Friday, January 28, 2011

Non-Toxic Hair Color for Cancer Patients

Finding a Fabulous, Non-Toxic Hair Colorant

Non-Toxic Hair Color for Cancer Patients 
 A woman’s hair is her crowning glory, a sign of good health and beautyIt’s important for a woman who has been diagnosed with cancer to maintain her appearance – the reflection you see when you look in the mirror will send a signal to your brain, and when it recognizes that you are “looking good,” it reinforces the idea in your mind that you are going to recover and return to vibrant health. That’s why I consider taking care of my hair part of my healing protocol!

Whether you are newly diagnosed or in the early stages of remission, scary thoughts are bound to go through your mind. It’s important to realize that your mind has a profound effect on your healing and the body’s ability to prevent the recurrence of disease. Negative thoughts and anxiety release the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline which suppress the immune system, lowering your ability to remain cancer-free. Stress can also cause your hair to fall out! In addition to using non-toxic products on your hair, please explore guided imagery and meditation designed to TURN OFF STRESS HORMONES and allow healing energy to flow through your body.

Within weeks of being diagnosed with uterine leiomyosarcoma (a rare and very aggressive cancer), I went to see an extremely reputable naturopath. Intuitively, I knew there had to be a reason my body got cancer, and I wanted to get to the bottom of what that was. Dr. Mazza ordered several lab tests which revealed that my body had very high (literally off-the-charts) levels of certain chemicals commonly found in grooming and personal care products. The worst offenders were parabens, phthalates, and chemicals found in hair dyes.

Dr Mazza explained that there is only so much chemical contamination the body can tolerate before it leads to a toxic crisis. Many chemicals we are exposed to in our environment are endocrine disrupters, interfering with the production or activity of hormones in the human endocrine system. Unless the cause of the toxicity is discovered and removed, the crisis will eventually lead to organic disease such as breast and reproductive cancers. I needed to reduce the toxic burden in my body which meant that I needed to use non-toxic, self-care products!
Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I was going to the salon on a regular basis to get highlights. This picture was taken several years before my diagnosis. 
Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I was going to the salon on a regular basis to get highlights. In fact, my hair was more blonde than brown! I knew that I had to give up my highlights, and I was okay with that, but I wasn’t ready to stop coloring. So I went in search of the best non-toxic way to color and care for my hair. My hair is naturally curly, and it takes a lot of product to keep those curls looking good. When choosing hair color, I didn’t want a product with peroxide or ammonia because they damage the hair and make it frizzy. So here was the challenge: to find a non-toxic product that would have the ability to cover a little gray without using peroxide while providing a natural looking medium brown color.
Surya Henna Powder gave me gold, red and copper hues.
At first I tried Surya Henna Powder which is free of PPD, parabens, resorcinol, heavy metals, peroxide and ammonia. It left my hair shiny and in great condition, but even their "ash" brown had a lot of red in it. That's because gold, red and copper hues are characteristic of the henna plant. If red highlights compliment your skin tone, this would be a lovely choice for you.

Searching for a non-toxic, non-henna, ash brown hair color, I came across Palette by Nature. They make their hair dye from living plants using the latest scientific achievements in green chemistry. The result is a 100% naturally-derived plant based permanent hair colorant that is free of PPD, resorcinol, m-aminophenol, p-aminophenol, toluene, 2.5 diamine, azo-dyes, diazo-dyes, disperse dyes, ammonia and parabens - all synthetic chemicals which are known allergens and suspected carcinogens. It is the cleanest hair color on the market.
Palette by Nature does not damage the hair so I can grow my hair much longer than before.
Palette by Nature's 6N Light Natural Brown produced a medium-dark brown color without any red undertones. It changed my grays to golden highlights. In order to cover a minor amount of gray, however, I had to keep the product on my head longer than recommended (about double the processing time). The directions tell you to pile your hair under a cap and keep it warm with a hair dryer in order to open the hair shaft and allow the color to penetrate. That method doesn’t work well with super long hair as only the ends of the hair receive the heat, making the color absorb unevenly. Since my hair is so long, this only served to darken the ends and made the color uneven, but if I had short hair I would definitely use that method. Thus, increasing the processing time was the way I achieved a better result. Once I was finished, the color was permanent and did not fade. I also tried 5N Medium Natural Brown (a very dark brown shade) and 4N Dark Natural Brown (almost black) which offered more coverage for the grays, but were too dark for my complexion.

