Since October is breast cancer awareness month, I think it’s appropriate to discuss the dangers of using unregulated cosmetics, especially synthetic hair dyes! According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, “Based on the data regarding bladder cancer, it has concluded that workplace exposure [to hair dye] as a hairdresser or barber is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” I assume that women who use hair dyes on a monthly and consistent basis are also at risk.
Conventional hair dyes are loaded with deadly chemicals. Some of these chemicals have been linked to serious health problems and even cancer! Not to mention testing on animals. I do not advise using synthetic permanent hair color, ever! Whether it’s from a box or your local hair salon it is hazardous to your health. It could affect the lymph and endocrine systems as well as your bladder and breasts, if you are exposed to it on a consistent basis. Here is a list of the deadliest chemicals in synthetic hair dyes: P-Phenylenediamine (PPD or coal tar, which is a known carcinogen), aminophenol, ethanolamine, hydroquinone, and 2, 4- diaminophenoxyethanol.
As soon as these toxins are rinsed from our hair, they are leached into waterways and the ground. Not only does this hurt our health and well-being, but it hurts our environment.
For years, my mother used black synthetic hair dye, and her mother before her. Every month she would dye her hair with these toxic chemicals, unaware of the dangers lurking. Black hair dye is one is the most toxic because of a higher concentration of the ingredients listed above, as well as ammonia, peroxide, sulfur, and harsh smelling fragrances. Every time she used the dye it would penetrate her scalp via the pores and enter her bloodstream. I finally convinced her about three years ago to change her ways. I was worried for her health because long term use can affect a person later in life.
So, you are probably wondering what your options are:
Henna dates back to the ancient Egyptian, Persian and Indian times and has been used as a safe alternative to dye the skin and hair. It comes from a small shrub tree also known as the Lawsonia Inermis. The leaves are dried and milled down into a soft powder to create a paste that makes a natural hair color. One of my favorite ways to be a beauty who loves nature is by using henna to color my hair. It’s all natural and leaves my hair looking shiny and feeling incredibly soft. There is also neutral henna, which is a non color henna. It can be used to make the hair shiny and soft without adding color.
Surya Brasil is a wonderful henna hair coloring brand that I came upon in Whole Foods one day. They have premixed henna colors ranging from light brown to black. The brand is completely vegan, sustainable and provides a pair of gloves and a hair cover with easy directions and use. It took me about an hour to complete my hair process and when I was through, my hair felt amazing! Oh, and the smell is lovely! Every time you wash your hair a little color comes out, and you have to reapply about once a month to keep up the richness, if you so choose. It is completely safe for pregnant moms as well, according to Surya Brasil’s claims. Although, it’s best to check with your doctor if you are going to change anything pertaining to your health.
Check out your local health food stores to see what options they have for natural hair coloring. I suggest this one because it is the easiest to use. Other brands have you mix your own henna which takes a while and is quite messy.
Tips: If you are coloring your hair with a dark henna, it’s best to wear clothes you don’t care about staining. Use dark or old towels and follow the directions. When you rinse the product out of your hair for the first time, your shower will be covered in color! Don’t worry though, it rinses off easily.
Be Advised: PPD has also been linked to “Black Henna.” It is approved by the FDA for use in hair color but not on skin because of adverse reactions. Which makes absolutely no sense to me because, if it contains coal tar- a known carcinogen than why does the FDA approve it at all. If you are purchasing a henna hair color with PPD in it, it is not natural and you should NOT buy it. Just to clear the record whether or not the FDA approves the safety of cosmetics, they do not. It is the responsibility of the companies and individuals who manufacture and market the products they are selling. This is a statement straight off their website:
FDA’s authority over other cosmetic ingredients:
“Except for color additives, FDA does not have the authority to approve cosmetic products or ingredients, although the use of several substances in cosmetics is prohibited or restricted due to safety or environmental concerns. Importantly, cosmetic products and ingredients are required to be safe for consumers under labeled or customary conditions of use. Companies and individuals who manufacture or market cosmetics have a legal responsibility for the safety of their products. FDA can take action against cosmetics on the market that violate the law.”
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Megan is an eco-friendly, cruelty-free, organic Makeup Artist, based in LA. She is one of the first pioneers in the eco cosmetics movement and is part of The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. She teaches her clients about how they can make eco conscious cosmetic purchases that will help them and the environment. She loves to hike, kayak, workout, and hang with her handsome hubby and doggie Hobo.
Please visit her website at: www.meganporschen.com