Highlight Timelapse

So I’ve started to record and make little timelapses of the hair processes I do on the day to day at work! Here’s one of my first ones with highlights!

I used Davine’s A New Color Lightener, at a 10 and 20 volume and toned with Mask with Vibrachrom with 9/11 (10g) and 10/12 (23g), if you want specifics feel free to contact me. 🙂


In Regards to Pantene… (Product Problems and the Client Conundrum)

In March 2016 a stylist posted online about a situation in which after he applied foils to a client’s hair it started to smoke and their hair began to “melt” off. The stylist blamed the situation on Pantene, a popular home care product advertised on television and endorsed by celebrities of all ranges. The story went viral, as expected when someone’s hair legitimately looks like it might have caught on fire during a routine highlighting. The company, in a similarly predictable move, denied the allegations, claiming that there’s nothing in their formulas that’s not in other hair products.

There’s a couple different aspects in this story to consider, the first is liability- neither party are claiming responsibility for what happened to this poor woman’s hair. Are both just trying to pass the blame unto the other to avoid being persecuted by the woman in question who has the misfortune of being the subject of this problem? Are both to blame?

The second aspect is time- this happened in 2004, a time where home hair products were reaching a pinnacle point of massive celebrity endorsements and TV commercials. (Now of course this is second hand for companies and for the people who watch commercials) both home hair care products and the products stylists use have come a long way since then. Chemical formulations have been adjusted, and science has improved the quality of our lines and as well as our techniques.

Let’s launch into the thick of the problem- who is the client suppose to trust? How are consumers going to be able to protect themselves from situations like this? And also- what in the world happened? Pantene claims that’s there’s nothing in there shampoos that isn’t in other shampoos- well inherently that is wrong, there are plenty of shampoos on the market without any of the ingredients in Pantene’s formula, especially any kind natural shampoo or conditioner. It’s not untrue necessarily- the obviously meant that many products, especially commercial lines, use the same ingredients. So let’s take a look at whats inside them-

I’ve chosen to use Pantene Pro V Shampoo as it seems like one of the more common shampoos used by consumers in regards to Pantene.

Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate and Ammonium Laureth Sulfate: these are the second and third ingredients listed in Pantene Pro V, these are both surfactants and help give lather to the hair. These are very common ingredients, and while not necessarily inherently wrong, are higher in alkalinity and so can be rougher on the hair. Many companies are choosing to omit sulfates from their formulas as they are both drying and pore clogging.

Sodium Chloride- is actually just salt. I know sounds way scarier, but it’s actually a very common preservative

Cocamide MEA- A mixture of fatty acids amides that are produced from the fatty acids in coconut oil- it is most commonly used as a foaming agent and nonionic surfactant. (Helps make your shampoo lather). However it is also a known carcinogen.

Dimethicone- this is a silicone based compound that helps give slickness to the hair. It’s popular in the cosmetics industry for more then just hair as it provides an even, lubricating coating. One can be hard pressed to find hair care items without this chemical in it, it’s even in diaper rash creams to aid in soothing the skin.

Fragrance- This is a frustrating ingredient as it can refer to some 3,000 different chemicals that could be used as a fragrance. However because they’re considered trade secrets, manufacturers are not required to disclose the chemical list for how they created this fragrance.

**Panthenol- Derived from vitamin B5, this can be found in a lot of cosmetics such as moisturizers, conditioners, hair sprays etc. It is also used as an emollient, spreading evenly over the hair and creating a thin film that helps the cuticle lay down. One of the results of having a film like this is the slip it provides, aiding as a detangler. One could argue that the entire line was built from the power of this ingredient.

Panthenyl Ethyl Ether- An antistatic, this makes the hair more manageable and reduces frizz by neutralizing any electrical charge on the surface. It imparts suppleness, shine and gloss.

Cetyl Alcohol- generally used as an emollient, emulsifier, or thickening agent, they’re also used as conditioning agents due to being non-volatile- unlike their cousins isopropyl alcohol.