As the years go by, more grays appear in my crown and temples. I felt like I needed to use a product with a little peroxide in order to get the coverage I need in those particular areas. Naturtint makes a permanent hair colorant with no parabens, ammonia, resorcinol, silicones, paraffin, mineral oils, SLS or formaldehyde derivatives, but it does have a small amount of PPD’s. I purchased a box of 5N Light Chestnut Brown from my local health food store. One box was enough to cover the bangs, crown, and temples of my hair. The application was easy, the gray coverage superb, and the color rich. It was so nice that I decided to buy three boxes and color my now near-waist-length hair, wanting a uniform color throughout. In no time my hair began to feel dry and frizzy. The peroxide was too much for my delicate, curly locks. Frankly, my hair felt like straw – I ended up having to cut quite a bit off in order to reduce the damage it had done!

I returned to Palette by Nature and my hair just loved it! It was full of shine, bouncy curls and a nice dark brown color. But I still needed a product with peroxide to treat just the roots of my bangs, crown and temples. I decided to try another product that is fairly non-toxic but does contain a very small amount of PPD’s – it’s called Tints of Nature.

 According to the manufacturer, Tints of Nature is the only available line of permanent hair colors to use natural, certified organic ingredients wherever feasible. The highly effective formula also has a naturally derived base. It is paraben free and contains no harsh ammonia, resorcinol or nonoxynol, thus helping to ensure damage free results. It contains extra mild, low odor, pharmaceutical grade peroxide and the lowest possible percentage of PPD pigments. I chose Tints of Nature 4CH Rich Chocolate Brown which gave me a gorgeous brown color with golden highlights. But I will not use it all over my head – only to treat the stubborn grays! Once the grays have been treated once with a peroxide formula, Palette by Nature will continue to manage them while keeping my hair shiny and healthy-looking.

Administration Notes:

For shorter hair, one box of Palette by Nature will have ample coverage. For longer hair, you will need two boxes, and if you have thick, near-waist-length hair, you might just need three. Choose from the shades called natural if you want to avoid red tones. Yes, it is the most expensive of all of the non-toxic hair colorants, but it is also the only one that is absolutely free of all harmful chemicals, including PPD. I recommend having 3 large bath towels that are devoted to covering the surfaces around you when you use this product. Cover the floor you are standing on as well as all of the countertop. This hair color will stain! Once you have applied it and have your cap on, make sure to remove all stray color from your skin or it will stain your skin, too. Use plenty of conditioner to aid the rinsing out process in the shower, and take advantage of the bottle of stain remover included in the package to clean the shower floor. Once you are done, this color will last. It does not fade like all of the other hair colors do!

Please visit some of my other posts for more ideas on how to use the mind-body connection to fight cancer and explore clinically proven natural and integrative treatments that promote cancer cell death while increasing your quality of life and well-being.

A Note About Supplements for the Hair:

I lost 1/3 of my hair and had to cut it off just past my shoulders following my cancer surgery/hysterectomy.  I was feeling extremely fatigued, depressed and my hair was falling out in huge fist-fulls due to a sudden loss in hormones. After meeting with naturopath Dr. Monique Mazza, I began taking a small amount of bio-identical hormones. Just a tiny amount applied vaginally turned my world around. I felt happy and full of energy. My hair grew back! Other great supplements I take that also benefit my hair include Natural Factors Biosil,  Barlean's high lignin flax seed oil and Carlson's fish oil. This is the first time since I was in my 20's that my hair has grown this long!


Tiffany said...

And if you ask me, your curls are the most beautiful they have ever been!

Jeannie said...

Thank you, Tiffany! Balancing my body with bio-identical hormones and using non-toxic hair color has really allowed my hair to grow back thick and long, in great condition.

Teresa Lewis said...

I found your blog "by accident" researching ULMS. I have been undergoing Hyperthermia and low dose radiation in Los Angeles at VCI for the past three months and less than two weeks ago got a clear PET scan! I know this is just the first step and that I have to stay healthy and stress free. Thank you for this uplifting blog. I'd love to talk more via email about stress reduction and bio-identical hormones. Perhaps one day I could meet you in person. I'll be going back to Florida in a few weeks. More about me: EMAIL:

Marian said...

