close up of a hair stylist applying hair dye to a client's hair

The Truth About Eco-Friendly Hair Dye

In recent years we have seen a significant push towards vegan, cruelty-free and eco-friendly products in our daily routine from cleaning chemicals to cosmetic products. These products are not only environmentally conscious but also help to eliminate the number of harsh chemicals we are exposing ourselves to daily, reducing the negative impact they have on our lives. Let’s talk about the many eco-friendly hair dye options available and how you can select the right product for you!

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According to data collected and analyzed by beauty giant Proctor & Gamble, an estimated 88% of all women believe that their hair has an effect on their self-confidence. Why do we spend so much money on hair care products, high-end blow-dryers and straighteners, hair cuts, stylists, highlights and hair dye? It makes us feel good about ourselves! So, why not?

However, as the hair colour industry grows, evolves and adapts, we are discovering that not all hair dyes are created equal. I’m not talking about recognizing which dyes hold colour longer or offer a broader colour selection, that conversation has been happening for a long time. Recently, however, we have seen a shift towards eco-friendly hair dye options including vegan, cruelty-free and natural dyes.

Often people don’t stop to consider the chemicals included in their favourite hair dyes. Not only can these chemicals be harmful to the environment, but many are also linked to health issues and concerns including a decreased immune response, nervous system problems, skin irritation, throat irritation and respiratory problems. Why put ourselves and the environment at risk when there are options available to us?

Vegan and Cruelty-Free Hair Dye Options

With the focus on being more environmentally friendly choices in our product choices, we have seen a shift in the hair dye industry with even more companies releasing vegan and cruelty-free hair dye choices. With so many great options available, the key to selecting the right hair dye for your next bold look is to focus on your individual experience. Why? No two people have the same hair and, as a result, no two people are guaranteed the same response from the dye options. While one dye may be a go-to favourite for me, someone else may have a much better experience with an option that fell short for my hair. The only way to discover the right brand for you is through trial and error.

One of the best-known brands, Manic Panic has been offering fun, bold and eco-friendly colour options for over 40 years. These dyes are readily available online as well as in many local stores including Sally’s Beauty and Shoppers Drug Mart here in Canada. Not only do they offer their classic dye pots, but they also have released an ‘Amplified’ formula, designed to last longer.

I have fallen head over heels in love with Arctic Fox, a newer product out of the United States. While their colour selection is smaller than that of Manic Panic, their dyes can still be mixed to create nearly any colour imaginable. They can be found in many Sally Beauty locations as well as Hot Topic in the United States.

Other brands worth checking out include Lime Crime, EcoColors, Good Dye Young, Lunar Tides, Iroiro, Punky Colour and Directions.

Henna Hair Colour

Another popular product in the industry today is Henna hair dyes. These natural dyes are a great alternative to traditional hair colour if you are looking at more traditional hair colours, however, if you’re looking for something that won’t stain your hair you may want to consider another option. These dyes use henna powder at the root of their product, made for the lawsonia Inermis shrub.

Be careful to take the time to research the brands that you select, as there are many products on the market that are said to be ‘henna dyes’, however they use other plant-derived products instead. While the end result is still an eco-friendly hair dye, it may have a different effect than you had intended. For example, dyes marketed as ‘blonde henna’ dyes are actually made with cassia obovata, while darker henna dyes use ingredients like indigo to create a darker blend. If you do use a 100% henna hair dye, the result will be a dark reddish-brown.

As with the vegan/cruelty-free dyes, choosing the best dye will come down to your personal experience. However, some brands that I have heard great things about include LUSH, The Henna Guys,  Light Mountain Natural and Rainbow Research.

Homemade/DIY All-Natural Options

If you want to have complete control over every ingredient that touches your hair, why not consider making your own all-natural hair colour at home? These options won’t give you the dramatic, bold colour provided by the products listed above, but they are a great way to have a little fun with your hair while avoiding any unnecessary chemical exposure. In fact, this is the most environmentally friendly option as you are eliminating the impact of production, packaging and transportation.

There are many herbs or naturally occurring options each with their own unique colour. Here are a few popular options:

Blonde/Golden Tones – Chamomile, Calendula, Rhubarb Root

Red Tones – Tomato Juice, Hibiscus Flowers, Pureed Beets

Brown Tones – Black Tea, Coffee, Nettle, Rosemary, Sage

Black Tones – Black Walnut Powder, Indigo

What About Bleach and Lightening Kits?

The biggest struggle for those who are looking to leave chemical-heavy products behind, the process of significantly lightening your hair will call for a little extra attention. So, how can we lighten our hair while still keeping the environment and our overall health in mind?

If you are just looking to lighten your hair slightly, there are natural options that you can consider. For example, mixing lemon juice and chamomile tea can have a lightening effect on your natural hair colour. Unlike chemical options, this isn’t going to have a drastic impact and it will likely require several treatments before you start to see a significant change. Also, it will never take your hair from jet black to blonde – there is no all-natural way to achieve the more dramatic results.

