Alexandra asks (via FaceBook)…What do you think about Wella Illumina? I was not able to find the ingredients and I wanted to find out if it is really something revolutionary or marketing campaign? Is it damaging for hair just like other hair dyes?
The Beauty Brains respond:
Questions about professional hair care products can be trickier to answer than those regarding retail haircare goods because a) professional products don’t always list their ingredients and b) professional products are less scrutinized by organizations like the Federal Trade Commission which means they can be more ”creative” with their claims. With those two caveats in mind we’ll see if we can decipher if Illumina is really different.
What’s so different about Illumina?
Based on the information provided by Wella’s website, it looks like this product has three basic claims to fame.
Want elevated colour?
The first claim is related to high coverage of gray and to the richness and depth of the color the product provides. There’s no indication they use novel coloring agents but they do use an unusually high level of peroxide (9% and 12% versus the standard 6%.) This higher level of bleaching will provide more color lift but it will also cause more damage.
Want softness and shine?
This claim is accompanied by pictures of “before and after” hair. The “before” hair is a tousled, unconditioned mess. The “after” hair is smooth and conditioned and will do a much better job of reflecting light. It’s not uncommon for hair color kits to contain conditioning treatments which could be the basis for this claim. Interestingly, Wella’s instructions involve the use of heat which also could be used to smooth the hair.
Hair lit from within
Third, and most intriguing, are the claims involving increased clarity of the cuticle. Wella says their “patented MICROLIGHT technology protects the cuticles so they maintain their clarity. This allows light to pass through, illuminating natural highs and lows from within – in any kind of light.”
According to their website, the technology involves removing metal ions that build up on the cuticle and cause dullness. It sounds like a specialized clarifying treatment. Presuming there’s enough metal ion build up on the hair to cause dullness it makes sense that removing these impurities would increase shine. But while a 70% increase in shine sounds like a lot, in reality it may not be that noticeable to human eyes.
We couldn’t find any evidence of recent Wella patents in this space. Their most recent haircare patents are related to color systems that don’t generate as many gas bubbles so they are easier to apply and to systems that provide better washout protection. Neither of these seem related to Illumina’s claims.
The Beauty Brains bottom line
Without more information from Wella it’s impossible for us to tell if there is any truly differentiating technology behind this product. Based on what we’ve seen so far it looks like there is enough technology here to support some impressive sounding claims but it doesn’t appear to be all that different than other hair coloring kits. If anyone at Wella reads this post and would like to provide us with additional insight we would be happy to revisit the subject.
Image credit: http://fc03.deviantart.net