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Last updated on May 7th, 2018
Natulique used to claim that their hair color was “certified organic.” Women who knew about the potential harms of permanent hair colors and who needed my help finding a safer brand asked me about that all the time. So, in March 2017, I investigated this claim and published my findings. Let me tell you what I learned, and then what has happened since then. Spoiler alert – they changed their website somewhat and are now threatening me with litigation. As part of this threat, they argue that they have never claimed that their hair color was “organic.” As you will see, they have pretty consistently claimed Natulique hair color is organic. Their denial is kind of silly.
First, I will tell you the story of my investigation and interactions with them. Next, I will share with you the communication I got from them. Finally, I will discuss the ingredients of Natulique hair color that they used to disclose on their website; after my original post, they stopped disclosing some of their crucial ingredients.
It used to be that when you typed the word “Natulique” into a Google search engine, you would see the words “organic” or “certified organic” written all over the page. Here is a screenshot that I took in connection with my original post. This screenshot was created on March 13, 2017 at 12:41 pm:
Now it looks like this:
In addition, at the time I wrote my original post, if you were to visit the Natulique hair color website, you could have seen the words “certified organic” in its logo. Again, here is a screenshot of their website, created on March 13 at 12:42 pm:
Now it has changed to this:
In addition, when I did my original post, the Natulique hair color website had the word “organic” written on this page (hence the word “organic” is still in the url): https://www.natulique.com/organic-hair-colour/. Do you see the word “organic” in the url? The following screenshot was taken from this page on March 13, 2017, at 12:42 pm:
Now it looks like this:
So in the title, the word “organic” changed to the word “natural” but Natulique clearly describes its product as “… organic hair colour . . . .”
Also, at the time the original post was created, Natulique claimed it was certified organic by something called “360BIOCERT.” Fortunately, I saved a screenshot from Natulique’s website, which I created on March 16, 2017 at 1:41 p.m, as follows:
Now the page says “Following 360BIOCERT Standard” instead of “Certified Organic by 360BIOCERT standard.” https://www.natulique.com/about-natulique/standards/
So, what is this 360BIOCERT entity that thinks so highly of Natulique hair color ?
Let’s talk about organic certifications. Usually, a third-party entity develops a standard, which companies want to meet. Ideally, the third-party agency would be independent of the industry it is certifying, but sometimes companies get together and create the certifying agency, which has standards that are not as stringent as we might like to see. That way, the industry-sponsored company can help the companies make it seem as if their products are safer than they might really be.
So, when I saw that something called 360BIOCERT had certified the Natulique product as being organic, I first looked for an independent entity called 360BIOCERT.
I did find a website for 360BIOCERT. I e-mailed it with some questions. I did not hear back from anyone — something I reported in my original post. In fact, as I noted in my original post, my email bounced back three times and there was no phone number to call. In my original post, I wondered if there were any other companies besides Natulique that were certified by 360BIOCERT.
In digging a little deeper, I noticed that 360BIOCERT is out of Denmark and this is where the Natulique headquarters are. In fact, Natulique appears to be the holder of the 360BIOCERT Trademark, as well as the company that applied for the trademark in the first place, meaning that this “certifying agency” is probably Natulique itself.
As it turns out, there is no such thing as a separate entity called 360BIOCERT. Natulique now admits that 360BIOCERT is something they themselves created. At the time of my original post, I do not remember them saying that. Here is a screenshot of what Natulique says about 360BIOCERT currently. (This screenshot was taken on May 4, 2018 at 12:04 pm):
Thus, Natulique created its own certification, registered a trademark for the certification, and then created the standards for “organic” and “natural” certifications.
Let’s talk about the standards that are set forth by 360BIOCERT
There are two 360BIOCERT standards: 360BIOCERT Organic and 360BIOCERT Natural. 360BIOCERT Natural only requires that 95% of the ingredients be “natural” – but, importantly, the standard does not define what “natural” means. As you might know, crude oil and natural gas (hence the name of it) are natural, too.
The 360BIOCERT Organic standard requires 95%-100% of the ingredients to be “natural” and provides that “As many organic ingredients as possible must be from certified organic farming.”
Does this make you LOL? When my husband and I read this, we both laughed out loud.
It also requires “no MEAs and PEGs.” However, the Natulique hair color had MEAs and PEGs, according to the list of ingredients it used to list on its website (since then they have removed the list). So at the time they claimed to be certified organic, they did not even meet their own 360BIOCERT Organic standard.
So it appears to me that after my original post, Natulique made some changes on their website. First, they decided to change the narrative from its hair color being “certified organic” to “natural” – at least in some parts of their website. They have also changed it to be more transparent about the origin of their 360BIOCERT standards – i.e. that they made it up themselves.
