As a culture obsessed with youth and beauty, it’s easy to fall into the trap of using hair dyes to cover those telltale gray hairs. However, using these commercial products is risky since the chemical formulations are linked with a range of cancers. Even so-called ‘natural’ dyes can compromise health. Where do we turn? With a measure of creativity and knowledge, do-it-yourself hair color can give you glossy, rich locks without the drawbacks of pre-made colorants.
Beware of youth in a bottle
In the quest for an ageless appearance, scores of women and men have substantially increased their risk of cancer through the use of commercial hair dyes. Concoctions of poisons that can lead to cancer of the breast, ovary and bladder, as well as leukemia, the hazards of hair colorants outweigh the temporary cosmetic benefits. According to NYR Natural News, several studies over the years have found:
87 out of 100 breast cancer patients have used hair dye long-term.Women who changed their hair color (instead of simply masking the gray) tripled their risk of breast cancer.Ovarian cancer rates increase by 70 percent for those women who color their hair one to four times per year.Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma rates quadruple in women who color their hair.
The use of hair dye is responsible for a 90 percent increase of multiple myeloma in men.
It’s no wonder the incidence of serious disease has spiked with hair dye use considering most contain the following toxic chemicals: propylene glycol, polyethylene glycol, isopropyl alcohol, phenylenediamine, para-toluenediamine, ortho-phenylenediamine, para-aminophenol and ortho-aminophenol, while ‘natural’ hair dyes can contain para-phenylenediamine (PPD) as well as heavy metals.
All in all, for the sake of health and well-being, it behooves us to seek out safer, less toxic alternatives than what is available commercially.
DIY natural colorants
If you would like ditch standard hair dyes, without having to sacrifice beautiful color, Whole Living provides several alternatives. Using a few key ingredients once a week, “[y]ou’ll get similar effects to using store-bought products, but without the fragrances, dyes, or chemicals,” states Julie Gabriel, author of The Green Beauty Guide.
Brunettes can use a mixture of cocoa powder, yogurt, honey and apple cider vinegar to enrich natural color while covering gray. For brightening blonde hair, chamomile tea, lemon and potato are effective. Redheads find success with a combination of carrots, honey, yogurt and cranberries. Complete instructions can be found here.
Using organic instant coffee is another option as it will cover gray hair and can actually curb shedding, as reported by this study. Simply blend one tablespoon instant coffee granules and 1/4 cup brewed coffee with one cup natural conditioner. Next, place a towel around your shoulders and massage entire mixture into the hair. Wrap a plastic bag around your head and secure. Let sit for 15-30 minutes then rinse well. Hair color will deepen over time with each application and, once a satisfactory color is achieved, can be used once per week for maintenance.
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