Dye your hair the greener way

hair dye
Written by Nigel Simpkins

What are the potentially harmful hair dye chemicals to avoid?

Don’t use hair dye that contains phthalates, ammonia, P-phenylenediamine, parabens or sulfates.

PPD-free hair dye is very difficult to find. Such products may use aminophenols instead of PPD. However, if you’re allergic to PPD, chances are you won’t be able to use hair dye that contains aminophenols. You should discuss your problem with a professional hair stylist to find the right products for you.

What are the main ingredients of eco-friendly hair dyes?

Many natural hair dyes contain henna or other vegetables. There are also some oil-based ones. Some also contain hydrogen peroxide which helps the color become more durable.

Not all henna products disclose the full list of ingredients. However, some of these labels may list pure indigo, indigoferae tinctoria leaf or walnut. Even though the product you may know as “black henna” is an indigoferae tinctoria derivative, some of these hair dyes may actually contain PPD, as well. If you know you are allergic to PPD, you shouldn’t use black henna products to dye your hair.

As a general rule, vegetable-based products are known as stains – they work by coating the hair rather than penetrating the hair shaft. These products may contain ingredients that are similar to the ones you can find in henna dyes, but also dispersed inks (like the ones in tattoos).

How long can I expect my eco-friendly hair color to last?

When shopping around for such products, look for labels that say semi-permanent hair color, ammonia-free and PPD/PT-free. These dyes fade away a little with every wash and they last for about 6-12 washes. Some of these hair dyes may contain certified organic or vegan-friendly ingredients. Also, some may be gluten-free. Whatever your choice, remember that a chemically-loaded dye lasts less than a natural-based permanent one. Natural ingredients aren’t as aggressive, and therefore they don’t damage the hair cuticles.

Are eco-friendly hair dyes expensive?

You can find a wide range of such products, with prices that start from $10 and may go up to $30 for two ounces. There shouldn’t be a big difference between standard and salon brands. However, many hair stylists charge an additional 5-15% for “greener” hair color.

Are eco-friendly dyes effective when it comes to covering greys?

Yes, many of them do. Nevertheless, they can achieve full grey coverage only if they also contain a small percentage of chemical ingredients. Natural ones are rather blending in the greys than covering them.

Where can I find eco-friendly hair dye?

Most organic groceries and health food retailers sell such products.