Updated: Jan 27
Safe hair dyes have been trending in the beauty and wellness world. Do they exist? Simple answer, NO. If you are looking for traditional salon-style hair dyes your going to get a product full of chemicals even if you go to an “organic” salon. Did you know that according to USDA standards, a product is only required to be made of 95% organic ingredients? This is where creative marketing comes in. If a product has 70% organic ingredients it can use the label “made with organic ingredients.” This is often all a consumer needs to make them feel good about the purchase they are making.
Whether it is your health or your consciousness that has led you to look for a safer alternative for your hair you must be willing to read the label. Google will recommend many reputable beauty magazines that have organized a list of the top “natural” hair dyes. Remember if you can’t trust organic to be organic, you should run the other direction when you see the word “natural”.
If you are like me reading labels is the last thing you want to do. Unfortunately for me, my health required me to pay attention to the details. Luckily I found an app called, Think Dirty. This app gives you a clear list of the ingredients and ranks each product based on its toxicity. The numbers are usually between 0 being the cleanest option and 8-10 being the “dirty/toxic” option.
Using this app I found the products recommended by google and well-known beauty resources to be very misleading. These informational sites encourage you to believe in products that have learned to advertise to an audience looking for clean hair dyes knowing that this audience will not pay attention to the fine print.
Companies were in a bind when it became wildly known that PPD’s were bad. These are the ingredients that allow for that long-lasting look. So to remove the bad and not lose customers, they replaced it with ingredients you wouldn’t recognize as bad although in reality in most cases the bait and switch was worse. If you pick up any of these hair dyes at the store you will likely not see a list of the ingredients on the box instead you will see a list of the ingredients that are NOT in the product. This list includes about seven ingredients that have been on blast for being dangerous to consumers. You will also see a list of the natural ingredients because yes there might be some “organic” ingredients as we learned earlier. Up to 70% might be organic but organic does not cancel out a chemical that is dangerous to your wellbeing. To their defense, it’s nearly impossible to make an effective permanent hair dye without the chemicals needed to preserve the color. When it comes to hair care you must pick your poison. The cleanest route may take more time and perhaps require you to apply more often.
Here is a shortlist of products based on Think Dirty’s input.
SAFE: 0 ACCORDING TO THINK DIRTY
SAFER: 3-5 ACCORDING TO THINK DRITY
Surya Brasil Henna Cream
Lush Caca Noir Henna Hair Dye
TOXIC: 8+ ACCORDING TO THINK DIRTY
Clairol Natural Instincts
Tints of Nature
Notice the names of these products all include a word that makes your brain think natural when in fact they are no less toxic than they were before. Remember they need to sell a product but you need to keep yourself healthy and vibrant.