Your guide to safe hair colour
While changing hair colour is fun, the chemicals in hair dye can cause long-term health effects. Instead, try these natural hair colouring products and dyes.
Whether it’s to cover up the grey, to try on a new personality, or to find out once and for all if blondes really do have more fun, many of us choose to colour our hair.
While changing hair colour provides a temporary fix, the chemicals we use to explore our chameleon side can cause long-term health effects, ranging from burning and rashes to various forms of cancer. Happily, many nontoxic alternatives can keep us looking fabulous now and feeling great down the road.
Hair colour products from the natural health store can subtly enhance natural colour and cover a modest amount of grey. Compared to drugstore products, natural hair dyes typically use less hydrogen peroxide to penetrate the hair shaft, but be sure to read and compare labels.
Look for semipermanent and rinse-out colours tinted with natural walnut, indigo, coffee, or beetroot. Also look for henna, which is great for intensifying reds, but note that any henna product in a colour other than the naturally occurring red has been chemically altered.
To boost hair health, choose natural colouring products that contain conditioning jojoba, hydrolyzed wheat protein, and essential oils.
Talk to Your Hairdresser
If you like to pamper yourself by getting your colour done at the salon, remember that it’s always safer to lighten your hair than to apply a dark colour, which has been associated with the most dangerous health effects. In contrast, hair lightening products use fewer chemicals and are frequently applied to create highlights with the benefit of a cap or foil. Chemicals are less likely to touch the scalp and enter the bloodstream.
Get the look you want for your hair without washing your health down the drain.
People who used synthetic permanent hair dyes monthly for a year doubled their risk of developing bladder cancer, and hair professionals had five times the bladder cancer risk, reported a study in the International Journal of Cancer in 2001. Heed warnings that advise products should not touch your skin.
Men’s health across the life course
Theodore D. Cosco, PhD (Cantab) CPsychol