Marvellous Multani Mitti


  1. Prevents hair fall and makes new growth:Multani Mitti prevents hair loss by improving the blood supply into the hair follicles and by deep cleaning and opening the hair follicles.
  2. Deep cleans the scalp: Multani Mitti gives the scalp a super clean and reduces scalp itchiness.
  3. Hair Detoxification:Multani mitti absorbs excess oil and other impurities and dead cells from the scalp as well as on the hair.
  4. Unclogging pores:By absorbing the oil and other tissue debris, Multan Mitti unclogs the pores of the scalp.
  5. Prevents split hair:Multani Mitti also helps to prevent split hairs and makes your hair stronger and healthier.
  6. Removes dandruff: When mixed with other ingredients in a hair pack, Multani Mitti removes dandruff and prevents its recurrence.


Here are some recipes to try out. You can also experiment by adding Multani Mitti to your favourite hair treatments and even using it on its own!

Hair growth power pack:


  • 4 teaspoons Multani Mitti
  • 1 teaspoon Bhringraj powder
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Half a teaspoon black pepper powder
  • Plain white yoghurt


  • Mix the powders, honey and pepper with enough yoghurt to make a runny paste.
  • Apply to the hair and scalp and leave it on for 30 minutes.
  • Rinse thoroughly and use a mild, sulphate-free shampoo if needed.
  • Repeat weekly.

Dandruff buster hair pack:



  • Mix the powders and lemon juice to a smooth paste, adding some water if necessary.
  • Apply the mixture to the scalp and leave it on for 40 minutes, allowing it to dry on the scalp.
  • Rinse well with warm water.
  • Do this twice a week for a month or two for best results.

No-More-Split-Ends hair pack:



  • Mix all the ingredients to a smooth consistency, adding more oil or water as needed.
  • Apply to the hair and scalp for 40 minutes
  • Rinse well and use a mild sulphate-free shampoo if needed.
  • Repeat weekly.

Heal that Acne skin treatment:



  • Mix all the powders into a smooth paste with the liquid.
  • Apply gently to your face and neck.
  • Leave it on for 20 minutes, allowing the mixture to dry on your skin.
  • Rinse gently with warm water and pat dry.
  • Repeat often.

Age-defying face pack


  • 1 teaspoon Multani Mitti
  • 1 teaspoon Rose Petal powder
  • 1 teaspoon Hibiscus powder
  • 1 teaspoon cold-pressed plant oil that suits your skin (grapeseed, olive, coconut etc)
  • 1 tablespoon mashed up papaya


  • Mix up all the ingredients into a smooth paste, adding a little filtered water if needed.
  • Apply gently to your face and neck.
  • Leave on for 40 minutes, allowing to dry on your skin.
  • Rinse gently and pat dry.
  • Repeat frequently for best results.

With thanks to Beauty Health Tips for some content

The Beautiful Banana

It’s time to get serious about your hair and a banana hair mask is a great place to start. Mashed banana on your hair might sound a little crazy, but you will be surprised what a difference a banana hair mask can make!

So what makes bananas so great?

Aside from coming in their own handy wrapper, bananas have long been a tasty source of nutrition. Bananas are an excellent source of potassium. While it’s true that potassium can be found in a variety of fruits, vegetables, and even meats, it only takes one banana to provide you with 23% of the potassium that you need on a daily basis.  Bananas are high in Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber, and magnesium, but free of sodium and cholesterol. At the same time, they are almost fat free, and relatively low in calories—depending on its size, a banana has only about 90 to 110 calories. They contain high-grade protein and three of the essential amino acids. And bananas contain 41% of the daily requirement for vitamin B6.

And Bananas for hair?

The benefits of bananas are not just limited to health but also make excellent beauty treatments as well. This tropical fruit is an effective beauty treatment for skin as well as hair. Bananas are great for your hair and scalp. They improve manageability and shine, prevent and control dandruff, and moisturize your scalp. Bananas are rich in potassium, natural oils, carbohydrates and vitamins, which help soften the hair and protect the hair’s natural elasticity, preventing split ends and breakage.  While many banana hair products are available only at expensive spas and salons, there are lots of DIY recipes you can prepare easily in your own kitchen. Just like a facial mask enhances the glow of your face, a banana hair mask also improves your hair dramatically and instantly. Bananas are full of vitamins and are a number one ingredient for strengthening and volumizing the hair. Bananas also help repair dry and sun-damaged hair.

