Do you know that human hair extensions undergo a multilevel dying and chemical forming procedures before you can use it? I think you therefore also have seen the warning texts on the conventional hair dye packaging regarding cancer and allergies.
Because of this you might think that companies claiming to use “natural hair dye” or a ‘delicate process of de-pigmentation” found an alternative to conventional dyes and are convinced that this is a better and healthier alternative?
This may not always be the case. They claim to use no harsh chemicals in the process because that causes harm to the fibers within the hair causing it to break.
The beauty and cosmetics industry is booming and remained stable throughout the entire recession. This industry brought is estimated to grow to $316bn by 2019.
There is a lot of money in beauty. Hence, it should not really come as a surprise that producers may be motivated to do some cosmetic touch-ups about the truth about some of their products, both “natural” and “synthetic” ones.
Some of the expert agencies have classified hair dyes or their ingredients as to whether they can cause cancer.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is part of the World Health Organization (WHO). Its major goal is to identify causes of cancer. IARC has concluded that workplace exposure as a hairdresser or barber is “probably carcinogenic to humans,” based on the data regarding bladder cancer. (The evidence for other types of cancer is considered mixed or inadequate.) But IARC considers personal hair dye use to be “not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans,” based on a lack of evidence from studies in people.
The National Toxicology Program (NTP) is formed from parts of several different US government agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The NTP has not classified exposure to hair dyes as to its potential to cause cancer. However, it has classified some chemicals that are or were used in hair dyes as “reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens.”
Is “natural hair dye” better than “synthetic hair dye”?
Over 5,000 different chemicals are used in hair dye products, some of which are reported to be carcinogenic (cancer-causing) in animals.
Synthetic dyes, despite being quite harsh chemically, work well and the hair will remain that color. Then there are “natural dyes” whereof henna is one alternative. Just beware that these dyes often do not only contain the henna plant extract, but also a lot of other “synthetic” chemicals and metal salts (sometimes even lead).
The second “natural” option is to make your own vegetable dyes at home and progressively dye your hair over a long period of time to achieve a slight taint in your hair (for example, black tea-rinses makes it darker).
The so called natural dyes do not last as long as the synthetic ones since they do not penetrate the hair cuticle.
What is the danger with synthetic dyes?
Unfortunately most of the synthetic dyes do contain components that are carcinogen and can penetrate the skin for example 4-MMPD, 2,4-diaminoanisole which has to be labeled with the warning:
Warning – Contains an ingredient that can penetrate your skin and has been determined to cause cancer in laboratory animals.
Some examples of carcinogen compounds contained in dyes are: 4-chloro-m-phenylenediamine, 2,4-toluenediamine, 2-nitro-p-phenylenediamine and 4-amino-2-nitrophenol.
Research on personal hair dye use and the risk of bladder cancer has produced conflicting results.
An analysis of data pooled from 17 studies of personal hair dye use found no evidence of an increased risk of bladder cancer. However, some recent studies have suggested an increased risk of bladder cancer associated with the use of permanent hair dyes, whereas other studies have not. Also, some but not all studies have suggested an increased risk of bladder cancer associated with the use of dark-colored dyes.
Because studies have shown that professional hairdressers have an increased risk of bladder cancer that may be due to occupational exposure to hair dye, researchers will continue to study whether personal hair dye use is related to bladder cancer risk.
However (and this is important!), the studies that have been made with regard to the carcinogen properties of synthetic hair dyes have shown that due to the rare exposure to the dyes: about once a month and for 30 min, exposure does not constitute a high risk. Once again,
The dose makes the poison and hairdressers and many others working in the cosmetics industry are exposed to very high levels of these compounds. And the chemical cocktail ingredients use for hair extension dying is often a corporate secret.
Nonetheless, the greatest risk of these “synthetic” dyes comes not from them being carcinogen, but from the high risk of getting an allergic reaction. This risk can be just as high in many so called “natural” dyes, particular for the so called “composite hennas” that I discuss below.
You should never color your hair or use human hair extensions of unknown origin whilst being pregnant since your baby might be exposed to unnecessary mutagens and if you would get an allergic reaction to the dye, your baby will be in severe danger.
The hair coloration business has been a bit of a Wild West regarding chemical certifications. This is mostly due to legislative issues since the hair dyes are not as tightly controlled as creams and lotions that one applies directly onto the skin.
Early hair dye formulations contained chemicals, including aromatic amines that were found to cause cancer in animals. In the mid- to late 1970s, however, manufacturers changed the components in dye products to eliminate some of these chemicals. It is not known whether some of the chemicals still used in hair dyes can cause cancer. Given the widespread use of hair dye products, even a small increase in risk may have a considerable public health impact.
Over the years, some epidemiologic (population) studies have found an increased risk of bladder cancer in hairdressers and barbers. A report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that some of the chemicals these workers are exposed to occupationally are “probably carcinogenic to humans”.
Although some studies have linked the personal use of hair dyes with increased risks of certain cancers of the blood and bone marrow, such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and leukemia, other studies have not shown such links. Studies of breast and bladder cancer have also produced conflicting results. Relatively few studies have been published about the association of hair dye use with the risk of other cancers. Based on its review of the evidence, the IARC Working Group concluded that personal use of hair dyes is “not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans”.
