The basic chemistry of hair dyes has changed little over the last century, but what do we know about the risks of colouring our hair, and why do we do it?
Every two months Barclay Cunningham goes through a process that begins with taking an antihistamine tablet. After a few hours, she smears a thick layer of antihistamine cream across her forehead, around her ears and over her neck. Finally, she shields the area with ripped-up plastic carrier bags. All this so she can dye her hair.
It didn’t start out this bad. Cunningham coloured her hair for a decade without any problems. Then, one day, she noticed that the skin on her ears was inflamed after she’d dyed her hair. She fashioned plastic bag earmuffs and carried on colouring. But the allergic reaction persisted, so her precautions became more elaborate. Now if she dyes her hair without these measures, she gets an itchy, blistery, pus-filled rash that lasts for weeks.
I have always been startled by how many people I know eat organic vegetables, drink only from glass, use only vinegar to clean their houses… and dye/colour their hair.