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.

    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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Vivian Y.
Vivian Y.about a year ago

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

Val M.
Val M.2 years ago


Aud Nordby
Aud nordby2 years ago

thanks for sharing

Shawna Sitter
Shawna S.2 years ago

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

Lauren Savard
Lauren Savard2 years ago

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

Dana W.
Dana W.3 years ago

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

ii q.
g d c.3 years ago


Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.3 years ago

I don't colour my hair. :-)

Melissa T.
Melissa T.3 years ago

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.

Pat W.
Pat W.3 years ago

awesome tips...thank you!