Research on hair dye use and the risks of other cancers is more limited. Although some studies have shown associations between hair dye use and the risk of developing or dying from specific cancers, these associations have not been seen in another study. Because of differences in study design, it has not been possible to pool the results of studies of most cancer types to increase the power to detect associations with hair dye use.
What is the solution for making my hair look longer and fuller?
Queen Secret synthetic hair extensions are absolutely safe and highly-technological materials used for creating Queen Secret hair extensions have similarities to human hair fibers. It looks and feels just like real hair. Queen Secret hair fibers do not cause any itching since it is not made with chemicals that can irritate the scalp. The hair fibers are very strong. No glues, chemicals, wefts or bonding agents are necessary to attach the hair so this prevents the formation of bacteria or any other irritation that may result in itching once the hair is attached. Our extensions are undetectable, lighter than human hair extensions and easy to maintain.
International Agency for Research on Cancer. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. Volume 99: Some Aromatic Amines, Organic Dyes, and Related Exposures. 2010. Accessed at http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol99/index.php Exit Disclaimer on September 23, 2016.
Huncharek M, Kupelnick B. Personal use of hair dyes and the risk of bladder cancer: results of a meta-analysis. Public Health Reports 2005; 120(1):31–38.
International Agency for Research on Cancer. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. Volume 99: Some Aromatic Amines, Organic Dyes, and Related Exposures. 2010. Accessed at http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol99/index.php on April 15, 2014.
Bolt HM, Golka K. The debate on carcinogenicity of permanent hair dyes: new insights. Critical Reviews in Toxicology 2007; 37(6):521–536
Takkouche B, Etminan M, Montes-Martinez A. Personal use of hair dyes and risk of cancer: a meta-analysis. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association 2005; 293(20):2516–2525.
Kelsh MA, Alexander DD, Kalmes RM, Buffler PA. Personal use of hair dyes and risk of bladder cancer: A meta-analysis of epidemiologic data. Cancer Causes Control. 2008;19:549–558.
Turati F, Pelucchi C, Galeone C, Decarli A, La Vecchia C. Personal hair dye use and bladder cancer: a meta-analysis. Annals of Epidemiology 2014; 24(2),151–159.
Ros MM, Gago-Dominguez M, Aben KK, et al. Personal hair dye use and the risk of bladder cancer: a case-control study from The Netherlands. Cancer Causes and Control 2012; 23(7):1139–1148.
Harling M, Schablon A, Schedlbauer G, Dulon M, Nienhaus A. Bladder cancer among hairdressers: a meta-analysis. Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2010; 67(5):351–358.
Koutros S, Silverman DT, Baris D, et al. Hair dye use and risk of bladder cancer in the New England bladder cancer study. Int J Cancer. 2011;129:2894-2904.
National Cancer Institute. Hair dyes and cancer risk. 2011. Accessed at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/hair-dyes on April 14, 2014.
Hamann D, Yazar K, Hamann CR, Thyssen JP, Liden C. p-Phenylenediamine and other allergens in hair dye products in the United States: a consumer exposure study. Contact Dermatitis 2014; 70(4):213–218.
Takkouche B, Etminan M, Montes-Martinez A. Personal use of hair dyes and risk of cancer: A meta-analysis. JAMA. 2005;293:2516-2525.
US Department of Health and Human Services. Public Health Service, National Toxicology Program. Report on Carcinogens, Twelfth Edition. 2011. Accessed at http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/roc/twelfth/roc12.pdf on April 15, 2014.
US Food and Drug Administration. Cosmetics safety Q&A: Hair dyes. 2014. Accessed at www.fda.gov/cosmetics/resourcesforyou/consumers/ucm167436.htm on April 16, 2014.
US Food and Drug Administration. Hair dye and hair relaxers. 2013. Accessed at www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ByAudience/ForWomen/ucm118527.htm on April 16, 2014.
Rollinson DE, Helzlsouer KJ, Pinney SM. Personal hair dye use and cancer: A systematic literature review and evaluation of exposure assessment in studies published since 1992. J Toxicol Environ Health B Crit Rev. 2006;9:413-439.
US Food and Drug Administration. Hair dyes: Fact sheet. 2014. Accessed at www.fda.gov/cosmetics/productsingredients/products/ucm143066.htm on April 16, 2014.
US Food and Drug Administration. How FDA evaluates regulated products: Cosmetics. Accessed at www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/Transparency/Basics/ucm262353.htm on April 16, 2014.
de Sanjose S, Benavente Y, Nieters A, et al. Association between personal use of hair dyes and lymphoid neoplasms in Europe. American Journal of Epidemiology 2006; 164(1):47–55.
Altekruse SF, Henley SJ, Thun MJ. Deaths from hematopoietic and other cancers in relation to permanent hair dye use in a large prospective cohort study. Cancer Causes Control. 1999;10:617-625.
Zhang Y, Sanjose S, Bracci PM, et al. Personal use of hair dye and the risk of certain subtypes of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Am J Epidemiol. 2008;167:1321–1331.