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Safer Ways to Color Your Hair

Safer Ways to Color Your Hair

Permanent hair colors are the harshest for hair, and pose the most potential health risk (see To Dye or Not to Dye?). Whenever possible, choose temporary, semi-permanent, demi-permanent, and natural dyes.

Glossary of Dye Types

  • Permanent hair colors change the natural pigment found within your hair.
  • Demi-permanent color enriches color, adds shine, and blends gray. With its lower levels of hydrogen peroxide and artificial color molecules, this service has less structural impact on your hair than permanent color, and it gradually fades over a period of four to six weeks.
  • Semi-permanent color stains your hair shaft and covers gray but fades after six to eight shampoos.

Consider a natural color service or one that uses lower levels of hydrogen peroxide or developers, along with colors that have a lower dye lot.

Natural and Herbal Color Rinses
Certified organic henna and plant materials can also color your hair, but with a more gentle and natural approach, since they contain no synthetic chemicals, preservatives, or harsh oxidizing chemicals, such as ammonia. These pure vegetable products do not alter the structure or natural color of your hair and actually condition your hair while imparting color and sheen. No matter what you have heard, these products have come a long way.

You can create a wide variety of plant pigment color rinses yourself. These concoctions do not create radical hair color change, but instead accentuate your hair’s natural tone and shine. If your hair is less than 15 percent gray, some plants will disguise the gray. In these cases, the product actually stains your hair, although very subtly. Cumulative usage creates longer-lasting, slightly more intense results. You can repeat the application as often as desired, depending on the color level you prefer.

If You Do Color …
Remember this advice for keeping colored hair as healthy as possible:

  • Protect and condition your hair and scalp regularly.
  • Don’t stray far from your natural level and tone. Dramatic color changes require more upkeep, since outgrowth becomes very obvious very soon. (This also applies to texture services.)
  • Follow your stylist’s recommendations for home-care regimen.
  • Color-enhancing shampoos do work, helping you hold on to your desired color between salon or at-home color treatments, so do try them out.
  • Be especially vigilant about protecting chemically treated and naturally colored hair from the sun.
  • The less you chemically process your hair, the more healthy it remains.

Read more: Beauty, Hair Care

Adapted from Radiant Beauty, by Mary Beth Janssen. Copyright (c) 2001 by Mary Beth Jannssen. Reprinted by permission of Rodale Press.
Adapted from Radiant Beauty, by Mary Beth Janssen.

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.

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12:21AM PST on Nov 27, 2014

Actually, there's some temporary hair color spray, which is more safer to use.

3:50AM PDT on Apr 20, 2013


7:06AM PDT on Apr 19, 2013

thanks for sharing

9:13PM PDT on Apr 1, 2013

Thanks for the article. I've used teas for coloring my hair. It's short lived but enhances your color.

9:01PM PDT on Apr 1, 2013

Have never dyed my hair, but have considered doing so... if I do, I want to stay healthy, so thanks for the information! :)

12:36AM PDT on Oct 17, 2012

Thanks for the article. Would love to find some natural hair dyes sold commercially as I now color my own hair at home.

2:26PM PDT on Jul 7, 2012


5:58AM PDT on Jul 4, 2012

I don't colour my hair. :-)

2:31PM PDT on May 23, 2012

After coloring my hair i use Pro Naturals Moroccan Argan Oil Hair Shampoo. It cleanses and nourishes hair, restores damaged strands back to health and provides color protection, plus it leaves my hair soft, silky and shiny.

10:43PM PDT on Apr 3, 2012

awesome tips...thank you!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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