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What Permanent Hair Colours Are Safe And Do Not Cause Cancer?

Getting a new hair colour is a big decision but at the same time, a transforming one. Be it to hide your greys or to get a new look, hair colouring can give you a different appearance.

While some people prefer lighter streaks, others prefer to have a darker shade. 

Based on their chemical action, hair dyes are primarily of three types – temporary, semi-permanent and permanent. While temporary hair colours last for one to two washes, semi-permanent ones can last for five to ten washes. Both these hair dyes do not penetrate your hair shaft.

However, the permanent hair dyes are the ones that penetrate the hair shaft and hang in there till the hair strands are replaced by new ones.

Constituents of Permanent Hair Colours

The ideal hair colour is one that covers all greys, gives full coverage, acts fast, and lasts longer. Believe it or not, most permanent hair colours and darker shades of hair dye contain chemicals that are toxic and potentially harmful.

Some commonly used ingredients in permanent hair colours that are harmful include:

  • PPD
  • Ammonia
  • Peroxide
  • Resorcinol
  • Toluene-2,5- diamine
  • Diaminobenzene
  • Lead acetate
  • Parabens

Each of these chemicals plays a significant role in hair colours. For example, ammonia pulls the protein layer in the hair apart to increase hair dye access to the shaft. Similarly, the peroxide in the dye acts as a bleaching agent and PPD(para-phenylenediamine) functions as the primary colouring agent and gets trapped in the hair shaft, thereby colouring it.

Are Permanent Hair Colours Harmful?

No matter the fantastic work that these chemicals do being a part of permanent hair colours, they are a serious matter of health concern. To state facts clearly – yes, these chemicals are harmful and can affect different parts of your body.

These chemicals most commonly affect the scalp, skin of the forehead, face and neck as they trigger an allergic reaction, especially in those who are sensitive to them.

Apart from this, other harmful effects of these chemicals include 

· PPDs are linked to serious skin reactions and allergies and have been increasingly linked to various types of cancers. They can also cause blood toxicity

· Resorcinol has been linked to organ system toxicity and disturb hormonal balance in the body

· Toluene is known to cause liver damage, lead to pregnancy loss and birth defects

· Ammonia is a known respiratory irritant and causes endocrine disturbances

· Lead acetate has been linked to neurotoxicity

What Alternatives do you Have?

Does this mean there is no way you can colour your hair? Not at all!

Here’s how you can ensure you colour your hair safely and more naturally.

· Always check the hair colour pack for ingredients. Avoid hair colours with any of the above harmful chemicals

· Use natural henna as it is not just a natural way of colouring your hair but also acts as a great conditioner. However, beware of compounded or chemical hennas as these contain the same toxic chemicals that you would find in some harmful hair colours too

· Use hair colours that are made from safe, organic dyes and are gentle to your hair and skin

· Select hair colours that are made from natural ingredients. Again, always read package details before you pick a hair colour!

· There are some good options for permanent hair colours that are made from non-toxic alternatives of these harmful chemicals

Not all permanent hair colours are harmful and not all cause cancer. It is the harmful chemicals that you need to watch out for before you colour your hair. Make a safe choice!