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Healthy Hair CareSafe, Natural Ways to Cover Gray Hair

Organic Hair Color: An Alternative To Toxic Dyes That Won’t Fry Your Hair

By June 30, 2015June 4th, 201818 Comments

Ingredients in regular hair dye have long been associated with the chemical sensitivities, allergies, and skin disorders. Traditional hair color contains toxic ingredients such as ammonia, which is the smelly culprit for dry, brittle hair.

It’s inconclusive whether or not hair dye will cause cancer. However, known carcinogens (AKA cancer-causing ingredients) such as coal tar are among the toxins I don’t want anywhere near my scalp.

For years I chose not to color my hair because of potential health concerns.

I never liked the look of henna, a popular natural hair coloring alternative, because of its highly limited color options that wouldn’t allow my hair to go lighter, just darker or more red.

Then I found an awesome, safer option that would give me the highlights I longed for.

In this video, you will see how amazing the results are — with what I think may be the one of the healthiest and most eco-friendly hair lightening process available today.

A Healthier Hair Coloring Process

Women who want to color their hair safely have not had many options in the past.

Thankfully, Zuzu Organic Salon in Portland, Oregon provides safer, natural and organic alternatives to the traditional hair coloring process.

Owner and hair colorist, Julie Ruckman uses Organic Color Systems on her clients, in addition to a whole range of natural, organic hair care products she carries in her salon.

Organic Color Systems is professional grade, ammonia-free, permanent hair color that conditions the hair and adds lustrous shine.

You might be wondering if this is really, truly and fully an organic hair color.

Well…no. The entire formula isn’t organic, though it contains many certified organic ingredients. This brand has a significant focus on non-toxic and as natural as possible, which for a hair color is still a really big deal and is far and away safer – in my opinion – than the regular options out there.

The Most Eco-Friendly Highlighting Technique You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

“Balayage” is a special technique that Julie demonstrates in the video, which is more eco-friendly than traditional highlighting techniques.

Typically salons use large quantities of aluminum foil when doing highlights on clients.

However balayage, by definition, is the art of hand-painting color directly onto the hair without the use of any foils. Therefore it is by far the most eco-friendly way to highlight hair.balayage-highlights

The Final Results

In the end I loved how natural looking the results were with the balayage. The highlights looked as if I’d been playing on the beach all summer, rather than a head full of obvious stripes a lot of stylists tend to do. (I’ve had some skunky looking color in the past that was not cute!)

And the best part was that I never had to breathe in or subject my hair to yucky, noxious ammonia fumes. In fact, it all smelled really pleasant!

Thinking about ditching your regular hair color for organic hair color? Have you had a good or a bad experience with natural hair color in the past? Let us know in the comments below!

Copy Editor, Kelly Perez. Video Co-Editor, Anabel Rios

Kristen Arnett

Author Kristen Arnett

A makeup artist and green beauty educator helping you find the very best safe cosmetics. Teaching pro secrets for enhancing your natural beauty at every age, so you can be empowered to make healthier choices, and radiate confidence every day.

More posts by Kristen Arnett

Join the discussion 18 Comments

  • elena says:

    Just wondering about coloring lighter hair. Photos and demonstrations are all on darker hair. So, are there effective and safe products for former blonds?

  • Rebecca Habache says:

    Hello I am just wondering where I can purchase the Organic Chemistry Hair Color Products. I saw a video where Susie Ruckman used the product on your hair. I would like to pruchase this particular brand for my hair. I am searching for a pure, organic, hair color. Do you know where I can buy it or who would sell it in California. Thank You Rebecca

  • Lynette says:

    Hi, I’m almost fifty with lots of grey/silver/white hair. My hair is also very curly and fine with lots of it. I dye and bleach my hair. I’ve used natural organic color in the passed. My hair had never been in that good of shape. Now I’m back to what everyone else uses. Although my stylist uses olaplex. She doesn’t believe in organic products. So what product should I switch too for highlights,color, condition,cleaning?? How can I convince my stylist I need this for my health? Thanks, Lynette

    • Kristen Arnett says:

      I don’t know how deep the relationship is with your stylist, Lynette, but if you can change to someone who is willing to work with your health, that would be the best solution. The issue is that salons invest in one particular line and then are fully trained in that line. So switching for them is difficult, and therefore they convince YOU to do what they need instead of the other way around.