They have also removed the full list of ingredients for their hair color product.
Natulique’s Threats To Me
As a company that prides itself on being “natural” and “organic,” you would think that Natulique would be very supportive of this blog. Instead, they have tried to threaten me for telling the truth.
On May 2, 2018, I received an email from Natulique. You can view the images of it below. As you can see, the writer’s English is not great, and so it was tough to understand exactly what they are claiming. It sounds like one of the things they claim is that they never stated that their hair color was organic. Well… you just saw all the screenshots…
Anyway, it sounds like they want me to remove my post; otherwise, they will take legal action against me. But I can’t do it because I have the truth on my side, and my mission is to educate you consumers so you can make informed decisions about products you use.
So my attorney – my husband and the best lawyer I know – wrote them back. You can see his letter here.
Now let’s talk about the safety of Natulique hair color
You might wonder if they live up to their 360BIOCERT Natural standard since they now seem to claim that they are not organic but natural instead, whatever that means. (It is unclear because they do not define what “natural” is and there is no legal and generally accepted definition for “natural,” either.)
But, I know, ultimately, what you wonder is whether Natulique is safer than other hair color brands that do not claim to be “natural.”
At the time of my original post, if you were to go to the Natulique permanent hair color product page, you would see that Natulique states that its hair color product was “98,02% derived from natural sources. In fact, it still says this; that part of the website has not changed.
Let me give you some perspective on this claim. First of all, “natural” is virtually meaningless. Lead and petroleum and snake venom are all “natural,” which does not mean they are safe or good for you. Second, while some substances can start from a natural source, the derivation process might involve a multi-step process with additional chemicals used along the way.
For example, Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) can be made from coconut oil. While this sounds healthy and “natural,” let’s take a look how it gets there. First, coconut oil is turned into fatty acids that are used to derive lauryl alcohol. Then lauryl alcohol is treated with sulfur trioxide gas or chlorosulfuric acid to produce Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. And finally, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is treated with carcinogenic ethylene oxide to make Sodium Laureth Sulfate. This process is called ethoxylation. As a result of the ethoxylation reaction, carcinogenic 1,4-dioxane is produced and can be left in the final product, especially if not cleaned via the vacuum stripping method. So, it’s important to understand not only of what an ingredient is derived, but also how it was derived, and what byproducts may be present that are not listed as “ingredients” (and which do not have to be disclosed).
So, just because something sounds natural doesn’t mean it’s actually healthy or good for you.
(To be clear, Natulique has never said that they use SLES or Cocamide DEA, and I am not saying they do use them. I am just providing these as examples of how something innocuous sounding can actually have hidden dangers.)
Let me walk you through the list of ingredients. Again, Natulique hair color ingredients are no longer disclosed on the website. (Feel free to write them or call them, and ask them why they took down the list. There are several possibilities. Perhaps they now understand the dangers better and don’t want you to know about them. Perhaps they just don’t want people who know what the ingredients mean to read them and tell you their opinions, as I have. I just don’t know their intention. But it’s not a good sign in my opinion.)
Natulique Hair Color Ingredients
When I research products, I spend very little time reading their stories, missions, and marketing claims. So many companies have stories behind them that tug on the heartstrings. These emotional pleas should not play a role in deciding whether something is healthy to use, through, so I go straight for the ingredients. I look at each ingredient and see what the body of science has to say about them. Here is a screenshot of the full list of ingredients for Natulique’s hair color taken on March 13, 2017 at 12:52 p.m. Natulique now no longer discloses the full list of ingredients on its website. On March 1, 2018 they emailed me a full list of ingredients and I verified that they have not changed. To be clear, these are all ingredients, which means that the ingredients of individual shades vary. For example, there are 11 shades that do not contain PPD.
I re-arranged the ingredients into 3 groups: colorants/hair dyes themselves, a cuticle opener, and all the other ingredients. Please see the list below. Note that the ingredients listed with an asterisk no longer are disclosed on the Natulique website.
* Denotes ingredient no longer disclosed on Natulique website.
Natulique Colorants/Hair Dyes
Let’s look closely at the colorants that I consider the main ingredients because they do the job of the actual coloring. Without them, a permanent hair color can’t exist. They are also the ones that may cause skin sensitization, a type of an allergic reaction that can happen after repeated use.
