Saturday, March 17, 2012

Magic green powder

I started getting gray and white hair when I was only in my twenties, and I started coloring my hair when I was thirty. Everything was fine until six years ago when I decided to get a temporary tattoo during a beach trip. The "henna" applied by the artist turned out to be black henna, which has synthetic dyes containing PPD (para-Phenylenediamine). This direct application of PPD on my skin caused a severe allergy; my upper arm swelled, the tattoo design blistered and it was hellishly itchy! PPD sensitivity is lifelong, which means that I am now forever allergic to anything that contains PPD (and other similar chemicals besides). Unfortunately for me, most commercial hair dyes, whether home- or salon-applied, contain PPD.

Stubborn girl that I am, the experience didn't stop me from continuing to color my hair with commercial hair dyes for several years. The coloring is supposed to stay on the hair for only ten minutes, there was little direct contact with my skin, and I only had to color my hair three to four times a year. But through the years, the allergy progressively worsened until I finally decided to stop coloring last year.

Then last month, a poorly-trained waitress handed me a friend's senior citizen card just because I was the only one at our table with white hair.

I don't think I'm particularly vain, but even that was a little too much for me.

So I decided to color my hair again, but this time with 100% pure henna. I figured, it's been used as a dye since antiquity and we should know by now if it causes adverse reactions, right? And I've never heard of anyone having an allergy to henna.

That was two weeks ago and, so far, everything seems to be good. My scalp didn't itch and the henna didn't cause an inflammation of the skin on my nape. The coverage isn't quite what I prefer and it seems to wash out faster than commercial hair coloring, but hey, my skin seems to be happy and I'm sure Mother Earth is too. So, as long as no one hands me another senior citizen card until it's really mine, I will be satisfied.


Cezar and Léia said...

Dear Hilda, thanks for sharing.I didn't know about PPD even about allergies caused by application of color shampoo and so on.
Glad that you decided to try henna and the important is you are happy and without allergies!
I used henna at that time I had my babies and it was really good.
Maybe it's time for me to try it again!
Take care!

Nathalie Beaumes said...

I've heard of such allergies and have been dying my hair since I was in my early thirties just like you. So far I don't have any allergies to commercial hair dye but I hate the idea of it and my hair is very dry too. I'm not sure I could switch to henna though - I'm worried that my hair would look too orange. Doesn't yours?

Linda said...

Ouch! I stopped coloring my hair because it was burning a little and I was afraid I was getting sensitized to it. I have a lot of allergies. Henna makes my scalp itch a little!