|me and... my hair, ca 2011|
I am often asked what I do to keep my skin looking so young. The truth is: I mostly owe it to my good genes - both my parents aged without many wrinkles.
When it comes to hair, I have to give credit for my situation to my genes as well: both my parents went grey in their 30's. My dad had loads and loads of hair (if there is such thing as too much hair, he had it), while my mom had fine hair and few of it, with a tendency to hair loss due to various factor, one being hair dyes so she eventually had to stop coloring her hair.
As a result I used to have tons of fine hair, did suffer from hair loss as well for various reasons but still have a normal amount of it, but at the ripe age of 36 *gasp* a good 30% of my hair has gone white already. My 32 years old brother is already 50% grey and balding so in comparison I guess I can't complain...
I started dying my hair in my early 20's just for the fun. Then in my late 20's I got tired of it and decided to grow out my natural hair, and that's when I discovered that I already had quite a few grays and so I kept dying it to hide them. I even learned how to do it myself at home with professional products so that it wouldn't take me more than one randome hour on a Sunday afternoon once every 6 to 8 weeks. Not big deal. And the opportunity to change up once in a while.
That was until last January.
I told you my mother would lose her hair because of hair dyes, and you would think that, just like makeup, hair dyes have changed a lot since the 80's and 90's. The truth is they mostly haven't. While the industry has found ways to remove ammonia and its smell (by using an ammonia derivate, anyway) or to add nourishing oil, the chemicals in hair dyes are still pretty much the same that were used decades and decades ago. And the specific ingredients that cause the most allergic issues (with 50% of the population being potentially allergic to them to various degrees) are still present in all semi-permanent and permanent dyes.
One ingredient, in particular, is known to cause a lot of allergies. It's called PPD and it is used in all semi-permanent or permanent dyes because it's the ingredient that opens the cuticle of the hair so that tue dye will penetrate it and hence cover all the hair including the grays.
The problem with PPD and its derivate is that it can cause all kinds of allergic reactions - it was voted "Allergen of the Year" in 2006 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society. It can cause rash, dermatitis, eczema, asthma, swelling and, in more extreme cases, death.
I'm not even going to talk about the fact that chemicals in hair dyes might cause cancer or other diseases, I don't know enough to have an opinion on that. But allergies can affect everyone, even if you have never had a reaction before and have been coloring your hair for years.
In January I had my hair done at the salon with the L'Oreal Inoa, and after that I my scalp felt itchy and burning for... 3 weeks. I didn't know it back then but Inoa contains much more PPD than the color I was using previously (L'Oreal Richesse) but Inoa is promoted as better because it doesn't have ammonia - while in fact ammonia doesn't cause the reactions that PPD does.
Knowing what I know about hair dye allergies, and having had this reaction, can I really keep on coloring my hair and playing russian roulette? It looks like despite the risks, the industry isn't interested in finding an alternate solution to cover grey hair, even though some chemical companies have developed new ingredients. The industry isn't interested in removing PPD from our dyes.
Also, I have the impression that after 4 months without dye, I am not losing as much hair as I usually do. Since some people claim that dyes can cause hair thinning, and given the fact my mother definitely had this issue every time she would dye her hair, I'm tempted to believe that there is a link there.
|4 months of re-growth, greys starting to show|
See, I'm not paranoid about aging, I think aging is a privilege that not everybody gets and even if it's natural to try and delay the signs of aging, I am fine with the fact that you cannot hide it all.
But on the other hand, I find the grey hair really aging, and I am not comfortable with the idea of looking much older than I am. This is especially true because as most women cover their grays until they're fully white (which is a gorgeous look in my opinion) we now really associate grey hair with age. I envy the women who find it empowering to embrace the grey at a young age, but I don't, and I feel bad about my hair.
So I am currently exploring the possibilities. I know there is henna but I do want to keep that as my last option because: it doesn't cover all the grays, it's only ok for reddish shades, you have to keep it on your head for HOURS, and henna treated hair cannot have anything else done to it - not even a few bleached highlights or ombré (no PPD in bleach so that is still ok to do, even though it damages the hair for other reasons).
Some brands like Goldwell have developed alternative products, but they're not available where I live, they're complicated to apply if you haven't had a proper training, they can require a pre-bleach... not very DIY friendly.
I went to organic stores and most of the products that claim to be organic or natural still have PPD or its derivate in them because otherwise, they won't last long or cover grey hair properly. Still a no-no.
And so, so far, I haven't found a solution. I need some help here.
So I would love it if we could talk about this together in the comments. Are you dying your hair? Have you experienced any issue? Were you aware of the risks? If you've gone for a chemical free solution, what is it and how is it working for you?