Have you been searching for a more natural hair color product? I have and it has often been a frustrating and sometimes painful experience. I am looking for a safer product but I am also sensitive to some hair dye ingredients and using the wrong product can cause a nasty reaction.
I have tried and continue to experiment with the newer and safer alternatives to conventional hair dye. Fortunately, more companies are addressing the safety of hair dye so there are more products to try.
It turns out that some of the most toxic ingredients used are often the same ones that cause irritation. Minimize or eliminate those and not only is the product less likely to cause reactions but it is also safer. That’s good for everyone.
Safer ingredients are not the only requirements are they? We want great, long lasting color too but finding a product that is safer, provides great color, covers gray and for the growing ranks of us who are sensitive does not cause an allergic reaction can be hard but… not impossible.
Looking For More Natural Hair Color
I never had a particularly attractive hair color so I started very early on coloring my hair and usually my only thought was…
How I would look with beautiful blonde hair like the model on the box?
In fact, I usually didn’t take the time to do a patch test. It became painfully evident and I really do mean painful that my usual products were not going to work any longer. It seems like overnight I was using products with no problem to using products and experiencing burning and itching.
For a long time I did not color my hair at all. I just wasn’t happy with the alternatives I was finding. I could have used henna products which can be a great option and a very safe way to color hair but I was hesitant to try them. I just didn’t care for the colors that are available.
Since I wasn’t and am still not absolutely certain what I am allergic to in permanent hair dyes, I started with the ingredient that is causing the most concern both for toxicity but also as a serious allergen for some women, PPD (p-Phenylenediamine).
I soon discovered that most permanent products contain ppd a very effective chemical ingredient that helps the dye penetrate the hair shaft and the ingredient that seems to cause the most reactions so I looked for products that contained ppd in lesser amounts. It was also very important that the brand I chose did not do animal testing.
My first choice was a more natural hair color product called Naturtint. It is permanent and without animal testing. It was a better choice for awhile but burning and itching soon became a problem again.
Just Have To Gripe A Little About Using The Word Natural
Many hair color products call themselves natural and I find this can be confusing. If they were to say natural looking results then that makes sense. Contains natural ingredients even if only one or two ingredients makes some sense too but to call a product natural when it contains chemical ingredients is just misleading.
I refer to products on this page as more natural. They contain a greater percentage of natural ingredients than many brands and the choice of chemicals used is safer than many of the brands currently available.
Getting To Know The Ingredients
There are quite a few ingredients in hair dyes that can trigger allergic reactions. Depending on your level of sensitivity the reactions may range from mild itching to severe burning and blisters in very sensitive individuals. Based on my mail alone irritation to hair color is a big problem. It drives many women like myself to figure out what ingredient or ingredients are the culprits.
I researched the product I was using, Naturtint and discovered through the Skin Deep Database that it had a moderate safety rating. As I said it does contain PPD (p-phenylenediamine) an allergen and carcinogen, Cocamide DEA another allergen and fragrance an allergen that may contain toxic ingredients. The database gives PPD their highest and worst rating which is a 10 for high hazard. Fragrance is also considered high hazzard. Cocamide DEA and hydrogen peroxide receive a moderate rating.
It’s pretty obvious to me that by choosing a safer more natural hair color product I may also be able to find something that is not irritating but after having no luck with Naturtint I had to wonder if permanent color would work for me. I was not willing to give up on this just yet.
Update: Naturtint Permanent Hair Color for some reason is no longer listed on the Database but you can always check individual ingredients for safety. 07/12/11
Skin Deep is a database that rates thousands of different ingredients and products for safety. Be sure and visit the Skin Deep Database to check out any hair color products you are using. You’ll have more info to make an informed decision.
Best Choices For Coloring Your Hair
If like me you are still wanting to color your hair with permanant products try those that contain safer and less amounts of chemical ingredients like those below containing low levels of ppd’s. Always doing patch tests. If allergies become an issue or you are wanting the safest natural hair color possible check into those listed below with no ppd’s.
Products with low levels of ppd.
- EcoColors is a permanent natural hair color made with a very low level of chemicals. The company says that it has been used safely by people who have had allergic reactions to other products. I have used this product myself with very good results but am sorry to say I no longer use it. After almost 6 months of use I started experiencing itching burning again but this is just me many women have used this product quite succesfully. (My review is below.)EcoColors has signed the campaign for Safe Cosmetics and works to use the least toxic, environmentally friendly ingredients and they don’t do animal testing. They do use lanolin so it’s not a vegan product.One of my favorite things about EcoColors is that as far as I know they are the only one that offers a free patch test (there is a small shipping fee) so you can test it out before buying and see if you have any reactions. To find this on their site go to their FAQ section and you will see a link to a page for the allergy test.
