Precautions You Should Take When You Dye Your Hair
Follow these safety tips when dyeing your hair:
Don’t leave the dye on your head any longer than needed.
- Rinse your scalp thoroughly with water after using a hair dye.
- Wear gloves when applying hair color.
- Carefully follow the directions in the hair dye package.
- Never mix different hair dye products.
- Be sure to do a patch test for allergic reactions before applying the dye to your hair. Almost all hair dye products include instructions for doing a patch test. It’s important to do this test each time you dye your hair. Make sure your hairdresser also does the patch test before dyeing your hair. To test, put a dab of dye behind your ear and don’t wash it off for two days. If you don’t have any signs of allergic reaction, such asitching, burning, or redness at the test spot, you can be somewhat sure that you won’t have a reaction to the dye when it’s applied to your hair. If you do react to the patch test, do the same test with different brands or colors until you find one to which you’re not allergic.
- Never dye your eyebrows or eyelashes. The FDA bans the use of hair dyes for eyelash and eyebrow tinting or dyeing even in beauty salons. An allergic reaction to dye could cause swelling or increase risk of infection around or in your eyes. This can harm your eyes and even cause blindness. Spilling dye into theeye by accident could also cause permanent damage.
How safe is your hair dye?It has been used for so many centuries that it was thought to be harmless. Henna, which enhances the colour of dark hair, is one of the oldest known cosmetics. But scientists have found that a component, naturally occurring lawsone, is highly toxic.This research comes shortly after a European Union watchdog said that some hair dyes – linked to bladder cancer and rheumatoid arthritis – were unsafe, and advised concerned consumers to stop using them.
So what are the chemicals that cause concern?
PPD (para-phenylenediamine):This chemical is the main source of concern. It is found in dark hair dyes – concentrations of up to six per cent are legal – and is easily absorbed through the skin on the scalp and the hands. Research has shown that people who use darkcoloured permanent dyes every four to six weeks have twice the incidence of bladder cancer, which causes 4,900 deaths each year in Britain.Advice: Use less dark dye and apply less often.
A naturally occurring chemical, found in henna at concentrations of between one and two per cent, but, none the less, one that is toxic, and can affect the kidneys, blood supply and stomach. This discovery, by the European Union’s scientific committee on cosmetic products, has raised questions about the safety of henna-based products, and may lead to some being withdrawn.
Advice: Weigh up the evidence: henna has been used for thousands of years without complaint.
Ammoniated mercury and other metallic chemicals
If a dye doesn’t contain PPD, it may well have higher concentrations of lead, mercury and other toxic metals. These have a bleaching action which enhances colour in the hair, but they can cause allergic reactions.
Advice: Read the ingredients on the packaging.
Peroxide:This breaks down the melanin in the shaft to lighten the hair. Peroxide also releases oxygen, which combines with molecules of dye to help establish colour. Can cause allergic reactions and can irritate the skin and lungs, but is not toxic.
Advice: Do a skin patch test 24 hours before first use.
Immune inhibitors:Recent Swedish studies among sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis suggested that chemicals in colouring products might damage the immune system, and even trigger the condition, though no particular chemicals were implicated.
Advice: Avoid man-made dyes.
Nonylphenol or octylphenol:Members of a group of chemicals which studies suggest are hormone disrupters and bioaccumulators. This means they can build up faster in body fat than they can be broken down.
Advice: These chemicals will not appear on the label.
Aniline dyes:Derived from coal tar and used in semi-permanent dyes. Can irritate eyes, skin and mucous membranes, or cause allergic reactions. For similar reasons, also be wary of ammonium tholactate (a neutraliser), stearic acid (an emulsifying agent), pentasodium penetate (a binding agent) and ammonium hydroxide, all found in this type of product.
Advice: Again, do a skin patch test.
Highlights or lowlights:These are the safest options. Here, the dye is painted on the length of the strand of hair, but not the scalp. It is not absorbed by the skin.