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Chemicals in Hair Dye and Ways to Color Your Hair Color Naturally

A man named Eugene Schueller invented the first commercial hair dye called Aureole in 1907, which later became known as L’Oréal. However, our love affair with colored hair goes well beyond the past century.

Ancient Egyptians used henna to cover up gray hair, and ancient Greeks and Romans used plant extracts to create a black hair dye that lasted permanently. Today, surveys show that around 70 percent of American women dye their hair, and modern trends are getting edgier and more colorful by the day.

Photo credit: Palmira Van via Flickr

Photo credit: Palmira Van via Flickr

Hair color is a way of expressing individuality and personality, and it’s an easy way to change your appearance and feel more beautiful. But have you ever flipped around a box of hair dye to actually take note of what you’re putting on your strands?

What’s in Hair Dye? 

The National Cancer Institute shares that there are over 5,000 different chemicals used in hair dye products…5,000! Many of these chemicals are known carcinogens, and although some of the worst ones were eliminated from dyes in the 1970s, many of them still exist.

Recent studies conducted about the links between hair dye and cancer have produced conflicting results, why take that risk if you don’t have to? Fortunately, there are ways to dye your hair naturally and achieve stunning results with peace of mind.

How to Dye Your Hair Naturally at Home

Lots of ingredients that can dye your hair can actually be found in your kitchen. Lemon juice is a great way to achieve highlights naturally, and it’s easy to spray some on your strands before going out in the sun.

If you’re looking to go darker instead of lighter, you can mix a cup of strong and cooled coffee or espresso with a couple tablespoons of coffee grounds and some leave-in conditioner. Rinse with some apple cider vinegar to help the color last longer.

Henna has been used as a hair dye since ancient times and is still available for use today. You can purchase it in the form of a powder that comes from the henna plant to create a beautiful auburn (reddish brown) hue. One henna hair dye recipe calls for a cup of henna powder, two cups of lemon juice, and a tablespoon of vinegar. After applying the mixture to your tresses, you’ll need to leave it on for about five or six hours so it can thicken and take effect before rinsing it out.

To hide those pesky grays that keep popping up, try an herbal rinse with sage. Sage is known to darken hair, which may help your grays blend in more with your natural color, and you can add some black coffee or tea to your rinse to help the new color stick.

Photo credit: Mainstream via Flickr

Photo credit: Mainstream via Flickr

No matter what recipe you choose, keep in mind that homemade natural hair dyes tend to not last as long and may require multiple applications. But to avoid chemical exposure and the risk of cancer, that extra time may be worth it to you.

Commercial Natural Hair Dyes

But if mixing up your own dye at home sounds too risky or like too much work, there are some companies that produce chemical-free natural dye that you can buy in stores. These are some of the natural hair dyes on the market today to learn more about and determine if one is right for you.

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