Be Safer and Smarter When Dying Your Latest 'Do

Salon-style Do you color your hair but worry about the impact hair dye could have on the environment as well as your own health and safety? I wish the information provided were more reassuring, but the truth is- we don't know much about hair dye. It's likely that when you dye your hair, a small amount is absorbed into your system. According to a 2001 study, women who regularly color their hair with permanent hair dyes are at a greater risk for bladder cancer. However, in 2004 the American Journal of Epidemiology reported that a recent study showed no increased risk of cancer among women who started using hair-coloring products in 1980 or later.

With the information so inconclusive, it makes sense to take precautions that will protect the environment as well as yourself:

Check the safety of the ingredients in your hair coloring against the Environmental Working Group's cosmetics database, where you can also find alternative, safer products.

Buy hair-color products that meet the higher safety standards imposed by the European Union. Look for products made by cosmetic manufacturers who have pledged to follow these standards and replace all possible hazardous materials. Henna offers another safe option - if you want to tinge your locks auburn or red.

Don't start coloring hair until you really have to! Highlight rather than dye your entire head.

Try color sticks (available at beauty-supply stores like Ulta and Sephora) to touch up gray spots at your temples or hairline to reduce the number of times in a year you dye your hair.

Plant-based Hair Dyes include:

* Advanced Cosmetic Technologies

* EcoColors

* Advanced Cosmetic Technologies

* Naturtint.

What if you're a guy?

Avoid any hair color products that contain lead, a neurotoxin, which is often found in men's hair dyes.

Know that the chemicals in darker hair dyes seem to be linked to more health problems than lighter colors. If you're going for a new you, lighten up.

And the safest alternative of all? Go grey!

For more green haircare tips, visit the Big Green Purse blog and website.

And for green product reviews, health and safety information, money-saving suggestions and environmental success stories, get your own copy of Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World, today!