Henna is a plant native to the Middle East used to colour skin and hair for thousands of years. In addition to creating beautiful tattoos on skin, henna is used as a hair dye that results in shiny and glossy hair.Henna is a healthy reddish-brown natural hair dye that can be used as an alternative to the chemical dyes found in salons or found on store shelves.
The use of hair dye stems from traditions dating thousands of years ago by many cultures such as the beauty-obsessesd Egyptians. In the past, changing your hair colour used natural plants, but the procedure experienced a vast shift in the 1930s with the introduction of chemical hair dyes. This innovative treatment applied a number of chemicals to strip away the outer layer and add colour, causing damage to your hair to achieve a desired shade. The outer layer of a hair is called the cuticle and is a protective layer that is damaged through the use of chemical dyes. The chemicals target the inner cortex layer, which houses the pigments, to provide long-lasting hair colour. Often, side effects include dry hair and an irritated scalp, which are indicators of damaged hair.
The main ingredients in most hair dyes are hydrogen peroxide and ammonia. Hydrogen peroxide helps initiate the colour-forming process and contributes to long-lasting colour. Too much hydrogen peroxide in hair causes excess damage, causing hair to harden and lose weight. Ammonia helps open the cuticle layer and allows the colour to penetrate to the cortex of the hair, which contains most of the hair’s pigments, thus developing the long-lasting colour.
Henna is a natural mixture that targets the cuticle layer and adds colour and protection in an additional external layer. The end result seals natural oils into the hair and produces a rich, glossy colour. Since the cuticle layer is better protected, henna dyes are absent of the dry hair common in chemical dyes, making it much healthier and easy to maintain. Henna does not wash out, but it fades over time because it forms a layer over your hair. Think of it like a varnish that will gradually lose its colour.
It is important to exude caution when looking for natural alternatives to chemical hair dye, as there are brands of henna dyes that include chemical components to boost the effectiveness of the dye. Look for henna dyes that are on the orange-red-brown spectrum, as that is the natural colour of henna. Pure black henna may include PPD, a dangerous chemical. Other hues will include different dyes, so it is important to check what dyes are included and if they are safe. This doesn’t mean you should avoid other colours; there are still natural alternatives.
Colora Natural Henna Hair Colour Powder uses no ammonia or hydrogen peroxide and produces gleaming, elegant colours. They list henna as the only ingredient, making it a great natural alternative to dangerous chemical hair dyes. In addition, they do offer dyes outside of the reddish-brown colour by combining henna with natural dyes in Indigo, Centaurea, Rhubarb, or Beetroot.
Common Dangerous Chemicals in Hair Dye
PPD is a dye made from coal tar commonly used for darker shades and contains many petroleum-based chemicals including includes benzene, naphthalene, phenols, aniline, and other chemicals. It can have many adverse effects, including milder conditions such as a rash or itchy scalp, as well as permanent scars and sensitivity to chemicals from long-term exposure. Research also suggests that PPD in combination with Hydrogen Peroxide is very toxic and can lead to cancer.
Hydrogene Peroxide is mostly used to strip the natural colour away, before applying the hair dye colour. It is often associated with causing damage to hair structure, making it brittle and dry. Hydrogen Peroxide could strip the natural luster out of your hair.
Ammonia is used to open up the hair and allows the dyes to access the cortex to create the desired colour. Since hair is naturally acidic, ammonia helps it become alkaline to create a permanent colour change. It may cause caustic burns and lung irritation.
DMDM Hydantoin is a preservative that slowly releases formaldehyde, a toxic, carcinogenic chemical that is commonly used in embalming fluid. DMDM Hydantoin is commonly found in herbicides, floor wax, latex paint, adhesives, and ink.
Known to be a controversial preservative, parabens can mimic hormones in the body and disrupt the endocrine system. Parabens can imitate estrogen or testosterone and may have links to breast cancer and reduced sperm production. In addition, they can cause severe allergies and skin irritations.
These are just five of the many damaging chemicals that you may find in chemical boxed hair dyes.