Polyquaternium-10- A cationic (positively charged) polymer that helps neutralize any negative charges and helps hair lie flat. (i.e. defrizzer)

Sodium Citrate- Generally in the cosmetics industry this is used as an emulsifier, however some other properties that are quite interesting are it’s ability to buffer changes in acidity. What this means is that a solution would have to be slightly more acidic to result in an overall change in the pH of the solution. Sodium Citrate itself will actually raise the pH slightly by itself. (remember we do have sulfates however that result in a higher alkalinity in the hair)

Sodium Benzoate- This chemical is derived in benzoic acid, a very effective preservative, however one that is not that soluble in cold water. You will find that sodium benzoate on the other hand (which is water soluble at any temperature) is used as a preservative across the board, from shampoo to soda. It prevents bacteria from forming, and when ingested is transported directly to the liver where it is filtered right back out via our excretory system.

Ammonium Xylenesulfonate- This is used as a surfactant, increasing the ability of water to dissolve other molecules, making it a helping hand to removing dirt and grime from the hair.

Disodium EDTA- One interesting quirk of this chemical is it’s ability to remove metal ions from water, making it effective even in places that use hard water.

PEG-7M- This is used for binding, emulsion and adjusting the viscosity in a product. A contested but forgotten chemical in the industry as they *can* (not are but can) be derived from incredibly toxic and cancerous materials like ethylene oxide, which is a military grade poisonous gas. On top of that on less jump-scare note, it’s also a skin irritant.

Citric Acid- In shampoo, a small amount is all you need, as citric acid can actually open up the cuticle layer of the hair and result in frizziness. It’s purpose lies in a reaction is has called “chelation”- it binds well to minerals and metals, removing excess build up from hair.

Methylchloroisothiazolinone- To start, it’s a cytotoxin. Meaning that it is toxic to cells. This is already a red flag- in fact the first study published about it as a contact allergen was in 1988. In fact in 2013 the BBC ran an entire episode on Watchdog about the dangers of the preservative and the rise of severe allergic reactions happening to people in the UK. It’s purpose is purely as a preservative, preventing the developments of microorganisms in products.

Methylisothiazolinone- Used in conjunction with Methylchloroisothiazolinone, also a skin irritant, also a preservative.

You’ll notice I have marked one ingredient above, panthenol. For some time there was a scare that these ingredients were awful for the hair, and as the culprit damaging the hair in shampoo. Thing is, panthenol is actually a perfectly good chemical. It neutralizes electric static, stopping frizz, imparts volume, and is great for the skin- however part of why it is good for the hair is the light film it leaves on the hair, sealing the cuticle layer down. There have been no studies showing that use over time results in a heavy build up of a “waxy layer”, a term held onto by many people, and the chemical retains no similarities chemically to wax.

On that note, most of the studies that have been conducted on it have been by the very companies trying to prove it’s use isn’t negative to begin with. Going into research with a bias is never going to have truly objective results. And when looking for these studies I was hard pressed to find more than a small handful of actual scientific studies, but plenty of heresay from other hairdressers, bloggers, and other people with either a point to prove one way or the other or have an interest in it due to their audience.

So if those are the ingredients we are dealing with, they aren’t great all around but none of them are quite going to be the culprit resulting in hair appearing as though to have “caught fire” and “smoke” inside the foils. It doesn’t mean it’s not possible, or that there are situations in which it can occur given the right environment, but I also wouldn’t peg it as the reason necessarily or that this would happen every time. There are a lot of factors to consider other than just the shampoo or conditioner used.

On the other hand, I can tell you from personal experience working with clients that use Pantene always give me more problems (especially with bonding) then clients who do not. The only shampoo I dislike more than Pantene is Head and Shoulders (but that’s for another day).

