The Ultimate Guide to Hair Dye

After lead acetate was found in some dyes, experts are taking a closer look at what’s really inside.

By Diana McKenna
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The Ingredients to Avoid in Boxed Hair Dye (2:27)

Ever wonder what's really inside that box of hair dye in your bathroom? Millions of people rely on at-home hair coloring kits to touch up their locks. It is an easy and inexpensive way to cover your greys and get the color you love without having to leave the comfort of your house. But is DIY hair dye safe? A recent health alert showed that lead acetate was used as a color additive in certain hair-coloring kits. Find out if the products you're using are safe and if there's a healthier alternative with the help of executive beauty editor Gwen Flamberg. 

1. Check the Label

Any product that contains lead acetate must contain a warning statement. Therefore, checking for that warning can be very beneficial. Review the product’s ingredient declaration found on the label to see if your hair dye contains lead. 

2. Test on Your Skin

Family physician Dr. Jennifer Caudle suggests testing a small amount of dye on your skin before applying it to your hair. This way, you will be able to see if you have any chemical reactions. If your skin does react, you know that your hair dye is not safe to use. 

3. Use Home Remedies

While chocolate hazelnut spread is most often found on toast, lots of people are now applying it to their hair. Flamberg says this ingredient is becoming a natural sensation, thanks to the lack of chemicals and an array of health benefits. The brown pigment in the chocolate will add a rich vibrancy to your mane and nourish your strands at the same time. The other active ingredient, palm oil, helps smooth the hair, gives it a lovely shine, and nourishes the scalp at the same time. You can even use the spread as a hair mask to add a glossy finish to your hair. Not a fan of chocolate or allergic to hazelnuts? You can try coffee, which not only stimulates circulation and promotes hair growth but can also deposit natural pigments. 

4. Ask Your Hair Stylist

The next time you make a trip to your hair salon, ask your hair stylist if they know of any reputable chemical-free hair dyes. They might suggest colored powders and hair mascaras that can touch up your hair without all the unnecessary ingredients. 

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Article written by Diana McKenna