Thursday, July 15, 2010


In my color career, hiding gray often meant utilizing ammonia-containing products for perfect coverage. There have been many attempts to manufacture a color treatment without this historically vital chemical, but no matter how great the claims were, the coverage really was never the same. Containing little or no ammonia, these products were thus gentler on the hair, but the results were invariably more of a "gray blending" effect rather than 100% coverage. For some clients this proved sufficient, while others opted for full coverage regardless of potential damage.

When INOA hair color hit the market earlier this year, there was a lot of publicity with claims of its ability to change hair color as we know it. The press it garnered was endless and both hairstylists and clients were waiting to see if the effect would back up all the buzz. Let me make this very clear: I do not use INOA. I will be addressing the topic from the research I have done for my clients and for hairstylists who have sent endless emails inquiring about this product. In my research, I've asked colleagues whom I've worked with in the past who have solid experience with INOA. Who better to ask than those actually using it, right?
The one thing we know for sure is that it covers gray and is safe to use on damaged hair. But because I have an extensive color clientele of cool brunettes and beige blondes, I needed to know if I could use these product to satisfy my clients and meet their coloring needs completely and safely.


As I began, my research entailed perusing images that were used in magazines, online and in brochures. I noticed the images were quite beautiful, with gold/red tones and very golden blondes. I decided to locate videos as well and found the same—warm golden or red heads of shiny, lustrous hair. There's nothing like a shiny head of hair with sparkling warm tones, but try selling that to the client who hates anything to do with warm, red or gold tones. In a perfect world it would be ideal if all clients were unafraid of warm tones, but in reality, some women would rather go gray than have hair with obvious red tones. And as we know you can achieve shiny hair color using other color brands " if you don't mind ammonia".

So the question is: Can INOA achieve cool brunettes and blondes without warm tones?

I asked several colorists working in salons that use INOA, and the feedback was uniform. Here's what a couple had to say:

"I'm still up and down with INOA. I think it's great for some clients (like those with very dry, overprocessed hair). In these cases, the hair looks and even feels amazing. I've never tried it on a blonde, though. I've seen one done by someone else and it was ehh.... Because you must emulsify the roots before rinsing, it's hard not to get the root color on the ends, and when doing a single process color on a blonde, this can be a problem. The results are a blonde that is too warm."

"I'm having a hard time getting blondes without golden tones. We're supposed to have a one-on-one with L'Oréal to learn how... I can't imagine that it's that complicated."

What I gathered from my research was that although INOA may be ammonia-free, gold tones are hard to avoid, especially with blonde hair. It's up to the client to decide which is more important: ammonia-free color or the absence of golden tones completely (either for a blonde or brunette).

As soon as the product was launched I began receiving questions from clients as to whether or not I would be using it. I explained to them that when this product was made available, the only way to see its functionality was to attend one of the demos. As hairstylists we often get opportunities to observe and as you can imagine, observing is often not enough: I prefer to get my hands in there and see what the product can actually do without having to take someone else's word for it. Furthermore, in order to use INOA one must purchase the entire color line. Keep in mind that this is by no means cheap (with over 50 shades total). In this economy, a guarantee that INOA performs exactly as publicized is crucial. The best guarantee is for the stylists themselves to play with the product a little. Some may argue that in order to use any new color you must buy the entire line; this may be true, but other color lines aren't making the claims attributed to INOA.

Here's what another colleague said:

"We didn't take the full class. Just got a demo and while I think it's an interesting product, I don't want to invest in the full line. So I think for now we're not going to go with it but rather wait to see if it delivers."

I will continue to research this color line and bring you feedback as my colleagues share their experiences with me. At the end of the day it's wonderful to have an ammonia-free product, but only time will tell if INOA lives up to its promises. And if I start using it you will be the first to know.

Thanks for reading.
Antonio Gonzales


Anonymous said...

My experience with Inoa has been absolutely horrible. I attended the class, bought the full line, and was thoroughly disappointed. Gray coverage is miserable, the color fades extremely fast, it is very difficult to control gold tones, and color outcomes are incredibly inconsistent. What's worse, much of their line does include ammonia. I applied their color to a client who was highly sensitive to ammonia and then used (as L'Oreal instructs me to) the Inoa Post shampoo which has a high level of Ammonia and she experienced a dramatic reaction for which I feel very responsible for.

This product should be removed from the market as it performs poorly and is misleading professionals through false advertising.

antonio gonzales said...

Thanks for that comment,it's helpful for us to all know as much as we can.

chloe said...

Thanks for this post! I just got my hair colored this weekend and tried the INOA. The only vibrant red with no purple/pink undertones was darker than what I wanted but the finished product looked pretty good. I was glad there was no noxious odor, but it was soooo itchy on my scalp! This evening I washed my hair and was surprised how much red was on the white tee-shirt I dried my hair with. In a few weeks I will see how it turns out. I already had 3 different permanent colors on my head so I wanted to go a safer route to get some red hair in my life...

I came upon your blog through the site because I was looking for tips to preserve the red, and I will be stocking up on glazes! Thank you so much for the information you are sharing with the public

chloe said...

