Service Scout: INOA ODS2 Haircolor Wednesday 23 May, 2012

INOA ODS2 permanent haircolor promises 50% more shine, gentler processing, full grey coverage, healthier hair and richer color results—minus the odor and scalp irritation. I investigate what seems like a chimerical dye service.

One of the running gags in my professional life is that, yes, I am a beauty editor—and a beauty editor at one of the biggest U.S. hair magazines, at that—and yet, I fancy myself a kitchen beautician. This is either met with disdain from hairstylists (and I run into quite a few hairstylists in my profession, as you can imagine) or incredulous admiration from hairstylists—but mostly incredulous admiration from people who are in no way associated with beauty (friends, friends of friends, people on the street). Why do I resist going to the salon? It’s complicated. As I have documented before (here and here), my relationship with bleach and haircolor runs deep—and sometimes can get ugly. But I am an emotional dyer, and one that has little patience for making appointments and being fit into a schedule. When I want to change up my haircolor, the urge is so strong that I want to do it right then and there. It’s this feeling inside of me that wells up rather quickly and must be addressed immediately—or I’ll explode. OK, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic. But, truth be told, I really do take to the haircolor bottle when my mood shifts, and it’s really an on-the-fly decision. And when all goes right, transforming my tresses via pigment is an emotional lift. But, let’s stress that one key phrase: when all goes right.

And sometimes they don’t. And I have no one else to blame but myself. No colorist messed with my mane; it’s all me. That, my friends, is a somewhat better feeling than when you go to a salon and walk out very unhappy—which I’ve also experienced.

And so, time after time, colorists and haircolor companies talk to me about color services, and offer up their sage haircolor advice, and I always invite me to sit in their chairs and try it all out, but either the timing isn’t right, or my emotions are just not unbalanced enough. Such was the case two years ago when L’Oréal Professionnel introduced the rather game-changing permanent haircolor, INOA. INOA made the idea of an ammonia-free permanent haircolor that uses an oil-delivery system (ODS) more mainstream. Here’s my two-minute breakdown of what this means: In order for permanent haircolor to work, you need to open the hair cuticle in order to push dye molecules into the hair’s cortex. Rather than blasting open your hair cuticle with drying, damaging—and quite smelly—ammonia (the traditional approach), INOA relies on odor-free and gentler MEA to do the job. And it can do this because of the ODS system I mentioned, which coats the hair strand as the dye molecules and MEA enter the hair shaft. The dye molecules don’t like oil, so they’re repelled deeper into the hair’s cortex, allowing for longer-lasting, high-retention color results. The company claims that hair is left smoother, healthier and silkier with rich color that didn’t come by way of irritation to the scalp or offense to the nose.

And I didn’t try it.

And then, shoot to present day, and INOA ODS2 has launched, and I just couldn’t turn it down. I was sick of my haircolor but knew that this time, my kitchen beautician skill simply lacked for the type of hue transformation I desired. Colorist Jennifer MacDougall invited me to try out what’s she’s calling “version 2.0” of INOA. “It’s like technology; you’re always upgrading—and that’s what we do in beauty too,” she says. The “2.0” version promises better grey coverage, more shine and six weeks of hydration. I’m intrigued.

When I settle into Jennifer’s chair, she mixes up several bowls of INOA ODS2 to help me achieve a version of ombré seen on the lovely Drew Barrymore. I’ve had ombré hair for quite some time now, but it’s always had a pretty distinct red base and very coppery ends. I tell Jennifer I’d like to nix the red as much as possible, but we both agree that keeping my roots on the warmer side is best for my complexion. The ends, however, are going to lift and alter to a wheat-y gold. (P.S.: She uses L’Oréal Professionnel Majiméches for the lightening portion (mid-lengths to ends) of my hair design, and that stuff smells like rose petals. So not your typical haircolor service scent.)

 L’Oréal Professionnel INOA ODS2 Haircolor Before and After

To prove the point that INOA version 2.0 won’t cause you to pass out after a deep inhale, Jennifer invites me to take a whiff. I oblige by practically licking the stuff; there is NO scent. None. “There’s also no sensitivity to the scalp, and scalp irritation is a major deterrent for some clients,” she notes. After processing for a bit, I can vouch that there wasn’t one single tingle on my pate.

Now, that aforementioned ODS system does more than simply push dye molecules into the hair’s cortex; it also “respects” the integrity of the hair, and Jennifer notes that even with one use, hair becomes 50% shinier than before coloring it. “The condition of the hair over time (with repeated color treatments) becomes healthier,” she claims.

Also of note: INOA promises 100% grey coverage—which my multiplying “sparkle” highlights need. Because INOA processes as gently as a semi- or demi-permanent haircolor—neither of which fully cover grey—you’d think it wouldn’t be able to tackle the silver. But it does (thank goodness!).

“People come into salons asking for INOA by name—that doesn’t typically happen with haircolor,” Jennifer tells me. “They like and remember the fact that there’s no scalp sensitivity issues or smell. When you have good wine or a great boyfriend, you can’t go back to a bad one, right?”

I nod in agreement (though I watch HBO’s Girls, and someone needs to pass this wise advice onto Hannah—stat).

“You don’t always know the difference in the beginning,” Jennifer adds. “Maybe you think you just have to live with an irritated scalp or that ammonia smell (when you get your hair colored). But then you experience INOA ODS2 and you see and feel the difference. Why would you go back? You wouldn’t.”

The immediate results I witness from INOA 2.0, other than a fab-oo new haircolor, are that my hair appears shinier—specifically on my typically dulled ends—without major need for styling products. And, as I’ve said before, my ends are my mane’s bane. Also, typically, the day of a dye job, my hair fabric feels thick, heavy, and not as…I dunno…alive. (Even though hair outside of the scalp is dead—I know this.) But, with my INOA treatment, the day of, it feels lighter, bouncier, healthier. Is my hair 50% shinier? I’m not sure I could put a percentage on it. But what I can say is that day, my hair smelled amazing and felt alive—such a difference as compared to my own self-administered dye jobs. Like a good wine or a great boyfriend, I’ll be remembering INOA by name.

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Karie L. Frost Signature




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