What to Know Before Grabbing The Hair Dye

Author: Shannon Miller Lifestyle

Professional hairdresser choose hair dye color at salon

When picking out a color, few of us think beyond the strong smell to what the health implications are in using a simple hair dye.

From the minimal to the maximal effects of that hair dye on the human body, taking a look at what is in the dye itself may save you from side effects that you may not expect.

What hair dye chemicals are dangerous?

Label reading is important in any product that touches the body. In hair dye, notice the ammonia content. According to Jonathan Elkhouri, owner of Salon Khouri in Fairfax, VA, at-home dye kits usually contain a lot of ammonia. The effect on the hair itself is that it could dry out the hair, and that it leaves the fair cuticle open, which leads to quick color fading. Elkhouri offers a low-ammonia dye in his services, which saves the client from the fumes and from the drying affects. Side effects on the body to the inhalation of ammonia can include vomiting, diarrhea, headache, rash, and dizziness. Elkhouri recommends getting hair dyed professionally because professionals have access to low ammonia dyes and have the knowledge of which ones will work with the client’s hair and skin.

 Perhaps scarier are the chemicals in hair dyes called “arylamines”. In 2001, researchers at the University of Southern California, led by Mimi C. Yu, found that exposure to dyes with arylamines could be a link to bladder cancer. In fact, women who use hair dye once a month for a year have double the chance of getting bladder cancer to those who do not use hair dye. Hair dressers who use these dyes for at least ten years have a risk five times greater of getting bladder cancer than those who do not use these dyes. (Source USC News, 02-12-01). The risk is only in permanent dyes, not in temporaries. The most common arylamine, and one to definitely watch for is p-phenylenediamine.

What are the alternatives to dyes with arylamines?

Safer alternatives to permanent hair dyes right now could be to use temporary hair dyes. Temporary hair dyes still contain strong chemicals that can affect respiration and skin dryness or burning sensations.

The safest products on the market currently are vegetable rinses or henna. Vegetable rinses can be made with various berries and roots to add color to the hair. They are semi-permanent and usually more subtle than permanent dyes. Henna dyes usually have a red tint, but are not necessarily all red. Modern hennas can have chestnuts or dark browns as well. When purchasing a henna or vegetable dye, still check the label. Some companies have been caught putting the very chemicals in the dye that the consumer was trying to avoid. (Source: Cathy Sherman, naturalnews.com).

Experts at Babycenter.com report that there is not an extra concern in relation to pregnancy and hair dyes or bleaches. However, it is important to remember that the skin is a semi-permeable membrane, which means that any chemical that is small enough in its molecular structure can enter the bloodstream when applied topically. Any chemicals in the bloodstream can be shared through the placenta to the unborn child.

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