Oh, and remember all that potassium? Your hair also loves potassium because it’s great for strengthening and thickening fine hair.  The recipe you’ll need will depend on what type of hair you have and what types of problems you may be experiencing with your hair.  We’ve put together some recipes for banana hair masks that cover a wide range of hair types and problems. Take a look before you decide which one is just right for you.

Moisturizing Banana, Rose and Coconut Hair Mask

True, this recipe may sound more like the base of a tropical drink you would expect to enjoy by a pool in Hawaii but it’s actually a fantastic moisturizer for dry or coarse hair. Remember not to use more coconut oil than is called for, as it could leave your hair looking greasy. When used properly, however, this mask will soften even the most stubborn tresses.

Coconut is not only delicious but it’s also full of amazing hair-healing properties. Unlike many store-bought products that simply add a synthetic coating to the strands of your hair, the chemical structure of coconut oil enables the fatty acids to actually penetrate the hair shaft. Your hair will be rejuvenated from the inside out! Coconut oil physically replenishes and adds volume to the hair for long-lasting moisture and shine.

Coconut milk applied to the scalp gives a cooling sensation. It nourishes your hair by giving natural moisture from roots to ends. And coconut milk is a great organic hair conditioner, which will give you longer and thicker hair.

Rose petal powder is hydrating, soothing and anti-inflammatory.


  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (use even less if you have fine or short hair)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut milk
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 teaspoon Love My Hair rose petal powder


In a bowl, mash the banana. Add coconut oil, rose petal powder and milk and mix well.

Apply to clean, dry hair, covering all hair right to the ends.

Cover hair with plastic shower cap or Saran wrap and leave for 30 minutes.

Rinse thoroughly. Shampoo and condition as normal.

Banana, Avocado and Bhringraj Mask for Hair Growth 

A perfect mask to help fortify and strengthen your hair, while moisturizing to help grow out those long locks you’ve always wanted.

Supercharged with vitamins A, D, E and B6, avocado is also high in proteins, amino acids, magnesium, folic acid, copper and iron. The oils in avocados are one of the few that can penetrate the cuticle and actually moisturize hair.

Egg whites control sebum secretion in the scalp by tightening the hair follicles. This will reduce the amount of sebum secreted through the hair follicles and remove excess oils from your scalp and hair. What’s more, egg whites are filled with bacteria hindering enzymes to keep your scalp clean and healthy.

Eggs are rich in protein, vitamins and fat—perfect for nursing dry hair back to health. Egg yolks nourish, moisturize, and lubricate dry damaged hair. For damaged hair, egg yolk will strengthen hair follicles and roots. A powerhouse for deep conditioning, egg yolk softens hair, revitalizes it, and transforms it back into silky smooth locks. Egg yolks can also prevent hair loss.

Olive oil has been an essential ingredient in hair health since ancient times. This wonderful oil is rich in vitamin E and healthy fat. Prevent breakage and strengthen hair strands by using olive oil to hydrate dry or brittle hair.

Bhringraj herb has been scientifically proven to increase hair growth. It does this by opening up blocked follicles and increasing circulation to the scalp.


  • ½ ripe avocado, mashed
  • ½ ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Love My Hair Bhringraj powder


Puree avocado and banana together until no clumps are present.

Add in beaten egg, Bhringraj and olive oil. Mix thoroughly.

Apply to dry hair and leave in for 15 to 30 minutes.

Rinse with cool water. (Warm or hot water will cook the egg.)

Shampoo and condition as normal.

Banana, Cassia and Honey Mask for Fine or Thin Hair

While frizzy hair is often difficult to control, those of us with fine hair struggle to pump some life into limp locks.

Though fine hair is largely genetic, thin hair has a variety causes from medical (thyroid issues, hormones), to stress, to styling tools and processes. For suddenly thinning hair, you should talk to your doctor but there are also natural ways to boost lifeless hair.

You’ll go bananas over what potassium can do for you— it’s great for strengthening and thickening fine hair. Bananas nourish the scalp and hair follicles, help maintain natural hair elasticity, and prevent breakage and split ends.

Honey, a natural humectant, —will add moisture and shine to even the dullest head of hair.

Cassia adds volume, shine and strength to hair.


  • 1-2 bananas depending on size
  • 1-2 tablespoon(s) of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of Love My Hair Cassia powder


Mash the banana(s) in a bowl until smooth, and then add the honey and Cassia to your mashed bananas.

