The Truth About Conventional Hair Dyes

Categories: Blog,Natural Beauty 411,Nutrition Tips,Talia's Must Read,Uncategorized,

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Howdy! This is me with natural and nontoxic hair dye in my hair and this post is about the unbeautiful, dangerous ingredients you will find in conventional hair dyes and why you need to stop using them ASAP! We need to talk about it because it’s seriously harmful stuff. It’s the grossest stuff I’ve read about since that time last week when I decided to reread about the chemicals, drugs and hormones fed to livestock. Ewy ew ew. Man is that stuff gross. While I can talk about the disturbing practices involved in modern factory farming all day long with passionate frustration (please do not get me started), this post is about how dangerous getting your hair dyed with conventional hair dyes actually is. It’s freakin’ appalling. Now what I ask is for you to hold on to your sunglasses and headbands, ladies (and baseball caps if you are a dude), because we don’t want them to fall off as you shake your head in irritation at the facts you are about to read. Of course, this is assuming you are wearing aforementioned accessories. If not, then feel free to shake your head as much as you want without risk of cute (or if you are a guy, ummm manly?) accessories flying away from your face and potentially breaking or getting dirty. Trust me on this one, I’ve had it happen to me and it is not a pretty nor pleasant experience to have one’s accessories go flying away from your face and chip or crack. RIP beloved, cracked sunglasses. RIP.

Toxic chemicals in hair dyes are NaStY. Did you know that more than 1/3 of women and 1/10 of men color their hair regularly?! And I am one of these gals! If you are like me and love to change up your hairdo for more fun & girlish glam (dear lord, what do I substitute for the words “girlish glam” for the guys reading this? sauve? there is at least one guy reading this right? help me!), then you need to get the lowdown on why you need to color your hair naturally! I go to an Aveda salon (thank heavens for Aveda!), but I’m pretty sure you can dye your hair in other natural, toxic-chemical free ways too. I just haven’t done my research on do-it-yourself natural hair dyes yet. If you have, let me know! I want to hear about your all-natural hair dying experiences.

I never want to scare you on purpose, but the truth is that the chemicals used in hair dyes are actually horrendously scary. So scary, in fact, that if I was 13-year-old again, I would have thought this information was scarier than the movie Hocus Pocus. This speaks volumes for how scary these carcinogenic chemicals are. Dun dun dun. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

These chemicals need to stay far, far away from us! 

I love lists and I hope you do too, because I made this list for you.

1) The chemicals in hair dyes that we need to watch out for are called secondary amines and they can penetrate the skin and stay on our hair for weeks, months or even YEARS after the dye is applied. OMG!

2) Over time, these ugly little molecules of amines react with tobacco smoke and exhaust fumes to form extremely toxic chemicals called N-nitrosamines. If Cruella Deville fed this stuff to puppies, there is no question that she would have quite a few new fur coats on her hands rather quickly. What a disturbing thought. I may lose sleep tonight if I allow my brain to think about puppy poisoning one more minute. Let’s move on.

3) N-nitrosamines are banned from use in cosmetics. WOW. This says a lot given that there is practically zero regulations set by the FDA regarding which chemicals can be used in cosmetics in this country. If they banned N-nitrosamines from use in makeup, then this stuff is REALLY BAD for us.

4) Hair dye has been linked to lots of common cancers like breast, ovarian and brain cancer. And leukaemia too. How sad! Don’t do it, don’t go near these scary hair dyes people!

5) Both salon and home hair dye kits contain secondary amines. This is mucho malo para la salud <~ I just used a bit of Spanish there simply because I felt like it. Mucho malo para la salud means very bad for our health in español. Guess how much money we spend on home hair dye kits? Woops, guessing time ran out lickedy split because I’m going to tell it to you straight up (I can’t help myself, the figure is just so high and I need to share!). Think $310 million people. $310 million. Oh yeah, those hair dye companies are rolling in our mullah and we are rolling in toxic chemicals when we use their products. We are paying lots of $$$ for nasty, cancer-causing stuff and putting it in our hair. Thank heavens we can stop doing this at any time. Just say no to conventional hair dyes and save your mullah for the natural kind. Chyeahhh.

6) If I didn’t freak you out enough, I’m going to add one more statistic to this list. Women who use conventional hair dyes more than nine times a year have a 60 percent greater risk of contracting blood cancer. And you thought this blog post couldn’t get any more disturbing. Or maybe it was me who thought that. Well, whoever thought about the insanely disturbing nature of the contents of this blog post, the fact is that this blog post is highly disturbing and this blood cancer thing is the tip of the iceberg. Nasty chemically hair dyes are wicked, they are evil and are on team Cruella Deville.

So, if you want to pretty it up and dye your hair a new fun and way beautiful color, I hope that you listen to your inner wise chica who gets grossed out by nasty, unpretty chemicals and say no to conventional hair dyes. As for Aveda hair dyes, they are naturally derived and do not contain any of those icky, carcinogenic secondary amines mentioned above. They are plant-derived and contain non-petroleum minerals. Go, Aveda! To read more about the ingredients used in Aveda hair dyes, please CLICK HERE.

Final note to my way awesome readers: This info is seriously legit. I have access to my pops online database of scientific research that is usually only available to doctors. I sneak on there and do my own research while I pretend to be a doctor. Muhahaha.

Oh yes, I don’t have an editor for this website (although I did have an incredible one for my LYB book), so if you catch a spelling mistake for this good grammar lover who also happens to make unintentional grammar mistakes and dislikes when she does so, can you please let me know if you spot a spelling or grammar error and I will fix it? In fact, I love any comments or thoughts at all, so please say hi or tell me what you ate for lunch or something.

Peace, love & natural beauty to YOU!



  1. Ginny says:

    I love your website, recipes, and your info. Reading Eat to Live totally changed my life, and I was so glad to start following you, and see that someone young, and female, was living the same way, and knew how to be fun and cute, and still healthy.
    I totally get it with the color chemicals, but I’d love some recommendations for at-home color. I don’t have a lot of money, but I love to color my hair, so coloring at a salon every couple of months is just not an option! I’ve used henna in the past with limited success – I found it to be unreliable to predict, and of course it fades but you can never 100% get rid of it. Frustrating!
    Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for all your posts, and I look forward to hearing more about better at-home color if you ever find any!!!!

  2. victoria says:

    thank you for this information – i’ll be looking into the natural alternatives – ‘move’ Hocus Pocus –

  3. Rachel says:

    Thanks for sharing! I recently tried Light Mountain Natural Henna hair color (DIY home kit) I loved the results. It’s a little messy, feels like putting mud in your hair. But I think it was so worth it. It is also very cost effective. I ordered it online. Some health food stores also carry this brand. No more chemicals for me!!!

  4. melanoma says:

    Hey! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone 4!
    Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts!
    Carry on the superb work!

  5. Jocelyn says:

    Hi Talia!
    A couple of questions here in a list since you like them 😉
    1. What about highlighting hair with bleach (I don’t think there exists a natural product that can get one’s hair that light)- but since it is one ingredient (I think)- is it bad for you as well?
    2. Is it still bad for you if the hairdresser makes sure it does not hit your scalp?


  6. Marsha says:

    I’m interested in home dye options as well.

  7. Hey Talia! I wanted to say that this article is awesome, excellently written and I’d like to see more posts like this.

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