The industry of hair coloring and hair dyes has not changed much in the past 150 years. The basic technology for permanent hair color has stayed the same, even though the industry itself has grown tremendously.

With an aging population wanting to keep a young appearance and cover gray hair, the hair coloring industry is poised to expand further and make some leaps in terms of technologies and safety.

Many hair color treatments and relaxers use harmful chemicals

Hair color chemicals a threat to human health

Most permanent hair colors use p-phenylenediamine (PPD), a chemical that produces darker and browner shades when exposed to air. It can also be found in many semi-permanent hair colors.

However, many hair dye treatments contain toxic chemicals, including formaldehyde and ammonia or other alkalizing agents and hydrogen peroxide or other bleaching chemicals.

Researchers aim to develop new hair dyes and alternative hair coloring technologies that will include nano-sized colorants, for example, which can lead to longer lasting hair color. Other substances may stimulate the genes to produce the melanin pigment that gives the hair its color, which promises more natural-looking hair dyes and less toxicity.

Scientists are also exploring technologies in gene therapy that may stop the graying of hair or prevent it completely.

Other hair treatments raise safety concerns

Recent reports about hair products such as hair relaxers showed that the chemicals affected the health and well-being of hair stylists. Reported health effects linked to the use of keratin-based smoothers used by curly-haired women included nosebleeds, breathing problems and eye irritation.


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