These days everyone is getting in on the herbal trend, and not just in food; even when it comes to hair coloring! But does herbal hair color really work? And what are the main arguments for switching to an herbal haircare routine? We take a look at the five main reasons to try herbal hair color...
1. Better for you
The first argument that fans of herbal hair color use is that certain chemical ingredients used in man-made haircare are actually damaging to our health. But is this true? Research suggests that it might be. A five-year study focusing on haircare for black women brought to light the potential health risks that can be caused by synthetic chemicals used in haircare such as obesogens, which can destabilize the body's metabolism.
Certain carcinogens and parabens have also been linked to cancers and hormonal unbalance. Ingredients to avoid (or use in smaller doses than synthetic dyes) include resorcinol, a potential endocrine disruptor and irritant for the lungs, skin and eyes, and p-Phenylenediamine (PPD) which is also an irritant and has been linked to certain cancers.
2. Better for the environment
Herbal hair color has no petroleum-derived ingredients, which are often used in conditioners. These emulsifiers do not dissolve, but are washed into our water system – which is not a good thing for the environment! The ingredients in herbal hair color, however, are not only usually manufactured using environmentally-sensitive methods, but do not contaminate the water when washed away.
3. Better for your hair
Ammonia, a key ingredient of most non-herbal hair colors, is a harsh corrosive that removes the protein from the hair fiber, which leaves it prone to breaking and tangling. Without ammonia, the hair cuticle remains intact, allowing color molecules to bond to the healthy fiber and hold for longer.
Using herbal, ammonia and sulfate-free hair color, therefore, keeps the hair stronger. And healthy hair equals hair that holds its color for longer. Plus, fewer ingredients applied to the fiber means the hair isn't weighed down, and therefore looks more naturally voluminous.
Another way that herbal hair colors are better for your hair is that man-made dyes use waxes and silicones to cover the hair fiber. These then cover any damage to the cuticles, giving hair the appearance of shine (as light reflects off smooth, uniform hair fiber), but without treating any underlying problems such as dryness or damage. The hair might look shiny, but quickly becomes dull and frizzy as the waxes are washed off with repeated washes.
4. Get long-lasting vibrant color, naturally
Be inspired by Mother Nature's colors for your own hair! Herbal hair colors come in a large range of colors, so don't feel you have to compromise on shade. It's important to note that, because herbal hair colors don't usually contain ammonia, it is not possible to lighten your hair (because the ammonia lifts the cuticles to change the color of the cortex beneath).
5. Good for sensitive skin
Sufferers of sensitive skin often find themselves with scalp problems, from dandruff to eczema and dryness. The long list of ingredients in synthetic hair colors can include several irritants, so the advantage of using herbal hair color (with fewer ingredients) is a lower risk of irritation for sensitive skin.
If you have sensitive skin, ingredients that are known for their low-irritant properties include coconut oil (or coconut extracts such as Coco-caprylate/caprate), Decyl Glucoside, a natural non-ionic surfectant, wild soybean (Glycine Soja), aloe vera and sunflower oil. When it comes to vitamins that support fragile skin, vitamins A, B, C and E are reputed for their anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties – ideal for soothing irritated scalps! As with any hair color, always remember to do a strand and skin test before coloring all your hair. While there may be a reduced risk of irritation with herbal hair color, it's best to be sure beforehand!