Purple weaves, blue braids, pink buns, orange puffs–sometimes you just need a change. But whether you want to go Beyoncé blonde or Faith Evans red, coloring your hair can have risks.
Popular hair dyes can contain Quaternium-15, which is found in many cosmetics and industrial substances and can release formaldehyde and also cause contact dermatitis, a symptom of an allergic reaction, especially in those with sensitive skin; Alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs), which are in used in manufacturing antioxidants, lubricating oil additives, laundry and dish detergents, and may be hormone disruptors; and Phenylenediamine (PPD), which is used in rubber chemicals, textile dyes and pigments, and can be a skin and respiratory irritant.
From all over color to a few highlights, here are the healthiest ways to color your natural hair.
Do it dirty.
You shouldn’t wash your hair before dyeing it. “Dirty hair is ideal for color application,” says celebrity stylist Cynthia Alvarez. “The natural oils on your scalp act as a buffer between your scalp and the chemicals in the formula, so skip the shampoo a day before you plan to color.”
Try a rinse.
For a quick burst of color without the long term commitment, try a rinse. Rinses deposit color on your stands for 6-8 weeks. Since it’s temporary color, a rinse will fade after several shampoos. It’s the best way to try a temporary shade before deciding to go all the way.
Choose ammonia-free color.
For dramatic color (fuchsia, turquoise, platinum blonde), ammonia may be necessary. To take your hair to a shocking shade, ammonia opens the cuticle so that the color can penetrate hair’s layers. For less electrifying color, check out ammonia free dyes like Shea Moisture and Clairol Textures and Tones, which comes in 14 different shades (I’m a #6G).
Henna is a great natural way to color hair, but did you know you can also color with beet juice, carrot juice, tea, coffee and walnuts? They may not last as long or change your color completely, but these natural alternatives can give your hair a boost of red-orange or dark brown color.
Your hair may be dry after you color it—dye opens your cuticles in order to deposit color. Deep condition weekly and use butters, crèmes, and natural oils to help keep it moisturized and strong.