Natural hair dye safety is something you must assess for yourself before deciding if you want to try natural henna and indigo hair dye.
You might want to start by assessing how safe are the alternative chemical hair dyes we use every day ?
The Europa Press Release issued in 2006 confirmed that the European Commission has banned the use of 22 substances in hair dyes: http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/06/1047. Strangely, paraphenylene diamene (PPD) which is leading allergy trigger isn’t on the list. That’s the ingredient that is causing the most severe allergic reactions. Please remember never to buy anything marketed as”BLACK HENNA” because there is no such thing as black henna and it probably contains PPD – always check the names of ingredients.
Henna Hair Dye Safety
If you are considering using henna and indigo herbal hair colours please do read through all of the information on this page; and take time to peruse the information in the links on the left of this page. And if you currently use hair dye, please visit the PPD Hair Dye Dangers link above. It may save your life.
There is only one potential risk that we are aware of with pure henna :
Do not use henna hair dye if you have G6PD enzyme deficiency : G6PD Dangers
Let’s start with “how do you define safe ?” . If you’re looking for scientific research, you won’t find anything helpful. The SCCNFP Report 2004 : http://ec.europa.eu/health/archive/ph_risk/committees/sccp/documents/out263_en.pdf ) does not specifically declare henna and indigo as not safe to use, but on the other hand, states that current research is unable to declare henna and indigo as safe to use. But the 2005 Report on Henna, which you’ll find on our page: is henna safe? states henna is potentially cancer causing.
We consider henna and indigo to be safer to use than conventional synthetic chemical hair dyes which are linked, increasingly, with hair dye allergy reactions, often resulting in life threatening hazard. Do you know anyone who has suffered a life threatening allergic reaction to henna and indigo or anyone who has died as a result of using henna or indigo ? We all know the answer. However, we cannot guarantee safety. Safety is an issue for each individual to determine. It is possible to be allergic to grass – hay fever is evidence of this. In the same way, it must be possible to be allergic to any herbal product. Therefore patch test. We encourage each individual to research and analyse the difference between chemical hair dyes and plant based hair dyes before making a decision on whether to try plant based hair dyes,
For a more in depth analysis of the issues here please visit the links at the top of this page.
We did ask the Royal Botanic Gardens what they thought about the use of henna and indigo hair dye many years ago, and here’s a copy of the response which they kindly sent to us :
Frances has asked me to respond to you on the possible toxicity of Indigofera arrecta Hochst. ex A. Rich., I. suffructicosa Miller and I. tinctoria L. and Lawsonia inermis L. (henna).
Please see the Botanical Dermatology Database entry for these species:
Some very sensitive people may experience a dermatological reaction which could have been due to adulterants in the preparation. Considering that these substances have been applied to the skin since ancient times, they should be regarded as generally safe. However, as you say on your website, people should always do a patch test before using the product for the first time or after a significant health event eg. pregnancy, serious illness, which may change how the body reacts to substances.
I have not found any evidence of problems to do with accidental ingestion of either plant.
Centre for Economic Botany
Royal Botanic Gardens
urrey TW9 3AE, UK
Tel: +44 (0)208 332 5388
Fax: +44 (0)208 332 3717
Email (for CEB): CEB-ENQ@rbgkew.org.uk “.
We also asked a leading expert on indigo what they thought about the use of indigo as a hair dye and the reply we got was this ( the expert asked not to be named ) :
Thank you for your enquiry – I am sorry to be so slow in replying. I do not have as much to do with natural dyes now as I used to. But I do not see any problem with using Indigofera leaves for dyeing hair. Indeed, indigo dye has been thought to confer benefits to skin health (see books by Jenny Balfour-Paul). There could be some problems if chemical reductants are used like sodium dithionite (I have no idea what that would do to hair!) but just the crushed leaves seems quite harmless……..
Sorry I cannot be any more help.
With regards and good luck with this venture.”
More about Henna and Indigo Hair Dye Safety