Holistic Skin Wellness

“The Truth About Hair Dye: Potential Health Concerns and Safer Alternatives”


Coloring Hair is not new – Humans have been coloring hair for thousands of years!

Hair coloring has been a part of human history for thousands of years, and its use has evolved over time. Ancient Egyptians were among the first to use henna to color their hair, and Greeks and Romans used dyes made from plants and insects, such as indigo and kermes. 

During the Middle Ages, hair coloring was mostly used by women who wanted to lighten their hair using natural ingredients such as a mixture of vinegar and lemon juice.

In the Renaissance, hair coloring became more widespread, and hairdressers started using a variety of ingredients, including sulfur, alum, and honey, to create different colors. During the 18th and 19th centuries, hair coloring became even more popular, and people started experimenting with more vibrant and bold shades. At that time, people used a variety of natural ingredients, such as saffron, turmeric, and beet juice, to achieve different colors.

In the 19th century, synthetic hair dyes were developed, and hair coloring became even more widespread. People could now achieve a broader range of colors and shades, and it became easier to color hair at home. Synthetic hair dyes have continued to evolve over time, and modern hair dyes are often made with a combination of synthetic and natural ingredients.

Today, hair coloring is a multi-billion dollar industry. 

People worldwide use hair dyes to change their hair color for various reasons, including to cover gray hair, enhance their natural hair color, or try a bold new look. The availability of different types of hair dyes, from permanent to semi-permanent to temporary, has made hair coloring more accessible than ever before, but are you aware about the potential side effects & natural hair coloring options available?

Hair coloring is the process of changing the natural color of hair by applying a chemical/natural treatment. Hair color can be altered temporarily or permanently, depending on the type of product used. 

Chemical hair coloring products usually contain a mixture of chemicals that work in combination to change the hair’s color. 

Hair coloring can help cover gray hair, enhance natural hair color, or create a new, bold look.



Why do people color their hair?

People color their hair for a variety of reasons, including:

  1. To cover gray hair: Many people use hair color to cover gray hair and restore a more youthful appearance.
  2. To change their natural hair color: People may want to change their natural hair color for a variety of reasons, such as to enhance their features, to match a different skin tone, or to achieve a certain style or look.
  3. To express their individuality: Hair color can be a way for people to express their unique style and personality. Some people may use bold, bright colors to make a statement or stand out from the crowd.
  4. To conform to cultural or social norms: In some cultures or social settings, certain hair colors may be considered more desirable or attractive, leading people to use hair color to fit in or conform.
  5. To try something new: Finally, some people may simply want to try a new hair color as a way to experiment with their appearance and have some fun.

Understanding the process of Hair coloring

Hair has two main parts – the part that grows under the skin, and the part that we can see on top of the skin. The first part is located under the skin, and it creates the second part, which is called the hair shaft. The hair shaft is what we see when we look at someone’s hair; it is the part that gets dyed, made up of a protein substance.

Hair gets its color from a pigment called melanin. We can change the color of our hair in two ways: by removing the existing pigment through bleaching or by adding the new color through hair dye.

Three types of hair dye are available in the market: temporary, semi-permanent, and permanent. 

The word “hair dye” in this article refers to all three types unless specified otherwise.

Permanent hair dye uses chemicals that react with each other to color the hair. One of these chemicals is called a developer, which usually contains hydrogen peroxide. This chemical makes the hair cuticle swell, allowing the dye to penetrate into the hair shaft. It also bleaches the hair’s natural pigment and helps the dye turn into larger colored molecules that get trapped inside the hair.

However, this process can damage the hair because the chemicals cause oxidative damage. The damage is worse if you use dark-colored dyes, like black or dark brown, because they need higher concentrations of the chemicals to work.

Studies have suggested that permanent hair dye, especially dark-colored dyes, may be linked to an increased risk of cancer.

Permanent hair dye uses chemicals that react to change the hair color. One of these chemicals is called a developer, which has hydrogen peroxide. This chemical makes the hair open up, and the dye can go inside the hair. It also removes the natural hair color and makes the dye color stick to the hair.

However, this process can hurt the hair because the chemicals can cause damage. The damage worsens if you use dark-colored dyes because they need more of the chemicals to work.

Studies suggest that permanent hair dye, especially dark-colored dyes, may cause some potential health concerns, like:

  1. Skin irritation: Hair dye can cause skin irritation, such as redness, itching, and burning, especially around the scalp, neck, and face. This can happen because the hair dye contains chemicals that irritate the skin. If you experience skin irritation from hair dye, it’s best to stop using it and talk to a dermatologist.
  2. Allergic reactions: Some people can have an allergic reaction to hair dye ingredients, such as paraphenylenediamine (PPD), which can cause symptoms like itching, swelling, and even difficulty breathing. These reactions can be severe and require immediate medical attention. If you have a history of allergic reactions, it’s important to do a patch test before using hair dye to check for any potential allergic reactions.
  3. Chemical burns: Hair dye can cause chemical burns to the scalp and skin if it’s left on for too long or applied incorrectly. This can be painful and cause redness, swelling, and scarring. It’s important to follow the instructions carefully and avoid leaving the product on your hair longer than recommended.
  4. Eye irritation: Hair dye can irritate the eyes if it comes into contact with them, causing redness, itching, and watering. It’s important to avoid getting hair dye in your eyes and to rinse them immediately with cool water if it does happen.
  5. Hair damage: Overuse of hair dye can cause hair damage, such as dryness, breakage, and split ends. This can happen because hair dye can strip the natural oils from your hair and make it more fragile. While rare, some people may experience hair loss or thinning due to using hair coloring products, especially those that contain ammonia or other harsh chemicals. It’s essential to use hair dye products in moderation and to use hair care products that are designed to nourish and protect your hair.
  6. Increased cancer risk: Some studies have suggested a link between the long-term use of hair dye and an increased risk of certain cancers, such as bladder, cervical , and blood cancers. However, more research is needed to understand this potential link fully. If you’re concerned about the risk of cancer from hair dye, you may want to consider using natural or organic hair dye products or speak with a healthcare professional.


