It’s estimated that over 75% of American women dye their hair, and it’s quite likely that you’ll find a similar percentage in many other countries around the world. Whether it’s to change one’s hair colour entirely, to cover grey hair (which in some people can start appearing when they’re in their teens), or to brighten/enhance one’s natural shade, hair dye is pretty much a mainstay in most women’s lives.
Although dyeing one’s hair can have beautiful results, there are also some rather ugly sides to the practice: many companies that produce different types of hair colour conduct some pretty nasty testing on animals. Additionally, even though these dyes are considered “safe” for human use, they have been linked to a number of different health issues. In particular, studies have shown that women who use dark hair dyes (such as deep brown and black) seem to have a higher risk of both leukemia and bladder cancer, while hairdressers (who work with these chemicals daily, usually for several decades) have a 5-fold risk of developing bladder cancer. That’s some pretty scary stuff right there.
Fortunately, there are several different hair dye options that have been formulated from natural, non-toxic sources, and created in a cruelty-free manner. Let’s take a look at some of them:
For those who like their hair to be a little bit more rainbow-hued, there’s Manic Panic: a vegetable-based dye that’s totally vegan, and comes in more colours than you can imagine. You can get either temporary, semi-permanent, or permanent dye, and feel totally secure in the knowledge that your neon pink or sapphire blue hair was made ethically, and won’t poison you.
Unless you drink a tub of it, so don’t do that.
Henna is different from other dyes in that it wraps colour around your hair instead of digging into each strand; this creates very intense, vibrant colour that will fade slowly with each washing, but you can extend the life of the colour by washing your hair with cooler water.
LUSH never tests its products on animals, and their henna dyes are totally vegan—formulated with ingredients such as henna powder, coffee grounds, cocoa butter, and essential oils. You can choose from red, maroon, brown, or black, and you can even adjust the intensity of the colour by adding your own ingredients to it, like mixing the powder with coffee instead of water to intensify brown tones, or adding beet juice or rosehip tea to really give the red a boost.
Free from ammonia and harsh chemicals, Herbatint comes in shades ranging from pale blonde to jet black, and all the hues draw their colour from plants like walnut, birch, witch hazel, echinacea, and many more. This company is seriously dedicated to environmental ethics: in addition to its dyes being cruelty-free, all packaging is totally recyclable, and their factory processes are ethical and environmentally friendly.
Ladies in the UK can check out the colours created by Daniel Field: they’re organic, vegan hues that contain no harsh chemicals. In fact, because they don’t contain any type of bleach at all (even the mild hydrogen peroxide that other low-impact dyes use), you can’t use these dyes to lighten your hair at all: they’re meant to be used to add highlights, boost natural hair colour, and cover greys.
As such, Daniel Field dyes come in natural hues such as varying shades of blonde, red, brown, and black. You won’t find colours like poppy red or magenta, but if you’re looking for very natural-looking hair colour, or aiming to match your natural tone and just cover stray silver bits, this may be the perfect option for you.
Ultimately, it’s up to all of us to do our research with regard to our personal care products, and sort out which ingredients we’d like to cut out of our beauty regimen, and which we can make allowances for. The same goes for our comfort level with the ethics of how our preferred products have been created. If you dye your hair regularly, you might want to do some research to find out whether your dye of choice was developed via cruelty-free methods or not, and then determine whether you feel that animal torture is justified in order to create the perfect hair dye shade, or if that particular hair colour is worth needing chemo and radiation for somewhere down the line.