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What is hair color with keratin?

Hair color has come a long way over the years. Today there are many options when it comes to changing your hair color, from permanent dyes to semi-permanent and temporary colors. One of the latest advancements in hair color is the development of keratin hair color. This innovative new hair color not only deposits rich, vibrant color, but also helps strengthen and repair hair in the process.

What is Keratin?

Keratin is a fibrous protein that is the main structural component of hair, nails and skin. It is what gives hair its strength and structure. Keratin is formed by chains of amino acids that bind together to form the tough, rigid material. There are three main types of keratin found in the human body:

  • Kertain 1 – Found in the outer layer of skin
  • Keratin 2 – Found in skin and nails
  • Keratin 3 – Found in hair

Keratin essentially acts like a protective barrier for the hair and skin. It helps seal in moisture and nutrients while keeping out environmental aggressors. Over time, keratin can become damaged through things like heat styling, chemical treatments, sun exposure and general wear and tear. This degradation of keratin leads to dry, brittle, weak hair that is prone to breakage.

How Keratin Hair Color Works

Keratin hair colors aim to deposit rich color while rebuilding damaged keratin in the hair. They work by including key proteins, such as hydrolyzed keratin, wheat protein and soy protein, in the color formula. These proteins are small enough to penetrate into the hair shaft during the coloring process. Once inside the hair, they bind to keratin chains and help repair areas of damage. The proteins fill in gaps and holes in the keratin structure, essentially rebuilding it from the inside out.

In addition to protein, keratin hair colors also include conditioning ingredients like jojoba oil, argan oil and shea butter. These nourish hair strands and improve elasticity for stronger, softer hair. Keratin colors may also contain a small amount of peroxide or other developers which open the cuticle to allow the proteins and pigments to penetrate.

The result is hair that is not only vibrantly colored, but also restored and renewed. Over time, consistent use of keratin hair color can markedly improve the strength, shine and manageability of damaged locks.

Benefits of Keratin Hair Color

There are many advantages that keratin hair coloring offers compared to traditional permanent and semi-permanent dyes:

  • Strengthens and repairs – Keratin hair color nourishes hair and rebuilds bonds while depositing color for healthier, shinier hair.
  • Long lasting color – Keratin creates a strong bond with hair strands to provide color that lasts 4-6 weeks.
  • Minimal fade – The deep penetration of keratin color leads to less fading and bleeding over time.
  • Multi-tonal coloring – Keratin can create subtle, blended highlights and lowlights in one step.
  • Ammonia-free – Most keratin colors do not contain ammonia, resulting in less hair damage.
  • Less odor – Keratin colors have a milder odor compared to traditional permanent hair dye.
  • Versatility – Keratin color can be used on all hair types and textures.
  • Customizable – Many keratin color lines allow for custom blending to create unique, personalized shades.
  • Gray coverage – Keratin hair colors provide excellent gray coverage that blends seamlessly with natural color.
  • Safe for retouch – Keratin color can safely be used to touch up roots every 4-6 weeks.

How is Keratin Hair Color Different from Permanent Dye?

Keratin Hair Color Permanent Hair Dye
Deposits pigment while repairing bonds inside the hair Only deposits color without strengthening
Uses lower levels of developer Uses high peroxide developer around 30 vol
Free of ammonia Contains ammonia to open cuticle
Mild odor Strong, unpleasant odor
No skin irritation for most Can cause skin irritation and allergy
Subtle, multi-tonal results Uniform, opaque coverage
Minimal damage to hair Can be damaging to hair over time

The main difference between keratin hair color and permanent dye comes down to the ingredients and how they interact with the hair. While permanent dye only deposits pigment, keratin color uses proteins to actually repair bonds within the hair strand. This results in stronger, healthier hair overall.

Types of Keratin Hair Colors

There are a few different types and forms of keratin hair color available:

  • Permanent creme color – This is the most common keratin hair color. The permanent creme formula provides lasting gray coverage and all-over color. It gently swells the cuticle to deposit color and proteins inside the cortex.
  • Demi-permanent color – Demi-keratin colors last 4-12 shampoos and provide a glossy deposit of translucent color while conditioning hair. They use very low peroxide levels.
  • Highlifting color – Keratin highlift shades produce up to 2-3 levels of lift while depositing color and proteins. Great for subtle highlights.
  • Gloss treatments – Standalone glossing treatments can be done in between color services to refresh color, boost shine and smooth the cuticle.
  • Root touch-up – Some keratin color lines offer root touch-up formulas designed to precisely blend away new growth in between salon visits.
  • Toners – Keratin toners help perfect and enhance the shade after coloring. They come in an array of shades to customize color results.

Within each formula there is a wide selection of shades from natural to vibrant. Most keratin color lines also allow stylists to intermix shades to create customized colors.

