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Do you really know what you're putting on your hair? Many hair dyes you can buy in the shops or hairdresser contain toxic chemicals that can cause skin problems or even increase the chances of DNA mutations (a potential cause of cancer). As a result (and to save money), many people are turning to supposed natural alternatives, with the internet showcasing a plethora of home-made and plant-based concoctions. Yet very few of these provide much evidence that they colour hair.
My colleagues and I recently conducted research to see if ultrasound, which is used to encourage fabrics to absorb dyes, could also help natural hair colours to be more effective. But while the results were positive, we also found that the treatment – and some of the natural dyes themselves – can also cause hair damage.
Hair - Dyes - Work - Strands - Hair
Hair dyes work by filling strands of hair with coloured chemicals, which enter through the hair's pores. In permanent dyes, two types of molecule go through these holes and then react to form a bigger type of molecule that is too large to come out again. Semi-permanent dyes, meanwhile, only penetrate the outer layers of the hair and use chemicals that like to stick to the keratin protein in hair. In both cases, alkaline solutions such as ammonia can help to swell the hair, open up the hair cuticles and widen the pores to improve penetration and enhance the colour.
A huge range of natural products are recommended online for covering grey hairs, creating highlights or even changing the entire hair colour. Suggested substances include coffee, tea, beetroot, carrots, onion skins, nigella seeds and a tasty concoction of vinegar and soy sauce. Since these are all things we eat, they are inherently non-toxic, but most articles that recommend them suggest reapplying every week or fortnight and provide...
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