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Hair Color & Your Health

How safe is haircolor?

A lot has been written about hair color and its effects on our health. Hair color has been one of the most rigorously tested cosmetics on the market to date. Every few years the media decide to pose the cancer/hair color issue and another study is done. The results are always the same. NO INCREASED RISK. The largest study to date, in the March 1994 issue of the Medical Sciences Bulletin, involved 573,369 women and the results were reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute by Harvard researchers. "We found no evidence of positive association between use of permanent hair dye and all hematopoietic cancers for a specific type (Hodgkin's lymphoma, non Hodgkin's - Lymphoma, multiple myeloma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia and other leukemias)." They went on to say that age at the time of first use, how long you used the products, how often and how long you have been coloring had "no material associations" to blood and lymph system cancer risk. They did find a minute increase in those using "black" hair dye.

What about allergic reactions to haircolor?

Many people are under the impression that a patch test is either not necessary or need only be done once. The fact is, allergic reactions rarely if ever occur after one use. Reactions occur after years of use and can happen at any time. If you have been coloring your hair for years, it might be the time to start doing those patch tests, especially if you color often due to fading color or are using colored shampoos with patch test warnings. Usually, allergic reactions start out as an itchy scalp and can, in the worse case scenario, lead to swelling of the face and neck and even anaphylactic shock. Some people develop sensitivity to products containing ammonia and peroxide while others become allergic to the dyes that are commonly used in hair color products.

Can I color my hair during pregnancy?

As a colorist, I will color hair during pregnancy. There has been no evidence of any danger from coloring hair during this time. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist's Planning for Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond says using hair color or hair perm products "is okay when you're pregnant. The New York office of the Organization of Teratology Information Services, which provides information on potential reproductive risks, says that while the data are limited, coloring your hair during pregnancy is probably safe. They point out that these chemicals have been around a long time and no research shows they cause defects in newborns. Plus, if you apply them safely (using gloves in a well-ventilated room), you don't really absorb much of the chemicals into your system.

Colorist Robert Craig says, "I highly suggest that you have your doctor explain 'why' if they suggest you don't color. One of New York's top OBGYN's delivered my son as well as two children of one of my client's. We never asked if it was safe and she never mentioned it. My client asked when she became pregnant with her first child and was told not to but no reason was given. During her second pregnancy they again were discussing haircolor. My client finally asked the doctor what she did (the doctor) when she had her two children and the doctor said, ‘Well, I am very short and don't like people to see my roots, so I colored my hair’. If it is going to bother you to color, I suggest you don't but if it is going to concern you more to have roots, well then, I suggest coloring. An alternative to applying haircolor to your scalp where it is absorbed into the body, is to do highlights or use bleach. Highlights can even be done with haircolor in the shade you regularly use."

Final answer?

NO INCREASED RISK. The findings of the American Cancer Society are good news to the millions of women (and men) who color their hair.

The American Cancer Society has this to say
"click here".

Further information:

US News and World Report wrote this recently
Hair color
No strong evidence hair dye causes cancer

The Washington Post wrote this recently Go Ahead, Dye: Health Risks Are Minimal
This page is now in the archives and needs to be purchased from their site (it is about three dollars). It is probably the best article I have ever read on the conclusions of the studies done. If you do not want to purchase it, send us an email and we may be able to get a copy for your personal use.

For more information on hair color studies in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute visit here
Do a search on the words: hair dye where it says "Any Word(s):"
Once you get the results just click on the links for the abstract and read them.
Please note that nothing is mentioned in this study about how often those who color do so. We have found that those that color with "black" hair dye (referred to in the study) color up to three times more often because they are covering grey or white hair. We feel this is significant to the results of this study. If, in a lifetime, one uses a product up to three times more often they may increase the risk factors associated with that product.

For more information on coloring your hair during pregnancy visit http://www.babycenter.com/expert/3273.html

For an alternative to products containing ammonia and peroxide visit Color by Robert Craig Hair Color. Please note that our hair color uses less dye than other colors on the market. When companies are increasing the amount of dye put in the newer formulas, we at Robert Craig are decreasing the amount of dyes we use. We think this is the way of the future.

For information on bleaching hair instead of using hair color visit www.robertcraig.com/bleach.html





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