Green Girl’s Horror Hair Dyes

Bored with your same old dull hair color? Trying to spice it up a bit? Trying to create a new persona? Or maybe you feel like your hair doesnít match your personality? Or maybe youíve been asked to dye it for a performance?

And if you do decide to dye your hair, oh the choices you must face! Cinnamon? Cinnamon spice? Or cinnamon stick?! They may not sound that different, but that slight distinction in redness could be the difference between beautiful and a not-so-beautiful disaster. And think of the social repercussions of such a mis-choice!

I myself have faced this daunting fear before. First I was just bored, so I thought, aha! I shall dye my hair! After days of searching through CVSí stock of hair dyes, I decided that I had chosen just the right shade. Only a slightly darker brown. I didnít want to be too risky, after all. (Yes, I was thinking of the humiliation of accidentally dying my hair black. I would not do well with black). And it was great! I loved the color, though in reality it was not much different from my natural color. Looking back, I think my pleasure came more from the adrenaline of taking a risk.

So I was pleased. Mother, however, was not. Besides the fact that she liked my natural hair color better, she was, of course, quite unsettled by the fact that I had used hair dye bought at CVS. My arguments: I used semi-permanent. It didnít smell bad. I used Natural Instincts. So it must be OK. (Though I knew that it probably wasnít; in my memory, nothing name brand was OK in my household).

Unfortunately, the outlook for any future hair dying excursions was looking pretty bleak: Motherís arguments made much more sense than mine (shocker). Apparently, hair dyes have chemicals, too! Bad chemicals. Very bad chemicals. So bad, in fact, that Europe banned 22 chemicals found in market hair dye in 2006, with over a hundred under review for their dangers.

The worst chemical? Lead acetate. Letís just talk about this for a second: Lead acetate is a color additive used in progressive hair dyes in America. Research also happens to lead to the conclusion that lead acetate is dangerous for your health in pretty much every way possible. Cancer? Check. Developmental and reproductive toxicity? Check. Allergies? Check. Neurotoxicity? Check. Violations of government restrictions? Check. Oh, and the list goes on.

While most hair dyes are not going to be this bad (progressive hair dyes are most popular with men), please do check and make sure that lead acetate is not an ingredient in your favorite hair dye. Other hair dyes, however, do point to the possibility of being carcinogenic, especially for dark permanent colors.

Instead, you might want to try a dye that has fewer to none of possibly carcinogenic chemicals. Aveda is a good dye, though not perfect. The healthiest that I know of is Herbatint, which you should be able to buy in any health food store.

Note to self: Make sure hair dye doesnít turn into hair die.

Not to readers: Do share your own hair dye stories.

Lily Berthold-Bond grew up in a chemical-free zone and has struggled her whole life to understand and accept this non-commercial lifestyle. Now a freshman at Tufts University, she has embraced her green life and hopes to share its possibilities with the rest of her generation.


Penny C.
penny C6 years ago

Agreed no chemical hair dyes!

Ann Eastman
Ann Eastman7 years ago

Thanks for the information.

Christina V.
Christina V7 years ago


Miguel D.
Past Member 7 years ago

Lady Xanadu
Lady Xanadu8 years ago

My now 23 yrs old daughter start dying her hair while living with her father @ 13. I hated it but like most things he didn't support me & she did what she please while with him. I'm happy to say the last year she decided to go back to her natural color (the natural way~letting it grow out). I'm still going to send her these & the other stories about the Dye to Die for!

Abo Ahmed r.
Abo r8 years ago


Chandra Timm
Chandra Timm8 years ago

EEK! I'm one of those teenagers seeking out individuality, who for the last 3 years, has gone through the whole spectrum of the color wheel on my head! I mean, yes, the burning scent of ammonia and the fact that we don't know a who lot about the long term affects should have convinced me... but this information is very convincing. Thankyou

Steven J.
Eco Man9 years ago

All of the permanent and semi-permanent coloring products on the shelves at Whole Foods contain some unpleasant chemicals like PPD. If you want to color your hair without exposing yourself to the myriad of potential risks there is a company that produces a line of permanent hair colors that is completely free of harmful chemicals like PPD, ammonia, resorcinol. pthalates, coal tar dyes, amines, etc. The company is called Advanced Cosmetic Technologies and you can find them at

They are salon quality and actually leave your hair beautifully conditioned! Ask for them at Whole Foods Market!

Take a look and color away!!

Emma F.
Emma F9 years ago

Wow, Lily-I was raised in a groovy household but I initially chose to rebel, dying my hair with a series of horrifying dyes that my mother would never have approved of. Oddly enough, the hair color that alarmed mom most (it was purple Manic Panic) is the least bad for me and the planet... funny.

Sudha C.
sudha chennupati9 years ago

good one