The unhealthy habits of conventional hair dyes

The unhealthy habits of conventional hair dyes

Dying our hair is a wonderful way to boost our confidence or explore change. Yet the chemicals lathered throughout our locks can be harmful to our health. Conventional hair dyes contain toxins that destroy the wealth of our hair, are known skin irritants, and produce toxic gases the whole salon inhales.

With the awakening of clients and salons demanding safer products, low-toxin options are thankfully becoming readily available – so we can have the best of both worlds. Whilst there is a myriad of toxins in hair dyes, below are three chemicals we are avoiding by opting for safer hair dyes. We urge you to do the same for your health and our planet.

Ammonia is that sharp throat-scratching scent that comes with a head of dye. Ammonia is used to rip through the hair follicle where it can deposit colour permanently. Damaging our hairs structural integrity leaving it to grow, over time, brittle and sickly.   
Whilst Ammonia is produced in super low quantities naturally within our bodies and the environment, regular or sudden high exposures can cause severe damage – such as the treatment of hair dying.
Ammonia gas reacts immediately with available moisture - irritating our eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. And in high doses causing severe burn. Acute exposure has also been linked to diseases of the lower airways and lungs.

Formaldehyde is a strong smelling gas used in the beauty industry as a preservative. Whilst the ingredient itself is not always found in hair dyes, it is released through other contained chemicals such as quaternium-15 (preservative). A small amount within our air is considered okay, yet raised indoor concentration of Formaldehyde can be hazardous on our health.
When present in the air at high doses, Formaldehyde can cause burning sensations of the eyes, nose and throat, wheezing, and nausea. Topically applied to the skin it can cause dermatitis and blistering.

Formaldehyde has also been shown to cause cancer in lab animals. And in the US a workplace limit of formaldehyde exposure is enforced.                                                                                    

Within the hair industry phthalates are used to give flexible hold and longer lasting fragrance. This chemical however, is a known endocrine disruptor - meaning it interferes with the functioning of our hormones. Putting pregnant woman especially at risk.
An amount per product is limited by law but since phthalates are found in so many everyday products (dyes, shampoos, lotions, detergent, even flooring and toys) we are at risk of this toxin accumulating within our bodies and doing their damage.
Avoiding phthalates can be tricky as a loophole allows them to be lumped under “fragrance” on ingredients lists. Synthetic fragrances however, unlike their natural counterparts, build up as toxins in the body and it is best to avoid them all together.

Here at Ardor Organics we use the most low-tox dye currently available on the market Natulique. Not only are they low on regular toxins but 98.02% of their product is derived from organic sources. Find out more information on the colour here.

When considering your next colour as a client, or ordering your next dye shipment as a stylist, consider your health. Our skin is incredibly porous and these hair dyes are laden with health risks. In the face of all this new knowledge and with the rise in safer products, you don’t have to sacrifice your health to get the hair colour you want.

Now is the perfect time to reduce the toxins within your life, minimise your waste, and live in harmony with nature.


By Gemma Innes in collaboration with write Sian Henderson