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Organic Hair Color

Updated on February 13, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

If you want to color your hair, but are not comfortable using the dyes that are ammonia based there are a few alternatives.

Currently there is not an organic permanent hair dye that is made entirely without the following:

  • Ammonia

  • Peroxide

  • p-Phenylenediamine

  • diaminobenzene=AD

There are some eco friendly alternatives which contains less of these substances than the conventional brands. These alternatives promise to be effective without causing allergic reactions and other health related side effects. They are also easier on the environment.

image: sxc
image: sxc

Ingrredients in Organic Hair Coloring

A salon quality eco-friendly hair color contains a smaller amount of peroxide and ammonia, which makes it more environmentally friendly and healthier for your body. This hair dye is biodegradable. However it does contain low concentrations of peroxide and p-Phenylenediamine. This type of hair color and use flax and soy as its base and it uses natural and organic ingredients like:

  • lecithin

  • natural antioxidants

  • vitamin E

  • vitamin C

  • nettles

  • rosemary

  • flower essence

  • grapefruit seed extract

  • Rosemary

  • Walnut husk

Temporary Hair Color

Temporary organic hair colors are able to color hair without any harsh chemicals but the color will only last through a few washes. One of the oldest and most well known ingredients for temporary hair color is henna. Henna is made from the leaves of a desert shrub, Lawsonia Inermis , which grows in north Africa and the near east.


Henna has been used to color skin and hair for thousands of years. The ground up leaves of the henna plant make a green powder. When made into a paste using hot water. When using Henna the amount of color depends on length of time it is left in the hair and also how often it is re applied. It is not hard to change the color shades in a henna dye. For instance if you add a brew from roasted tea leaves it would give the color a rich brown color.

There Can Be Risks with Any Product

Due to recent studies people who are worried about the chemical based hair dyes they use have been given new reasons to switch to more gentle alternatives. In a1994 National Cancer Institute report it is stated that deep-colored dyes, used over long lengths of time, seems to increase the risk of cancers such as non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and Multiple Myeloma.A study done in 2001 by the International Journal of Cancer, found that people using permanent hair dyes are twice as likely to develop bladder cancer as those who do not color their hair at all.

There are risks of allergic reactions associated to using henna and other plant dyes just as with using any product. Scalp dermatitis is a common side effect that can be very itchy and sometimes painful. You should always try a patch test on a small inconspicuous area of your skin to make sure you will not have a allergic reaction before using any product. It may take some time for a reaction to show so it is best to wait a couple of days before applying to your hair.

Always read the directions carefully and make sure that you understand them. Using organic hair dye is a better way to change the color of your hair.


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    • Gail Meyers profile image

      Gail Meyers 5 years ago from Kansas City - United States

      I enjoyed your hub. The only thing I have ever heard that organically changes the color of hair is to put lemon juice in your hair.

    • profile image

      Jennifer Davis 5 years ago

      Organic Color Systems products are absolutely the best professional salon products ever made.

    • profile image

      Will 6 years ago

      In love with Organic Color Systems! Would have been great to mention it is the only Organic color line that doesnt have any of these toxic ingredients, then your hub would have been perfect :)

    • profile image

      Denise 6 years ago

      Hi to Samantha of 7 month ago!!- you put a comment 7 months ago and suggested to try "this other one" I would like to know what the other hair dye is called so I investigate as I have had a lot of trouble after a chemical hair dye reaction with foils!!! I would love to hear from you, thanks.

    • profile image

      cass 6 years ago

      Original & Mineral is also a great gentle and clean permanent colour that has no ammonia and smells divine! they also have a DIY range and all you have to do is add water. the EASIEST thing ive ever done. anyone interested in clean gentle hair dye, but the same/if not BETTER results shuold have a look at it. SO GOOD XOXOX

    • SalonExpert profile image

      SalonExpert 6 years ago

      I too love Organic Color Systems and believe it to be the best and cleanest permanent hair color available.

    • profile image

      kristin - why organic? 7 years ago

      Great article and many good comments. I would never ever use anything in my hair or on my skin that is not organic. If you knew how much chemicals these products contain you would be chocked.

      I dye my hear and use organic hair color. As I go to my hairdresser I don't know the name on the brand but I guess you will find different brands depending on where you live in the world - I live in Norway.

      Go organic - your health and Mother Earth will thank you.

      Be yourself and be happy, never stop dreaming!

      Happy Natural Life,

      Kristin Jensen

    • profile image

      Uri 7 years ago

      Apparently, that organic color systems uses phenylenediamine in their color. Says so right on the ingredient listing.

      THat is a definite no no.

      Apparently, according to the ingredient listing that is freely available, it also uses ethanolamine ( MEA) in its prof color. says so on their ingredient listing.

      that is an ingredient that apparently is worse than ammonia.

