The Dangers of Hair Dye and Greener Alternatives

Author: Green Cyprus  //  Category: Green Chat


Hair dye uses harsh chemicals including ammonia, peroxide, p-Phenylenediamine or diaminobenzene and research has shown that repeatedly dying hair, especially dark brown or black which contain greater levels of chemicals than lighter colours, can increase the chance of developing some cancers such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma and cancer of the bladder.

It is also possible to suffer from allergic reactions to hair dyes. The most common allergic reactions to hair dye chemicals are dermatitis of the eyes, ears, scalp and face, which may include a rash, extreme swelling and a severe burning sensation on the scalp.

There has also been concern about the mixing of hydrogen peroxide with ammonia. Once again, research has found that this combination may create potentially carcinogenic chemicals that don’t normally exist in the two liquids prior to mixing them together.

This subject is well documented and there is plenty of information available on the internet should you require more in-depth information but Green Cyprus has summarized the dangers briefly and to the point. So, are there any safer alternatives? How green can your hair colour be? Well, there are various shades….

The safe alternatives for hair colouring can be categorised as safer and safest. The industry has taken out some of the chemicals by producing semi-permanent colouring. However, these products still usually contain p-Phenylenediamine as well as hydrogen peroxide and resorcinol. Although the amount of chemicals is of a lesser degree and may be less hazardous, there is still no evidence to back this up. Since the darker the hair colouring, the more problematic, it is also safer to go blonde or use highlighting only. Whatever is used, it has been recommended to drink a litre of water afterward to help flush out the toxins.
Safer alternatives to ammonia and peroxide are being developed. One hairdressing company that I used to frequent when I lived near London was Daniel Field Organic & Mineral Hairdressing who found a way of making ammonia and peroxide from ingredients such as seaweed, coconut oil and avocado oil which are far less irritating to the skin and have no nasty smell. Daniel Field has an online shop from which you can purchase his organic hair colours

Aveda, another Green Cyprus favourite is another company that offers safer hair-colouring solutions. Anyone who has tried their hair products (and beauty products too) will know that as well as being effective, they also smell divine. So if you’re planning a holiday to the UK or US, book yourself an Aveda colour appointment. Expensive but worth it!

There are safer alternatives that so far produce no health concerns. You can use vegetable-based rinses. These substances do not penetrate the hair shaft, plus they give the hair more shine and make it feel thicker and fuller. The coating action may also aid in protecting the hair from environmental elements such as sun, salt, chlorine and assorted pollutants. Safety tests have found that these rinses contain the least amount of synthetic chemicals of any hair dyes. The down side is that the effect is short-lived, lasting only a few weeks.

Many people have tried henna as a solution. Henna’s effect lasts longer than a vegetable rinse and adds a wonderful shine, highlights and bounce to the hair. Henna enhances your natural colour rather than totally covering it, which allows some of your natural highlights to come through. The coating and sealing advantages mentioned above are inherent with henna.

Finally, the safest and greenest although admittedly not the most effective in terms of permanent colour change are the use of natural products to enhance your natural colour such as coffee or sage to darken and tea, chamomile or saffron to lighten.

What’s available in Cyprus? In terms of do-it-yourself kits, safer colouring with reduced chemicals can be achieved with Apivita’s extensive range of colour kits which are generally available at pharmacies. Also available are Herbatint and NatureTint from health shops which are also ammonia and resorcinol-free.

As for hairdressers, I am not aware of any ‘organic’ hair salons such as Daniel Field or Aveda in Cyprus although I believe there may be one or two out there e.g. Azzuro, Larnaca, that offer a ‘greener’ service with vegan products and use kinder vegetable colourants. If anyone knows of any others that might fit the bill, please let us know so that we can contact them to check. Alternativley, ask them to contact us.

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