Can cream peroxide developers condition the hair?

Q: Some cream peroxide developers claim to add conditioning to the hair during the coloring process. Is that true? Thank you Dr. Said. Kim, Bellevue, WA

A:  The major role that peroxide plays during the coloring process is to oxidize dye molecules and develop the color. It also lifts some natural color from the hair under higher pH. Most of the chemical ingredients that are added to liquid peroxide to give it a creamy texture are derived from fatty acids. As such, cream peroxide may give the impression of adding conditioning and/or detangling to the hair. However, in order for a product to be considered a conditioner, it should be substantive (i.e. should bind to some degree) to the hair after rinsing. This is not the case with cream peroxide. As soon as it is rinsed off the hair any perception of conditioning is lost. Therefore, simple cream peroxides are not conditioners. Color chemists usually add the conditioning molecules exclusively in the color bottle or tube. After all, the peroxide is rarely used alone.

In general, adding too many ingredients to the developer can also have a diminishing effect on color deposit. In terms of color deposit alone, liquid peroxide is unsurpassed. But many hair-coloring products are designed to work with cream developers for optimal consistency, hold and mixture aesthetics.