Caution Suggested When Using Hair Dyes

Nicole Huskey
The Daily Reveille

Although most female students have tried a hair coloring product at some point, many are unaware of the health risks involved in the process.

With an increasing number of hair color products on the market and more people deciding to try a different look, safety is not always a primary concern.

“I had never even thought about the health risks of coloring my hair,” said Amanda Levesque, a biological sciences sophomore.

Although the Food and Drug Administration oversees the safety of cosmetics and can ban the sale of harmful products, hair dye is exempt from FDA control.

However, the FDA has required manufacturers of products that include coal-tar as an ingredient to place a warning label on the product. Studies have indicated coal-tar, which is used in several hair coloring products, can be harmful to some people.

Most companies have switched from using coal-tar to petroleum sources. Petroleum sources have been shown to be much safer, but some products still contain some of the same compounds found in older hair coloring products.

Some of these ingredients can be found in do-it-yourself coloring kits sold at stores, as well as in products used by salons.

But, most salons offer all-natural products that are safer. For example, the Aveda Institute uses its Aveda hair coloring, which includes ingredients such as green tea extract, soy protein, blended pure plants and nitro-dyes. The Aveda coloring does not contain coal-tar or petroleum compounds.

For those who prefer using home coloring kits, manufacturers suggest users test the product on a small part of their hair before using the color on the whole head.

In a patch test, a dab of hair dye is placed behind the ear and left for one or two days. If burning, redness, itching, swelling or difficulty breathing occurs, manufacturers advise the user to discontinue using the product immediately.

Professionals say the best way to be safe when using hair color products is to use discretion when using coloring agents and use them as infrequently as possible.

But, students said they will probably continue using hair coloring products.

“I wanted to follow the trend and color my hair,” said Stevie Corvetto, a mass communication freshman. “It seemed more attractive and would enhance my looks.”

Anastastia Wilson, an English senior, said changing her hair color is a part of her changing look.

“Anything goes,” Wilson said. “I’ve had it purple, orange, red and yellow. It’s like earrings — it’s just an accessory.”