I thought I was too cute here. This auburn hair color was actually a change for me. I would usually wear my hair a dark goldish blond. People who didn’t know me back in the day thought that was my natural hair color. And most who knew me thought it looked better than my natural color and I did, too. But when my doctor suggested I not dye my hair while pregnant, I stopped coloring my hair. She said no studies could verify the dyes were safe for my baby, and that made me wonder if they safe for me.
My research found that many of the chemicals in hair coloring are linked to cancer causing toxins and can cause a host of allergic reactions, sometimes immediately or sometimes not until after several applications. Allergic reactions also can be true for artificial food coloring, and there have been claims that food dyes cause hyperactivity in children. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently decided that there was not enough evidence to substantiate the hyperactivity claim to ban eight of the nine FDA-approved dyes as the Center for Science in the Public Interest had urged. Even still, a 2004 Southern Hampton University study showed “that adding food colors to children’s diets increased hyperactivity rates in all young children, not just those who were allergic to food colorings or who had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.” What’s interesting is that the food coloring doesn’t change the taste, just the look of the foods. In other words, many times food coloring is added just to make the food look and appear to taste appealing.
Since the verdict is still out on the safety of artificial hair and food coloring, at least from a government perspective, I know some of you will continue to get your highlights and cover up your growing grey. And I know some of you can’t even think about giving up your favorite snack foods, but there are some safe natural alternatives:
• Henna—This is the popular natural dye used for tattoos. Historically, only the red color has been available for hair, but recently new Henna colors have been derived. I never used this because I was told that my hair was too dark for the color to take, but it’s looked good on those I’ve seen who use it.
• Vegetable Rinse—Though these don’t last as long as permanent dyes, they color the hair using plant-based dyes.
• Hydrogen Peroxide—A friend says her mother puts some hydrogen peroxide in a bottle and sprays her hair after washing it. She then exposes her hair to the sun, which turns her hair light brown. I’m going to try this method soon and let you know how my hair turns out.
• Teas, Coffees & Other Edibles—The color from certain natural beverages and other foods can give you the hair color you desire. Check out these suggested formulas to cook up your own.
• Look for foods and candies that have been dyed with fruit or vegetable colors, like beets and blueberries. You are most likely to find these at stores like national health food chains that refuse to sell items with artificial colors.
• Search for and try recipes that don’t call for these colors. I have renamed my red velvet cake black velvet cake until I can find a natural food color that won’t change the taste of the cake.
I hope you will try some of these methods to seek to move away from chemicals that could potentially kill you. Looking good and eating tasty treats are fine, but they are not worth dying over.
What have been your experiences with hair and food coloring?
Copyright 2011 by Rhonda J. Smith