Two years ago, I wrote about how toxic many artificial hair dyes were. At the time, many shampoos and hair styling products also were made with less than desirable ingredients.
I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but hair dyes are still one of the most toxic personal care products on the market. You can check out the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetics Database for yourself: out of 234 hair dyes tested, 103 are considered as high hazards.
On a scale of 1 to 10 with10 being the absolutely most hazardous products:
- 16 dyes are rated as a 9 high hazard,
- 31 are rated as an 8 high hazard, and
- 56 dyes are rated as a 7 high hazard.
Readers, that means nearly half of all artificial hair dyes are ranked as high hazards.
What’s the fuss?
So what are the toxic chemicals that cause so much concern?
Resorcinol causes hair dye allergies and is a known human immune system toxicant. There’s strong evidence that it’s a human skin toxicant and human endocrine disruptor. It’s also linked to convulsions, dizziness, vertigo, confusion, disorientation, and tremors. In animal studies, it’s known to disrupt thyroid hormone synthesis.
While it’s a common ingredient in hair dyes, it’s banned in Japan and is known to irritate skin. The U.S. government has limited the amount of resorcinol used in the workplace, but there are no limits for private use – and no limits in personal care products.
P-phenylenediamine, a known human immune system toxicant and human respiratory toxicant, is also a possible human carcinogen. There’s strong evidence that it’s a human skin toxicant and human neurotoxicant. And there’s moderate evidence that it’s a human nervous system toxicant.
P-phenylenediamine is used in many hair dyes, but it’s restricted in Canadian and European cosmetics and irritates skin, eyes, and lungs.
P-aminophenol, a chemical that irritates eyes, skin, and respiratory systems, requires the use of safety glasses, gloves, and good ventilation. Toxic to aquatic organisms, it’s a known human immune system toxicant – plus there’s strong evidence that it’s a human skin toxicant and moderate evidence that it’s a human immune system toxicant.
P-aminophenol is one of the byproducts of coal tar, a thick liquid byproduct of bituminous coal distillation that contains toxic impurities. Coal tar is a known human carcinogen used in over-the-counter drugs – and hair dyes – that adds to a person’s body burden.
Restricted in Canadian cosmetics, toluene is a known human skin toxicant and allergen.
There’s strong evidence that 1-naphthol is a human skin toxicant, and in animal studies it affects the brain, endocrine system, nervous system, and reproduction. The ingredient irritates lungs, skin and eyes.
Two products in particular, Youthair Crème and Grecian Plus, contain lead acetate. This toxic ingredient is banned from use in cosmetics by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Lead acetate is a known human reproductive toxin and known human development toxin. (It’s lead, after all.)
Looking on the bright side
Just because half of hair dyes tested are hazardous to your health, half aren’t so terrible. If you color your hair, please check the Cosmetics Database. How does your hair color rank?
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