So now we have to look at the stylist- none of us were there, we do not know what the stylist used, or how long it was left on etc etc. But we can make some general assumptions-

If this is a basic highlight, we can guess the stylist used a 10 or 20 vol (3% or 6%) at most a 30 vol (9%) developer in their lightener. We’ll say it’s 20 on average. The average application time for a half head of highlights is under an hour. (Again, we’re giving the benefit of the doubt here- some stylists can pop in a half head of highlights in 20 min, some take the entire hour, everyone is different). We also don’t know the natural level or if the stylist was lifting over previous color. If we look at the post it seems pretty basic, and some reproduced since posts, it seems very basic, and that the stylist has been doing their hair for at least a year, which means that for the most part they know what’s been on the client’s hair, and most likely wouldn’t do anything to drastic or go to heavy handed with them.

According to the post, they foiled the hair out and then the client complained it was hot, prompting the stylist to check the foils. Upon feeling the heat of the foil, they opened it and smoke came out. After asking the usual questions of medication and product use etc, the only thing that had changed was that she had begun using Pantene for several months, which according the stylist, resulted in “the build up of parabens and plastic and silicones when it comes in-contact with a bleach or hi-lift color it reacts and the bleach will melt off the build up and becomes a very hot liquid and if it come in contact with skin it will cause a burn.”

So let’s get one thing straight- there are NO plastics in Pantene products. That is not a thing. There is also no actual wax. It does create a waxy like layer, but not actual wax. This is a very important difference.

Now there are a couple reasons you use foils- one is too keep it from touching the rest of the hair, so you get a nice clean look, and doesn’t leave any spots. The other is that it keeps the lightener or color from drying out, meaning it will process better/more evenly. The last most important reason is that it retains the heat making it process faster. This can also be a problem however, there have been many time I go to remove a foil and it’s hot, depending on how the ingredients in your lightener reacts with anything on your client’s hair you can end up with some surprises. Henna for example will melt the entire hair strand off when reacting with ammonia based lighteners, same with Feria due to the metallic based dye that they actually patented.

In the end, when it comes to using products on your hair, it’s a scary world for an uninformed consumer. No company is going to tell you all the potentially negative side effects, that would be bad advertising, and everyone’s combination of products, duration of use, and goals with their hair all effect what matters in that case. As someone who is allergic to many ingredients in hair products and who works with every hair texture and health from the kinkiest of curls to the straightest of the straight that drops a curl in a seconds, ingredients matter. But so does communication from my clients. If they don’t let me know, or fudge the truth a little about what they put on their hair, what they’ve done to it etc, then I can’t help create solutions. Looking into ingredients certainly matters for many consumers, but it’s easy to get scared, or have shock value that throws one off. In the end, trust your hair dresser. We have licenses for a reason. And on average, the products that can be bought in a CVS, Target etc are not going to be as high a quality as those purchased from a salon, or recommended by your stylist. That doesn’t mean they’re bad products, many of them are great! It all depends on your texture, hair goals, and budget.









A Brief History of Colorful Hair


As the trend of creating sunsets and vibrant abstract art on your head has slowly begun to fade, I was a bit reminiscent of the movement, and how as a teen, looking “like a parrot had shit on my head” (as my dad so lovingly told me when I was 13) was part of my identity. It reminded me of an article a friend and client had sent me not long before coloring their own hair.

The refinery29 piece focused heavily on celebrity use and the psychology of colorful hair. How blue had become the “ultimate beauty middle finger…” To start with just the first paragraph- they list the obsession with blue hair coming with Clementine’s character in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” 

Image result for clementine eternal sunshine

and how teens saw themselves in her- starting the trend, and while this did play a part in setting the stage for the Manic Pixie Dream Girl’s of Zach Braff’s dreams, it was not the starting point nor the only inspiration put into the celebrity dome or into Millennials’ minds to start coloring their hair as of late. Of course this article also focused specifically on the color blue, where as I’m going to look at colorful hair overall.


According to the article, the last two years have been seeing a large increase in women coloring their hair blue, which while true, has a much longer and richer history than the article went into and honestly includes not just the color blue. However I did feel that they did quite a comprehensive job of the history that blue had in society-

The history of the color blue begins as one that is demure and humble. According to Anne Varichon, an anthropologist specializing in the field of color and author of Colors: What They Mean And How To Make Them, blue held no real significance until the Middle Ages, when the color came to be associated with the Virgin Mary and was then eagerly adopted by the monied upper class as a signifier of wealth.

