Think you’re too young to have grey hair? Tired of drab and want to punk up your look? Want a new colour to reflect a major change in your life?
Women and men use hair colour for all kinds of reasons. Personally, I think about dyeing my grey patches at least once a week (but never have). What’s held me back? Knowing that hair dyes can be harmful to your health and the environment, but not sure how bad.
Curtis’ great grey crop
I finally decided to look into it. Chemical ingredients like coal tar dye (PPD: p-phenylenediamine) are not your friends and are found in virtually all hair dye products. Coal tar dye is on the Health Canada Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist. People with chemical sensitivities and even people who have been dyeing their hair frequently for years can develop reactions to them.
In her book Ecoholic, Adria Vasil found some pretty horrifying stats on mainstream hair dyes. “The international Journal of Cancer found that women who dye their hair more than once a month using permanent dyes were more than twice as likely to develop bladder cancer. If you’ve been dyeing for more than 15 years, your chances jump to three times above non-dyers, and long-time hairdressers are five times more likely to develop the cancer.”
And hair dyes are harmful to men too. In November 2005, lead acetate, a key ingredient in products used by men to disguise their grey hair (e.g. Grecian Formula), was banned by Health Canada because it is suspected of being a carcinogen and reproductive toxin.
There are alternatives
Sometimes, you just have to dye, so why not give these safer, friendlier methods a try?
- Let the sun lighten and highlight your hair;
- Use lemon juice (and a blow dryer) for highlights;
- Use henna to achieve darker shades and cover up grey;
- Try Herbatint, Ecocolors, and Naturcolor: Vasil says the latter has worked well for her.
What’s my favourite alternative? Do like the title of this post says and you will be making the most environmentally-friendly choice!
Make a difference − share this environmental tip with your friends.