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Are There Any Safe Hair Dyes?
Are There Any Safe Hair Dyes?
Many hair dye companies have jumped on the natural hair dye bandwagon offering products labeled 'natural' but the consumer needs to be educated and cautious.
Hair dyes used on darker color hair are often coal tar-based, and have been linked to cancer and other health problems, especially if they are often used and over a long period of time.
How Are Hairdressers Affected?
A study done in 1997 by Michigan State University found that hairdressers were at a 2.7 times higher risk of developing salivary gland cancer compared to a control population. A study done by scientists at the University of Southern California’s School of Medicine found barbers and hairdressers who have been on the job for more than 10 years face a fivefold increase in their risk of bladder cancer. Further, the FDA says that several coal-tar hair dye ingredients have been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals.
Chemicals like triethanolamine can be bad for your lungs and commonly used ingredients like p-phenylenediamine and resorcinol can cause severe allergic reactions, even if you have used these chemicals before.
Are There Any Dyes Not as Toxic?
A natural alternative is henna dyes, made from the flower, and is a classical alternative to chemical dyes. I have never seen so many henna products on the market as I see now.
Lighter dyes are generally made from less dangerous ingredients than the darker dyes. You may want to try just doing highlights as less hair is colored and the dye is not rubbed into your scalp. No matter which product you buy, It is always advisable to read the labels.
European companies have offered herbal products like Herbavita Natural Hair Coloring which offers a total haircare system like coloring, shampoo and conditioners.
Another natural product is called Herbatint made with organic herbs such as chamomile for blond hair and sage for darker hair. Many people have mixed their own herbal recipes at home with good safe results using the same ingredients (chamomile tea, and sage) as the natural hair dye companies. (Update 3/26/11 - a reader tells me that Herbatint now has some of the toxic ingredients - please read all product labels - as companies change ingredients all the time and do not have to notify us. Often we pick up a product out of habit, thus being unaware of change).
What Should I Always Avoid?
If you are still dying to dye your hair and shopping for products, you want to always avoid anything with p-phenylenediamine, resorcinol, and triethanolamine.
On the shelves there are endless products but how do you decide which is safe, or safer?
If you are thinking about purchasing a hair coloring product, you can check the ingredients ahead of time by visiting cosmeticsdatabase.com - this is a database created by the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit environmental research group based in Washington, DC. The products listed with a lower score will have safer ingredients and tend not to be the permanent dyes.
Should you use any hair coloring product be sure to work in a well-ventilated area. Also remember to never leave the product in your hair for longer than the time recommended.
For a list of other unhealthy personal care products, and finding safe barber shops and salons, see the links below.
Finding Safe Salons and Personal Care Products
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