Since those early days, blue has gone through a multitude of iterations and associations, but the big turning point for the color’s modern representation was the creation of jeans in the middle of the 19th century. “It created an association between blue and work. But in the 1930s, jeans became synonymous with leisure and; in 1960, rebellion, with the hippie movement; and finally, youth, leading the color blue to become more and more significant,” says Varichon.

Because of how commonplace the color became, it evolved from a hue of decadence to one of conformity. “Today, the color blue, which has become consensual color: The color of the flags of international organizations and the one that any person who does not wish to be noticed wears — since, indeed, everyone wears it.” But Varichon notes that this conventional color gets decidedly unconventional when seen on the lips or hair.

(Megan McIntyre, November 14th, 2015)

This article while really interesting, left me feeling like there was a gap in the information about the history of colorful hair. I also felt when I looked up other articles that throughout there was a surprising lack of acknowledgement for the role that women of color played in the trend, I mean, how could you forget moment’s like Lil Kim’s VMAS wig? Here’s to history- and specifically how we came to this point where having “unicorn hair” is more widely acceptable.

It’s generally accepted that coloring hair began with the Egyptians, they would use henna, tumeric, red ochre, and a slew of other plant derived dyes to color their hair. Synthetic dyes and eventually color was invented in 1907 by Eugène Schueller- who founded L’Oreal. As it evolved through the ages bright colors made their first real debut with the punk movement in the 70s.

The Sex Pistols, who evolved in dismal early seventies Britain, debuted the signature 

Image result for Young John Lydon
Johnny Rotten aka John Lyndon

bright colored punk hair when they brought on front man John Lyndon, who was described by Jones as “[Coming] in with green hair… I liked his look. He had his ‘I Hate Pink Floyd’ T-shirt on, and it was held together with safety pins” (Lydon, John, Rotten, p. 74.)

The Sex Pistols later hit the world stage debuting Lyndon’s signature colored hair- which changed frequently. And while they didn’t produce much music, they impacted a whole generation and changed the course of both music and hair trends without even knowing it. Along with Lyndon was Jordon (Pamela Rooke- held largely responsible for essentially creating the London Punk look) who sported a platinum blonde bouffant, and Soo Catwoman who’s avant garde and shamelessly amazing do’ was often times colored bright shades with the “ears” of her remaining hair that signature contrasting black. At the time, these looks were not accepted by anyone who was not apart of the emerging punk scene. As said by Jordan herself- “I commuted for about two years. I had some real bad dos on the train. I had tourists trying to pay me for my

Jordan in front of portrait of herself by Simon Barker

photo…worse than that, mothers saying that I’m upsetting their children and debauching them and how dare I get on a train looking like that.” (Colegrave & Sullivan, Punk: A Life Apart, Cassell & Co, 2004, p.127.)

In New York where the punk scene flourished, sisters Tish and Snooky Bellomo started their own business and opened up Manic Panic in 1977- a boutique in the East Village serving out both vintage fashion and punk clothes designed by Tish. After performing in the scene for awhile and introducing both fans and friends to wild colors in hair through their own hair, they began to sell the dye out of their store- making it one of the first consumer available products to create the bright rainbow hair colors so intertwined in the punk community.

Tina Turner

Enter the 80’s, as punk gets watered down into glam metal and pop music, the rebellion of crazy hair hit a peak. Artists like Cyndi Lauper came out to play with bright orange hair and her signature yellow streak- she became a beacon for women trying to break the bonds of the conservative image. Tina Turner also surged, changing the look from the perfectly groomed and smooth do’s of the Supreme’s to bright highlights and hair that reached the heavens. If there was ever someone to describe the big hair and energy of the 80s, it was Turner.

