Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Is Dyeing Your Hair Dangerous?

Whether we go gray earlier than we’d like or we’re just not happy with the color nature gave us, or perhaps we just like to be a bit different, hair dye has become a staple in households around the world. Unfortunately, hair dyeing can be an unhealthy and dangerous process. Let’s take a look at what’s in hair dye, the dangers it poses and how you can avoid the risks of diseases like cancer.

Hair coloring
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Dangers of Hair Dye

#1)  The Cancer Prevention Coalition has published a list called the Dirty Dozen.  It lists the most harmful consumer products and guess dye is on that list.  It contains carcinogenic ingredients including:
* Quaternium-15
* Diethanolamine
* Phenylenediamines

#2)  Additionally, and more specifically, hair dye has been linked to:
* Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
* Multiple myeloma
* Leukemia
* Breast cancer
* Ovarian cancer
* Bladder cancer
* Birth defects and childhood cancer, when the mother dyed her hair while pregnant

#3)  The dye para-phenylenediamine (PPED), present in almost all permanent and semi-permanent hair coloring products, has been linked to breast cancer once it has been oxidized with hydrogen peroxide (a common ingredient/process in hair coloring).

#4)  Alkylphenol ethoxylates (APE's) are found in many hair dyes and they are suspected hormone disruptors. 

#5)  Severe allergic reactions can occur even if you’ve colored your hair for years. These reactions include but are not limited to the following possible symptoms:

* Rash
* Extreme swelling
* Severe burning sensation on the scalp
* Breathing difficulties
* Anaphylactic shock
* Occasionally, death can be the result of a severe allergic reaction

Henna Paste
Henna Paste (Photo credit: Henna Bee)
Is There a Safe Alternative?

Yes, as a matter of fact there is. Hair dyes can be made from vegetable-based products.  They work quite well to produce a full, thick and shiny head of hair in the color of your choice. The downside is that the effects are usually short-lived, lasting only a couple of weeks.

Henna is also an option for many; however, Henna also leaves a red tint, regardless of the intended color, and may not be for everyone.

What You Can Do

Many believe the beauty industry needs to be better regulated by the FDA.  It probably doesn’t make sense if the same chemicals and petroleum products that are restricted in a manufacturing environment are allowed to be put into products that are applied to human skin.  Get involved in legislation to change policies and practices.

Additionally, you can educate yourself and others about the dangers of hair dyes and safe alternatives.  There’s a growing demand for natural salons and spas.  Find one in your community and frequent it.  You can also find safe and natural alternatives at your local health food store or make your own hair dye.  Beauty is important; it’s a part of our culture.  However, it’s not worth risking our health for.

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