looking to darken their hair or get a warmer, redder, richer colour.  This is not an option for everyone, since these colours cannot cover grey, lighten the hair, or give you more dramatic results. To get more grey coverage and more flexibility with your colour choices, permanent colour is the next option.

“Organic Color Systems” – A Healthier  Option for Permanent Colouring

At Citrus Hair Salon, we use Organic Color Systems (OCS) for our permanent colouring needs. Its unique oil-delivery system has replaced the need for a highly toxic substance such as ammonia to swell and blast open the cuticle. Instead, soya oil softens the cuticle allowing gentle heat to open it, deliver the color into the hair shaft, and create a permanent result. As well, although the allergy-causing ingredient p-Phenylenediamine (PPD) is necessary in the darker ranges of permanent colour, they have the lowest amount possible in their formulation. This company has minimized the use of harmful ingredients as much as possible, making it the most natural permanent colour line worldwide.

You may ask why other colour lines aren’t using this same formulation, one that’s been proven to work for 15 years and in 32 countries around the world.  Simply put, it’s more expensive to manufacture this type of colour line. The ingredients required are more costly, so profit margins are affected, and large corporations are much more driven by their bottom line. Fortunately, this corporate attitude provided an opportunity for a couple of hairdressers and a chemist from the UK to come up with an alternative, and Organic Color Systems was created. Although it has gained much popularity in Europe over the last 15 years and has been available in this country for 7, the growth has really only begun to explode in recent times with the consumer’s focus on eco-conscious alternatives that are less damaging to their health, but still give them a superior salon-quality hair color citrus hair salon vancouver


There seems to be a higher incidence of allergic reactions to hair colour than ever before. One of the main culprits, PPD (para-phenylenediamine), is ever present in colour in large quantities. Reducing or eliminating this ingredient is the key to eliminating this common allergic reaction. It is not necessary to overload colour with this or many other toxic ingredients. Organic Color Systems has reduced the use of chemicals to as low as possible but still allowing the product to work. For many, it will enable them to get the colour they have always wanted but have been unable to do so because of the adverse reactions or the health concerns (we always recommend a patch test at least 24 hours before a colour service if you have had reactions to colour in the past).

In a nutshell (and it’s a big nutshell!), here are the reasons we think Organic Color Systems is the best permanent colour line out there:

  • It has Certified Organic ingredients by ECOCERT.
  • As the most natural, organic, vegan and cruelty-free permanent line worldwide, this revolutionary haircolor minimizes the use of questionable ingredients while maximizing its overall performance.
  • They believe in full disclosure and all of their ingredients are listed on their website and on the colour bottles.
  • It is certified Eco-Friendly.
  • It is 100% ammonia free. Ammonia is caustic, corrosive and hazardous..and not necessary in colouring products, although most others still contain this ingredient.
  • It is made up of at least 89% organically derived ingredients and 10% certified organic ingredients.
  • There is little to no staining on the skin. Since ammonia can open up the pores of the skin and increase staining, you will not get that with this colour line.
  • No smell. Because of it’s organic ingredients and because there is no ammonia (which is what produces that strong, eye-watering odour) it has a pleasant, herbal scent.
  • Irritation on the skin and burning on the scalp is greatly reduced due to the top grade, pharmaceutical grade peroxide which is used, alongside the lower levels of chemicals.
  • There is a reduced risk of allergic reaction. OCS uses the lowest level of PPDs (para-phenylenediamine/pigment) possible to effectively colour the hair:                                            OCS average is 0.6% (some shades as low as .06%),  as opposed to traditional colour which is 3 – 6%.
  • All of their products contain certified organic materials, most of the raw materials are naturally based, and there is only a small amount of synthetics used when no natural alternatives are available.
  • Resorcinol is NOT used in Organic Color Systems. It is a highly effective color pigment BUT IT IS HIGHLY TOXIC.
  • Maintains the hair’s essential moisture and protein levels, so the hair is not damaged by the coloring process, which also can make the colour last longer with less fading. This colour line by far produces the most beautiful, shiny colour we have ever experienced!
  • They have recently announced that are removing Propylene Glycol from their professional salon products and replacing it with a certified organic ingredient, Propanediol, derived from the sugars found in corn kernels.

Just to toot their horn a bit more, here are some other reasons why we like these guys!:

OCS is also committed to striving to achieve the following:

  • Making use of environmentally efficient energy resources (solar energy, low energy lighting, industrially efficient manufacturing procedures).
  • Ensuring that their employees are sufficiently equipped (tools and training) to minimize the effect that their activities have on the environment.
  • Reducing the environmental impact of their products through all stages of their life cycle (design, manufacturing, packaging & distribution, and end-customer use & disposal).
  • According to the Company, they are working with Eco-cert to obtain certification for their products which takes into account the raw materials used and the process of how the products are made.

We can go on and on…but we won’t. Overall, it`s a great company and a great product. Period.

Semi-Permanent/Deposit Only Colour- ammonia and PPD free

Besides being potentially the only option for those with severe allergies, semi-permanent colour is great for those who don’t want to alter their own colour. What this means is that the natural hair colour is untouched and when this product fades out it simply goes back to its natural state. Not all semi-permanent colours are free of chemicals, but there are 100% natural choices available. This is a better option for those with extreme allergic reactions to most colours, even those with a minimal chemical content. 100% natural semi-permanent colours are allergy free for those allergic to the typical chemicals found in most other hair colour lines. However, because it can only coat but not change the natural hair colour, there are limitations:

  • It cannot cover grey hair 100%. You can get fairly good blending with some hair types, but with some resistant grey hair it is extremely difficult to get any deposit. We can’t guarantee the coverage.
  • You cannot lighten the hair with a semi-permanent colour. Because it does not contain the ingredients that help to lift out the natural hair colour, you can’t make the hair lighter at all.
  • You can’t obtain bright or red tones unless the natural hair colour is light to start with. On brunette hair you can only go darker and/or add a different tone to the hair. If the hair is light enough, you could get a fairly rich, vibrant red, but the darker the hair the less red shows.

We have a few different lines we carry that are completely natural–no chemicals added! There are the well-known Henna’s of course, but you get very limited colours and mostly red tones with this product. It is not known to cover grey hair at all. There are also other (we think better!), vegetable-based colours that have a wider range of shades to choose from and leave the hair looking shiny and healthy. We have had some good results with grey blending with these colours, especially if the client is darkening their hair. The darker you go the more grey coverage you can get.

 The Future of Colour

A few innovative companies have proven that it is possible to achieve the same results with lower levels of chemicals, but the majority of hair colour producers still continue to use the same formulas rather than go through the more costly avenue of changing. Some are making small steps to appease the crowds, but simply making a product “ammonia free” is not enough.

With the ongoing controversy surrounding hair dyes, the ever-growing incidence of allergic reactions and the easy access to information on this topic, more and more consumers are looking for alternatives to the toxic chemicals present in traditional hair colour. When the demand increases, companies will have no choice but to make their products more safe to compete with those that are blazing the trail. It’s up to the consumer to force their hand.