Oh God Oye! I just read your profile and see you're a Trini! now I really love your blog, lol.

John Massers said...

Unfortunately, the INOA line is packed with ammonia. If any salon professional actually read the ingredients label for INOA they would see that "Ammonia Hydroxide" is listed on the pre and post shampoo in large amounts. Then, simply look up "Ammonia Hydroxide" in Google or Wikipedia to find that it is simply ammonia and water. Pretty sad how easy it is for a big company like L'Oreal to take advantage of unwitting hairdressers isn't it? Try Organic Color Systems or Henna instead for something that is truly ammonia free.

Anonymous said...

how is it that people can say " packed with ammonia" ? It isn't packed with ammonia any more than it has zero ammonia. the percentage or amount of ammonia is NOT LISTED. so where are these people getting their numbers or are they just making it up -- just as L'oreal has made up that it is ' ammonia free". ammonium hydroxide is listed in the middle of the ingredient listing so it isn't packed with ammonia. if anything, like so many of these beauty products , WATER has the largest proportion in terms of ingredient. Water appears first in just about every label of every similar product. but that is another

how about some reality here: the label is confusing at best and a lie at worst.

it is more expensive than other products. true.

it take 3-8 minutes longer to prepare on first time then 2-3 minutes longer to prepare on second. that is true.

it gives no ammonia odor. that is true.

customers love this no ammonia odor. that is true.

women in the study comparing wella to inoa were much happier with inoa in terms of hair results. that is true.

people who are sensitive to any amounts of ammonia do tend to get an itchy scalp. this itchiness lasts a day or two. this is true.

their label should say " ammonia odor free" or something.

Sarah Perterson said...

It has taken me 6 months to recover from the client loss that INOA has caused me. This is a horrible product and trashed client's hair after their second visit. The POST shampoo, which you have to use after processing, has the purest ammonia smell and it says it contains ammonia right on the bottle. This, right after I sell it as this great new non-ammonia hair color. I tool a different route and went with another non-ammonia line and love it.

antonio gonzales said...

Sarah thank you for this we need all the help we can get to educate our clients.

antonio gonzales said...

Thank you so much for bring forth this helpful info on INOA hair color. I'm happy that you have had god experiences with it and wish you continued success.
I myself still do not use it but I do use other Loreal products. I have been introduced to it when consulting in salons and the reviews are still so mixed. It seems like the larger percentage trust using Keratin (which has gotten very bad reviews)over using this color for the first time or ever again.

I have also had salons use it just to charge more money to clients for their service rather that using it for the reasons you expressed.

I also know of salons who were offered to use it in exchange for free press, but thats hearsay or maybe just advertising.

What ever the case maybe, I am happy to provide a platform for all to share their experiences,

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Just bought 2 tubes of 4brv to see how I liked it for my hair, as our supplier just got it.
I searched the web and nothing bit bad reviews. Not taking a chance I am going to return it and just stick to matrix

Anonymous said...

I just and my hair done with Inoa and had a terrible reaction. My scalp felt hot, itchy and very uncomfortable. I read up on the ingredients and will never use or recommend this product. I totally agree with this prior comment by a hair stylist:

"My experience with Inoa has been absolutely horrible. ..... What's worse, much of their line does include ammonia. I applied their color to a client who was highly sensitive to ammonia and then used (as L'Oreal instructs me to) the Inoa Post shampoo which has a high level of Ammonia and she experienced a dramatic reaction for which I feel very responsible for.

This product should be removed from the market as it performs poorly and is misleading professionals through false advertising."

Youmny said...

I dye my hair monthly. Always at a hairdresser's. I tried INOA three times. All were disappointing. However, this time was the worst. I had dyed my hair a copper red color. It was my second application (3weeks apart). The color completely washed out with the 1st shampoo! I beleive it was inoa 6.65 color. I used Garnier Fructis shampoo and conditioner and had applied loreal oil replacement leave in cream prior to the incident. Not sure what completely innahilated INOA... But it is completely gone.

Anonymous said...

For three years I had my hair coloured in a hairsalon that uses Goldwell Nectaya, which is also a oil based hairdye. Loved it and never wanted anything else. Now for budget reasons I colour my hair myself again and I use Inoa Suprême, perfect for over 80% grey hair.
I use either 6.13 or 6.23 which are beautiful browns. Instead of using Inoa Post Shampoo I use L'Oreal Professionnel Vitamino Color A-OX Soft Cleanser Shampoo and my hair feels and looks Fabulous!! I keep using this shampoo and the color does not fade out.
Just wanted to add my positive experience.

Bhavana Sharma said...

I have grey hair from my childhood I used to heena on regular basis past 35 years my hair always gud quality I like them very much .. now on force of my son ang his suggestions now I am using inoa coLor look gud neutral problem is that now my is falling too much from roots . Pl suggest better suggestions what color should I use which is easily available in market

anusha deepthi said...

I just want to say that all the information you have given here on hair growth tips is awesome. Thank you Hair Transplant Clinic in Hyderabad.

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