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CAN we color our hair safely? IS there a safe product?

Posts: 471
Joined: Feb 2011

Amidst our panoply of serious concerns, let me lighten it up--our topics, not my hair)--with this question:

Have any of you who was coloring your hair before chemo done serious research on whether there IS truly safe color?

Before treatment, I wore my dark brown hair, nearly shoulder-length, pulled back most of the timel. How much of that brown was MINE and how much came from AVEDA, I couldn't, after a few years, be sure.

But my own investigation has shown that even Aveda pemanent, and semipermanent, colors contain ingredients that are suspect, possibly carcinogenci!

I gather that henna may be safer, but does it work without brassy orange tones? And are there any SALONS that administer henna to spare us the mess at home?

I just read that John Masters Salon in New York promises a truly safe dye by summer.

In the meantime, if I can't find a truly safe product, I will stay au naturel or keep wearing my litlle turbans Our health has to trump all!


Posts: 17
Joined: Jul 2011

Hi Rosey,

You might try looking into "Tints of Nature" which is the only 100% organic product I know of...


However, you can still check on their F.A.Q. for safety with cancer.


Cindy Bear
Posts: 570
Joined: Jul 2009

I was just reading about a company that now offers professional hair dye at home kits . It's supposed to be safe, permanent, long lasting.. The web is ecocolors.net
I have been to the web site but haven't ordered/used any of their products. It sounds interesting but They are on the pricey side. The coloring kits are like 19.95 and then of course you'd have to pay shipping..
They also offer shampoos, and conditioners..

I Will Survive
Posts: 27
Joined: Aug 2011

A few years ago, I started having allergic reactions to hair color, no matter what brand. So my hair stylist started doing some research and found some natural hair colors (she is very much into holistic medicine so this was right up her alley!). To make a long story short, I had allergic reactions to even these natural hair color products. Which leads me to conclude that none of them are any good for us. GO SILVER!!!

We should all be using shampoos and toothpastes that do not contain sodium laurel sulfate (that is what makes the foam). Tomm's of Maine has one toothpaste (out of many) that is SLS free, and so does Bert's Bees. There are quite a few shampoos that are SLS-free.


carolenk's picture
Posts: 909
Joined: Feb 2011

Hair coloring contains metals like nickel (for brown) & copper (for red). I would stay away from copper as copper is used to build new blood vessels. I w der if Linda Procopio colored her hair as she was such a vibrant redhead...I never thought about it til now or I would have commented about it to her.

I used to work in an alternative health clinic. One of my tasks was to collect urine samples to be tested for toxic & trace elements. That's how I learned about the metals in hair coloring. I don't color my hair.

Posts: 471
Joined: Feb 2011


YOu're right on target: I even stopped using a skincare product that made my face look fabulous because one of its ingredients was copper. (Fortunately, used it only a few days--and the copper was listed near the middle of a long list, suggesting it wasn't one of the MAIN ingredients, but agree we should be vigilant about avoiding it.)


Posts: 471
Joined: Feb 2011

Meant to follow up with this question: do we know which foods are high in copper? And should we try to avoid them in quantity?
Think I read that cashews are high in copper; I love them, alas.

However, isn't SOME copper needed to allow zinc and other nutrients to work in our bodies? Without any copper, wouldn't we miss some synergistic metabolic functions that are vital?


Double Whammy's picture
Double Whammy
Posts: 2831
Joined: Jun 2010

I realize this thread was about hair color and carcinogens, but I still want to comment about hair color in general.

I had just let my hair go natural prior to cancer and I loved it. I was lucky to be one who looks good in gray hair and it was a good gray/silver. Frankly, I think it has a lot to do with style and personality whether having gray hair makes you look older or not. If you wear your hair in an old lady style and dress and act like an old lady, you will look like an old lady no matter what color your hair is! I started staring at "women of a certain age" prior to taking the risk of growing my hair out. It seemed to me the risk was worth it because those women who stood out as vibrant and attractive had both natural and colored hair. The color of their hair really didn't seem to matter.

Now, almost a year and a half after chemo, I still don't have enough hair to even think about color. At my age, I really don't think I look good with this male pattern baldness, but it looks like that will be my lot in life. Stupid chemo! Some days I wear my gray wig (as in my picture) and some days I wear my blonde wig which is the color I colored my hair when I colored it. Some days I'm ok with my lack of hair and some days I have a pity party. We put too much emphasis on our hair (me included). I don't think I'd color it again if I had enough.

