Dyeing hair is as much a science as it is an art form. After precisely measuring ingredients, a colorist coats hair with a chemical mixture, which typically contains ammonia and hydrogen peroxide, that causes the follicles to open and the dye molecules to be deposited within. The seemingly straightforward process has actually taken decades to perfect, and stylists still look for new ways to give their clients the color of their dreams. And as more individuals lean toward a green lifestyle, beauty trends follow—more salons are beginning to offer newly formulated dyes that are organic, ammonia-free, or naturally derived. Here are some Chicago salons embracing chemical-free color alternatives.
Salon Soca | Lincoln Park
The most basic form of organic hair dye is henna, made from a plant that produces a rich red-orange color. Salon Soca, however, can produce a variety of brown and black shades by using specialized henna dyes. The dye is gentle—it coats, rather than penetrates, the follicle—but its results are lasting.
Splendor Organic Salon & Spa | Norridge
Though the decor may be glamorous at this Norridge salon, stylists keep their services simple by using vegan, cruelty-free, and eco-friendly Organic Color Systems. The ammonia-free, oil-based formulation allows hair to naturally absorb dye molecules while imparting rich shine. An added bonus: the absence of chemicals keeps Splendor smelling fresh.
Leader Hair Salon | Portage Park
Leader Hair Salon also uses ammonia-free dyes from Organic Color Systems, applied by certified Organic Color Systems hair colorists with an expert knowledge of the brand. These specialists are more than happy to explain why OCS dyes provide thorough coverage without damaging hair. Hint: it has to do with formulations that are free of parabens, ammonia, formaldehyde, SLS, and animal products.
Mera Natural Hair & Body | Lincoln Park
Sisters Meredith and Sara Jackson exclusively use Simply Organic beauty products at this boutique Lincoln Park spa. The family-owned company has spent more than a decade perfecting dyes infused with naturally moisturizing olive-leaf extract and olive oil. And since the formulations release fewer gases into the atmosphere than their chemical counterparts, clients can rest assured knowing they’re caring for both their hair and the environment.
Salon Echo | Edgewater
Salon Echo is all about sustainability, from interiors made of recycled materials to services that rely on Aveda’s botanical-based beauty products. Full disclosure: despite being petrochemical-free and created using wind power, Aveda’s Full Spectrum Hair Color is made with a small percentage of chemicals. Understanding that may concern some clients, the salon also offers an ammonia-free glaze that leaves strands glistening with semipermanent color.
Delle Amiche | Gold Coast
Though it does offer traditional coloring services, Delle Amiche salon also revamps looks using L’Oréal’s INOA (Innovation No Ammonia). Believed to be the first ammonia-free dye to spark interest in high-end salons, this well-known brand is designed to evenly color hair while hydrating for up to six weeks post-treatment. The secret? An oil-based system that effectively yet gently deposits the dye into strands.