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Monday, May 13, 2013

How Toxic (ie. Poisonous) is Your Hair Dye?

Ever since before I made the switch to a safer mascara, I've been considering other beauty products and wondering about their toxicity levels. So when a dear friend told me about how she gave up coloring her hair years ago, because she knew the toxins weren't good for her (or her baby when she was pregnant), I thought, "That's right. Many women do color their hair." I hadn't really thought much about hair dye, since I've never used it. But one website I found says that "over 50 million women in the US dye their hair regularly." Wow, that is a ton of women!

So what, exactly, are the dangers of hair dye? Why worry about it?

The same website states that the "use of hair dye has been linked to allergic reactions, respiratory disorders and even cancer." And for those working with dyes on a regular basis?: "Working as a hairstylist is associated with an increased risk of skin allergies. One review found that 17-80% of stylists suffered from allergic reactions on contact with hair dye."

Even worse: "New studies have linked hair dye use to development of a specific type of cancer: non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (Zhang et al, 2008). This study looked at groups of women suffering from this disease, and a control group. It was found that women who started using hair dye, particularly darker colors, before 1980 had an increased risk of developing the disease."

And: "One study found that if a hairstylist had used hair dyes at work for 5 years or more, she had a three times higher risk of developing breast cancer. Other studies have consistently found that hair colorists have an increased risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, multiple myeloma and leukemia."

Makes me glad I'm not a hairstylist!

So while some countries in Europe have banned PPD, one of the most dangerous chemicals in hair dye, it's still an ingredient in U.S. hair dyes. This is because "the FDA has no authority to require that cosmetics be tested for safety before they are sold, unlike drugs and food additives." (link) This means, of course, that we, the consumer, must be informed and protect ourselves.

One way to do this, as I mentioned in my post about cosmetics, is to check EWG's database--whether it be for cosmetics, shampoos, sunscreen, or hair dyes (just to name a few). Type in the product or ingredient in question and find out how toxic it is, rated on a system from 0 to 10. One blogger did this before having her hair colored at a "natural" spa, and found out that while some ingredients were pretty safe, others definitely weren't, and the combination resulted in a higher toxicity level than she was willing to risk.

All in all, it makes me glad I'm not used to having my hair colored. I've got enough other products to replace, as it is...

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