The majority of women (and some men) in England dye their hair. Now of course if you have naturally dark hair (but in your heart you are a platinum blonde), there is never going to be a natural hair dye for you, so just go for it if that’s what you want. But if you are one of the majority who either have hi-lights or use darker hair dyes, there are safer alternatives out there. A chemical called PPD (used in most conventional hair dyes to fix the colour to the shaft) is actually banned in some countries, as it is believed to risk bladder cancer, especially in hairdressers, who obviously work daily with these dyes.
There is not need to get paranoid about things. But don’t trust everything that you’re told. Modern hair dyes not only stink and make your skin itch, but can also have severe allergic reactions. Due to a few incidents, most hairdressers won’t let you go to them for a colour treatment now, unless you’ve have a patch test first. That tells you what’s in them. If you do visit the hairdresser for hi-lites, go for ones (if you can afford it) that use more natural and organic brands like Aveda. There are some organic hairdressers around too. But for this post, we’ll focus on the majority of people who dye their hair at home.
There is no perfect fix, because the only really natural way to dye your hair is with henna. This is fine if you’re young and have brown hair, and just want a nice auburn glow. However, it is also messy and takes hours to work. The problem is that it does not work on blonde or bleached hair (it will go orange) and on grey hair it could turn it a muddled orange colour (and sometimes you even get a green tinge, although this quickly washes out. However, it is a good herb that is safe (as long as you don’t have G6PD deficiency).
Be Careful With ‘Natural Hair Dyes’
What is surprising is how few health shops sell natural dyes. They sell dyes that say they are natural, but that’s not the same thing. Anything containing PPD (look on the label) is not natural. Not at all. Outside of henna, there are few companies that do offer truly natural dyes. But alas, not here. So you are either going to have to stick with chemicals, let your hair go grey, use henna or bulk-order from abroad. Until eventually some of the indie shops start importing/stocking the good brands. The less we buy of the rubbish, the more likely this is to happen. Holland & Barrett should not be selling ‘natural hair dyes’ with PPD chemicals, that are banned in Scandinavia and Canada, as too risky.
Naturtint is advertised as a natural dye in the health shops, but it’s not. It contains PPD, the chemical that is banned in many countries. They say they use the minimum amount, but other companies don’t use it at all. The semi-permanent dyes don’t have it, but most health stores only sell the permanent dyes.
Be careful with LUSH, as lot of their products say they are natural, when they contain very unnatural ingredients. However, they do sell henna, which should be fine.
The Best Natural Hair Dyes
First of all, consider not dying your hair. If you are happy with your hair the way it is, go for it. Many women look stunning with grey hair. And if you have naturally red hair, how fortunate are you?
- It’s Pure Organics is the one to beat. It is sold in many colours. It takes a long time to work, but it’s cheap and safe. If you just want to warm up your hair (or have a few grey hairs), this is the one to go for. It comes in golden blonde, auburn, natural brown, chestnut, very dark brown, dark brown, henna red, indigo black, and strawberry blonde. There’s a chart on their website, to choose the one that’s best for you. Natural dyes like this don’t always dye the grey hairs as dark, so they may still show up lighter, just so you know.
- Suvarna sells a range of natural hair dyes including It’s Pure Organic (based on henna) and Logona. There are over 50 to choose from, to dye your hair blonde (not lighter), strawberry blonde, auburn, chestnut brown, dark brown or black.
- Desert Shadow is a truly organic natural hair dye, which is sold only in the US and Australia. It is a bit fiddly to use but again it s as natural as you can get.
- Hairprint was created by an environmental chemist in the US from a few plant-based botanics. He experimented on his own grey hair, until he finally worked out the formula to turn his hair back to its natural shade. This produce is huge in the states and as it’s totally natural. It’s safe to ship abroad, so bulk up and go for it.
- Arctic Fox is a new US hair dye that is getting good reviews, and the company has lovely ethics. For the entire month of February, it donated 100% of all sales to help animals in the Australian wildfires. This is an upgrade from their usual 15%. And they even covered the cost of domestic shipping. The company was founded by beauty influencer Kristen and her partner Ryan and has quickly taken off the other side of the pond. With a nice scent, this colour is formulated to fade within the original colour spectrum, so you still get nice tones. These are bright colours (pink, purple etc, just so you know). they also sell Bleach Please, which can lighten hair by 8 levels and is a more eco-friendly version (the bad news is that they are not allowed to ship this internationally, so save it if you go on holiday there).
- Indus Valley is a new brand of PPD-free hair dye, right here in England. Based in West Bromwich, this takes about an hour to work, so longer than conventional hair dye but less so than henna.
- Daniel Field is a range of hair colours by an organic hairdresser. These are not as natural as some, but as good as you will get for conventional ‘natural hair colours’ that are not henna-based. They are also cruelty-free. They can’t lighten, but do cover grey. How long they last depends on how you apply them (apply them dry for permanent coverage).
Natural Hair Coloring is a book by a colouring expert hairdresser. Christine covers the main nontoxic plant pigments of henna, indigo, amla and cassia, and shows how to apply them alone or in combinations, plus how to transition from chemical to natural dyes.