Monday, September 16, 2013

Safer Hair Dyes

Safer Hair Dyes

Colouring your hair doesn’t have to compromise your health or harm the environment.
Nothing perks up your look and your mood like a great hair colour. However, with over 5,000 different chemicals being used in conventional hair dyes – many of which may be hazardous to your health – natural alternatives are a smarter choice.

What are the options?

Permanent colours: These include foils, streaks, tints, lowlights and highlights. In order to permanently lighten your hair, the outer layer, or cuticle, must be opened so your natural colour can be stripped and the new colour put in. Almost all of them contain some amount of hydrogen peroxide and ammonia.
Demi-permanents: These deepen your natural colour, blend greys, and add shine. They have less structural impact on hair than permanent colours, tend to contain lower levels of hydrogen peroxide or artificial colours, and gradually fade after 4-6 weeks
Semi-permanents: These can darken, but not lighten hair, and also add shine. They work by penetrating the superficial layer of hair, to stain it. They can successfully cover grays, and colour fades after 4-6 weeks.
Temporary colours: These have the shortest life, lasting only for a few washes. They are a perfect way to experiment with a new colour, like a burgundy or copper.

What are the risks?

Early hair dye formulas contained aromatic amines, chemicals which were shown to cause cancer in animals, so manufacturers have eliminated them. However, the debate on the potential carcinogenicity of the many thousands of chemicals still used in hair dyes continues. A small study conducted by the University of Southern California in 2001 found that women who used permanent hair dyes once a month for over a year doubled their risk of bladder cancer. Another study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, suggests an association between the use of hair dyes and an increased incidence of lymphoid neoplasms (cancers of the blood that form in lymph glands).
Mary Beth Janssen, author of Naturally Healthy Hair (Storey Books), says p-phenylenediamine (PPD), an ingredient made from coal tar found in many permanent colours, is the cause of most allergic reactions, and is also linked to cancer. Plus, a study in Gut suggests that hair dye increases the risk of progressive liver disease, leading to liver cirrhosis. This is all cause for concern, given that an estimated 75 percent of women and 10 percent of men colour their hair.

Safer solutions

Try these tips for safer, more eco-friendly hair colour treatments.
* Avoid hydrogen peroxide and ammonia: If you colour at home, look for formulations that do not contain these chemicals. If visiting a salon, find one that stocks a natural colourant range. Aveda salons use hair colours that are 99.9 percent derived from plant extracts. If you want a permanent colour, try highlights instead; this reduces the amount of chemicals contacting your skin, and so lowers your risk of absorbing them.
* Stick close to your natural colour: Permanent hair colours are the harshest and most drying to your hair, and also pose the greatest health risks. A demi-, semi-, or temporary colour will brighten and refresh your look without damaging your locks.
* Take care of your colour: Using products specifically formulated for coloured hair will maintain the colour for longer, reducing your exposure to chemicals; you’ll also save money and water, and reduce waste. Use a hair mask or serum to give dry ends a colour boost.
* Test first: If you are colouring at home, always patch-test first. If you have a reaction, the money you waste on the product will be far less on what you have to spend later at a salon to correct a botched job.

Go natural

Henna: The ancient Egyptians used powder made from this shrub to tint hair auburn. Henna powder is available from healthfood stores, and gives shine and vibrant colour to dark hair. It also coats the cuticle layer of each strand, making hair thick and glossy. A word of caution from John Masters, owner of John Masters Organics: “Be wary of henna colours offering results other than red or auburn. Any other result means the henna has been modified with metallic salts which damage hair.”
Chamomile: An effective natural colourant/lightener for blonde or light brown hair. To make a chamomile rinse, steep ½ cup of dried flowers in a litre of boiling water for 30 minutes; strain and cool. Pour liquid through freshly washed hair 15 times, catching it in a bucket to re-use. Wring out excess liquid and leave in your hair for 15 minutes before rinsing.
Lemon: Another effective treatment for brightening blonde or light brown hair. Add the juice of 2 lemons to a litre of water, and apply in the same way as the chamomile rinse. For best results, let your hair dry naturally in the sun.

Natural haircare products we love …

Hamadi Lemon Mint Hair Wash ($ With 100% certified organic, biodegradable ingredients, including peppermint, green mint, white cedar, and lemongrass essential oils to lock in colour.
Aveda Color Conserve Shampoo and Conditioner ( With natural sunscreens of wintergreen and cinnamon bark oil to protect colour from fading, and guar bean to seal the hair cuticle.
John Masters Herbal Cider Hair Clarifier and Colour Sealer ( Excellent for extending the life of your colour, and leaves hair feeling fresh, clean and soft.
Aubrey Organics Colour Me Natural in Dark Brown ( A blend of Ayurvedic botanicals, free from PPD, coal tar dyes and synthetic chemicals, which covers greys and provides lasting colour.
Surya Henna Cream in Light Brown ( A temporary treatment made from herbs and fruits in a ready-to-use cream; contains no peroxide, PPD, heavy metals or ammonia.
Al’chemy Ginkgo & Jojoba Intensive Moisture Vitamin Hair Masque ( Packed with vitamins, herbs, and pure Australian jojoba and certified organic avocado oils to keep colour looking vibrant for longer.
Bonvit Natural Henna Herb Colour in Golden Brown ( This dried, powdered product is mixed with boiling water to form a smooth paste before applying; gives long-lasting colour and shine.
Want more info on the safety of hair dye ingredients? Visit the National Toxicology Program (NTP) at

Source : Nature and Health



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