Hair color and the science behind it is something humans have been exploring for centuries. So, the urge to change up the color of your hair is nothing new!

There is evidence that ancient Egyptians shaved their heads and then dyed the hair, curling the strands and creating elaborate braided wigs. Henna, indigo and saffron have been used for thousands of years as temporary coloring methods. And some researchers even discovered that Roman and Greek women may have found permanent hair dye solutions.

Over the years finding the perfect color often involved hazardous chemicals. Until William Henry Perkin happened upon the formula we now use for modern hair dying techniques! The English chemist was actually working on experiments related to malaria medication. In the process he accidentally dyed his hair a mauve color that not only had never been seen before, but was also vivid, and lasted longer than any dye used at that time.

The rest is history, and the truth is that changing the color of hair has evolved into a form of confidence, self-expression, and creativity.

Many coloring products work in difference ways, but today’s professionals typically use a variation of one of these standard methods:


This temporary hair dye method allows clients to enjoy a new color for a brief period of time before it eventually washes away. Most of these types of products deposit acidic dyes onto the outside of the hair shafts, applying a new color. Some other products actually use tiny pigment molecules that move inside the hair shaft, depositing non-permanent color. What these methods don’t use is ammonia, meaning the hair shafts remain closed during the process. This way the natural hair color remains intact.


Hair lightening, often referred to as bleaching, is often the first step in the process of permanent hair color. Bleach reacts with the melanin in hair shafts, creating a chemical reaction called oxidation that irreversibly removes the color. The reason why most bleached hair turns yellow is because the protein that makes up hair called keratin, is naturally yellow.

Permanent Hair color:

As we mentioned above, most professionals use hair lightening before starting the permanent color to make sure there is a good base to build off of. The process of permanently changing the color of a client’s hair involves using ammonia to open the outer layer of the hair shaft, called a cuticle. Peroxide is used to remove any remaining color and break up the shaft’s chemical bonds, and a new permanent color is deposited into the cortex of each hair strand. Then special conditioners are used to close the cuticles and seal in the new color!

Want to learn more about coloring hair? Contact our admissions department or take a virtual tour of our campus to see if Duvall’s School of Cosmetology is right for you.