I encourage you to get a great haircut and keep a great smile on your face. I don't know if hair colors are carcinogenic or not, but being gray can be liberating.


HellieC's picture
Posts: 524
Joined: Nov 2010

This is a timely debate for me - I am now 12 months post chemo, hair is growing well and the curl is nearly gone. I was thinking about whether to go back to being blonde, or to have highlights or something, but I am worried about the carcinogens in hair dye. I agree with Suzanne in that it's all about style and outlook - grey hair is not necessarily ageing. But I am struggling to find a style which is both easy to look after, sassy, but not too short around the neck. I have been fine while my hair was going through its post chemo stage - it has had curl, which means that I have been able to try styles which my pre chemo hair would never have accepted. But now the curl is nearly gone and I am back to pretty straight hair. I am still erring on the side of leaving it grey, as it is much lower maintenance than colouring it. I just wish I could find a style I liked, and that I could cope with.

Suzanne - I know that you must be so frustrated at having to continue wearing a wig - but I have to say that the grey wig in your pic looks superb - if you hadn't told us it wasn't your own hair, I don't think anyone would have realised!
Kindest wishes

Becky444's picture
Posts: 29
Joined: Jul 2010

Suzanne, you do look great. I would not have known it wasn't your own.

I had brown hair before I was disagnosed. I dyed it so who knows how much was gray. After treatment, it came back 98% gray. I decided I was old enough to have gray hair and for me I didn't want to use anything that is questionable. It's been two years since treatment. I miss my brown hair but the plus side is I didn't have to go thru that in-between stage. Chemo made the decision for me.

I also refer to EWG.org and find it very helpful. I'm going to have to checkout the toothpaste as I hadn't wondered about that and don't know why. I do know that after chemo I am not the "comprehensive" thinking person I was but it is still getting better.

The best to you all!

jazzy1's picture
Posts: 1385
Joined: Mar 2010

I always notice your beautiful hair coloring and even have commented to you. I even had questioned if it's a wig or not. I agree with the comments about gray/silver hair coloring and needed the "proper" style to feel and look good.

When my hair started coming in I got into it being short, and wanted to try my "natural" coloring (as colored prior to treatments as blonde high-lights). After 4 months going natural with a very ugly color of dark grey and silver streaks I just couldn't continue. I did go back to my prior coloring with L-Oreal. Now I've just got to get on the ball and cut it off and find something more natural. One color that's natural is HENNA. A friend of mine uses it, but very complicated and difficult to find a good coloring the first time. Seems like she's always tweeking the coloring. Any one had success with less harsh hair coloring? Henna coloring?

When I first started looking into all my cosmetics and toiletries I found EWG.org site to be full of great research. I do start there and find some products which are more natural and if they do have "toxic" ingredients will list them.

Possibly one day I'll be ready for the silver/gray look, but until that time I'm feeling comfortable with my hair colored.


Posts: 471
Joined: Feb 2011

Thanks, all of you, for your comments.

Losing my hair did NOT feel like a major trauma; it seemed trivial--and I have grown to love my little turbans.

Nor do I mind the really short hair--about an inch--I now have; I like it.

Am simply not used to this color!

So bottom line is I will either find a dye (such as henna) that I am sure is safe or learn to love the salt and pepper and give it a silvery rinse. I am already lucky to look (according to flatterers of the past) younger than I am.

And how I admire women such as Jamie Lee Curtis who, though still a Hollywood "star," parades her grey crewcut with pride. Yes, it's how we carry ourselves, our natural vibrance and vitality, that most matter.

And our health, above all.


daisy366's picture
Posts: 1493
Joined: Mar 2009

I also think Jamie Lee and Emmylou Harris of country music fame look terrific with the silver locks!

With all the wellness talk we have here, repeatedly putting a carcinogen on our heads and leaving it there to soak into the biggest organ of our body, just doesn't compute for me. Why sabotage all the good work we do?

Join the silver fox club, Rosey!!

Mary Ann

Rewriter's picture
Posts: 497
Joined: Dec 2009

I think silver hair is gorgeous. My mother had hair that was the same color as Emmylou's, and I am waiting for my hair to turn that color silver. In the meantime, I am happy with the gray.


carolenk's picture
Posts: 909
Joined: Feb 2011


I don't think copper from food is a problem.

Posts: 275
Joined: Jun 2011

My hair went for medium brown (dyed), then cut to short medium-brown with gray roots, and one more cut showed that my hair is a great silver color. I had been afraid of some weird gray color.

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