Cancer risk and Hair Color, A Hair Colorist’s perspective

Cancer risk and Hair Color, A Hair Colorist’s perspective

January 22, 2020 by: Linda Sweetman

The recent study of cancer risk associated with the use of hair color and hair straighteners used with hair color has raised concerns about the safety of using hair color products.

Over the years various studies have been done to see if there is a link between the use of hair color and cancer, particularly breast, bladder, and blood cancers (Leukemia and Lymphomas). According to the American Cancer Society,”If there is an effect of hair dye use on blood related cancers, it is likely to be small”.Studies done on bladder cancer risk have found a small but fairly consistent risk for hairdressers, but have not found an increased risk for women who have their hair colored. The study results for breast cancer risk are mixed. While many studies have not found an increased risk, some more recent studies have. There have been too few studies done other types of cancers to be able to draw any conclusions.

The concern about cancer risk, and cancer studies are primarily focused on the oxidative dyes that are found in permanent, and semi permanent hair color products being used on the scalp. Darker colors being of greater concern because they have higher concentrations of dyes in them.

The decision whether or not to use oxidative hair color is personal. Definitely discuss your concerns with your doctor. However, as a colorist I can offer some alternatives to using oxidative dyes on your scalp. these options won’t give total grey coverage, but give a grey blending effect.

1.Color is applied using a foiling technique, which keeps the color off the scalp. Reducing the amount of grey, creating a blend of color treated and grey hair.

2.Highlights using either hair color or lightener is applied using a foiling technique. This lightens and brightens your existing color.

3.There are also some very mild color products that can be used on the scalp because they contain non-oxidative dyes that add color depth and/or change your hair color tone.

4.Color shampoos and conditioners are probably the mildest color products available. They add just enough color to enhance your hair color.

If you do decide to use permanent or semi permanent hair color on your scalp here are a few precautions.

If you are coloring at home, always follow the manufacturer’s mixing directions, wear gloves, never leave the product on your scalp longer than the directions say, rinse thoroughly when removing the color, and work in a well ventilated area.

In the salon all of the above precautions are typically followed. However, if during or after your color process you experience any scalp reactions or concerns, such as redness, itching, flaking, or sores. Let your hairdresser know.

More studies are needed on this subject. In my opinion, if you have concerns about using hair color talk to your doctor. Also, share your concerns with your hair colorist/hairdresser. We can help.