Photo by Kourosh Karimkhany
My hair has gone quite gray in my 40’s, and I hadn’t seen its natural color in more than a decade. But now I have. My hair (the non-highlighted part) is currently the color it was when I was in high school—I mean the EXACT color. Like, scientifically the exact color.
I posted an Instagram and Facebook photo of the process a couple months ago, and many of you were curious what I was using. Was I transitioning to my natural gray state of affairs? No. I’m not that brave yet.
So here’s the scoop: it’s not a dye, it’s a product called Hairprint. It’s called that because, like your finger with it’s fingerprint, your hair has a unique identifier associated with its original color, even if it has turned completely gray. Hairprint accesses that color and brings it back to the surface of your hair.
My husband declared snake oil when I first told him about this stuff, but I’ve had two treatments now and I can tell you it’s real.
It was invented by a scientist named Dr. John Warner, co-founder of the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry, who’s known as the father of green chemistry. His background is not in beauty or cosmetics, rather he’s worked on treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and new ways of creating semiconductors. Here’s an excerpt from his bio:
He has published over 200 patents, papers and books. His recent work in the fields of semiconductor design, biodegradable plastics, personal care products, solar energy and polymeric photoresists are examples of how green chemistry principles can be immediately incorporated into commercially relevant applications.
Just in case you were wondering if he’s legit. He wasn’t looking for a way to rid the world of gray hair, and I kind of doubt his own white hairs really bothered him much. But he stumbled upon it and realized he could help thousands, (millions?), of women avoid dousing their heads in toxic chemicals. Studies have shown a link between traditional hair color products and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. So Hairprint maybe be a beauty product but it may also save lives.
Warner was experimenting on gray hair extensions, but couldn’t get consistent color. A thought occurred to him: He asked the manufacturer if the hair all came from the same donor. When the answer was “no,” he realized Hairprint was morphing and customizing to turn each strand of hair back to its original color.
Here’s the science in a nutshell: the plant-based, odor-free product mirrors the hair’s natural pigmentation process by replacing eumelanin, the stuff in hair that creates color (like the melanin in your skin).
You can even eat it. The company’s general manager, Paul Jackson, did just that while I was getting my first Hairprint treatment at their headquarters in Sausalito.
That was my first treatment—it was a first for both of us! I was Philippa Shenendoa’s first guinea pig client, and I almost fled without getting the service because it turns out highlights can be a problem. If Hairprint gets into those chemically lightened areas, the light parts can turn pitch black. And as you may have seen, I have a pretty major ombre.
I was willing to risk going all-dark to try out the product—it was too intriguing not to. But I have to admit I breathed a sigh of relief when my ombre remained intact. Philippa loaded up my highlights with conditioner, then wrapped them in a plastic bag before rinsing the color through and all was well.
The product changes from pink to nearly black after you mix the wet and dry ingredients together (see above). For the application, Philippa very gingerly brushed on the mousse-y goop as neatly as she could. I loved the color but and the coverage was a bit spotty, and it faded fairly quickly (see photos—sorry for the variations in lighting and distance from the camera!).
I was intrigued enough, though, to try it again. It turns out you need to really douse your hair and it can get a bit messy. The thicker you goop it on, the better it works. So the second time Philippa applied it, this time at her salon in Sausalito, she laid it on thick, and the results were amazing (see photos!).
There is one more hitch: it only works on dark hair. Sorry blondies! But don’t worry, Warner and his team are working on a solution for you. They started with dark hair because more than 90 percent of the world has dark hair. You really can’t blame them.
You CAN highlight the hair once it’s been treated with Hairprint—and since highlights don’t usually touch the scalp, they’re less worrisome in the toxicity department.
One more thing: you have to apply the product in three phases, so it’s for sure time consuming (worth it though, to me, for the lack of toxins and natural look).
A photo posted by Kristen Philipkoski (@stylenik) on
For my second treatment, after the third and final application, Philippa removed the protective plastic bag from my ombred hair and rinsed Hairprint through so the product could act as a toner to my brassy-looking highlights. Again, I was a little nervous, but I’m over the moon happy with the results. It looks so natural and reminds me of that time when I was 8-years-old and my neighbor stopped me in the street to say: “My goodness, girl, your hair is shiny!”
Healthy, shiny hair seems to be another, somewhat unexpected, bonus of Hairprint. African American women in particular are reporting that their hair is stronger and better able to withstand straightening and ironing after they use the stuff.
You can buy Hairprint online and apply it yourself for $49. I have to say, though, I’m glad I Philipa has been doing it for me, at least the first few times. I imagine there would be a bit of a learning curve, but it could certainly be done at home successfully.
Lastly, this stuff is amazing for men. It’s a sad fact that men always look weird when they color their hair, but not with Hairprint. Since it really is your natural hair color, it doesn’t look alien. And—call it a glitch or a feature—Hairprint sometimes has a hard time covering the baby hairs around the hairline, which can actually give men a natural, salt and pepper look. Watch this video to see how good it looks on Dr. Warner!
Keep an eye on my Forbes page for another report about the science behind Hairprint. I’ll be interviewing Dr. Warner and will get into more detail on how this magic really works. In the meantime, check out the loads of info they have on their website. Fascinating stuff! Let me know if you try it!
Full disclosure: this is not a sponsored post! Philippa provided the service to me for free in return for being her guinea pig. But she paid for the product and is not affiliated with Hairprint. Check out her Instagram!
The headline of this article has been corrected. It originally said that Haiprint does not contain chemicals, which of course it does!