As the 90’s rolled in, punk went into hiding, and the signature abrasively bright colors became more common. As many underground movements go from nothing to the celebrities choice fashion, as did punk. Kurt Cobain appeared with his ripe tomato hair, and the term grunge became a household term. I think it’s important to note here, that while the punk movement moved from a scene that no one “respectable” wanted anything to do with, too a look surrounded by consumerism, it became more common place for teens of this era to branch out of their expected norms and into more creative outlets. Many of their parents had been through the punk era in the

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Lil Kim at the 1999 VMAS

70s, and kids took note- still to this day there are people coloring their hair with kool aid. Manic Panic was worn by models on runways, celebrities, and before we knew it hair moved from big and permed to flat and straight. Lil Kim stepped out at the VMAS with her vibrantly purple wig and T-Boz’s signature blonde do’ kept everyone’s eyes on them, while Claire Danes appeared with her bob and signature red hair that became the uniform of indie girls everywhere.


As waif and natural became more and more popular so did the birth of the scene kids. Made popular through myspace, the skunk tail colors of horizontal stripes and big goofy layered hair made a comeback in an interesting meld of 90s and 80s looks. It involved stick straight hair teased into a rats nest akin to Amy Winehouse, with the cut being so layered, the bottom half would become thin and maybe 1/4 of the size of the top. The look wouldn’t be complete without some kind of bow or other accessory donning the top of head- just in case the size of the hair isn’t noticed. This was the early 2000’s version of a punk movement- disgruntled, angsty teens rebelling with heavy inspiration from 80’s.

The company Hot Topic made a large profit off of this- and still do. They carried clip in bright extensions for those who didn’t want to go the full route of coloring their 

Image result for early 2000s myspace scene kid
“Myspace Scene Kid”

hair- wether that was due to parents not allowing them too, being scared to do itthemselves, or just loving the idea of being able to change the color every day without damaging their hair. They also picked up lines like Manic Panic and Arctic Fox which became a staple for any kid doing their hair at home.

For a minute the trend of colored hair faded into the background as the ombre came into popularity in the late 2000s. An easy way for women strapped for cash to have a beautiful look but little to no maintenance, dip dying became an easy DIY and a common practice amongst women in their 20s-30s. However not much long afterward Nicki Minaj graced our lives with her signature absurdly beautiful and bright wigs. From pink to blue to every color and style you could think 

Image result for nicki minaj super bass
Nicki Minaj in her Super Bass video

of it, and not far behind was Rihanna with her perfectly on fire red locks. The resurgence of bright colors on women of color hadn’t been seen in pop culture since Lil Kim and it was impossible to ignore. While the trend had taken a slope downward, having these two powerhouses in the entertainment industry represent the ability for natural hair girls to wear whatever color they wanted was sounexpected that it shot the trend to popularity, and even the media didn’t quite know what to do with it.

So here we are in 2017, with sunset hair and mermaid hair falling into the back burner and balayage who’s presence had been building and growing since 2010 finally taking over as one of the most requested color services we do. Of course being

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Sarah Helwig // Hair color by Pamela Vigil

 from the Bay Area we are never short on beautiful colorful haired heads, and it’s becoming widely more accepted in the workplace to have colorful hair. I don’t 
personally think the colors have gone out of fashion, though you’ll notice with celebrities like Katy Perry and Halsey chopping off their hair the platinum blonde pixie has made a large comeback as well. But all of these styles are and trends can be traced back to one thing- the need/want to visibly rebel. So with that I leave you- keep rebelling, keep “giving the ultimate beauty middle finger” and do whatever makes you happy.

Shampoo- Why?

A trend called the “no poo” has been circulating for a while now, and I’ve been thinking of how to approach the subject for quite a bit. On one hand, you have a slew of benefits from it, on the other, you have people complaining it made their hair worse, and the detrimental effects it can have on certain types of hair. There’s no simple answer (is there ever?) but the least I can do is break it down for everyone to understand what’s going on with their heads and the stuff that grows out of it.

Shampoo- first off, what is it? Shampoo cleans and exfoliates the scalp removing oils and other product build up. This is incredibly important for a couple of reasons, the exfoliation helps keep a healthy scalp as well as prevent dandruff and dry scalp, while shampoo* itself tends to have a pH of around 4.5-5.5, which is the hair’s natural pH.