Apply the mixture to clean dry or slightly damp hair. Cover with a shower cap, towel or saran wrap and wait 20-30 minutes.

Rinse out hair mask. Shampoo and condition as normal.

We all enjoy healthy, strong, shiny hair and these banana hair mask recipes will get you started, whether you try them all or just choose one special recipe. Your hair will be happy!


Is alcohol bad for your hair? And no, I don’t mean the odd glass of wine!

As people have grown more aware of ingredients contained in their grooming products, we have become aware of alcohols. Some may cringe at the word “alcohol” in the ingredients list of a product because it’s commonly reported that “alcohol is drying,” but the fact is not all alcohols are bad for your hair. In fact, some alcohols have great moisturizing and smoothing properties and are very healthy for your hair. Read on to learn what makes an alcohol good or bad for your hair.

There is More Than One Type of Alcohol

The first thing it’s important to know is that alcohol is not a single chemical but a family of chemicals with differing properties. This means that depending on these properties, an alcohol, depending on its molecular structure, is either great for skin and hair or not so great. Depending on the number of carbon atoms, the molecular structure differs and results in different types of alcohols with different properties. There are two major types of alcohols that are used to manufacture hair and skin care products: short-chain alcohols or drying alcohols and Fatty Acids or emulsifying alcohols.

Short-chain Alcohols or Drying Alcohols (Not so good)

These are very small alcohols with less than three carbon atoms in their structure and they also have a low molecular weight. These alcohols evaporate quickly and so they are used in hair and skin care products as an additive to help decrease the time it takes for a product to dry once applied. But the flip side to their use is that these alcohols also wick moisture from hair and skin. With hair this causes the cuticle to roughen, leaving the hair dry, brittle and frizzy, with skin, this compromises the delicate water/lipid balance of the dermis, exacerbating dry skin. Some of the most common short-chain alcohols that you will find in hair care products are ethanol, SD alcohol, SD alcohol 40, denatured alcohol, propanol, propyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol.

Long-chain alcohols or Fatty alcohols (Great!)

Fatty alcohols are larger alcohols with more than 12 carbons per molecule and are commonly derived from natural sources such as vegetable oil. In contrast to short-chain alcohols, fatty alcohols provide lubrication, hydrating and film forming properties which absorb and lock in moisture keeping the hair from drying out. For these reasons, fatty alcohols like Cetyl, Stearyl and Cetearyl alcohols derived from plants are used extensively in hair care products designed to keep hair hydrated and healthy. They contribute glide and gloss to the hair shaft, encourage softness and help smooth down damaged cuticles. The most common fatty alcohols that you will find in your hair products and which hydrate and which are highly beneficial to your hair are: lauryl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, myristyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol and behenyl alcohol.

Benzyl alcohol is often used as a preservative in hair care products. It occurs naturally in some fruits and vegetables and is generally regarded as non-toxic in small amounts. It is the least sensitizing preservative.

In conclusion, the answer is yes! Alcohol can be absolutely wonderful for your hair, just be certain your grooming products contain the right type.

What you need to know about PPD.

Para-phenylenediamine is an ingredient used in all chemical hair dyes. It is a type of chemical known as a Para-dye. Brunette and black hair dyes contain higher concentrations of PPD/Para-dyes, though all colors can contain PPD and other Para-dyes.

Para-phenylenediamine/Para-dyes can present many health risks. Despite a well-documented history of allergic reaction, increased risk of cancer, and other serious health issues, these chemicals are still used in hair dyes, because without Para-dyes, chemical dyes would not work.

Symptoms of allergic reactions to PPD/Para-dyes may include itching, swelling, hives, blistering, depigmentation, and permanent scarring.

The allergic reactions often require emergency treatment to keep airways open, and further treatment in an ICU or burn ward​​ A person may additionally experience difficulty breathing and swelling of body parts near the site of exposure. In the case of hair dye use, this means swelling of the face, eyes, and throat. Reactions near the eyes can cause damage and loss of sight.

PPD/Para-dye sensitization can happen to anyone.

Even if you’ve been using chemical hair dyes for years, you can still suddenly develop an allergic reaction. In a well-known study 100% of subjects exposed to 10% concentrations of PPD developed a reaction within five patch tests.

The chances of becoming sensitized to PPD/Para-dyes after getting a “black henna” tattoo is about 50%. Once sensitized, a person will experience a reaction the next time they come in contact with PPD/Para-dyes. ​​ Don’t ever have a ‘black henna’ tattoo!

