Life & Style | Beauty & Fashion

Hair makeover: Is it worth dyeing for?

If you colour hair, make sure you know the ingredients as you could be endangering yourself, warns UAE's first green salon

  • By Sharmila Dhal, Senior Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 February 23, 2012
  • XPRESS

  • Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A beauty salon in Dubai has warned residents there is nothing called an organic or chemical-free hair dye.

"There's no such thing as organic hair colour. And don't believe anyone who claims to use organic hair colour. Just because a few of the ingredients are organic, it doesn't make the product 100 per cent organic and that applies to any other product," said Leena Al Abbas of the Zen Beauty Lounge, which claims to be the UAE's first green salon.

"All hair colours contain certain amounts of chemicals to make the dye effective in changing the actual colour of the hair and cover grey. Otherwise, it will not work," she clarified.

Toxic dyes

While all hair dyes contain chemicals, Leena said, "We can only lessen the amount of toxic chemicals in a product by using less harsh products. The usual boxed, chemical hair dyes marketed as ‘natural' typically do not contain resorcinol, ammonia or peroxide. However, they still contain some phenylenediamine or PPD, just a lower level."

She said, "Lower levels are obviously better, but using these dyes does not completely remove the risk of suffering an allergic reaction or other side effects."

She said using harsh dyes could result not just in allergies and skin reactions, but also asthma, lung problems, cancer and even death.

"PPD is a skin sensitiser, meaning that it can stimulate the immune system to cause a variety of allergic reactions. The skin may blister, itch, become red and burn on exposure to PPD. Allergic reactions may cause breathing difficulties and can even be fatal," she warned.

"What we use at Zen Beauty Lounge is an ammonia and recorsinol-free hair colour, which also has lesser amounts of other chemicals. I always advise women, especially pregnant women, to stay clear of the ammonia and peroxide mix in colours as that's when the toxic fumes get created," she said.

Leena said research has found that this combination may create potentially carcinogenic chemicals. "The same applies to the popular Brazilian Blowout hair treatments, which contain a dangerous amount of formaldehyde and as a result have been banned in some European countries and US cities."

The beauty expert also advised people to drink a litre of water after using hair colour to help flush out the toxins. "Always check the ingredients and do research. Look for products that are ammonia- and peroxide-free and use vegetable-based dyes."

She said natural henna (which can be purchased organic) can be a good substitute for some people. But again, people must watch out for ingredients like coal tar in black henna.

Healthier Alternatives

Henna for red hair: Henna produces a red-orange dye. The colour you will obtain depends on the colour of your hair, so it's important to do a strand test. Make sure the henna is 100 per cent (body art quality), as some henna blends contain metals. These may turn your hair green if it already has chemical dye on it.

Henna and indigo for black hair: Dyeing your hair with henna, and then with indigo can even dye blonde hair black, without using chemical dyes.

Honey for blonde hair: Honey can be used to lighten blonde hair as it produces a weak peroxide when mixed with water. However, it does not damage hair as its other constituents moisturise and protect the hair. Mix honey with water in a 1:4 ratio and apply to hair for an hour.

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