- Herbatint is a permanent natural hair color that uses extracts of plants and herbs for color and conditioning. They too use the minimum amount of chemicals to do the job of lifting the color up to two shades. No animal testing here and it’s vegan.If you do not want to buy this product on-line try looking in your local health food stores.
- Naturtint the product I tried first is a good natural hair color that is low chemical, no ammonia, resorcinol or parabens and contains many vegetable ingredients. While I developed sensitivity to this product it may work for you, only a patch test will tell. They also offer a semi permanent product called Naturtint Reflex that does not contain ammonia, hydrogen peroxide or ppd’s.
- This product offers low levels of ppd’s, no ammonia and no parabens. It does contain resorcinol which can cause allergic reactions. They also offer a ppd free formula as well as a lightening kit. I tried the ppd free formula and was surprised by an allergic reaction to a product with no ppd. A little research turned up an ingredient, toulene-2,5-diamine, which can be used as a replacement for ppd and can also be an allergen. That said, Sanotint is still worth considering as a safer alternative to conventional brands. This company says their product has not been tested on animals.My problems with this product point out the importance of the patch test every time even if you think the product will be fine. It can be hard to nail down which ingredient or ingredients are the problem. PPD is a problem but it’s not the only one.
A Helpful Tip
My stylist suggested that I don’t wash my hair for several days before I color. This allows the scalp’s natural oils to build up and provide a barrier that may help to provide some protection from chemicals. This may not work though if you use a lot of styling products. Make sure to read product instructions first and see their recommendations.
Products that contain no ppd’s.
- Vegetal is a semi-permanent natural hair color from Herbatint. It won’t lift the color – no hydrogen peroxide or PPD’s and washes out after 6-8 shampoos.
- Aubrey Organics offers a more natural hair color called Color Me Natural. It contains no synthetic chemicals which means no ppd. Sounds great but they only offer it in two colors, dark brown and mahogany and if you have more than 20% grey you will need to check with the company for their suggestions.
- No ammonia, no resorcinol, no ppd’s, no hydrogen peroxide and that’s just a few of the ingredients that have been left out of this natural hair color. This is one of the most gentle products. It contains plant based ingredients. Makes you wonder does it work? I had to try and I was pleasantly surprised at the results which you can read about on my Palette by Nature Review below.
- I was quite pleased with my results with Tints of Nature. It too is a gentler product with low chemicals and low hydrogen peroxide which is good because apparently I am one of those people who are sensitive to hydrogen peroxide an ingredient in most products that is thought to be well handled by most people. Cruelty free and vegan. You can read my review of this product below.
- One last suggestion for a very safe natural hair dye is henna hair coloring. Many women find this works great for them but for best results you need to learn more about it. Check out this page on henna hair color for more information.
Below are my reviews of more natural hair color products I’ve tried.
Also make sure to check out reviews submitted to this site.
Don’t Forget Your Patch Test And Strand Test
When choosing your natural hair color always remember to do a patch test and a strand test. I know it’s tempting to bypass these, I’ve been guilty of this myself but if you find out as I did that you have suddenly become allergic to a product you can find out before applying the product to your whole head. Always follow package recommendations. I have found that applying the product just behind my ear is more reliable and make sure to leave it on the recommended amount of time.
The strand test can be so important especially when you do your own color. The color on the box may morph into something quite different on your hair. For the best results make sure to follow package directions carefully. I don’t want you have a hair color disaster.
Also if have have your hair colored at a salon and develop allergic reactions to their products talk to your stylist. They should be able to research other safer products or maybe they will allow you to do as I do and bring in whatever product you want and they apply it. This works well for me since I have been know to miss whole sections when doing touch ups. Just make sure to do the allergy and patch tests in advance.
Protect Your New Hair Color
One of the biggest challenges to colored hair is keeping the color fresh as long as possible. It’s inevitable that it will fade but you can take some steps to protect the color and slow the fading process.
Protect your natural hair color by using products especially formulated for color treated hair. There are many great natural shampoos formulated just to protect color. Also consider a product like John Masters Organics Cider Rinse, a blend of herbs and organic apple cider vinegar, that works to protect your natural hair color while helping remove product build up that tends to flatten hair.
And don’t forget a hat. The blazing summer sun does a very nice job of fading color. A good hat preferably one with UV protection will do double duty protecting your natural hair color and your skin.