It’s not required, of course. The New York Daily News states that going gray is in vogue, with celebrities like Helen Mirren, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Meryl Streep embracing their natural silver.
Still, about 65 percent of women alter their natural hair color, about a 7 percent increase from the 1950s. We like playing with color. It makes us feel good…Until we open the bottle and smell all the fumes.
Traditional hair dyes are full of potentially harmful chemicals that at high exposures, have been linked with skin and respiratory irritation, a suppressed immune system, and even cancer.
Is there a way to cover the gray—or just enjoy a nice color—without exposing ourselves to these toxins?
The Concern About Regular Hair Dyes
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) states that over 5,000 different chemicals are used in hair dye products, some of which are reported to be carcinogenic in animals. Though manufacturers have improved dye products to eliminate some of the more dangerous chemicals that were used in the 1970s, most still contain things like:
- Quaternium-15, which can release formaldehyde, a known carcinogen);
- Alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs), which may be hormone disruptors;
- Phenylenediamine (PPD), which is a skin and respiratory irritant and has been classified in the European Union as toxic and dangerous to the environment.
The NCI notes that some studies have found that hairdressers and barbers are at an increased risk of bladder cancer, potentially because of coloring chemicals. Other studies have found personal use of hair dyes could potentially increase the risk of leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, but results have been mixed.
Fortunately, there are other alternatives.
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