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Natural Hair Dyes

A greying friend recently asked about this topic and I googled up a great article on the subject written by Laurie Berger of the Vegetarian Times in 1998. Here is the hyperlink -- which includes references -- my quick summary follows below: Hair color to dye for: the good, the bad and the ugly on natural cover-ups - natural hair dyes

  • Studies have linked hair coloring to cancer (! women who dye their hair have a 50% greater risk of developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma).
  • Several "natural" hair dyes are now available off the shelf (! Natural hair dyes account for 10% of the annual $1.25 billion hair dye market).
  • Be forewarned: "natural" is a word without any legal meaning in this industry. A self-claimed natural dye can be just as toxic as your off-the-shelf chemical stuffed Clairol (made from coal tar dyes).
  • But natural dyes which are safer than the coal-tar-dyes are quite effective and a National Cancer Institute spokersperson says: "Based on what we now know, natural hair dyes are a safer choice. But avoid products with coal tar, which has been found to contain human carcinogens."
  • Henna is a the most natural (and well-known) plant based dye. Many claim it doesn't cover grey (like my friend), but there are ways to work with it to make it more effective and this article discusses them!

Personal Note. I will always cherish the memory of my mom dying my hair for me when I was 42. At some point during one of my too-rare visits, she delicately suggested that it was time I started coloring my hair. I gave her permission to dash off to the store and pick the product and hue and I allowed her to apply it while we sat kvetching in the kitchen. Because I moved away from home at a young age (17), I have few female bonding memories with my mother. So I guess there is one good thing to say about Clairol.

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