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.
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.