  • Erna says:

    I saw this article and immediately searched for the ingredients list. I am wondering about your thoughts on this:

    • KA Admin says:

      Hi Erna, thanks for your comment here. The article you presented seems to have some good consumer research behind it. As my article states, I do not actually endorse this brand as being fully organic or natural. So we’re basically saying something quite similar, just approaching it differently. 🙂

  • Carol says:

    Hi I read your article on Hairprint, as I am looking for a chemical free way of changing my hair colour naturally as I have been having my hair dyed for many years (I have grey/medium brown hair).

    My question is Hairprint sold in Sydney New South Wales Australia?

  • Debbie Manson says:

    This is only a great option if you are not sensitive. I chose OCS in the UK in a salon as a way to minimise reactions to conventional hair dye (all salon applied) I thought this was the answer. Had it applied and within 24hours was in hospital with the worst reaction I have ever had. I normally had itching, red scalp scaly scalp etc with Wella , but my head was all swollen (think alien head) my eyes were tiny my scalp was so swollen it felt like my head was in a vice so be very careful Organic Colour Systems can and will react with people who are allergic to PPD’s amongst other things.

    2 years later now and I am still searching for an answer to my grey. Would love to try Green Hare Mud but shipping to the UK is $60. Oh and my scalp is still trying to recover from OCS.

    • Ednita says:

      Organic chemical hair color is like saying organic high fructose corn syrup. OCS does contain PPD in small amounts and the FDA doesn’t require you list certain ingredients if they are below a certain percentage. Not saying they claim to be PPD free but they certainly contain dangerous toxic chemicals.

      Unlike what most hairstylists will say, henna and herbal color in general is the only all natural solution to dying hair and it is possible in almost every shade. Pure, organic, raw herbal color that you mix fresh before every application is unlike any chemical color out there.

      Unfortunately we are taught in hair school never to touch it because its “unpredictable ” and unprofessional. Other than not being able to remove it by chemical lightening, it is the safest most predictable color there is, if you know how to use it. Maybe it’s unprofessional because it competes with oxidative dyes. None of my clients have ever had a reaction and they love their color and hair condition. As far as the long term effects or consequences of henna, it’s been used for thousands of years and is only dangerous for a small amount of the population that suffer from a particular blood disorder. Lack of information creates unsubstantiated fear. Try henna!

  • Jade says:

    Can you recommend and stores or places in Houston, Port Arthur, or Beaumont that will do that for me. Are there any box dyes that are better alternatives? PLEASE HELP ME. do you recommend any DIYs?

  • Lynn says:

    Thank you for the info! I’m growing my hair out after a severe color induced frying and was wondering how long I can live with the grey. This is a great option!

  • These really exist? Awesome! My hair has never been permanently colored other than a bit of ombre but I want to eventually fully color it, and in that case I’ll be more than happy to use something like this. I can’t wait to see how it works and save my hair the damage!

  • Thank you so much for sharing this informative post Kristen! Ammonia in haircare products is a no-no. It’s good to know some healthier alternatives that allow proper care of the hair while at the same time getting the results that you want. Hair dyes an be toxic and I agree, there is no better way other than to go natural.

  • Isabel says:

    Hi!!! Thank you so much for your information and support about all the natural beauty stuff!!!!!!!. Just a couple of questions…I took a look into the ingredients of this product and found on it: Sodium Sulphite (mineral), Ethanolamine and Sodium Hydrosulphite (Mineral). Is safe to put these ingredients on your hair???? Just to know!. I have been using henna for 5 years and love love it, but I would like to play with different colors on my hair, but before to do it I would love to make sure this product is ok for my hair! 🙂
    Thanks a lot! Blessings!

  • I have used OCS for over 10 years. I started turning gray at 18. I think it is one of the safest hair color on the market.

    I recently started highlight my hair to go blonder to increase my time between colorings. They did have to use foils.

    I am linking my article if your readers want to read more about the ingredients, etc about the product. Please remove if this is inappropriate.

    • Green Beauty Team says:

      Hi Anna! I’m so happy you took the time to comment and share your experience. I love your post and I think it’s a really relevant addition to our conversation. Your websites are great. I made sure that I was already following you all over the social medias and I was! – xo Kristen

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