I started researching natural hair coloring because Kelly asked me to on Facebook. And then Linnea seconded. But the truth is, coloring my hair has been on my mind lately. I spotted my first grey hair years ago, but since I’m sort of blonde-ish, I’ve been letting them creep in more and more, trying to convince myself they looked like blonde highlights. And they do, mostly, when my hair is down, but if I pull it into a ponytail…well, I have an all-gray patch of hair at both of my temples. As much as I’d like to be OK with that, I’m just…not. Read on for details and tips about natural hair dye, along with a few products to try.
During my research, I discovered that dyeing your hair is linked to an increase risk of cancer—especially bladder cancer. Which I guess isn’t surprising, but still scares the crap out of me. So when it comes to hair color, I plan to go the “as natural as possible” route, and avoid dyes containing ammonia and/or PPD (otherwise known as p-Phenylenediamine). The not-so-great news is that many of these dyes have some ingredients (PEGs and propylene glycol in particular) that I don’t love.
When I spoke with Julie of Juju Salon and Organics last week (have you tried her apple cider vinegar trick yet?), she mentioned that the hair color her salon uses is heat-activated—the heat warms up the hair, opening the follicles so that the hair absorbs more color, which means you can use less dye (and less toxic dye) and get the same great results. And that’s a big bonus to getting your hair colored by a pro, in my opinion.
However, getting your hair colored in a salon can be expensive (if you even have a natural salon like Julie’s nearby), and I know many (most?!) of you are hoping for some more natural at-home alternatives. Here are the options I turned up, along with some information about the different types.
Henna/Plant-based hair color. These dyes are plant-based (henna is a plant), and there are several versions. This is one of the most ancient forms of hair color (the ancient Egyptians actually used a lead-based dye to keep their hair black), and actually tends to have a strengthening effect on hair—not just a coloring effect. To try: Light Mountain, Lush, Herbavita. Light Mountain also has a henna-based “cover the grey” dye. (If you try it, please report back!)
Permanent hair color. These “natural” permanent dyes still have some chemical ingredients in them, but on the spectrum of natural to synthetic scariness (which I just made up), I’d say they are much more natural than the typical box hair color you’ll find on the shelf in your drugstore. To try: Ecocolors (be warned: this dye DOES contain PPD and aqua ammonia, a diluted version of ammonia, but at a lower amount than traditional hair color), Tints of Nature, Palette By Nature and Susan Henry Natural Hair.
Hopefully this list gives you some new options to try, and if you do test them out, please let me know what you think. I’ll leave you with one final tip from Julie: Don’t color the entire length of your hair every time you color! Buy a few boxes (so that you’re sure to remember the shade and get the dye from the same lot), and just dye the roots until your color starts to fade and you need to color the entire length once again. It’ll keep your hair shinier and stronger, and minimize the amount of product you’ll need. —Aleigh