Like most folks under isolation over the past year and a half, we too dabbled with colouring our hair. Our dye experiments consisted of neon pinks, ashy greys, and even vivid violets. And while they looked great, the one thing we managed to overlook was the harmful hair colour ingredients that caused more damage than we had imagined.
While most of them are safe to use, some hair colours and dyes contain harmful chemicals that can cause long-term damage to the locks and leave them dry, brittle, and even unhealthy. So, if you're planning on colouring your hair, consider this a PSA on understanding hair colour and its harmful ingredients.
Ammonia is probably the biggest culprit when it comes to harming your hair and should be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately, it's also the most common one since it's also present in the form of its byproducts — Ethanolamine, Diethanolamine and Triethanolamine. This alkaline chemical may help the colour properly penetrate the hair but ends up making it dry, brittle and unhealthy. Plus, it's got an awful odour that irritates the nose and eyes, which can cause serious illnesses later.
Peroxide, or hydrogen peroxide, is often used as a substitute for bleach since it's believed to be less harsh. Unfortunately, there's no truth to this widely held belief since lightening your hair with peroxide causes long-term cuticle damage, leading to frizz, split ends, and even breakage in the long run.
This one's a serious hair dye baddie because it won't just harm your tresses — it has the potential to harm your overall health too. Resorcinol causes tummy aches when inhaled, redness when it comes in contact with the skin, and is also a hormone disruptor (!!!) which can cause thyroid issues and affect the nervous system. Plus, it's combustible! Avoid this red flag at all costs.
We all saw this one coming because sulphates have been a haircare villain for a while now. ICYMI, sulphates are added to certain hair dyes to keep your mane clean. However, when used in tandem with bleach (which you'll need to if you're colouring your hair lighter), sulphates can leave your hair very weak, brittle, and prone to breakage.
Its name is a pain to say, and we're not gonna lie — this chemical is a pain to be around, too. Paraphenylenediamine, or PPD, is vastly present in dyes since it allows the new colour to take the existing pigment's place, but did you know it's a carcinogenic chemical? That means that overexposure to it can lead to complications like respiratory failure and cardiac health issues. Yikes. PS: Just because you've read this list doesn't mean you need to throw out all your dyes and never touch any hair colour ever again.
When used in very tiny, moderate quantities, you're probably not going to harm yourself. But just to be on the safe side, try and avoid these ingredients as much as you can. Instead, opt for botanically sourced, more natural ingredients like henna, carrot, arnica etc. Happy colouring!
Written by Nishtha Bhalla on Sep 23, 2021
Nishtha is a freelance writer who loves all things beauty, fashion, culture, and lifestyle. With content covering a variety of topics, she brings a holistic, nuanced perspective to her writing. In her free time, she can be found watching reruns of The Office, reading anything she can get her hands on, and experimenting with astrology.