The rate of PPD/Para-dye sensitization is increasing. Studies have shown that people are using hair dye at younger ages and at higher frequencies. While hair dye was once more commonly used to cover grey hairs that came with age, it is now a common at any age to change hair color on a whim.

It is projected that by 2030, about 16% of middle class people in various countries around the world will be allergic to PPD/Para-dyes.

The allergic reaction gets worse over time.

Reaction symptoms often start out mild and worsen each time a person makes contact with the chemical dye. A person who has dyed their hair using a chemical hair dye for several years may at first experience no reaction, then one day notice some itching or burning, or have puffy eyes after applying hair dye. The next application might cause more painful symptoms. Before long, that person could require emergency hospital care for a reaction that has caused intense swelling to the entire face and head, and difficulty breathing.

In 2012, a woman in England died after experiencing a reaction to an over-the-counter chemical hair dye. Further investigation discovered she had previously had a “black henna” tattoo, which likely had sensitized her to future encounters with PPD/Para-dyes.

One study found that even after participants were found by way of patch test to have a PPD/Para-dye sensitivity, more than half continued to use hair dyes anyway. This shows that the average person does not take their allergy seriously, and is willing to endure an allergic reaction for the sake of their idea of beauty. Don’t do it, your health is more important!

I have customers who swell up like balloons after dyeing with a chemical hair dye. They take anti-histamines…. And then dye their hair again at a later stage!

How much PPD is too much?

The quantities of PPD/Para-dyes in hair dyes are not strictly monitored. Europe has a maximum allowable amount of just PPD at 4%, the USA is at 6%.

One study found that packages of black hair dye manufactured in China and India (often sold as black, brown or burgundy henna) contained 12.5% to over 30% PPD, far in excess of legally allowed levels. Other samples have been found to have as high as 60% PPD.

These dyes are cheap, but nasty.

What is Black Henna?

There is no such thing. Pure Henna is not black, and cannot dye anything black. A solid form of pure PPD is sold as “henna stone” from the banks of the Nile River, which creates instant black results. This leads uninformed buyers to believe that a) the product is natural and safe; and b) that natural henna produces a black stain. It’s all a dirty lie.

PPD-free hair dyes – there is no such thing.

Hair dyes that are labeled “PPD free” definitely contain other Para-dyes. Chemical hair dyes can’t work without them.  If a person is allergic to PPD they are going to react badly to the other Para-dyes as well.  Any ingredient containing the words ‘para’, ‘phenyl’, ‘benzo’, ‘diamine’, ‘toluene’ are going to cause allergic reactions.

Be a careful shopper.

  1. Read labels.
  2. Don’t be fooled by ‘PPD-free’ hair dyes. It’s a marketing scam.
  3. Just because a product calls itself ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ doesn’t mean it is.
  4. Calling a dye a ‘Henna’ dye makes it sound nice and natural. Henna is a plant right? Read the label.

Use pure plant dyes like Henna, Indigo and Cassia to dye your hair. It’s healthy, it’s fun (ok, messy fun) and you know that millions of people for thousands of years can’t be wrong.

Ammonia or Ethanolamine? – Choose your poison.

There are a number of so-called ‘natural’ hair dye brands that use the catch-phrase ‘Ammonia-free’ to attract customers. This makes it sound as though you should want your hair dye to be ammonia-free. But do you really? Read on…


Ammonia is used to open up the cuticles of the hair so hair dyes may penetrate inside the hair. In order to achieve this goal, something corrosive, such as ammonia, has to be used. As you can imagine, this process is damaging to your hair.

All permanent hair colors have to open up the hair cuticles, which is what makes the color stay longer and cover even the most resistant grey hair. In other words, something corrosive is used to make the hair color permanent.


It is definitely damaging to the hair, because of the process described above. And also damaging in that it can cause:

  • eye, nose and throat irritation
  • breathing difficulty, wheezing, or chest pain
  • pulmonary edema, pink frothy sputum
  • burns and blisters

Ammonia has however, not been proven to increase cancer risk or disrupt our hormones.

The Environmental Working Group rates ammonia a 4-6 (on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the most toxic), depending on the way it is used, see


First of all, you need to find out if that hair color brand is classified as a permanent hair color.

If it is NOT a permanent hair color (they are called semi- or demi-permanent), ammonia is not needed in the first place. This is like saying “plastic-free” on a glass product.

