Natural or Chemical Dye?

So you are looking at yourself in the mirror and are going about making your hair, until a pesky gray hair pops up, right in the center of your part.  And as you start to freak out, because you are only twenty something and were not expecting gray hair this early, you find that the pesky gray hairs are beginning to creep up on other parts of your hair line.  Your first impulse is to probably cut them all off and pretend it didn't happen, or to flock to the hair salon or local drug store to get a box of hair dye to cover over those grays!

But before you schedule an expensive trip to your favorite salon, you should know that there are other ways to dye your hair.  You can use henna, a natural, plant based dye to dye your hair.

Henna has been used for centuries as a natural hair, fiber and skin dye, but has recently increased in popularity.  It is actually a very safe and cost effective way to cover your grays, while naturally adding shine and increasing hair health.  Is this ancient beauty treatment for you?  Or should you stick to a local drugstore and grab a box of chemical hair dye?  Find out the truth about both natural and chemical dye.... (dun-dun-dun)

Henna contains a molecule (lawsone), which binds to the keratin in hair (and fiber and skin), and releases an orange-reddish dye.  Henna (100% henna that is) is in all reality safer than commercial, chemical hair dye.  Think about it... it has been used for centuries, whereas chemical hair dye was discovered in the 1860s when a PPD had a reaction with air (oxygen).  The popularity of chemical hair dye has increased in the past century.
Natural hair dye also includes other herbs, such as indigo to help achieve darker shades of browns and auburns.  The addition of other natural herbs and spices can help vary the tones of red you want to acheive.

Henna as a hair dye will dye your hair with very little fading.  Unlike chemical dye, henna does not fade away since the molecules stick to the keratin in your hair.  It is also less damaging than chemical hair dyes.  Henna contains a molecule, called tannin, which binds with the hair making it stronger.  Read more about tannins

Henna has also been known to treat annoying head lice and dandruff, while covering grays completely!  Not only that... henna also gives hair shine and strength, pretecting it against UV damage--something that chemical dyes cannot do!

However, not all good things have just one side... th process of dying your hair with henna is messy!  You have to be patient with the application and it takes a little longer to wash out the henna paste from your hair.

You also cannot change your hair color every month, so if you are a hair chameleon, natural hair dying may not be your cup of tea.  The reason for this is that natural hair dying does limit the variety of colors you are able to achieve.  Natural hair dying lets you go darker, but you cannot turn your hair lighter--Sorry, no going blonde here!

Most all of natural hair dye has to be done yourself.  This could get a little messy, but can also be a lot of fun if you are doing it in the company of someone else!  There are not many stylists out there who have experienced with natural hair dye, nor are interested in doing so.

With natural hair dye, you cannot guarantee a certain color--its rather a small range of tones you will achieve.  Since the molecules stick to the keratin in your hair, and since keratin levels are different for every strand, your hair color boasts a beautiful range of shades in the color you are trying to achieve.

Unfortunately, there are people out there that take advantage of consumers and market products that are not pure henna.  Many companies offer compound henna dyes that may contain metallic salts and chemical additives.  These can damage your hair or worst, react with a previous chemical dye. 

You also have to use caution with using natural hair dye.  Be sure to do an allergy test and a strand test to make sure you are happy with the results.  While  you can use chemical dye after using natural dye, it may get a little tricky and a strand test is always recommended!  Results may be unpredictable, so ALWAYS do a test beforehand!

On the other hand... Chemical dyes are everywhere--they are easy to access, and compared to natural hair dying, are quick, easy and convenient to use.  Chemical hair dyes allow you to dye your hair any color, whereas with henna and other natural hair dyes, you are limited to a spectrum of shades.  Salon and beauty specialists are experienced with chemical dyes, making it a more reliable and convenient option.  Unlike henna, which has to be left in the hair for several hours, chemical dyes are quicker.

However, chemical hair dye is damaging to your hair.  You risk over-processing your hair, resulting in dry, fragile, and fried hair.  You can also have or develop severe allergic ractions to chemical dyes.  There are other side effects that are also related to chemical hair dyes, including hair loss, asthma, weakened eyesight, and sever scalp irritations.  There are also some studies showing a link between prolonged hair dye use with certain types of cancers.

Aside from the dangerous health and safety concerns, chemical hair dyes fade away quickly depending on the brand, causing you to increase its usage.  In contrast, henna barely fades, and thus eliminates frequent salon trips.   

Now that you have some information on both the pros and cons of natural and chemical hair dye, the choice is yours.  For more information on the natural hair dying, be sure to download our free e-book, A Guide to Healthy Hair.