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8 Tips for Safer Hair Color

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With very few exceptions, hair color is not always clean.Yes, not at all. Even European products and most brands that are labeled organic, natural, or herbal do contain toxic chemicals. We all color our hair, love the results and will continue to do so. We would love to be able to understand the risks that we take when we color our hair. And, of course, we’d love for the entire process to become transparent and safer.

Is coloring hair as harmful as regular smoking? Although its effects are less well-studied, it is likely that they don’t have the same negative impact as regular smoking. Perhaps the most toxic ingredient, PPD (paraphenylenediamine)–rated seven out of ten in terms of toxicity in some studies –is in most permanent hair color (some contain a similar compound, PTD), including many so-called organic and natural formulas. Sonya Lunder (a senior analyst at Environmental Working Group) says that PPD is one of the most dangerous ingredients.

The Great Eight

1. Blonde, not brunette. The levels of PPD in dark hair are significantly higher than those with lighter hair colors.

2. If you are concerned about grey hair, wait until it is grey and after that color.

3. You can go longer between going to hairdresser.

Strategy A: Color-Wow is a magical brush-on powder that covers roots in imperceptibly. It stays on until you wash it off, so it’s a simple and highly effective alternative to dyeing your roots. It can be used to reduce the time between colors. Over the course of your life, your exposure will decrease significantly.

Strategy B: Condition your ends, wear hats, avoid chlorinate. You should wash your hair less frequently in order to keep your color vibrant and healthy-looking.

4. Follow the instructions when you are coloring at home. Avoid using the hair-coloring kits at home, and wear the gloves that are too bulky.

5. Get medical attention immediately if you experience any allergic reactions after coloring. We are not referring to irritation or burns from bleach. We’re referring to swelling, dizziness and difficulty breathing. People who have been coloring their hair for a long time have experienced anaphylactic reactions to the PPD. This also applies to people who have just started coloring their hair. Even those who have just passed a patch test can experience reactions. Any allergic sensation, even a mild one, should be taken very seriously. An anaphylactic reaction can be life-threatening.

6. Marie Robinson, a colorist who runs salons in New York City and Miami, advises that pregnant women avoid coloring during the first trimester. She also suggests that you stay clear of on-scalp color for the duration of your pregnancy. She suggests talking to your colorist about the options. It’s possible to color the hair and not damage it in many cases.

7. Do not apply too much color to your scalp. Highlights, on the other hand, are not harmful to your scalp and pose minimal risk. Robinson recommends that people with grey hair up to 25% should only color the grey and leave the rest natural. Robinson says that you don’t have to color your hair in full.

8. Non-PPD formulas are best. These formulas may not be 100% nontoxic but they will eliminate one known toxic ingredient. The temporary gel color by Christophe Robin is a favorite. The brand Hairprint, which is permanent and free of PPD, is more difficult to apply, but it is still easy enough to do at home.

Lunder explains that PPD is a strong chemical sensitizer. These reactions can be more severe than itchiness, redness, and irritation. However, PPD can also cause them all. Even if the patch test passes, fatal anaphylactic reactions can also occur. This can happen even if the hair color has been the same for years. The patch test is controversial. Lunder says that people are trying to determine whether it only increases your exposure and thus increases the chance of an allergic reaction or whether there’s any benefit.


If you take good care of your hair, it can make your hair last longer. You should focus on ultra-gentle, super-moisturizing products, just like you would for your skin.

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