Hair Dye Vs Hair Colour

Hair dye is a product that permanently colors the hair by penetrating the hair shaft with strong chemicals like ammonia. This process can be more damaging to the hair. On the other hand, hair color is a product that temporarily changes the hair color and is milder and less damaging. Hair color fades away gradually with every wash.

While hair color is generally considered less damaging than hair dye, it can still cause some damage to the hair. The chemicals in hair color can strip the hair of its natural oils, leaving it dry and brittle. Frequent use of hair color can also cause split ends and breakage, and can make the hair more porous and prone to tangling. Additionally, some people may experience an allergic reaction to the chemicals in hair color, which can cause itching, redness, and even swelling of the scalp. 

To minimize the potential damage from hair color, it’s essential to use high-quality products, follow the instructions carefully, and limit the frequency of color treatments. It’s also a good idea to use conditioning treatments and other hair care products designed to restore moisture and nourishment to the hair.



Are there any natural hair coloring options to avoid the side effects of synthetic dyes?

Yes, there are natural hair coloring options available that can help to avoid some of the potential side effects of traditional hair dyes and colors. Some natural hair coloring options include:

  1. Henna: Henna is a natural plant-based dye that has been used for centuries to color hair. It comes in a variety of shades and can help to add shine and nourishment to the hair.
  2. Coffee or tea: Coffee or tea can be used to darken hair or add reddish tones. Simply brew a strong pot of coffee or tea, allow it to cool, and then apply it to the hair. Leave it on for at least an hour before rinsing it out.
  3. Lemon juice: Lemon juice can be used to lighten hair naturally. Simply mix fresh lemon juice with water and apply it to the hair. Sit in the sun for a few hours to help speed up the lightening process.
  4. Beet juice: Beet juice can be used to add a reddish tint to the hair. Simply juice a beet and apply the juice to the hair. Leave it on for at least an hour before rinsing it out.
  5. Indigo powder: Indigo powder is a natural dye made from the leaves of the indigo plant. It can be used to dye hair black or brown and is a popular alternative to traditional hair dye. Indigo is generally considered safe for use on hair, but it can cause some potential side effects such as dryness, brittleness, and breakage if used improperly or excessively. Some people may also experience an allergic reaction to indigo, which can cause symptoms like itching, redness, and swelling. It’s important to note that indigo is often used in combination with henna to create various shades of brown and black hair color, and it’s the henna that can help to mitigate any potential damage from the indigo.


The Natural Hair color pack recipe:

The ingredients and steps to make a natural hair color pack can vary depending on the desired color and the specific recipe being used. However, here is a general formula for a basic henna hair color pack:


  • Henna powder
  • Loose Black Tea – 2 tsp
  • Optional: other natural ingredients for additional color or nourishment, such as indigo powder or coconut oil


  1. In one cup of water, boil two teaspoons of loose black tea in a saucepan.
  2. Strain this boiled tea in a cup.
  3. In a non-metallic bowl, mix henna powder with black tea to form a thick paste.
  4. Let the mixture sit for 1-2 hours to allow the dye to release.
  5. Optional: Add other natural ingredients, such as indigo powder for a darker color or coconut oil for added nourishment.
  6. Apply the paste to clean and dry hair, making sure to cover all areas.
  7. Cover the hair with a shower cap or plastic wrap to prevent the paste from drying.
  8. Let the color develop for 1/2-1 hour, depending on the desired intensity.
  9. Rinse the hair thoroughly with water and conditioner, and avoid using shampoo for the first 24-48 hours.

It is important to note that natural hair color may not provide as drastic of a change as chemical hair dye, and the results may vary depending on the individual’s natural hair color and texture. It is always recommended to perform a patch test before using any hair dye, natural or chemical, to check for any allergic reactions.

It’s important to note that natural hair coloring options are safer & more gentle on the body. Still, these may not be as long-lasting as traditional hair dyes and colors. The results may vary depending on the natural color and texture of the hair. It’s also a good idea to do a patch test before applying any natural hair color to the entire head to ensure that you’re not allergic to any of the ingredients.


In conclusion, hair coloring can be a great way to change your look and express your personal style. However, it’s important to be aware of the potential health concerns that come with using synthetic hair dyes, such as allergic reactions and an increased risk of certain cancers. If you’re looking for a safer, more natural option, there are several plant-based hair coloring alternatives available, including henna, indigo, and cassia. Ultimately, the decision to color your hair is a personal one, and it’s important to weigh the potential benefits and risks before making a choice. By being informed and taking the necessary precautions, you can safely and confidently achieve the hair color you desire.


I hope you found this blog helpful;

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“Chronic skin & hair diseases are complex to understand as these can result from a variety of contributing factors. To achieve a successful and holistic treatment outcome, I offer my support to help you identify the root cause and design a comprehensive treatment plan. This plan may encompass lifestyle modifications, topical treatments, nutritional plans and natural, herbal & homeopathic remedies with the goal of improving your skin health without any adverse side effects.” – email me at contact@holisticskinwellness.com for further enquiry.



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