Around half of women, and many men, color their hair. Whether covering grey or simply changing your hair color, these toxic blends can be hazardous to your health. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep Database has linked toxic hair color ingredients to greater risk of certain cancers, in some cases doubling the risk.
As with other cosmetic products, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate hair dyes (chemical or natural) or the ingredients used to make them. Last week we talked about The European Union (EU) ban on animal testing of cosmetics. The EU is ahead of the US in this arena as well, already having banned several hair dye ingredients.
So, what is a girl (or guy) who’d like a little hair color help to do? There are some nontoxic alternatives to chemical hair dye, the main one being henna. While I have not personally tried henna, it is notoriously difficult to use and gives unreliable results. Not exactly a even replacement for salon hair color. Others concoct their own hair color options, worth a try if you are a DIY-er.
Then there are the less toxic hair colors that are more effective color-wise, and less harmful to hair and health. These colors may still contain some not-exactly-healthy ingredients, but are free from the super toxic ingredients of main stream hair dyes.
Tints of Nature contacted me a while back and offered to send me some of their product for review. This line of semi-permanent and permanent hair colors is made without PPD (toxic color pigments), ammonia, peroxide, and parabens. The colors also contain some organic ingredients. This does not mean that these colors are nontoxic. They do contain some ingredients from our Ingredients to Avoid list, which in most cosmetic products I would not use. But because we are talking hair color here, we are looking at less toxic rather than nontoxic, for the time being anyway.
I do not color my own hair, but get it done by my stylist. This if for two reasons; I simply do not trust myself to deliver the results I want, and I have her use foil highlights and lowlights so that the color does not come into contact with my scalp. My sister, Jenn, does color her own hair. Because she is covering grey on dark hair she colors pretty often, like once every month. I am concerned that she is using dark hair color (dark hair color is supposed to be especially toxic) so often and am always on the lookout for safer alternatives. She was totally willing to try out Tints of Nature. Here is her account of the Tints of Nature experience.
The color is super natural and seems to cover grey like the regular color she’d been using. Tints of Nature included a clarifying shampoo to use pre-color, as well as a shampoo and conditioner to use after the color. Jenn said that the conditioner felt like it contained natural emollients, so not quite as moisturizing as a product that contains synthetic conditioners. The package also contained a leave-in spray which, she said, smells amazing.
The take away: Tints of Nature provided excellent color and grey coverage, but the accompanying products (shampoos and conditioners) did not work as well as what she normally uses, but left hair dry and staticy. Jenn said she would continue to use the Tints of Nature hair color, but would most likely use her own shampoo and conditioner.
If you are looking to cover grey or brighten your existing color I would recommend a less toxic alternative. Less frequent coloring is also a way to reduce exposure to these chemicals.
Not coloring hair at all is obviously the most healthful option, but I totally get why hair color is important to so many. If you are unhappy with the way you look, you don’t feel as good either. Taking steps to reduce your exposure to toxins is better than taking no steps at all. I say, if you are determined to color your hair (as I am, for now) then less toxic is the way to go.
[Image from Tints of Nature.us]