The Ins & Outs of Natural Hair Color

a middle-aged woman with red hair

You want to cover your grays, but you're worried about the chemicals. After all, roughly 400 out of the 456 hair colors ranked in the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep cosmetics database are considered "high hazard."

This means they contain toxins linked to cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, immune problems, and organ toxicity. Not to mention allergies and eye-, skin-, and lung irritants.

Given all that, how can you get great color without harming your strands—or yourself?

In general, the more permanent the color, the more toxic the product. Hennas, herbal and vegetable dyes, and food-based ingredients are the least noxious.

The Hair-Skin Connection

“Hair is a biological appendage of the skin, which is why people with oily skin have oily hair and people with dry skin have dry hair,” says holistic health and beauty expert Kat James. “What affects the skin will also have great impact on the hair.”

Hair is vulnerable to many factors: hormone imbalances that can lead to oily hair or hair loss; compromised circulation; faulty digestion; and stress or trauma that causes alopecia areata (or temporary, nonhereditary hair loss).

“Because omega 3s and fish oil have been proven to increase circulation, reduce the impact of stress, and help balance hormone activity,” James adds, “they offer proven benefit in each of these important contributors to hair health.”

Supporting melanin pigment formation through supplementation is another strategy for a naturally colorful head of hair. Some products containing various B vitamins, copper, carotenoids, lycopene, and other nutrients may help, though all supplements aimed at hair health take time and patience.

Hue Knew?

“The trick with topical hair care is not so much what to do, but what NOT to do,” James explains.

Because hair that has already grown from your head is dead matter, you need to nourish it from within. Also, avoid chlorinated water by using a shower filter and steer clear of nonfoaming hair cleansers for dry hair.

True Colors

To help you achieve healthy hair and maintain vibrant color after treatments, consider natural products. Aubrey Organics Color Me Natural covers gray, enhances your own color, and improves the condition of your hair every time you use it. It gently coats hair for more natural coverage and conditions the hair shaft to help prevent breakage without employing phenylenediamine, coal tar dyes, or synthetic chemicals of any kind.

JASON Natural Products Color-Treated System is a protective hair care plan (shampoo, conditioner, and styling spray) infused with plant extracts that extend the life of color-treated hair and ensure natural luminosity.