Whether it’s to cover up gray, to try on a new personality or decide once and for all if blondes really do have more fun, many of us choose to colour our hair. While changing hair colour provides a temporary fix, the chemicals we use to act out our chameleon side can cause long-term effects ranging from burning and rash to various forms of cancer. Happily, there are many non-toxic strategies to keep you looking fabulous now and feeling great down the road.
People who use synthetic permanent hair dyes monthly for a year double their risk of developing bladder cancer, and hair professionals have five times the bladder cancer risk. Another study concluded that women who used hair dyes five or more times per year were at increased risk of developing ovarian cancer than their non-colouring counterparts. Heed warnings on brands advising that products should not touch your skin.
Natural hair colours from the health products store can provide subtle enhancement of your natural colour and cover a modest amount of gray. These products typically use less hydrogen peroxide or ammonia than drugstore brands to penetrate the hair shaft, but be sure to read and compare labels. Look for semi-permanent and rinse-out colours tinted with natural walnut, indigo, coffee and beetroot. Henna is great for intensifying reds, but note that any henna product in a colour other than the naturally-occurring red has been chemically altered. To boost your hair health, choose products containing conditioning jojoba, hydrolyzed wheat protein and essential oils.
If you like to pamper yourself by getting your colour done at the salon, remember that it’s always safer to lighten your hair than apply a dark colour, partially because it’s the applied colours that have been associated with the dangerous affects. Because lightening products are frequently used to create highlights with the benefit of a cap or foil, on the other hand, fewer chemicals are used. Chemicals are also less likely to touch the scalp and enter the bloodstream.
Do try this at home
Steep a pot of strong black tea from the tea leaves. After the solution has cooled, use it as a rinse after shampooing. Brunettes will also get shine from a diluted apple-cider vinegar rinse.
Steep a pot of chamomile tea, allow it to cool, and use it as a rinse after shampooing. Lemon juice is also a good rinse for blondes.
By Lisa Petty
Originally published in Alive