MEA is nothing new. It's actually already used in non-ammonia hair dye formulations to darken hair within a level, but hasn't been strong enough to lighten the hair or cover gray — until now. That's thanks to the addition of a color-boosting mineral oil gel to the MEA, a formulation that L’Oréal has dubbed "Innovation No Ammonia" (INOA). "I can't say that replacing ammonia-based dyes with those containing monoethanolamine is an improvement for public health, though it will cut down on the noxious odor," the Environmental Working Group's Rebecca Sutton told Scientific American. L’Oréal, however, claims that the INOA leaves the hair in better condition since it doesn't compromise the integrity of the hair quite as much as traditional hair dye. Eventually we'll be seeing the product for at-home use, but first expect to find the hair color in salons early next year. Are you pumped for non-stinky color, or is safety still an issue?
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One major complaint about hair dye is the off-putting smell, and you can attribute that mostly to the presence of ammonia, a necessary ingredient that enables color to penetrate into the hair shaft. Since the invention of the first commercial hair color in 1909, hair dye has remained fairly unchanged, but now scientists at L’Oréal have discovered a way to take the stink out by use of an odorless substance called monoethanolamine (MEA).