Personal use of hair dyes is very common, with estimates that 50% or more of women and 10% of men over age 40 color their hair. However, with social distancing guidelines in place amidst the ongoing pandemic, many people have foregone their regular hair salon appointments. As natural hair colors get rooted out, let’s cut to a layered question: do permanent hair dyes increase cancer risk?
Decades of research, conflicting results
Hair dyes come in three major varieties: oxidative (permanent), direct (semi-permanent or temporary), and natural dyes. Most hair dyes used in the US and Europe — both do-it-yourself dyes and those used in salons — are permanent dyes. They undergo chemical reactions to create pigment that deposits on hair shafts and may pose the greatest cancer risk.
People are exposed to chemicals in hair dyes through direct skin contact or by inhaling fumes during the coloring process. Occupational exposure … Read the rest