“Hare” Dyeing Products: Not Just for Eggs

In the next day or so, many of you will be getting those hard-boiled eggs dressed up and ready for Easter. Perhaps you use tie-dye, natural plant coloring, or the standard PAAS tablets with vinegar. All of these methods are non-toxic and kid-friendly. The same cannot be said about some hair dyes.

Personally, I go to my stylist for hair coloring, as I am too chicken to try home dye kits. Some box dyes last for a month, some are permanent and will grow out with hair. A hidden toxin is hiding in the boxes of some men’s hair dyes and has been there for decades. Now consumer advocates want this removed.

When the FDA approved the use of lead acetate (a neurotoxin) in hair dye back in 1980, not much was known about how the skin absorbs chemicals. They considered the skin and scalp tough barriers to break, and that tiny amounts of lead, if inhaled or absorbed, would be harmless. It is allowed as a color additive. Lead acetate is found in Grecian Formula and Youthair dye products, highly used by men. For the last decade, Europe and Canada have banned the sale of these products and offer lead-free alternatives.

The packaging on the products tell consumers to use dye only on head hair, but not everyone follows directions. A man in 2014 tried dye with lead acetate on his beard and had numbness and tingling in his hands and feet that lasted for seven months afterwards. The packaging also says to keep it away from children, not even letting children touch hair that was treated with the dye, as the lead can rub off on them. When the dye is actually applied, the dye gets on the faucet, the soap dispenser, and the counter around the sink. Kids can come in contact with any of those places.

The company that makes Grecian Formula says that data on hand-to-mouth transmission of lead is insufficient, sticking to the old science that the decades of use equal safety. Youthair offers a lead-free alternative product in the U.S.

“Consumer groups file petition to ban lead acetate in hair dyes.” News. CBS News, 3 Apr 2017. Web. 14 Apr 2017.

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