Natural hair dye formulations are becoming more and more sophisticated. Whether you want to discreetly hide your mousey roots or experiment with this year's hottest colour trends, switching your hair up a shade is one of the quickest ways to transform your look. But did you know that many permanent hair colours contain ingredients that not only cause long-term damage to hair but can cause scary allergic reactions too?
One key ingredient to look out for is paraphenylenediamine (PPD), which can cause anything from a mild skin irritation to anaphylactic shock to even a deadly reaction in extreme, but thankfully rare, cases. "Every time you colour your hair, your immune system registers a foreign particle on the scalp," says Rob Forgione, the national colour educator for hair care brand O&M. "Most of the time there's no problem, but there can be a time when somebody has a PPD colour on their hair and they have a reaction. It could happen after 40 years, or on the first colour, and it can be quite intense."
Checking the ingredients list on your favourite hair dye for PPD is a good place to start, but it isn't the only thing you need to worry about. Ammonia is an ingredient to avoid, as it strips the hair of protein and can be really damaging, and resorcinol is another nasty that can affect thyroid function.
Sounds scary, but there can be less extreme reasons for wanting to switch to a more natural solution too. Maybe you're doing Veganuary and want to make sure your bathroom is as free from animal products as your fridge. Maybe you're pregnant, or are just conscious of the effect on the environment of all those chemicals.
The natural colour of your hair will determine what you'll be able to do with it using natural products. Lots of natural dyes are henna-based, which can add warmth to darker hair and really brighten things up. But if you're looking to go lighter, things get tricky as a bleach is usually needed to strip back the natural colour. And if you're fair to start with, you'll find plenty of shades from strawberry blonde to more experimental pastels will work better.
Whatever your motivation and natural colour, the good news is that more natural hair dyes now look better than ever.
Click through the gallery to see our favourite natural hair colours to change up your look in no time.
L'Oréal Professionnel has launched its first 100% plant-based and vegan in-salon hair colour. The three natural powders: henna, indigo and cassia, are mixed together by the colourist in different ratios to achieve different colours, from light brown to blonde in cool and warm tones. Find your nearest Botanea salon here.
If you're already blonde, you may still want a helping hand ensuring you stay on the right side of golden. Enter this organic, herbal solution.
Trust Lush to bring natural hair colour to the high street. The brand's henna range blends the natural red dye with other ingredients to create a broad range of shades. This rich chestnut also contains indigo and coffee.
This long-lasting colour will leave hair feeling soft and conditioned, and will even help hide the greys, something some natural hair dyes struggle to do.
Add a hint of warmth to fair hair with this natural, organic strawberry blonde tint.
If you're thinking pink, you can hardly go wrong with Manic Panic's range of semi-permanent, vegan colours. But you'll need to lighten your hair first to get the best results.
The formulations in the Saach Organics range are based on Ayurvedic principles, including the range of semi-permanent henna-based colours.
This promises to be permanent, so be sure to think twice before you take the plunge. If you decide to go for it, expect vibrant, conditioned locks that last.