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Hair Dyes

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Hair colouring natural and unnatural

Hair colouring is as old as the hills - an ancient practice but even then dangerous substances such as lead based concoctions were sometimes used (lead acetate is even now a common ingredient).

If a natural product contains words like amino, nitro or phenyl or names of colors starting with the letters HC, the product is not natural.

Problem Chemicals

An oxidative haircolour is ANY haircolour that contains a tube (or bottle) of hair colour and a bottle of developer that are mixed together before application. An oxidative haircolour is either a permanent haircolour or a “long lasting semi-permanent haircolour” Contains P.P.D. or P.T.D. within the colour formula (both allergenic sensitisers). So a typical chemical based hair dye is a PPD-based dye in one bottle together with various other chemicals (e.g. resorcinol to vary the colour tone; ammonia which is necessary for the chemical reaction), and an oxygen-providing 'fixative' (usually hydrogen peroxide) in the second bottle.

Hair color allergic reactions are related to PPD which is short for p-Phenylenediamine or Para-phenylenediamine. Para-Toluenediamine (P.T.D) is similar. Both ingredients are in up to 90% of hair dye products in Europe and are the primary cause of allergic reactions that can vary from an itchy scalp to scabs forming on the scalp,rash on the body, or in the most extreme cases a swelling of the face and neck where medical treatment is then recommended as a matter of urgency.

Others argue that serious reactions in hair color can be linked to ingredients such as ammonia, peroxide or diaminobenzene. Non ammonia oxidative colours normally contain Mono Ethanolamine which has no smell as it does not evaporate in the colour process and is again a well known irritant.

Being able to colour your hair or to get rid of grey hair in 10 minutes is very tempting when compared to the time it takes using "natural" methods but the long term affects on your hair and even your health might be too much to risk.

Check out the ingredients in your hair dye: hair dye ingredients

Hair dyes: natural to chemical

There are dozens of brands, some of which are hard to find in shops. The natural products are the ones you are least likely to find in a shop or big store like Boots. They don't want to sell cheap and healthy solutions.

You need to do a spot test first to test for allergies and a strand test to see if you like the colour.

Natural henna based hair dyes

Henna - Lawsonia inermis (or sometimes Cassia is used) seems to be the base for all "natural", chemical free products. Of course, Henna has a "chemistry" and you should do a spot test first to see if you are allergic. Natural really means plant based, unprocessed, pure and without man-made additives.

Henna is grown and produced in many countries and the quality (measured in age and dye content) and colour results differ. there are lots of websites offering instructions and user experiences.

Henna always produces shades of "red". More detail about Henna hair dye and its companion herbs

Aubrey Mechanics - Color Me Natural.

  • Ingredients: Indigofera tinctoria, Lawsonia inermis alba, Emblica officinalis, Eclipta alba, Acacia cathechu.

Henna Plus Colour Powder - this is the pure henna stuff - the cream uses chemical fixers.

  • Ingredients: Lawsonia Inermis (Henna), Indigofera Argentia, Phyllantus Emblica , Tartaric Acid

Khadi Hair Colour

  • Ingredients(INCI): Indigofera Tinctoria (Indigo) ? Lawsonia Inermis (Henna) ? Emblica Officinalis (Amla), Eclipta Alba (Bhringaraj) , Azadirachta Indica (Neem)

Logona Chemical Free Natural Hair Dye Powders

  • Ingredients: Algin, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Buxus Chinensis (Organic Jojoba Oil), Parfum (Essential Oils), [+/- Lawsonia Inermis(Organic Henna) Cassia Auriculata (Cassia), Ramnus Frangula, Juglans Regia(Walnut Shell Powder), Indigofera Tinctoria (Indigo Leaves), Indigofera Argentea (Indigo Leaves), Hibiscus Sabdariffa (Sudanese Tea), Rheum Undulatum (Rhubarb Root), Krameria Trianda (Rhatani Root), Coffea Arabica (Coffee), Curcuma Longa (Curcuma Root), Beta Vulgaris (Beetroot)].

LIGHT MOUNTAIN HENNA GRAY (not available in UK?)

Lush Caca Noir Henna Hair Dye

  • Ingredients: Indigo Herb, Cocoa Butter, Red Henna, Irish Moss Powder, Clove Bud Oil, *Citral, *Eugenol, *Geraniol, *Citronellol, *Limonene, *Linalool, Perfume&#8232

Reviews and on Ciao

Sante Natural Hair Colours

  • Ingredients:Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Algin, [+/- Lawsonia Inermis (Henna CI 75480), Cassia Auriculata (Cassia), Rhamnus Frangula,(Buckthorn Bark), Juglans Regia (Walnut Shell Powder), Indigofera Tinctoria (Indigo Leaves), Indigofera Argentea (Indigo Leaves), Hibiscus Sabdariffa (Sudanese Tea), Caesalpina Crista (Lignum Fernambuci), Rheum Undulatum (Rhubarb Root), Krameria Triandra (Rhantany Root), Coffea Arabica, (Coffee), Curcuma Longa, (Curcuma Root), Beta Vulgaris (Beet Root)]

Reviews on a variety of natural hair colour products.

