Are Hair Dyes Safe?

Fact 54% of American women surveyed, ages 18-69, dye their hair -Clairol.

If you’re not having hair color because you think hair color products will make you ill or that you could possibly die from their use, then please read the following.

This article appeared in The New York Times August 2006. It will help clear up some of the confusion about the possible dangers of hair color.  The following is an excerpt from the article by Dr. Joseph K. McLaughlin.

“Despite talk of cancer and hair dyes, experts tell women to keep coloring. If the results are true, and that’s a big if, it would mean that, in the grand scheme of life, using hair dye may present a remote risk to your health, but it would be less risky than crossing the street, driving a car, not wearing a seat belt or drunk driving-but that’s a big if because no one has demonstrated that hair dye is causal for lymphoma.”

– Dr. Joseph K. McLaughlin, president of the International Epidemiology Institute, a bio-medical research center in Rockville, Md.

During Pregnancy

Most women during pregnancy don’t hair color on the scalp during the first trimester. Some women switch from permanent hair color (equal peroxide) to a semi-permanent colorant (2% developer). Others who have highlights or lowlights continue to have this service because it doesn’t go on the scalp.

These changes are recommended by most Doctors. Some women continue to use their permanent colorants, after discussing it with their Doctors. You can research this subject on the Food and Drug Administration Website to check out the safety areas of hair color.

Vegetable Hair Color

I often see in fashion magazines articles on “vegetable” hair color. As a colorist and training director I have never seen carrots or broccoli in hair color.  Not even in a water rinse. Some professionals use this as a selling point because, it helps relieve the client’s thoughts about the possible damage of hair color.

Please be rest assured that there are no vegetables in hair color and probably never will be.  This is because vegetables do not contain a coating or penetration value which hair color needs to show up as hair color.  Hair color pigments must either coat or penetrate into the hair shaft in order to show up as a hair color change on the hair.

Most Vegetable, usually listed under “all natural” hair color products would have to have another chemical to help it deposit onto or into the hair shaft.  Nothing “all natural” about this, other than a color rinse, or color shampoo. Neither are vegetable.

Color Shampoos

If you’re still fearful, but you would like to add some brightness to your hair simply start with a shampoo that contains color. These products are on the retail and salon shelves now more than ever before. They will only last until the next shampoo.

They are just starting to appear at the drugstores, but they have sold for years at the salons and at the beauty supply stores. Just match your own hair color or add a bit of excitement using golden-bronze or coppery-red tones. These are fabulous on flat lack -luster red or brown hair.


These products come in the same shades as the permanent colorant. The product will only penetrate a small percentage into the hair shaft so they shampoo out easily. They add lots of shine and help the hair look beautiful and healthy. You can use these once a week or once a month.

They generally last 6-8 shampoos depending on the quality of your hair condition. These are also great to use over faded permanent colorants. Just match your own natural shade or match your color treated hair. Shampoo first and dry for best results and for longer lasting shine. The good news is there is no re-growth line.

These products are listed under color refreshers, color conditioners, and can be used once a week or whenever you feel your hair needs a little color boost.

Last Word

Good hair color doesn’t have to be expensive or damaging. If you start slowly you can have beautiful hair everyday of the month without the worry of health issues.

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