I know the health risks associated with hair dye. I’ve written about the FDA’s warnings that hair dye can lead to respiratory problems, hair loss and skin irritation. And for the past few years, I’ve been fine with plucking the occasional gray. But there’s nothing like a change of color to upgrade your mood, and last week I desperately needed a mood upgrade. So I went dark—by about four shades—with a temporary hair dye color. Then I found a few tricks to make it last.
When it comes to toxic chemicals in hair dye, the point is to minimize your exposure. You minimize your exposure by using less hair dye. And you use less hair dye by making your new color last. Here’s how. When it comes to hair dye, there’s no getting around the fact that it contains toxic chemicals. In conventional hair dyes, you can find coal tar, peroxide, ammonia and benzene—just to name a few. And yes, you can use truly natural henna, but even “natural” ammonia-free hair dyes can contain hydroxytoluene and aminophenol, among others, which rank “6” on the Skin Deep Database because of concerns about allergic reactions and cancer.
When it comes to toxic chemicals in hair dye, the point is to minimize your exposure. You minimize your exposure by using less hair dye. And you use less hair dye by making your new color last. Here are my new favorite tricks:
1. Use sulfate-free shampoo. In general, shampoo removes hair dye from the hair; sulfates speed up the process. (My absolutely favorite shampoo is Alaffia Everyday Shea Shampoo, which is inexpensive, fair trade, organic and hands-down my secret to good hair.)
2. Condition with a combination of 1/3 apple cider vinegar— I like this organic apple cider vinegar from Bragg—and 2/3 conditioner. The vinegar actually helps the hair dye to remain bonded to the hair, according to my awesome stylist Viviane of Marina Beach Hair. Shout out to Viv, woot!
3. After using hair dye, wait 72 hours before washing. Yes, you will need a hat or at least a headband—I’m partial to these velvet bands from Sparkly Soul. If you wait three days to wash your hair after using hair dye, the color will last longer.
4. Once your ‘do is in regular rotation, wash only every 48 hours. Again, shampoo is the enemy of hair dye. Try using it only every other day.
5. On the off day, rinse your hair with hot water to combat oil, and/or use a natural hair powder like this organic one from Lulu Organics, which I’ve been using for years—as you can see from the video below, in which I am dated by 1. EcoStiletto, which is no longer (sniff), 2. Less wrinkles and 3. Bangs, which I kind of love. (Seriously, should I bring those back? Tell me in comments, below!)