Natural colour ingredients plus some chemicals

Products that contain the minimum possible amounts of PPDs or none at all but do use other chemicals. A kind of half way house. The European Community currently approves up to 6% of PPD for hair coloring products.

Daniel Field - Natural colours - Watercolours - No peroxide or ammonia but (the darker colours are likely to contain small concentrations of Phenylenediamines (PPD’s)

  • Ingredients: Ash brown: Sodium Perborate, Sodium Sulfate, Xanthan Gum, 2-Chloro-p-Phenylenediamine Sulfate, p-Phenylenediamine Sulfate, m-Aminophenol Sulfate, Sodium Silicate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, p-Aminophenol Sulfate, p-Toluenediamine Sulfate, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate
  • Ingredients Raven black: Sodium Perborate, p-Phenylenediamine Sulfate, Sodium Silicate, Xanthan Gum, m-Aminophenol Sulfate, 2,6-Diaminopyridine Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, 4-Amino-2-Hydroxytoluene, N,N-Bis(Hydroxyethyl)-p-Phenylenediamine Sulfate, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate


Hennaplus Colour Cream - No P-Phenylenediamine (PPD). SLS / SLES. Resorcinol. Napthol. Toulene. Ammonia. Fragrance allergens. Aminophenol. Phthalates. Peroxide. Hennaplus powder (above) uses pure ingredients.

  • Ingredients: Aqua, Cocoamide MEA, Polysorbate 80, Ceteareth-6, PPG-2 methyl ether, Cetearyl alcohol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Panthenol, Polyquaternium-22, Hydrolyzed rice protein, Oryzanol (rice bran oil), Parfum, Glycerin, Cassia angustifolia (senna), Hammamelis virginiana (witch hazel), Tussilago farfala (coltsfoot), Viscum album (mistletoe), Triticum vulgare (wheatgerm), Malva sylvestris (mallow), Equisetum arvense (horsetail), Sodium hydroxide, Biotin, Trisodium hedta, Methylparaben, Benzyl alcohol, Methylchloroisthizolinone, Methylisothizolinone. May contain#/ Basic blue 99, Disoperse violet 1, Disperse black 9, Basic brown 16, Basic brown 17, HC red no3, HC blue no2, HC yellow no2. LAWSONE FREE.

Herbatint - Herbatint contains a small amount of PPD (.08 to 1.22%) in the form of Phenylenediamine and uses hydrogen peroxide.

  • Ingredients: Water, ethanolamine, aloe barbadensis, betula alba, cetrimonium chloride, echinacea angustifolia, hamamelide virginiana, cocodimonium hydroxypropyl, hydrolyzed milk protein, sodium cocoyl glutamate, sodium bisulfite, tetrasodium EDTA. May contain: m,p-phenilendiamine; 1,5 dihydroxynaphtalene, 2 amino-hydroxypiridine, m.o.p-aminophenol, p-amino-o-cresol; 2 methyl-1,3 benzediol, basic red 2, HC yellow 5, basic red 5, basic yellow 87, HC red 3, HC Blu2 Glycol Developer Ingredients: Water, Hydrogen Peroxide, etidronic acid, methylchloroisthiazolinone. 90% Natural & Not tested on animals

Health and Beauty suppliers

The women's sites provide lots of information relevant to men although you have to remember that men's skin and hair is different and that's why there are men's products - it's not just marketing. On the other hand lots of products marketed at women are just as good for men.


The Asian Cook Shop


Greenspirit bazaar

iherb (US)


Jinnys Mall

Just Ingredients

Mankind - for men

Natural Living for Women

Search for Health

Spices of India

Cosmetics ingredients science

Please add to this list of common hair dye ingredients by registering first.

Here are some sites that list typical ingredients and evaluate their safety level.

Skin deep

Cosmetic analysis

Aubrey organics index

Botanical online

European Medicines Agency

Science Direct

And this site gives a more detailed look at hair colouring but in layman's terms.

Hair colouring science is all about molecules - your own natural hair molecules and the colour changing ones in the dye chemicals and the reaction between them. The permanent dyes enter the hair and can't get out while the less permanent ones eventually leave the hair and so fade.

The Universal Hair Colour Numbering System

Depth (Base)

1.0 Black

2.0 Darkest Brown

3.0 Dark Brown

4.0 Medium Brown

5.0 Light Brown

6.0 Dark Blonde

7.0 Medium Blonde

8.0 Light Blonde

9.0 Very Light Blonde

10.0 Lightest Blonde/Pale

Tones The six tones that can be added to any of these above colours to create every hair shade you may wish to achieve.

1. Blue

2. Green (referred to as Ash)

3. Violet

4. Red

5. Orange

6. Yellow

When hair is darkened by a permanent colour, the base ingredient within the chosen shade will transform every hair to the same depth, so overall results will appear much darker than expected. For this reason, when deciding upon a preferable colour to use, always choose one shade lighter than you see your hair.

Information from Herbatint

Hair Treatments

For coloured hair, it is important that you choose a shampoo that will not strip the colour from your hair, look for a low PH shampoo as this will not force the hair cuticle open and release the colour.

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