Electric turquoise, pale lavender, icy blue-gray, baby pink – unnatural hair colors in every shade of the rainbow are showing up in fashion shoots, on the runways and in music videos. But can you achieve this up-to-the-minute look while avoiding products with potentially harmful ingredients? The answer is yes and no. There are lots of options for non-toxic hair dye, from the usual blondes and brunettes to saturated candy colors and pastels, but bleach is another story.
Safe hair color that won’t do too much damage to your tresses is more accessible than ever, especially if you want to stick to more conventional shades. Take a look at the beauty aisles in your local health food store and you’ll likely find several brands of permanent and semi-permanent boxed dye that are free of ingredients like ammonia and PPD, a coal tar dye that can be highly irritating. But did you know that classic punk hair color brand Manic Panic is PPD-free and vegan, too?
Manic Panic is available in virtually any color you can think of – and it’s easy to mix various colors together to come up with your own custom blends. For the two results pictured below, I mixed Manic Panic’s Atomic Turquoise and Purple Haze with just a smidge of Raven (pure black) in varying amounts – it helps to be open to experimentation! Manic Panic is made of vegetable dyes, and never tested on animals. Lasting power varies by shade and the porosity of your hair, but it will generally stick around for 2-6 weeks.
Too nervous to DIY? Call your local Aveda salon and inquire about the beauty brand’s Full Spectrum Hair Color, which is now available in fun, bright shades. Aveda stylists can mix these colors to achieve custom effects. Aveda Full Spectrum hair color is free of ammonia, and 96% derived from natural sources, including conditioning oils like jojoba and coconut. Check out some of the results that are possible at Modern Salon.
And that brings us to the topic of bleach. Because, of course, if your hair isn’t already white-blond, you’re not going to achieve much more than a subtle tint, if the color shows up at all. Natural hair dye won’t ‘lift’ pigment from your hair shaft; it only adds color. That’s why you need to pre-lighten before dyeing. At this time, there are no real alternatives to conventional hair bleach, which can cause chemical burns if you’re not careful.
One solution is to minimize your exposure to these chemicals (and damage to your hair) by having your hair lightened by a professional colorist, who will ensure that it doesn’t come in contact with your scalp. You could also go for streaks, or only bleach a portion of your hair.
There is one interesting alternative in the works. A Japanese company called Kao Corporation is working on the world’s first ‘green’ hair bleach, which uses an enzyme from a type of fungus to naturally degrade melanin pigments in the hair. Until that or something else becomes a viable option, we’re stuck with hydrogen peroxide.
Top image via Aveda