Recently I saw an article online about an ingredient in brown hair dyes being linked to lymphoma. It’s called Para-phenylenediamine, or PPD. The article caught my attention, because my BFF Laren, also a holistic health coach, has just gone through treatment for lymphoma this past year. We wondered if her cancer could have been attributed to hair dye? I have been coloring my hair for about 10 years now, and it really got me thinking. Could my vanity inadvertently cause me to get cancer?
Growing up, my mother (who has never colored her hair) lost two of her hairdressers in the same salon to lymphoma. Were their cancers caused by toxins from products in the salon? We’ll never know for sure…
However, what we do know is that the FDA does not regulate ANY personal care products for what chemicals they may contain. Shocking, right? Not only that, but there is NO testing to see how multiple chemicals within one product, or from several products combined, may interact with each other. When you really stop to think about it, it’s SCARY! Should you go gray for your health?
Compelling Reasons to Go Gray for Your Health
When Laren’s hair started to grow back after her stem-cell transplant, she decided to go with the gray, and not color it anymore. Because the fact is, no one knows what caused her lymphoma, but Para-phenylenediamine (PPD) has been linked to not only lymphoma, but also bladder cancer, and breast cancer. Another friend’s sister, who was also a hairstylist, recently died from bladder cancer. You can look up all of your health and beauty products on EWG’s database, to see if they contain toxins.
Toxic Chemicals in Brown Hair Dye
According to Dr. Mercola’s website, here are some other toxic ingredients that are commonly found in brown hair dyes:
- Para-phenylenediamine and tetrahydro-6-nitroquinoxaline, both of which have been shown to damage genetic material and cause cancer in animals.
- Coal tar, a known carcinogen (one investigation found that 71 percent of hair dyes contain coal tar)
- Formaldehyde, a preservative linked to cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity and more.
- DMDM Hydantoin, another preservative that is a known immune system toxin (and has been restricted for use in cosmetics in Japan).
- Eugenol, a fragrance ingredient that’s associated with cancer, immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity and allergies.
Even after Laren’s ordeal, I had to think hard about going gray. I’ll admit I’m vain. I don’t really like how I look with gray hair. I don’t think gray hair goes with my skin tone or my clothes… This was a tough decision! I go to an “organic” salon, so I thought that maybe my hair coloring was “safe.”
But when I talked to my colorist, he told me that PPD is in every shade of brown hair color, even “organic” ones, “it’s what makes the color stick to the hair shaft”. So I thought maybe I could try a “natural” hair color product and went to buy one at Whole Foods, but much to my surprise, all of the “natural” hair color products you can find at your natural food stores also contain PPD.
Go Gray for Your Health
And so, in solidarity with Laren, and to protect my own body from toxic chemicals and potential cancers, I made the decision to go gray for my health. However, I didn’t want to have a solid line of gray as my roots started to grow out. So my stylist is foiling (lightening) my hair for a few months as gray grows out, to prevent a gray ring around my head. By the end of summer, my hair will just be gray, with streaks of brown and whatever highlights the sun throws in. And I will be OK with it, for the benefit of my health and body.
And in case you are blonde, or bleach your hair, you’re also at risk. Although blonde hair dyes don’t contain PPD, they still contain a whole host of other toxic chemicals.
Laren and I have decided, “Gray is the new Black”. Who’s willing to join us, and go gray for your health? Please leave a comment and let us know you are going gray for your health!
Photo credit: Jerry Davis