Your Hair Dye Could Be Your Ticket to Dangerous Chemicals
Dyed hair is one of the most popular fashion trends around the world today. It is common for women and men to dye their hair a few times a year. Dying your hair can make a dull hairstyle interesting and beautiful. It’s also popular among people who want to cover up “unsightly” grey or white hair.
But before you allow a hairdresser to dye your hair, you should first be fully aware of the potential health dangers that you are exposing yourself to. For instance, did you know that there are dangerous toxins lurking in hair dyes that can be absorbed into your body?
What’s even more alarming is that because hair dyes are classified as a personal care product, they do not go through any government mandated testing before they hit supermarket shelves. So even if they contain toxic ingredients, they can still be sold to consumers.
Beware of Toxins in Your Hair Dye
Of the 456 hair colors ranked in the "Skin Deep” cosmetics database created by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), roughly 400 are considered high hazard because they contain toxins linked to:
- Immunotoxicity and organ toxicity
- Developmental and reproductive toxicity
- Allergies and irritation of the skin, eyes, or lungs
For example, “ash blonde” or “chestnut brown” hair dyes may contain:
- Para-phenylenediamine and tetrahydro-6-nitroquinoxaline -- both shown to damage genetic material and cause cancer in animals.
- Coal tar -- a known carcinogen. One investigation revealed that 71 percent of hair dyes used today contain coal tar.
- Formaldehyde -- a preservative linked to cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and other health issues.
- DMDM Hydantoin -- a preservative that is found to be toxic to the immune system. This chemical has been banned for use in cosmetics in Japan.
- Eugenol -- a fragrance ingredient that’s been linked to allergies, cancer, immunotoxicity, and neurotoxicity.
It is a good idea to look up the brand of hair dye you use in EWG’s cosmetics database, so you will know what types of damaging chemicals you’re being exposed to.
Beware: Showering in Warm Chlorinated Water Doubles the Danger
People with dyed hair are often told they should not bathe in chlorinated water, mainly because chlorine strips away the natural protective oils found in your hair and scalp, which causes excess drying that breaks down the dye, affecting its longevity. If your hair color fades away quicker than you expect, then it’s probably because of the chlorine in your bath water.
But there is a more important reason not to bathe in hot chlorinated water if you have dyed hair. Keep in mind that your scalp has a very rich blood supply that transports toxins from the dye throughout your body. Because hot water and steam opens up your pores, more toxins – both from the dye and the chlorine – can enter your bloodstream, exacerbating the negative effects of the dye.
So if you have dyed hair, make sure that you do not bathe in hot chlorinated water. It will be helpful to install a whole house water filter in your home to filter out the chlorine and lessen the risk, but this alone cannot protect you.
Minimizing the Potential Risks of Using Hair Dye
Limiting your exposure to dangerous chemicals, especially those in beauty products, should always be a top priority. This means avoiding hair dye. However, if you are really determined to use it, here are some tips that may help reduce your exposure:
- Avoid dark shades. They contain more chemicals than lighter shades.
- Permanent hair colors are the most toxic, so steer clear of them. Use semi-permanent or temporary hair dye instead.
- Opt for natural brands of hair color that use henna, herbal dyes or vegetable dyes as the main ingredient. They are likely to be less toxic than other hair dyes.
- Find a salon that uses chemical-free, odor-free, herbal products, or caters to people with multiple chemical sensitivity and allergies.
About the Author
Elaine is a fan of Dr. Joseph Mercola. Thanks to his articles, she has learned about the dangers lurking in bath water, and why installing a whole house water filter is an important part of staying healthy. She is also now more cautious of using beauty products, and makes sure they only contain safe, natural ingredients before buying them
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