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YES! But How? :: Hair Colors From Nature

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Hair color

Changing or enhancing your hair color doesn’t have to jeopardize your health. Plant-based hair-color products offer an alternative to permanent dyes.

According to, a healthful beauty advice website, permanent hair dye typically uses hydrogen peroxide to swell the hair cuticle and strip it of its natural color. Then either p-phenylenediamine (PPD) or lead acetate in an ammonia dye solution works to fully penetrate the cuticle and pigment cells in your hair.

Darker hair dyes contain larger quantities of chemicals and may act as more of a health hazard than their lighter counterparts; a 2001 study by the American Cancer Society found an increased risk of bladder cancer in people who used darker dyes monthly over a period of 15 years or more. The European Commission in 2006 banned a list of 22 hair-dye chemicals with potential links to bladder cancer.

Look for eco-friendly salons in your area, or ask your stylist about switching to plantbased coloring products. These dyes use natural ingredients such as henna to color your strands and are available in colors from dark brown to strawberry blonde.

Herbal products will need to be applied more frequently to maintain color, as they don’t use chemicals to strip the shafts of your hair before depositing color. Still, be sure to check the ingredient list before you buy: Some dyes claiming to be natural still use hydrogen peroxide and PPD.

Permanent dyes, however, may be the only effective option if more than half of your hair is grey, or if you want to go lighter. In that case, your best bet is to go for a semior demi-permanent dye with lowered levels of peroxide and PPD.

Berit Anderson wrote this article for America: The Remix, the Spring 2010 issue of YES! Magazine. Berit is an editorial intern at YES!

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