Keratin vs Protein-Enhanced Semi-Permanent Color

In addition to permanent keratin color, there are also protein-enhanced semi-permanent hair colors. These are a step below keratin color in terms of longevity and reparative abilities, but still aim to improve hair health:

Keratin Hair Color Protein Semi-Permanent Color
Penetrates cortex for permanent results Coats cuticle for temporary color
Uses low peroxide developer No developer needed
Longer lasting up to 6 weeks Short term lasting 4-12 shampoos
Repairs moderate damage Improves manageability
Can lighten hair No lightening, only toning
Ammonia-free; less odor Typically contains ammonia
Higher cost service Lower cost option

While protein semi-permanents add beneficial proteins, true keratin hair color has the most reparative benefits. However, semi-permanents are a good maintenance option between keratin coloring services.

The Coloring Process

Getting your hair colored with keratin is a relatively simple salon service. Here is an overview of the basic process:

  1. Hair is shampooed and towel dried to remove oils and impurities.
  2. For permanent and highlift colors, a protein-infused developer cream is mixed into the formula to gently open the cuticle and catalyze the color.
  3. The customized keratin color is applied from roots to ends and allowed to process for 25-45 minutes.
  4. The keratin color remains on the hair while a nourishing protein conditioner is applied on top and allowed to process.
  5. After rinsing thoroughly, a keratin smoothing treatment and blowout typically complete the service.
  6. The hair is left shiny, strong and full of vibrant color.

To extend the longevity of the color and continue strengthening hair, a sulfate-free shampoo and keratin conditioning treatments are recommended at home. Roots can be safely re-colored every 4-6 weeks to maintain results.

Maintenance and Fading

One of the biggest benefits of keratin hair color is that it begins fading gracefully. Rather than having stark regrowth or banding as the color fades out, keratin colors tend to soften naturally. Hair is left looking shiny and healthy. Still, a maintenance program is recommended:

  • Use a sulfate-free, color-safe shampoo and conditioner to minimize fading.
  • Shampoo less frequently, only 2-3 times per week.
  • Rinse hair with cool water and limit heat styling to preserve color.
  • Apply a weekly hydrating hair mask to boost moisture.
  • Use leave-in treatments with UV filters to prevent oxidation from the sun.
  • Get a root touch-up every 4-6 weeks to refresh growth.
  • Get a gloss treatment every 6-8 weeks to revitalize color.

By following these simple steps, you can make keratin hair color last longer. Schedule regular salon visits for root touch-ups and glossing services. A keratin-infused color preservation shampoo can also help maximize color retention at home.

Cost and Pricing

On average, keratin hair coloring costs between $150-$250 per session. However, pricing varies widely based on:

  • Your natural hair length and thickness
  • Whether coloring just the roots or all-over color
  • If any other services are bundled, like glossing or smoothing
  • The salon’s pricing structure
  • Geographic location and local market rates
  • Experience level of the colorist

In general, keratin hair color is priced at a premium compared to traditional permanent color. However, the benefits in hair health and condition often make the investment worthwhile for many. Book a consultation with a skilled salon professional to get a precise price quote.

Ideal Candidates

While keratin hair color is suitable for most hair types, it provides the most dramatic improvements on damaged or over-processed hair. Here are some ideal candidates who will benefit the most from keratin color services:

  • Bleached or highlighted hair – Keratin helps rejuvenate porous, damaged hair from lightening services.
  • Styling damage – Heat tools and constant styling can leave hair weak. Keratin rebuilds bonds.
  • Chemically straightened hair – Keratin helps smooth and strengthen hair after chemical relaxing services.
  • Frizzy, unruly hair – Keratin tames frizz and improves manageability.
  • Dry, brittle hair – Keratin color restores hydration and elasticity.
  • Coarse, thick hair – Keratin helps strengthen and smooth the cuticle.
  • Curly hair – Keratin enhances definition, fights frizz and boosts moisture.

These hair types stand to benefit the most from incorporating the reparative properties of keratin into the coloring process. Even hair in good condition can see improvements in smoothness, shine and long term viability.

Aftercare and Home Maintenance

Proper aftercare is important for extending the results of any keratin hair coloring service. Here are some tips for maintaining keratin hair color at home:

  • Use a sulfate-free, color-safe shampoo and conditioner.
  • Shampoo less often, only 2-3 times per week.
  • Rinse with cool water and minimize direct heat on hair.
  • Apply a weekly reparative hair mask or deep conditioner.
  • Avoid chlorinated pools and saltwater to prevent fading.
  • Detangle gently starting from the bottom to prevent breakage.
  • Sleep on a satin pillowcase to minimize friction.
  • Use UV protecting products before sun exposure.
  • Get regular trims to prevent split ends.
  • Use a keratin-infused styling cream for heatless styling.

You may also purchase professional keratin treatments to use at home in between salon visits. This will reinforce the strengthening benefits of the keratin hair color.

The Takeaway

Keratin hair color gives you the best of both worlds – beautifully vibrant, long lasting color plus stronger, repaired hair. The infusion of proteins rebuilds hair from the inside out for noticeably improved texture and shine. While more costly than a traditional color, keratin hair coloring pays off with multi-dimensional color, minimized fading between services and hair that looks and feels healthier. With the right aftercare, keratin color helps hair look its very best.