The reason semi- or demi-permanent hair colors do not need ammonia is that they do not need to open up the cuticles of the hair. Instead, they coat the hair, so it is a less damaging process.


Because all permanent hair colors have to open up the hair cuticles, something else that performs this function has to be used.

If ammonia is not used, ethanolamine is used instead.


Ethanolamine is also a corrosive chemical. It has to be in order to fulfill the same function – opening up the hair cuticles.

It is not surprising that ethanolamine has an ammonia-like smell, too, although the smell is not as strong as ammonia.


Because ethanolamine is a newer chemical, it has not been evaluated for cancer risks yet.

There is evidence, though, that ethanolamine might increase the risk of birth defects, which is a big deal. I highly recommend if you are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, avoid using ammonia-free hair colors.

In comparison, ammonia has not been known either to increase the risk of cancer or to disrupt hormones.

The Environmental Working Group website rates ethanolamine as 5-6, which is slightly worse than ammonia’s rating of 4-6.


Ethanolamine has been shown to damage hair more than ammonia, in some extreme cases as much as 85% more. And ethanolamine has been shown to cause more hair loss than ammonia.

You would think that since ammonia has a stronger smell, it would be more corrosive and thus damage the hair more, but this is not the case.

You might want to ask a hairstylist who has had experience using both ammonia-containing and ammonia-free hair colors which hair color damages the hair more. Make sure though that the hairstylist is not bound by contractual terms with an ammonia-free hair color brand so they will have an independent opinion.

I also noticed an interesting correlation that normally ammonia-free hair color brands claim to be organic, natural, plant-derived, naturally-derived, and even certified organic. Misleading or what?

In closing, I would recommend avoiding all chemical hair dyes. Use Love My Hair 100% Herbal dyes instead! But if you are going to use a chemical dye (that is not a Love My Hair Low Chemical dye – which don’t contain ammonia or ethanolamine), rather use one that contains ammonia, and avoid ethanolamine like the plague.

Herbal hair dyes and moisture

Herbal dyes strengthen and reinforce hair. Sometimes these dyes can make certain hair types feel ‘dry’. This feeling is temporary and has little to do with moisture or lack thereof, and more to do with temporary changes to the hair’s physical structure.

Hair Structure

A strand of hair is made up of a cuticle layer (consisting of tiny scales of overlapping keratin) over a central core. ​​The cuticle layer is extremely important in regulating moisture within the core. It is tighter and thicker near the scalp, where the hair is newly grown and has not yet had time to experience damage. Nearer to the ends, the hair is older and often has a thinner cuticle layer that is more jagged. Split ends are the result of the complete loss of the cuticle layer, and the splitting apart of the inner core.

Hair that has been exposed to chemical processes such as bleaching, will have cuticles that are damaged and rough. The weather can also temporarily effect the cuticles. On windy days the friction causes the cuticles to lift, which makes the strands tangle as the lifted cuticles catch onto one another. Humid/rainy weather can cause the cuticles to become raised, which leads to the appearance of frizz.

What We Interpret as ‘Dry and Damaged’ vs. ‘Smooth and Healthy’

When the cuticles are raised, the hair feels coarser and less manageable. We often misinterpret this texture as ‘dryness’, believing that the hair is lacking moisture. As mentioned above, moisture itself can sometimes cause raised cuticles, so clearly this is not the case. It is simply a temporary change in the physical shape of the hair strands as a reaction to their environment.

Similarly, just because hair is artificially smoothed with silicones and glycerols, does not necessarily mean that the hair is healthier or more moisturized than it was prior to conditioning. As most of us are used to store-bought hair care products, we tend to think that tangled, crunchy feeling hair indicated dryness, and smooth, sleek hair indicates moisture.

What happens to hair during a herbal hair dye treatment

During a herbal dye treatment, moisture from the paste, along with the dye molecules move into the cuticle. The dye bonds to the keratin and this process plumps the cuticle, pushing each cuticle away from the others.  In addition, sometimes not all the dye is rinsed out and these two factors are what can cause the sensation of roughness for some hair types after a herbal dye treatment. As the dye molecules settle into their places and oxidise, and as the remnants of the dye powder leave the hair, the feeling of roughness decreases.