If you are looking to bleach your hair, consider selecting an ammonia-free product such as the Ammonia Free Lightener by Ion or the Goldwell Silk Life High Performance-Lightener. While these products aren’t completely chemical-free, by avoiding ammonia you are cutting out one of the biggest offenders. If you aren’t comfortable bleaching your hair at home, which I wouldn’t recommend for anyone new to hair dye, simply reach out to your stylist to discuss ammonia-free options.

Related: ‘Hair Colour At Home: Step By Step’

Why discuss eco-friendly hair dye choices? Recently a group of bloggers came together with one clear purpose in mind – To discuss eco-friendly and environmentally responsible choices in our lives as they relate to our specific niches and interests. Each blogger in the collaboration agreed to write and publish a post discussing the harsh reality of global warming and some suggestions on how you can make changes in your life today to work towards a better tomorrow.

close up of a hair stylist applying hair dye to a client's hair with the title eco-friendly hair dyeWhat is Global Warming?

Global warming refers to our plant’s temperature. Over the past 50 years, the average global temperature has increased at the fastest rate in recorded history. It occurs when air pollutants and greenhouse gases collect in the atmosphere and absorb sunlight and solar radiation that have bounced off the earth’s surface.

Scientists say that the earth’s rising temperatures are fueling longer and hotter heat waves, more frequent droughts, heavier rainfall, and more powerful hurricanes.

Why Should You Care About Global Warming?

Well, global warming isn’t a myth. We can see the effects of it starting these days. If we won’t take action and save our planet, this is what is predicted to happen in 20 years:

#1 – The glaciers will melt, which will raise the water level on Earth and islands like Venice, New York City and more will be erased.

#2 – Due to the melting glaciers, the bacteria of old diseases will be released. We will have to fight old and serious diseases that then return to our planet.  

#3 – As a result of the climate changes, there will be massive heat waves that will, in turn, start big fires and harm agriculture.

#4 – The impact on water quality will lead to a global water shortage. The rising sea level can also cause the depletion of freshwater as a result of saltwater aquifers.

Don’t you want to live a good life with a good future? Don’t you want the next generation to have a future? Here are a few little things that, if we all put into practice in our homes, we can make a huge impact and help to stop global warming before it’s too late:

– Reduce water waste

– Eat the food you buy, and eat less meat

– Buy better bulbs: LED lightbulbs use up to 80% less energy than conventional incandescent (they are also more cost-effective)

– Be responsible with electricity use in your home: Wasting electricity is one of the most harmful things we do to the environment. Don’t leave fully charged devices plugged into your home’s outlets, unplug rarely used devices or plug them into power strips and timers, and adjust your computers and monitors to automatically power down to the lowest power mode when not in use.

– When buying a new car, buy an electric car

– RECYCLE: the average person makes 2.5 kg of garbage a day! This means that in one year, you make 912.5 kg of trash that is then thrown outside, harming our planet.


Interested in reading more?

Check out the incredible content published by the other bloggers involved in this collaboration. You won’t be disappointed! 

Do you currently use an eco-friendly hair dye option? If so, what brands or homemade/all-natural options do you prefer and why? Share your opinions in the comments below!  

14 thoughts on “The Truth About Eco-Friendly Hair Dye”

    1. I’ve been an addict since I was a pre-teen, but after a while the chemical dyes were doing a number on my hair. I’m so happy that we have a wide variety of these dyes available as an alternative!

  1. Super fascinating article! I have been wanting to learn more about vegan/cruelty free and more environmentally free hair options for a long time. I am still a little worried about the lightening options and have continued to use the harsher products. But now might be a good time to talk with my stylist! Thanks!

    1. I wish there was a chemical-free way to effectively achieve lightening. At least there are ‘less harsh’ options available.

  2. I wish there was an all-natural hair color but unfortunately, you need a chemical for the dye to take on the hair. So truly there is no pure natural coloring product. Yes, there’s henna and options like this but they don’t last and they dry out your hair and scalp. You can use products that use fewer chemicals as you mentioned but they won’t be 100% chemical-free. So I have decided to just let my gray hair show. Who cares what anybody says. Gray can be beautiful too.

    1. Moving away from the chemical heavy dyes, the colour definitely doesn’t last as long. However, it also doesn’t fry my hair the way they do, so I’ll take the process of dying it more regularly lol

  3. This is a great post! It’s so great to see all of the info on more natural choices all in one place. I’ve been so curious about it. Saving this for reference! Thank you! ?

  4. I have been looking for hair color options for a while now bit never found something that was really (all-natural). I’ll be sure to check out some of these suggestions. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Any hair dye is going to have some chemicals, however the key is to dig further into where these chemicals come from. For example, Arctic Fox includes cetyl alcohol which can be derived from coconut or palm kernel oil, Glycerol Stearate which is biodegradable. There are still some chemicals I wish I could move away from, but it’s MUCH better than many of the other products on the market.

  5. I loved this post! I never knew there was a Henna hair dye, I remember always ordering Henna temporary tattoo kits and doing them with my sister haha. I definitely want to try one of these out though!

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