Is Hair Dye Toxic to Your Health?

Is hair dye toxic to your health? Find out in this article (and what you can do about it).

Dying For Beautiful Hair Color

Dying your hair, painting your nails, putting on makeup — for most women it just comes with the territory. And hey, there’s nothing wrong with feeling beautiful. That is, of course, unless it’s slowly poisoning you.

A recent study published in the Journal of Cancer found a disturbing correlation between the use of hair dyes and the incidence of breast cancer.

Founded on the understanding that those hair dyes you’ve been using for years are loaded with carcinogens and endocrine-disrupting chemicals, the researchers aimed to assess the true danger. 

They followed a group of 46,709 women ages 35-74 over eight years and tracked their hair dye use and incidence of cancer. 

The results? 

Permanent hair dye use was associated with a 45% increase in breast cancer risk in African American women, with a 7% increase in Caucasian women. The disparity between the two cohorts may be due to the increased use of chemical straighteners (another carcinogen)  in the African American group[1].  

But it doesn’t end with breast cancer risk; other studies have shown correlations between hair dyes and sex hormone irregularities, bladder cancer risk, non-hodgkin’s lymphoma[2][3][4]. 

So, is hair dye toxic? YES.

The Liver Connection

You may be wondering how it could be that hair dye would have such a strong impact on carcinogenesis. One potential answer is through liver toxicity. 

Every chemical that enters your body needs to be detoxified by your liver. 

Unfortunately, hair dyes include a range of toxic chemicals that enter your bloodstream and can put a burden on this crucial organ.

In fact, research shows that the use of hair dye is directly correlated to an autoimmune liver disease known as primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC). PBC is a chronic liver disease that slowly destroys the bile ducts in your liver[5].

If you aren’t familiar, your bile ducts are not only a crucial component of digestion, but they also help your body get rid of cholesterol, worn-out red blood cells, and toxins[6]. 

That means that every time you go to the salon for coloring, you’re asking your liver for a big favor. As generous as this organ is, it can only do so much before it gets overwhelmed. 

Chemicals In Hair Dyes

There are more than 5,000 different chemicals that are used in hair dyes. Back in the 1970’s, many of the common chemicals that were used were linked to cancer in animal studies, which led manufacturers to reformulate their products. 

While this should sound reassuring, the fact of the matter is many hair dyes today still contain chemicals that are in the same family of the carcinogenic chemicals previously removed[7]. 

Some examples of unsafe chemicals that are still found in hair dye today include; aminophenol, diaminobenzene, phenylenediamine, and coal tar[8].

My Recommendations For Safe Hair Color

Due to the general uncertainty around hair dyes and toxicity, your best option is to stick with natural product brands that use ingredients that are naturally occurring and have been tested for safety.

Here are some of my top choices for safe hair color:

What About Highlights?

Highlights aren’t quite as bad as permanent or semi-permanent hair dyes because they don’t actually touch your roots or your scalp, the only color the hair shaft. Since the hair shaft is made up of dead cells, there’s no concern about toxin absorption.

However, you’re still breathing in the chemical fumes of the hair dye when you get highlights done. So, to be on the safe side, you should still stick to the natural hair coloring brands mentioned above. 

What Can Be Done About Hair Dyes And Liver Toxicity

If you’ve been putting a toxic burden on your liver, it can get overwhelmed and stagnant in its duties. This can result in a wide range of symptoms, including: 

  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Foggy headedness
  • Weight gain
  • Blemishes
  • Digestive issues

Your liver is arguably one of the most crucial and hardworking organs in your body. It converts the nutrients in the food you eat into substances that can fuel your body, it arranges for the transport of these substances, and it takes up and neutralizes toxins so they can be released from your system[9]. 

If you’re one of the millions of women who have dyed their hair for years, you’re probably wondering at this point; “Is there anything that can be done about the damage that may have already impacted my liver?”

The answer is — of course. 

Your liver is an incredibly powerful organ. As such, it’s both versatile in its capabilities and resilient in its ability to regenerate[10]. 

If you’re looking for a liver reboot, you want to include nutrients that can support your liver in both neutralizing toxins and releasing them from your body. You also want to incorporate some lifestyle practices that can give your liver a break and boost its efficiency. 

I’ve created a 14-day Liver Rehab Cleanse to help people get their livers back on track.

Liver Rehab Cleanse

Even if you’ve used hair dyes for years, taking 14 days to focus on cleansing and rejuvenating your liver can undo the damage caused by toxic chemicals – and leave you feeling younger, healthier, and more energized.

This program comes from working with hundreds of clients and years of trial and error to find the techniques and nutrients that work best to support liver health. 

The 14-Day Liver Rehab Cleanse includes:

  • 3 Live Webinars
  • Liver Cleansing “How to” Videos
  • The Ultimate Liver Rescue E-Library

Final Word

It may feel like there are sneaky toxins hiding everywhere these days — even in places you never would have thought about. 

If you’ve been using chemical hair dyes for years, take this message to heart. But don’t think that you’ve done irreparable damage to your body. It’s never too late to change course and start repairing any potential damage.

Luckily, the cosmetic industry is getting the message that we no longer want to put chemicals on or around our bodies, so many manufacturers are coming out with toxin-free hair dyes. 

And as for your liver, given the proper nutrients and care you can kick this toxin-busting organ into high gear in just a matter of weeks. 

Click Here for References+

  1. Eberle, Carolyn E., et al. “Hair dye and chemical straightener use and breast cancer risk in a large US population of black and white women.” International Journal of Cancer (2019).
  3. Gago‐Dominguez, Manuela, et al. “Use of permanent hair dyes and bladder‐cancer risk.” International Journal of Cancer 91.4 (2001): 575-579.
  4. Nagata, Chisato, et al. “Association of hair dye use with circulating levels of sex hormones in premenopausal Japanese women.” The European Journal of Public Health 25.5 (2015): 895-899.
  10. Tanaka, Minoru, and Atsushi Miyajima. “Liver regeneration and fibrosis after inflammation.” Inflammation and regeneration 36.1 (2016): 19.

in Beauty/Detox/Lifestyle/Liver Health

Dr Wendy Myers, ND is a detox expert, functional diagnostic nutritionist, NES Bioenergetic Practitioner, and founder of She is the #1 bestselling author of Limitless Energy: How to Detox Toxic Metals to End Exhaustion and Chronic Fatigue . Additionally, Wendy is the host of The Heavy Metals Summit, the Myers Detox Podcast, and the Supercharged Podcast. Passionate about the importance of detox to live a long and healthy life, she created the revolutionary Myers Detox Protocol , and Mitochondria Detox kit after working with thousands of clients, as well as a range of supplements to help you detox from everyday living and maintain a healthy lifestyle!

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