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Hair Color Alternatives That Actually Work (even on grays)

natural hair dyeNobody likes getting gray hair (I should know, I discovered my first few strands of gray last year).

Not only does it make you feel old, but it usually marks the beginning of a long, inconvenient, and controversial relationship with hair color.

Why the controversy?

Aside from finding the right color and hair stylist, whether you choose to color your hair at home or go to the salon every 4-6 weeks, you’re still exposing yourself to one of the most toxic beauty products left on the market.

Yes, hair color…the answer to our gray-hair-prayers is loaded with proven endocrine-disrupting, cancer-causing, immune-suppressive ingredients.

Even the well-meaning “natural” brands still contain the toxic stuff.

Why? Because permanent hair color won’t take without a specific chemical cocktail that opens the hair shaft to receive and absorb the dyes.

Despite their best efforts, the hair industry hasn’t been able to deliver a truly natural, permanent hair color that also covers grays.

So what’s a hair-and-health conscious gal to do?

The good news is, the natural hair color industry is advancing, and you don’t have to go gray if you don’t want to.

In today’s post we’ll cover:

  • Why investing in hair color alternatives is so crucial to your health.
  • PLUS the latest effective, exciting, and truly natural hair color alternatives that really work.

Why Hair Color is Scary-Toxic and Why You Should Stop Using It

I know you’re eager to dive into the best hair color alternatives that actually work, so I’ll make this quick.

In order for traditional hair dyes to work, they must contain harsh chemicals that “open” your hair shafts to receive the color.

Now, alone these chemicals aren’t great but when combined to create a chemical reaction they become even more toxic and likely to harm.

Permanent dyes and darker colors, such as chestnut or ebony, contain higher concentrations of these nasty chemicals which include:

  • Para-phenylenediamine (PPD) and tetrahydro-6-nitroquinoxaline—linked to cancer and genetic damage in animals…and PPD is not even approved for products that come in contact with skin! I guess your scalp doesn’t count…
  • Formaldehyde—a preservative and well-known carcinogen that can cause developmental delays and affect endocrine function.
  • Ammonia—though many companies claimed to remove this poison years ago, it can still be found in many hair color brands (even the “natural” ones).
  • DMDM Hydantoin—an immune-toxic, allergenic “formaldehyde releaser” that has been put on restriction in Japan.
  • Coal tar—yes, really! Another known carcinogen contained in the majority of permanent hair color products with many toxic compounds including heavy metals.
  • Parabens—a once-popular preservative and endocrine disruptor that has been linked to breast cancer and a number of other hormonal-related health issues. Though many cosmetic companies have stopped using parabens, they can still be found in many hair color brands.

You can check out this study on how extended hair color use increases women’s risk of rheumatoid arthritis, and the American Cancer Society’s website for information linking hair color to an increased risk of bladder cancer, leukemia, and lymphomas.

Given what we now know about how parabens and petroleum products in cosmetics affect hormones, I would venture to say excessive exposure to hair color could also contribute to several other types of hormonal-driven cancers.

But…what’s the big deal if these chemicals barely touch your skin?

Good question. And it’s true, very little hair dye comes into contact with your scalp.

However, it is the inhalation of these chemicals that is often of greatest concern.

As they sit on your hair for 45-60 minutes, you inhale the vapors that are then released into the bloodstream whether they touch your head or not.

Then there’s the allergy component. Because of its harshness, a large number of men and women are flat out allergic to the chemicals in hair color—PPD and formaldehyde most notably—which leaves them with very few  options.

What are those options? Let’s explore them right now…

#1: The Best Option for Gray Coverage is Not a Hair Color at All: It’s Hairprint®

They say to save the best for last but…this is just too good to delay.

What’s so exciting about Hairprint is it is NOT a hair color and therefore does not require those awful chemicals.

So, what it is?

It’s a hair re-pigmentation product that restores your hair to its natural color with no chemicals, toxins, or scary ingredients.

Hallelujah, this product has FINALLY been invented and I am a testament to its effectiveness.

However, it does differ from traditional color in a few ways and will not work for every type of hair or hair color.

Hairprint will only work if you have light brown, brown, dark brown, or black hair.

According to this website, they are working on a formula for blonde hair but aren’t optimistic they will ever be able to create one for red heads (if you have red hair, don’t get too down I have some tips for you coming up).

If you’ve been coloring your hair for a long time or have a lot of gray hair it may take a few tries for the product to work.

Coloring your hair creates damage that needs to be restored, and gray hair that has lost its pigment a long time ago may need a few “reminder” treatments to bring that color back.

For more info, click here.

Finally, the treatment takes 75 minutes…which, to me, is totally worth it when you consider the alternative.

Plus, it truly makes your hair healthier, stronger, and shinier so think of it as a 2 in 1 treatment.

Hairprint lasts about as long as a permanent dye, so prepare to touch your hair up every 4-6 weeks depending on how much gray you have to cover.

To learn more about Hairprint or place an order visit:

#2: The Next-Best Option for Limited Gray or Semi-Permanent color: Henna

Before Hairprint, Henna was the least-toxic, most natural option for coloring your hair. And it’s still a good one.

Affordable, available in a variety of colors, and easy to apply, semi-permanent Henna is completely natural, non-toxic, and can even work on gray hair.

The drawbacks of Henna are it can be kind of messy, it typically adds red tones (whether you want them or not), and it may not cover your grays as thoroughly or for a long as you may like.

Also, once you commit to using Henna you can’t go straight back to using permanent dyes as it can cause an unpleasant color-reaction. Hairprint also has special instructions for Henna-treated hair.

There are ways to mix Henna with other plants, like Indigo, to achieve better gray coverage and a less “red” look.

For a great article on how to achieve a beautiful brunette look, check out this post from:

#3: The Third Option for Beginning-Grays: Natural, DIY Rinses

Before hair color came around, our great grandmas used natural rinses to hide grays and darken, or lighten, their hair.

Though they don’t produce as dramatic an effect as traditional color, these rinses are a cheap, DIY option that can work quite well for those with just a few grays.

Instead of reinventing the wheel, I will direct you over to Wellness Mama’s excellent post on all natural herbal hair rinse recipes which include chamomile/lemon rinses for light hair, nettles, rosemary, and sage for dark hair, and hibiscus and calendula for red hair.

I’ll say it again…not many of us like getting gray hair.

But at least you can rest easy at night knowing you don’t have to resort to toxic hair color products…or endless trips to the salon.

Here’s to aging gracefully, naturally, and beautifully!

-Dr. Alex