Top 3 Reasons Why We Pre-Shampoo Before A Color Service


Surprised That We Shampoo Before a Color Treatment?

Read on to learn why it has become a standard practice of ours.

Many years ago, when I first started in the hair industry, no one would have ever imagined being pre-shampooed before a hair color service.

The practice was never heard of back then, mostly out of fear of scalp irritation due to the ammonia content in hair color. But I should also mention that, back then, stylists and clients smoked in the salon during the services, and as an assistant, I was taught to use the left over cigarette ashes by dipping the corner of a damp towel into the ashtray to remove color stains from the client’s hairlines, which no one ever minded or questioned. Since then, thankfully, we have evolved as humans and so has the hair color service.


Today, the brands we choose to work with contain very little or no ammonia, as the quality of the ingredients does the hard work and there is no need to use a product with such high ammonia. Some hair color products, especially ones purchased over the counter, can contain up to 23% ammonia. This is not only damaging to the hair itself, but can be very irritating to the scalp as well. The products we choose to use, if they have ammonia, may contain between 1 and 4%, and are buffered in a cream and herbal base that further soothe and protect the scalp and hair.

Clients are usually surprised and a bit leery the first time being shampooed before a color service.

However, when the reasons are understood, they agree that it makes a lot of sense. The discipline of spending a few extra minutes to pre-shampoo has proven to be a valuable practice and one of the reasons for the success of our color business. There are so many reasons to pre-shampoo, but here are our top three.

Reason #1 -

Most importantly, hair is dirty. It is a protective covering for us that collects dust, lint, pollution, and other debris found in our environment. There is sebum, which is produced naturally to coat and condition our hair. There are conditioners, sprays, waxes, mousses, pomades, and everything else that we choose to layer on to our hair - the better ones being shampoo soluble and the rest of them, not so much. If we choose not to shampoo first, the color will be applied over top of all of these things and the molecules will have to work very hard to get to where they need to go in the time that they have to get there, which will certainly limit the amount of product that actually penetrates deep enough to be long lasting. It may look great when you leave the salon, but may fade out quickly because it only made it under the first layer of cuticle rather than deep down in to the cortex layer, where it is supposed to be.


Reason #2 -

is based on the wet-dry sponge theory. Moisture attracts moisture through capillary action. The water molecules left in the hair give the color molecules a vehicle to ride on deep in to the cortex of the hair which will result in richer, longer lasting hair color.

Reason #3 -

is the fact that water is a natural porosity equalizer and helps balance out the absorption of the color molecules across the surface. Hair can have many different porosities along the same strand, given age, past color services, and exposure to outside elements. The water molecules left in the hair will level the field, slowing down absorption on more porous regions resulting in more even color distribution.


Time well-spent

We feel that the few extra minutes it takes to do a pre-shampoo service is not an inconvenience, but well worth the effort.

Thanks to progress and a higher quality of ingredients, the hair color service has evolved from what it once was. We feel that the few extra minutes it takes to do a pre-shampoo service is not an inconvenience, but well worth the effort.

As a client on the receiving end, you can have confidence in knowing that the process we have put in place will result in beautiful hair color that is healthy, long lasting, and radiant.