Eco Beauty & Fashion

Does Natural Hair Color Really Work?

brunette girl dying her hair with rubber glovesAfter a flirtation with auburn hair color in high school and some serious bleach in college, I went au naturale. But recently, the few-and-far-between white hairs that I began to pluck in my mid-30s are now threatening to become a bald spot if I keep up the practice.

It’s time for natural hair color.

Natural hair colors typically eschew coal tar, peroxide, benzene, ammonia, toluene, paraphenylenediamine and other toxic chemicals omnipresent in conventional hair dyes—things that I most definitely want to avoid.

Even the FDA warns that conventional hair dyes can cause respiratory problems, hair loss and skin irritation—among other problems.

Some gnarly chemicals in conventional hair dye such as lead acetate are actually banned for cosmetic use in the European Union. Lead acetate is a neurotoxin that can actually cause fetal mortality if you use it when you’re pregnant. Think about what that stuff does to the ecosystem when it goes down the drain.

To be effective, natural hair color doesn’t just have to forego toxic ingredients—it’s got to change your hair color, too. Otherwise, what’s the point? What’s a graying green girl to do—aside from learning to love her true colors? First, look for a natural hair color brand that is free of the chemicals listed above, as well as parabens, propylene glycol and resorcinol, while maintaining low levels of PPD, also known as pigment.

But the whole point of dyeing is actually changing the color of your hair—gray and all. To be effective, natural hair color doesn’t just have to forego toxic ingredients—it’s got to work, too. Otherwise, what’s the point?

I did a little informal research among a group of natural hair coloring friends and these two brands kept popping up as the ones that work best: EcoColors and Tints of Nature, which provide permanent and semi-permanent options.

I might have to give them a whirl. Now the only question is: auburn or blonde?

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