The pigments in the herbal dyes (henna/lawsone, indigo/indigotin) coat and stain the keratin in the cuticles which strengthens and reinforces the hair. The added reinforcement prevents breakage and balances moisture levels. Hair that has been dyed with herbal dyes can still absorb outside moisture (unlike hair that has been coated with silicones), and it can be treated with chemical dyes, lighteners, and relaxers as long as very pure herbal dyes (like Love My Hair) have been used.  Herbal dyes that are not pure may contain metallic salts and other chemical adulterants that will react badly to other chemical treatments.

How to fix rough hair after a herbal dye treatment

Here are some ways to help your hair feel smoother, softer, and more manageable sooner after dyeing your hair with herbal dyes.

Make sure that you have rinsed all the dye out before you shampoo. This can be done by submerging your hair in a bathtub, or with a strong shower. 

After rinsing work conditioner through your rinsed hair. This will help any remaining paste to slip out more easily. Rinse with fresh water and repeat if necessary, until the hair feels smooth, then wash and dry your hair as you normally would.  Washing will not cause anything to loosen except for leftover dye. It is however, best to avoid products containing essential oils (e.g. tea tree or peppermint essential oil) for this initial wash as these tend to loosen the indigo content out of the hair too soon.

If you prefer not to use conditioner, diluted apple cider vinegar will help to smooth the hair and close the cuticle. Rinsing with cool water also helps the cuticle to tighten and close.

Final thoughts…

Because the texture of the hair after herbal dyes is so frequently mistaken as dryness, some people choose to add ingredients such as coconut milk or oil, egg, milk, yogurt, and other plant oils to their herbal dye mix to prevent this feeling of dryness. This is unnecessary and these ingredients inhibit proper dye uptake.

Herbal dyes are so much better for our hair and bodies than chemical dyes. Love My Hair 100% Herbal dyes are certified organic and finely sifted for maximum purity and ease of use. They not only dye your hair, but also contain non-dyeing herbs to improve scalp condition and follicle health.

— thanks to Ancient Sunrise Henna for some information.

The Golden Years

The Golden Years

Ok, thats it! I’m going blond!

I tested the 100% Herbal blond recipe yesterday and I’m so pleased with the result.

My ever-increasing grey hair (why is grey hair always at the front of one’s head?) was beautifully covered and given a golden blond shade. It is so pretty that I think its time to kiss my brunette hair goodbye. And a big plus…. my dry, curly hair is now beautifully soft and shiny :).

Like all completely herbal dyes, my new mixture won’t lighten my dark hair but with repeated applications on my roots I will eventually go back to my teenage blond.

Here’s the golden recipe ?

5 heaped tablespoons Cassia powder

1 heaped tablespoon Light Auburn hair dye

half a teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice

enough hot water to make a creamy paste (similar to pancake batter)

Mix it all up and apply as per the instructions for the 100% Herbal dye… I left it on for 1.5 hours.

And Yippeeee! Welcome to the Golden Years!



To dye for

To dye for

(Article published in Wellness Magazine April 2016)

It’s alarming to note that common products we use without thinking may contain harmful chemicals. These can build up in our systems and can be damaging to our health. Hair dye is one of the culprits. Here is some information on chemicals to look out for.

Chemicals are fairly new on the hair dye scene. For thousands of years, we have used plants like henna, indigo and woad to dye our hair and skin.

The first chemical dyes were synthesized from coal tar in the 1860s and in 1947 a well-known hair care company launched its first chemical home hair colouring product.  Since then the colour range and use of chemical hair dyes has expanded exponentially.

Our quick fix culture loves their fast action and colour reliability, especially when covering grey hair, but these come with a price tag of possible health problems and allergic reactions.

As awareness of these health issues grows, more people want to switch to healthier options for colouring their hair. It helps to know which ingredients to avoid.

Lets start with the big bad wolf of hair dye chemicals… Para-phenylenediamine or PPD. This compound belongs to a family of chemicals called Arylamines or Para-dyes. All these dyes are synthesized from coal tar. They offer a vast colour range, are permanent, quick and easy to use. All permanent chemical hair dyes, without exception, contain one or more of the Para-dyes. The darker the hair dye shade, the higher the quantities of Para-dye it contains.

If you’ve ever had a burning reaction to hair dye with redness, blistering and welts, you were probably reacting to one of these chemicals.

