You might be thinking: what about the chemicals in hair dye? Is there a more eco-friendly hair dye option? The answer is: there is no chemical free way to bleach or dye your hair but there are ways to reduce your exposure to specific toxins and hair color systems that are less toxic.
Henna – An ancient form of hair coloring based on the henna plant, henna is moisturizing and provides some pigment upon one application. You can re-apply over and over to build the shade up. Henna can lighten a few shades, but not much. Pure henna is almost always some form of red. I have found henna-based dyes in bright colors like pink, blue, and purple but I’ve also read that since the henna plant leaves obviously do not grow in those colors, those products are really mostly chemical dyes like any other chemical dye. The metallic components added to henna to produce these unusual colors can also react with traditional hair dyes, so be very careful mixing henna with other forms of dyeing or bleaching.
Highlighting – In general, highlighting with any type of product exposes your body to less direct contact with the dye because it doesn’t sit on your scalp like all-over haircolor would — it is typically applied with foils. At least, it doesn’t cover all of your scalp when it does touch at the roots. Be aware of what bleaching agents are used in highlighting formula you use. My stylist did some research on ammonia in bleaching and found that some of the low-fume ammonia dyes contained just as much ammonia (or more) than the stronger-smelling ammonias, they were just more difficult to detect by smell. He prefers to use a low-ammonia version of bleaching rather than conventional ammonia disguised with extra chemicals to hide the smell.
Botanical and lower-toxin brands of professional color – The two main brands I found are Aveda and Pravana. Both are professional salon color systems and have a large spectrum of colors, traditional (browns, blondes, gingers) and alternative (pink, purple, blue, green, etc.). While these brands do utilize chemicals that are found in traditional color systems, they make a point to avoid phthalates, formaldehyde, and parabens. Both brands specifically avoid the use of petrochemicals or animal ingredients and do not do animal testing. Most of their product packaging is recycled and/or biodegradable.
What I have on my hair in the pictures you’ll find on Instagram and Twitter is the Pravana VIVIDS for the pink, and their low-ammonia bleaching system for the base blonde. Did I have to bleach the crap out of my scalp for that light blonde? Yes, yes I did. Is that probably great for my hair? Probably not. At my last appointment, my stylist did a deep conditioning treatment and I do a weekly coconut oil treatment. I’ll have to post more on that later. Overall, I am happy with my choice and plan to keep it up for as long as possible. I expect that 6 months is probably the longest I can do this before my hair becomes damaged.
Do you dye your hair? If so, have you tried lower-toxin alternatives or henna? What have been your results?
NOTE: I was not compensated in any way for the mention of these product lines, information is based on my own research and I pay for my pink hair out of my own pocket!