Permanent vs. Demi-permanent (deposit only) hair color

Q: I was contacted by a company who said I could cut my hair color inventory in half if I used their hair color. Is it possible to turn a permanent ammoniated hair color into a demi-permanent (deposit-only) hair color by simply utilizing a special developer? Pamela, Del Mar, CA

A:  I do not think that this is completely true for the following reasons: 1) When we talk about deposit-only hair color, we mean that there is little or no lift associated with the color application. In order for this to happen, there should be minimal alkalinity in the system, and the volume of peroxide should be reduced because we know that the combination of alkalinity (such as ammonia) and peroxide generate lift. 2) Some dyes may not come out true to shade at the lower pH. Some dye combinations deliver one shade at alkaline pH and a different shade at a neutral or acidic pH. Color formulations designed for permanent color lines will be different from those designed for demi-permanent lines.

There are several products on the market which deliver deposit-only color because these products are formulated with low alkalinity and low volume peroxide. In the case of the company that contacted you, their special developer may have enough acidity to neutralize the ammonia in the color. Of course, the ultimate proof of the inaccuracy of the claim is to put that company’s claims to the test. I suggest you take a level 6 natural brown of their permanent line and use it both, with their regular developer and with their special developer. Two things you should watch for: First, that there is no lift when the special developer is used (otherwise the color may not called demi-permanent) ; and Second, that the two shades are complete match.