Sometimes these Para-dyes are dressed up in sheep’s clothing, and when your health is on the line, it pays to dig a little deeper (or read the fine print).  Chemicals such as p-toluenediamine, p-aminodiphenylamine, M-aminophenol, P-methyl aminophenol sulfate, 2,4-diaminoanisole and para-aminophenol are all Para-dyes and will cause adverse reactions in those sensitive to these types of chemicals. A chemical hair dye claiming to be Para-phenylenediamine (PPD) free will undoubtedly contain one or more of the other Para-dyes.

Another well-known gang of baddies are the Resorcinol chemicals. Like the Para-dyes these chemicals are known skin irritants and are also endocrine disruptors, causing damage particularly to the thyroid gland. Resorcinol is a dihydroxy benzene, which comes from crude oil. Some sheep to look out for here are 4-chlororesorcinol and 2-chlororesorcinol.  All Resorcinol chemicals should be avoided.

Other chemicals to be on the lookout for are all ingredient listings containing the word ‘toluene’, for example Toluene-2,5-diamine sulfate, ingredients containing Naphthol, for example 1-Naphthol, and the Ethanolamine chemicals.

Also watch out for so-called ‘henna’ that comes in different shades, as very often this contain chemicals.  Pure henna can only make hair orange. To achieve chemical-free brunette shades henna can be mixed with indigo, both of which come from plants.

Having now thoroughly put you off ever dyeing your hair with chemicals again, it should be noted that if chosen well and used carefully, chemical hair dyes do offer a very reliable and quick way of colouring your hair, particularly if you want to cover grey. Choose dyes that have few chemical ingredients in low doses and ideally you should do a skin patch test every time you dye your hair with chemicals. If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a chemical hair dye, it is best to avoid them completely.

Become an avid label reader. There is plenty of information on the internet and a very handy guide is the Environmental Working Group’s cosmetic database called Skin Deep

Back to your roots

(Article published in Wellness Magazine November 2015)

Fancy some squashed tadpoles and goat fat smeared on your hair?  Not very appealing.  If we were living in the Middle Ages or Ancient Egypt when these hair dye ingredients were commonly used, we would just have to grin and bear it.

Our ancestors also experimented with equally unpleasant chemical dyes.  In the early 1600’s people were lightening their hair with “Oyle of Vitrioll”, otherwise known as sulfuric acid, and ancient Greeks and Romans mixed lead oxide and calcium hydroxide to make black hair dye. When the lead proved too toxic the recipe was changed to incorporate fermented leeches!

Thankfully, there was also experimentation with plant extracts and 5000 years ago Egyptians and Indians were using a variety of botanical extracts to dye and condition their hair, including henna, indigo, amla, shikakai, turmeric and alfalfa. The ancient Babylonians believed that henna had magical properties and attracted good spirits. The plant was widely regarded as a symbol of good luck and health and was used to adorn the hair and skin in celebrations.

Henna (Lawsonia inermis), indigo (Indigofera tinctoria), amla (Emblica officinalis) and shikakai (Acacia concinna) are still in use today as effective hair dyes, hair conditioners and as Ayurvedic treatments. It is now becoming more widely known that these plants not only colour and condition hair but also benefit the whole body.  Perhaps the Babylonians were not far wrong.

Henna maintains the acid-alkaline balance of the scalp which helps to eliminate dandruff, itchiness and premature hair loss.  It binds to the keratin protein in hair and colours hair by coating each strand in a protective film. This seals and repairs the hair cuticle, reducing breakage and giving hair a lovely shine.

Henna is not only good for hair though, it can be used to cool burns and sooth ringworm, eczema and fungal infections. An oil made from henna flowers is used in Ayurvedic medicine to relieve muscle aches, and the seeds are used in deodorants and to regulate menstruation.

Indigo is also a well-known herb in Ayurvedic treatments.  It has been used for centuries to treat depression, respiratory problems and to detoxify the liver. Modern research has shown that a tincture of indigo helps to remove carbon tetrachloride, found in cleaning agents and aerosols, from the liver. A paste made from the leaves helps heal sores and ulcers.

When henna and indigo are used together, they dye hair in rich shades of red to black.

Amla contains high levels of vitamin C and A as well as essential fatty acids.  It promotes hair growth, helps to prevent dandruff and makes hair shiny and smooth. Shikakai is anti-fungal, balances the pH of the scalp and makes hair glossy.

When it comes to dying our hair, going back to our roots has many advantages.  Whether or not we choose to believe that using henna attracts good luck and health, there can be no doubt that using plant extracts to dye and condition our hair not only nourishes our hair, it also helps to reduce the chemical load on our bodies and the environment. This can only bring good health!



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