Since at least grade 11 (um, 12 years?), I have joined the ranks of people who have had their hair highlighted. I've been pretty darn blond, and once RED, and at least highlighting once and often twice a year. My natural hair colour is pretty boring, a mousy brown. BORING.
That said, I haven't dyed my hair in over a year (since before the wedding) and I'm starting to get the itch again. Especially since, I will vainly admit, I'm feeling a bit wonky about a new, shorter, haircut.
This post is to remind myself why I should reconsider the hair dyeing decision.
I know it's small, but this is an example of how blond my hair got- I'm at Gray Monk Winery in the Okanagan Valley. My hair is naturally quite mousy brown, so you can definitely see the artificiality at work here...
Conventional hair dyes contain a ridiculous amount of nasty chemicals. Anyone with a nose knows this- that nostril burning smell? Those are cancer-inducing chemicals that you're inhaling into your lungs, soaking into your skin and entering your body. Yum!
Scary chemicals in hair dye:Ammonia and peroxide: known allergens and skin irritants
PPD(p-phenylenediamine) and diaminobenzene: toxic to the chemically sensitive. PPD has been linked to cancerous tumours in lab tests by the US National Cancer Insitute (as cited on David Suzuki)
Coal Tar: darker dyes (like deep browns or blacks) often contain coal tar, or a synthetic version. This ingredient has been linked to higher rates of cancer. These coal tar derived ingredients may also be contaminated by heavy metals which are toxic to our brain (David Suzuki).
A few studies have linked prolonged use of hair dye and an increased risk (two to three times and for hairstylists-estheticians up to 5x!) of bladder cancers, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma cancers and multiple melanomas (Ecoholic 2006, p. 13).
What isn't absorbed into our bodies gets washed down the drain:Above and beyond our health concerns hair dye is directly washed out and down the drain, entering our water ways, rivers, lakes and oceans. These chemicals are toxic to aquatic life and how vain can we be that we'd risk our precious water sources for our hair to be a different colour?
Cultural Reality of 'Grays'Ok, I say all this, but my one 'white-gray' hair is in my left eyebrow (yep, weird I know). I know that once I start getting whites and grays I'll feel even more tempted to dye dye away. COAL ME UP. In our culture of 'worship of youth' anything age related has left us conditioned with a knee jerk fear reaction. Nothing shouts age more than gray or white hair. I once thought one of my supervisors in Montreal was in her fifties as she sported a beautiful cap of gray hair. She was 36.
Lets be honest, gray and white hair will result in the perception of age. I do believe that we need brave women to say 'NO' to this culturally defined version of 'beauty' and 'worth'. But am I brave enough to be one of these women? I hope that when the day comes (most likely in a few short years) I will be. I am not judging though, that's all.
100% Natural: Henna is the number one natural darkening hair product. Yancy at FiveSeed has a first account post on the pros (and a few cons, notably the alfalfa aroma) of Henna; the results mainly of fabulousness. She also has a guest written post by Callah about Lush's Henna.
Halfway: Companies like Herbatint, Ecocolors and Naturcolor all have 'less chemical' hair dye solutions (Naturcolor is an ammonia-cruelty-free plant-based option *low* in PPD for example).
Not So Terrible Pros: If you're like me and am definitely not into DIY with your hair, there is virtually no chemical-free salon options. That said, Aveda, (who have, I will grudgingly admit, upped their 'eco' game in recent years) have hair dyes that are up to 97% plant based. (I highly doubt Aveda doesn't have at least a few sketchy ingredients...). Sadly, the Aveda salons here in Halifax are filled with not so friendly, snobby stylists.
Another option- pick up a box of the 'Halfway' options and bring it to your stylist, insisting on your and our planet's health. (Not for the faint of heart, I'd hope to have a kick-butt relationship with my hair stylist before attempting this one).
What about you, trusty readers? What are your thoughts on bucking the hair dye economic machine? Will you take a stand when those gray hairs start creeping in?
article and photograph copyright of EcoYogini at ecoyogini.blogspot.com