Sulfates is a short hand term for sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate, ingredients (in conjunction with a co-surfactant) that are generally responsible for the lathering effect in shampoo. In 1998 there was a study that supposedly linked sulfates to cancer, however that study has since been debunked. On that note- sulfates are not free of scrutiny. Sulfates are major pore cloggers as well as a common cause for dry scalp. 

However that isn’t to say that using a shampoo containing these ingredients will ruin your hair, if anything the worst that happens to most clients is that their hair will dry out a bit. Most people will have little to no problems from using products containing sulfates.

So what are the benefits of not shampooing? Your body does produce natural oils that are meant to be on your hair and on your skin. When you stop shampooing and only rinse the hair every so often with water, your body is able to regulate it’s oil production for what your hair needs. The oils that your body produce help keep the hair look healthy and shiny, often times though the initial first couple of weeks can be rough for people. It can take several weeks for the body to change it’s oil production, and getting accustomed to the feeling and habit of not shampoo-ing the hair are the hurdles that if you would have to jump.

That being said, after making it through that initial transition period, hair will begin to look shinier, over time you’ll find that you’ll have less split ends, and you’ll have successfully taken out step in your beauty routine.

In India, the first methods of shampooing were created by boiling several herbs together (such as Sapindus and dried Indian goosberry) and using the strained extract. Colonial traders in India indulged in a daily strip wash that included cleansing the hair and body massage- chāmpo (that’s where the name came from!) Upon returning to Europe they brought back these new ideas and called it shampoo.

Other early versions of shampoos derived from Indonesia, where the husks and straw of rice were burned to create an ash, which was then mixed with water to form a lather. Afterwards, the alkaline mixture would leave hair very dry, and so coconut oil was added to the hair to make it soft and give it shine.

Native American tribes in North America used extracts from plants as shampoo. Juniper berries were made into teas for skin problems as well as shiny hair, and it was even used on horses to give them a beautiful coat. The extract is actually still used in hair care products today. In Montana the  Cheyenne were known to use the wild mint plant as a hair oil, another group in British Columbia used the whole plant to create a hair dressing. Yucca was another plant used, but to prevent baldness and encourage hair growth. The roots would be soaked in warm water creating a wash.

The toddler stages of shampoo were actually quite similar to soap, stylists would boil shaving cream in water, add some herbs for shine and smell, and call it a day. The product we know today as shampoo was introduced by Proctor & Gamble in the mid 1930’s with Drene. The company even sponsored a variety show called Drene Times and claimed the new formula would silken hair.

So why the history lesson on shampoo? It’s important to know where shampoo originated; the cultures it came from are largely responsible for many of it’s European counterparts “discoveries”. Since the no-poo movement is brought up as being a way to go all natural, I feel it’s important to realize that we’ve been washing our long before there were synthetic formulas for it, and to note that we haven’t actually had shampoo for that long.

Shampooing varies person to person, I don’t feel that in todays world with the types of products that are put into hair, smog in the air, etc. that the no poo movement is an option for everyone. However aspects of it may be taken with a grain of salt- we as a society in general tend to over shampoo and over clean. We’ve become so hyper aware of our cleanliness that we have forgotten that our bodies produce sebum and other ‘nasties’ for a reason. 

To shampoo or not to shampoo? It’s up to you. But let’s stop calling it poo’ please.

*if the wording was not clear, many but certainly not all shampoos are a pH between 4.5-5.5



“Agar RAMBUT Selalu Sehat”. Kompas Cyber Media. 2004-04-11. Retrieved 2007-03-26.

Rahman, History of Indian Science, Technology and Culture at Google Books, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195646528, page 145

Khushwant Singh, Hymns of Guru Nanak, Orient Longman,ISBN 978-8125011613

Virginia Smith (2007), Clean: A History of Personal Hygiene and Purity, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0199297795

Victoria Sherrow, Encyclopedia of hair: a cultural history, 2006 s.v. “Advertising” p. 7.

“From Pert: Do You Wash and Go?”. Company Science Behind the Brands. Procter and Gamble. Archived from the original on 2007-02-16. Retrieved 2007-03-26.