4 Reasons To Say “Bye Bye, Hair Dye”

I have not colored my hair in 30 weeks. I decided early on that I would not dye my hair while pregnant, though the thought made me cringe:

My roots are going to be ridiculous!!!

4 reasons to say bye bye hair dyeHere I am, looking at just 10 more weeks until I can fix up this head o’ hair. And I’ve decided something.

I don’t think I’m going back.

I know you might be wondering what the problem is. “They” say that it’s safe to color your hair after the 1st trimester, and that hair dye in general is safe. It just sits on your hair, right? And hair is dead.

What’s the big deal?

When I was about 24, I had a few grays. They stand out pretty obviously with black hair, so I decided to try a boxed dye from the drugstore. It worked marvelously.

Fast forward a few days. I woke up with what I thought was a huge bug bite. Having lived in Boston for many years, I was no stranger to bed bugs and other house guests. I freaked out, contacted my landlord and slept fearfully under the sheets that night. I think I left the lights and TV on, to keep the bugs away. (Does that even work??)

The next days, more bites.

The exterminator finally came and declared my apartment bug-free. No bugs, he said. But look at these bug bites, I said! I had huge swellings on my arms and legs. He shrugged.

Over the next few days I woke up to a different swollen part of my body. My shoulder! My ear! My hand, blown up like a balloon! I went to the doctor.

The doctor told me I might have Lyme disease. Wha??

Over the weekend my lip swelled up 5x the normal size. It might have been comical if I wasn’t so on edge. I was scared that if my lip could swell like that, so could my throat. I went to the ER and they diagnosed me with…HIVES??

Hair dye gets into your whole system

I always thought hives were little red bumps. Apparently, they can also show up as monster swellings. They gave me Allegra and it totally worked.

So it was an allergic reaction. To what? After a few weeks I finally realized what you’ve probably already guessed…it was the hair dye.

This brings me to Reason #1:

#1 The chemicals in hair dye are not just on your hair. They get into your whole system.

Sure, they’re “safe.” And maybe you aren’t allergic like I was. But take a quick look at the ingredients in a random box of dye and tell me it sounds hunky dory to have this floating around in your bloodstream:

Nice & Easy Color Blend Formula, Shade 98:
Water, Ethoxydiglycol, Propylene Glycol, Isopropyl Alcohol, Soytrimonium Chloride, Oleth-5, Ammonium Hydroxide, Oleic Acid, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Oleth
-2, Fragrance, C11-15 Pareth-9, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, C12-15 Pareth-3, Erythorbic Acid, Citric Acid, Resorcinol, Sodium Sulfite, EDTA, P-Phenylenediamine, N,N-Bis(2-Hydroxyethyl)-P-Phenylenediamine Sulfate

Click here to read how the Environmental Working Group rates a similar dye. It ain’t awesome, folks. With a high overall risk and high concerns of immunotoxicity, endocrine disruption and organ system toxicity…

#2 Hair dye probably isn’t as safe as they make it sound

How could it be? How can you put that sort of concoction into your body every few weeks and not have it affect you AT ALL? Maybe it contributes to your toxic load a little bit, maybe a lot, but it absolutely does.

Let me tell you, I don’t spend a small fortune on organic produce and locally-farmed meat just to turn around and dump chemicals on my head.

I didn’t dye my hair again for a long time.

But after the birth of my son in 2011, I was feeling kind of…mom-ish. Every time I looked in the mirror I saw new hair growth around my hair line, which is common for postpartum women. These little hairs were like a mane around my face. And they were all white.

I hated them with a passion. Eventually, I made an appointment and went to the salon to get those suckers taken care of. Whew, no allergic reaction. I was in the clear.

So I went back, every 6 weeks or so. I enjoyed feeling young even as my body felt old and tired, sleep deprived and figuring out this whole mom thing. It’s a stage of life that kind of hit me by storm. I loved coloring those grays away. It was symbolic.

What I didn’t love so much?

#3 The financial cost and time commitment

For the first year or so, I didn’t mind at all. But with limited time to myself, I got a little resentful of the hours spent sitting in a salon making small talk. I’d rather be at yoga! I’d rather be pretty much anywhere! Coloring my hair started to feel like a job, except instead of getting paid I was shelling out something like $100/visit.

We all have to prioritize how we spend our resources. For me, this was starting to feel like a waste.

Then, I got pregnant.

A lot of women change their diets while pregnant, take extra precautions to avoid secondhand smoke and generally try to keep their baby safe from nasty crap. Me? I remembered those damn hives and decided to keep hair dye out of my system.

So here we are, at 30 weeks. My gray roots are several inches long.

I remember when my mom decided to grow out her dye and go natural. She’s all gray and the transition was super weird, as the black dye turned to brown, then purplish, then pinkish…all the while an obvious gray/color divide on her head. It took a long, awkward time. But I was proud of her for taking the leap and doing it anyway.

So I asked myself, when am I going to stop coloring my hair? When I’m a grandma? Never?

What if I did it now, while the transition would be still be smooth?


Could I live with my grays?

Why on earth is it so hard to imagine doing that? I’m 34. I will soon have two children. I own a SUV, for heavens sake. Who am I kidding? I’m not young like I used to be. My body, though strong and awesome, is not the same shape it used to be.

Why am I hanging onto black hair like it’s the ticket to keeping me firmly planted in my 20’s, drinking on spring break without a care in the world?

#4 Maybe it’s time to accept yourself as you are

That thought has been hanging around my brain for awhile now. I think I’ll feel better growing old gracefully instead of fighting it awkwardly. We’ve all seen those women. You know – the ones who think they’re fooling you with their overdone makeup and inappropriate too-young clothes.

Anyway, if my goal is to live a clean, healthy life then isn’t that more beautiful than any head of hair?

Anyway, my husband thinks a gray streak is sexy.

What do you think?