You look wonderful! I admire your strength and love your hair. I stumbled upon your blog looking for better ways to color my hair. I have difficult gray, which in perspective, is nothing in the big picture. I just want to wish you good health! Please be cautious, the link to Naturetint on your blog sent me to Vitacost, which had the ingredients listed. It included PPD. It was right there - p-phenylenediamine. Please continue to heal and thank you for your blog! :-)

Jeannie said...

Thank you Marian!

According to Naturtint, their permanent colors contain the minimum ammount of PPD needed to make them work and cover gray. They say that there is a lot less of it in Naturtint compared to regular hair colors. They do make a semi-permanent color line that is completely free of PPDs. It is called Naturtint Reflex Semi-Permanent Hair Color. It will cover mid-range grays, and can also be used to extend the life of the permanent hair color. What I put on my hair is not so much a concern as what I put on my scalp where it will be absorbed into my system! Thank you for pointing this out.

Anna said...

I was diagnosed with stage 1 Endometrial cancer in 2009. I never went back to see the OBGYN and change my diet to Budwig diet and raw food diet. I believe in natural cancer treatments, because I had too many side effects with conventional treatments for my previous lymphoma.
Regarding hair dye, I have been using Naturtint for more than a decade and continue to use it. I enjoyed reading your blog.

Jeannie said...

Hi Anna,
Thank you for posting! I wish you the very best health. Please feel free to share more on Facebook. I'd love to hear from you.

rashmi said...

You can also use Vegetal Bio color which is 100% ppd free and is natural.i have used it so many times and got desired results. said...

What choice is less harmful (less toxic) and what can we really do to protect ourselves when it comes to hair dyes?

Six brands available on the shelves of the health food stores ( Sanotint , Herbatint , Color & Soin , Naturetint , Hair fashion Alegretti , EcoColors ) were analyzed for you. See their toxicological decryption on the page Non-toxic hair dyes on

Jeannie said...

Thanks for the link to a site with a lot of great information. As for hair dye, Palette by Nature was again cited as a great non-toxic color, but by no means permanent.

Heather Anderson said...

Hi, I just found your site as I was looking into natural hair coloring. I had a question for you. All the boxes of natural hair colorant said that you had to let your hair grow out if you had been coloring with chemicals. How did you make the transition from chemical coloring to more natural coloring? Thanks for sharing.

Jeannie said...

Hi Heather, I did NOT have to grow out my hair before starting to use Palette by Nature. I have found it to be completely compatible with henna or commercial colors, causing no unusual effects. Be sure to have plenty of towels to cover the area as it makes a mess! They do include a remover to help you clean up. :)

Dahlia said...

First off, you have gorgeous hair! My hair is long, dark thick and curly. I'm just getting some grey, and I would like to cover it. I'm surprised you used Naturtint. I bought it yesterday but after reading about it on the EWG, Skin Deep web-site, I decided to return it. It came out with a moderate hazard in terms of toxicity, and one ingredient had a high hazard.

Jeannie said...

Hi Dahlia, Thank you for the compliment! You are right about Naturtint - not a great product. On top of that, the peroxide left my hair dry and frizzy after a couple of treatments. I continue to use Palette by Nature which leaves my hair in great condition. As more gray comes in, I've switched to the Dark Natural Brown shade for better coverage. For a few very stubborn spots near my bangs/crown I use a TINY bit of Root Touch-Up, which is definitely toxic, but it is the only way I can manage those grays. Best of luck to you!

dönek güvercin said...

en iyi saç renklerimodelleri size yakışır

Jeannie said...

Thank you for your kind words!

brien einfeldt said...

Im a professional haircolorist and researcher of haircolor dyes and their detrimental effects on humans.if its not organic then its chemical or carcinogenic its labeled all natural means nothing.keeping the chemicals out of the bloodstream is the do you do that .

Jennifer Frank said...

This is awesome! Reading about holistic cancer cures I've learned that hair dyes can cause serous threat to your health, since I've shy away from such beauty chemicals. Anyway, Naturtint sounds great! Can't wait to try it out myself and finally get a much needed make over.

Anonymous said...

You are gorgeous, no matter what you do to your hair you'll always be pretty. Thank you for the helpful information.

Jeannie said...

Thank you for your kind compliments!