Hair colouring is not a new phenomenon. It is said that approximately 9000 years ago, Cleopatra, the legendary queen of ancient Egypt, used to beautify her hair and body with henna. Similar is the story of indigo, another vegetable tint that was extensively being used along with henna in Indus Valley Civilization around 8,000 to 10,000 BC.
Chemical hair colours came into the picture with the invention of paraphenylenediamine (PPD) by August Hoffman in 1863. In 1907, Eugene Schueller created the first chemical hair dye with PPD and called it Aureole. Later, he changed its name to L’Orȇal and also founded the company with the same name. With L’Orȇal you could, for the first time in human history, completely change your hair colour—from striking pink to jade blue, from sharp purple to a screaming orange. But, how has this affected the hair health of people around the world?
Chemicals in modern hair dyes
The best thing about chemical hair dyes is their dramatic colouring effects. But, to get this effect, we unknowingly end up sacrificing a lot on the health front.
Hydrogen Peroxide (Bleach), the harmful hair whitenerDid you know that repeated application of bleach permanently switches off the colour producing cells called melanocytes present inside the skin? This eventually turns hair permanently white, further increasing the number of greys. So, you become more dependent on the same hair colours.
Ammonia, the all-powerful hair damager
Human hair has three layers;
- The innermost medula
- The middle layer cortex
- And the outermost cuticle
Ammonia opens up the hair cuticle allowing bleach and PPD to enter into the cortex. This not just facilitates the new colours to chemically react inside the hair strands, but also dries up the moisture inside turning hair dry, rough and brittle, ultimately resulting in premature baldness.
PPD, the primary cause for deadly allergies
Paraphenylenediamine, or PPD, chemically reacts with a peroxide once inside the hair strands to give it the new colour. With PPD, artificial hair colours get the power to completely change the hair colour.
Other chemicals that may cause cancers in the body
Artificial hair colours may also contain heavy metals like lead, mercury, silver or arsenic. These metals do not wash away completely and some residues always remain inside the pores and hair roots even after thorough rinsing. This harmful accumulation, in due course of time, may cause many types of cancers.
Why you should shift to a natural hair colour
Natural hair colours like henna, indigo, manjistha, chamomile, etc, are natural sources of vitamins E and K, omega fatty acids and antioxidants—tannins, catechins, phenolics and flavonoids. Together, they nourish and revitalise hair and scalp repairing damaged hair and bolstering new hair growth. Hair colour experts and salon artists opine that nothing turns hair softer, bouncier and more lustrous like the way henna and indigo do.
Being free of all added chemicals, they do not cause any negative side effects. A 48-hour patch test is, however, recommended for those allergic to vegetables or pollen.
High in antioxidants, multi-minerals and vitamins, the natural hair colours nourish the hair roots and rejuvenate up the scalp.
Apply natural henna after mixing it with a few drops of lemongrass oil twice a month. It will not only nourish your scalp, but also reduce your dandruff to a great extent.
Both henna and indigo are known for their premature grey reversal qualities. The antioxidants and phytochemicals present in both help slow down premature greying.
Sebum is the natural oil secreted by the scalp to maintain the moisture levels of hair. However, both excess oil and less oil are bad for hair health. The natural hair colours help balance hair and scalp oil.
The natural nutrients and vitamins present in natural hair colours help repair damaged hair caused due to excessive use of chemicals or heat styling products turning hair smooth, shiny and vibrant.
In case you have any further queries, do feel free to connect with our beauty and health experts by posting your comments below. Till then, stay natural, stay beautiful!