Last week The Today Show aired a segment showcasing new research on the links between cancer and hair dye. The reporting, based on credible science from the well-respected National Institute on Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), has raised a lot of questions about which hair dye is safe, especially for women of color.
My trusted friend and blogger Leah Segedie wrote a great piece on her website Mamavation (go check it out!) about the best non-toxic hair dyes on the market. This is an edited version of her article, which you can read in full here.
You’ve trusted Mamavation to bring you topics like safest shampoos, safest cookware & safest deodorants, now join us as we tackle non-toxic hair dye.
Disclosure: This post was fact-checked by Rebecca Elizabeth Sherrick Harks, Registered Nurse.
What does scientific research say about the links to hair dye and cancer?
It’s important to put this into perspective and understand that we are surrounded with carcinogens and hormone disruptors all the time. Hair dyes seem to be a bigger exposure to women, but if you improve other areas like cookware, the mattress you sleep on, and shampoo you use, it lessens the overall impact of your hair dye. In other words, if this is too much for you, start detoxing elsewhere.
A recent study out of Finland surveyed over 6,500 breast cancer patients, ages 22-60, and discovered that the odds of breast cancer increased by 23% among women who used hair dyes when compared to those that did not.
A 2004 study suggested that there might be an increased risk of bladder cancer for people who dye their hair: “Overall, odds ratios (of getting bladder cancer) were somewhat elevated among women who began using hair dye after 1975, used dyes for more than 31 years and who used hair dyes more than 282 times.” Additionally, women who started regularly using hair dye before the age of 37 were also more at risk. While studies like these remain controversial, other studies have shown an increased risk of bladder cancer among professionals who use hair dye in their work (hairdressers and barbers).
At least one study suggested a possible link between glioma, a type of brain cancer, and hair dye use. It was easy to find several studies linking permanent hair dye and leukemia, as well as at least one linking it to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
13 Basic Ingredients Inside Hair Dyes To Avoid
(for more information on each of these ingredients, you can read the full post on Mamavation’s website HERE)
Ethanolamines (MEA, TEA, DEA)
Toluene, Toluene-2,5-Diamine, and 4-Amino-2-Hydroxytoluene
Undisclosed Fragrance with Phthalates
Lead Acetate (in “progressive” hair dye)
Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone
The BEST Brands
These brands have less than 3 problematic ingredients inside their formulation. The number of problematic ingredients is listed next to the name.
Lindsay’s note: These products have not been screened for their heavy metals concentrations, which are common in all color products. The work Mamavation did in compiling this list is based on formulated ingredients.
• Davines (1 bad ingredient)
• Dark & Lovely (0 bad ingredients)
• Desert Shadow (0 bad ingredients)
• Hairprint (0 bad ingredient) – MADE SAFE CERTIFIED
• Henna Color Lab (0 bad ingredients)
• John Frieda Color Refreshing Gloss (2 bad ingredients, including undisclosed fragrance)
• John Frieda Brilliant Brunette Color Deepening Treatment (2 bad ingredients, including undisclosed fragrance)
• Light Mountain Henna (0 bad ingredients)
• Lush Henna (1 bad ingredient–undisclosed fragrance, but likely essential oils)
• Natulique Zero (1 bad ingredient)
• Morocco Method Simply Pure Henna (0 bad ingredients)
• Overtone Coloring Conditioner (1 bad ingredient)
• Palette by Nature (0 bad ingredients)
• Prevana (1 bad ingredient)
• Radico Color Me Organics (0 bad ingredients) – MADE SAFE CERTIFIED
• Rainbow Research Henna (0 bad ingredients)
• Saach Organics (0 bad ingredients)
• Sante Herbal Hair Color (0 bad ingredients – some colors had a fragrance but claim they are essential oils)
• Surya Brazil Henna Powder
• Tints of Nature Highlights (2 bad ingredients)
As you can see, there are several non-toxic hair dye options on the market. Enjoy and know that every step you take can help reduce your body burden.