      It is pretty much the consensus of everyone that these two things in a product labelled organic is not good.

    • profile image

      Samantha 7 years ago

      AFter reading some of these hubs, I continually see that the organic companies use cocamide DEA. this is a derivative or ETHANOLAMINE otherwise known as MEA. ETHANOLAMINE which apparently is more toxic and is used in higher percentage than the ammonia. Cocamide DEA is used in color and ETHANOLAMINE is listed as being in the professional salon color.

      Ethanolamine appears to be more toxic than ammonia.

      Ethanolamine is not derived from coconuts. cocamide is derived from coconuts.

      Ethanolamine is made from ammonia in the lab.

      Phenelenediamine is also listed as one of the ingredients in the hair color.

      PPD is a horrible product. This article definitely gives the impression that PPD is to be avoided .

      The organic companies put it in their product.

      It is in there.

      I try to stay away from ETHANOLAMINE, & PPD. There is another company that uses none of those things. I'd try this other one.

    • profile image

      Brenda Nealy 7 years ago

      I just wanted to chime in about Organic Color Systems. After being a hairdresser for over 20 years an owning two salons for over 10 years I have to say that Organic Color Systems is the by far the best hair color I have ever come across. I am evaluate with the performance of the product, the way it smells, and how healthy it leaves my client's hair.

    • scottmitchellfl profile image

      scottmitchellfl 7 years ago from Tampa, Florida

      Kimberly. I did not see your previous post when I posted last. Thank you for the kind words on Organic Color Systems. I am always glad to find other salon professionals that love the product!

    • scottmitchellfl profile image

      scottmitchellfl 7 years ago from Tampa, Florida

      In my humble but well advised opinion, Organic Color Systems is by far the best most organic and natural product available on the market. What's more, you don't have to give up performance for health and wellness as the color performs so much better than the chemical-based competition.

      Although I enjoyed reading this article, it failed to mention one of the most important factors of ammonia free hair color. Ammonia severely damages the Tyrosine protein in the hair which creates melanin. Melanin is responsible for the nature pigmentation of the hair and damaging over time will demising the hair's ability to "hold" on to color. In short, the more ammonia is applied to hair the worse the hairs natural ability to hold color will be. Sort of a self-defeating approach to hair color.....

    • profile image

      Hairstyles 7 years ago

      good reading, thanks for the article. Organic hair coloring is really healtier than the inorganic ones, if you check the ingredients, you can tell the difference, but of course, organic ones cost more unfortunatelly, but is it money, or your health that is more important?

    • Research Analyst profile image

      Research Analyst 7 years ago

      This is such a good idea, must be healthier too!

    • FirstStepsFitness profile image

      FirstStepsFitness 7 years ago

      I have a question .....Are the natural hair dye alternatives any less drying to the hair ?

    • angelaglancy profile image

      angelaglancy 7 years ago from Seattle

      Hi Mary --- Have you thought about using tea or herbs to create a natural hair dye? Very effective. Thanks for all of the great information.

    • profile image

      Kimberly Cowen 7 years ago

      I am a hairdresser and would definitely recommend Henna for a DIY at home hair color if you are looking for a more natural alternative. If you go to a professional salon for your hair color, definitely insist that they use Organic Color Systems. We use it in our salon and it is fabulous. It utilizes heat and suspends the active ingredient in an amino acid and protein based oil so instead of damaging the cuticle and hair shaft, it treats it and strengthens it. This enables you to get your hair colored much more frequently because it does not leave you with that "fried" look.

      Helen - I would not recommend coloring your hair during pregnancy. If you must, please consider a more natural alternative. Coloring you hair in your first trimester would probably pose the most risk. However, I am not a physician or expert on that kind of stuff. You should consult your physician or OBgyn,

    • Helen Straw profile image

      Helen Straw 7 years ago from Tasmania

      Great hub on organic hair dye. It is definitely becoming a more popular choice. Do you know if you can use it when you are pregnant? I heard that you should not dye your hair when pregnant with normal hair dyes.

    • electricsky profile image

      electricsky 8 years ago from North Georgia

      good hub. thank you for sharing your information. I am surprised that hairdye can be a carcinogen.

    • LRobbins profile image

      Laurel 8 years ago from Germany

      Good hub. As someone who is allergic to traditional hair dye, I am always looking for new gentler products.

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 8 years ago from Wisconsin

      Very good info. I'm really surprised that companies are trying to find more organic ways to get the dye out commercially.

    • Laura Spector profile image

      Laura Spector 8 years ago from Chiang Mai, Thailand

      Thanks for the info. A friend of mine uses henna, the process takes about 3 hours or so...I'm still looking for a faster route with henna...any ideas?. The alternatives to the chemical colors are becoming more and more popular with women during pregnancy - its much safer for mom and baby. I'm totally curious about that product you listed from Lush - I'll have to check it out!