The European Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) assessed hair dyes for skin sensitization potency, assigning either extreme, strong, or moderate sensitization potency to them. Please see in the list below SCCS’s assessment of the Natulique colorants/hair dyes with the assigned sensitization potency by SCCS.
|Colorant/Hair Dyes||SCCS Safety Assessment|
|2-amino-4-hydroxyethylaminoanisole sulfate||insufficient testing|
The SCCS concludes that “hair dye substances which fulfill the criteria for classification as R43 may not be safe for consumers and that this is particularly so for hair dye substances categorized as extreme and strong sensitizers.”
5 out of 8 Natulique colorants are either extreme or strong sensitizers according to these standards.
Would it even matter if there are some so-called “natural” or “organic” ingredients in the formulation of Natulique hair color if you got an allergic reaction? Now, my lawyer is making me say that I do not personally know of anyone who has had an allergic reaction after using Natulique. And I am not saying that you personally will have an allergic reaction. But, I have heard from readers of this blog that they had suffered an allergic reaction after using one hair dye or another. In addition, I myself suffered an allergic reaction to an eye serum I used. And I would not wish that experience on anyone.
By the way, you might find this medical article interesting, in which a woman had an allergic reaction that resulted in 90% hair loss.
Hair Cuticle Opener in Natulique Hair Color
What is a cuticle opener? A cuticle opener is a necessary component of a hair color. Its purpose is to open the cuticle in order to allow the hair color to work.
Many hair colors use ammonia. Ammonia opens the cuticle layer of the hair and allows the color molecules to penetrate the hair. Natulique uses ethanolamine instead of ammonia to fulfill that role. According to Cosmeticsinfo.org, an educational website sponsored by personal care product manufacturers, ethanolamine has an ammonia-like odor, which is no surprise because it is produced by reacting 1 mole of ethylene oxide (a known human carcinogen, rated 10 out of 10 in the Skin Deep database) with 1 mole of ammonia.
According to the FDA, ethanolamine may also be contaminated with diethanolamine (DEA) that is linked with cancer in lab animals. In fact, Ethanolamine is rated 5-6 depending on usage (10 being the most toxic) in the Skin Deep database, while ammonia is rated 4-6. So in this case, according to the EWG database, ethanolamine is a regretful substitute for ammonia.
When I did more research for my Permanent Hair Color Rating List, I found that “there is limited evidence that ethanolamine is a teratogen in animals. Until further testing has been done, it should be treated as a possible teratogen in humans.” (source) (Teratogens are agents that interfere with fetus development.)
Another disappointing thing about ethanolamine is that it damages your hair more than ammonia does. In this study, researchers applied different methods to measure hair cuticle damage and protein loss and found that there is more hair damage from ethanolamine than from ammonia; in some extreme cases as much as 85% more.
So if I were to use a permanent hair color, I would have chosen one with ammonia, without ethanolamine.
Other Ingredients in Natulique Hair Color
Other ingredients used in this permanent hair color formulation are water, skin conditioners, foaming agents, emulsifiers, and fragrance. For a quick overview, please take a look at the table with the assigned score on a scale from 1 to 10 (10 being the most toxic) as it is found in the Skin Deep database powered by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). By the way, if there is no data available, the EWG assigned 1 to the ingredient, which as you can imagine does not mean the ingredient is safe. It just means that the EWG can’t prove it is unsafe, or can’t reasonably estimate how unsafe it is, so they just assign it a “1” and move on.
|Other Ingredients||Skin Deep Score|
|sodium coco sulfate||1 (no data)|
|cocamide mea||1-4 depending on use (no data)|
|cocamide mipa||1 (no data)|
|oleth-20||2 (1,4-dioxane contamination concern)|
|sodium sulfite||2 (data gaps)|
|bisamino peg/ppg-41/3 aminoethyl pg propyl dimethicone||3|
|vitis vinifera (grape) seed oil||1|
|sodium cocoyl hydrolyzed wheat protein||1 (no data)|
|butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter||1|
|peg-10 olive glycerides||3|
|helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed extract||1|
|simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil||1|
|prunus persica (peach) kernel oil||1|
|prunus armeniaca (apricot) kernel oil||1|
|organic citrus medica limonum peel extract||1|
|citrus grandis (grapefruit) peel oil||1|
|organic citrus aurantium dulcis (orange) peel oil||1|
And yes, there are two certified organic ingredients in the Natulique hair color – organic citrus medica limonum peel extract and organic citrus aurantium dulcis (orange) peel oil, but in my opinion, that does not cancel out the fact that this product contains colorants that may cause an allergic reaction.
Conclusion about Natulique Hair Color
In my opinion, Natulique hair color is not safe. Natulique hair color contains extreme, strong, and moderate sensitizers as they are classified by the SCCS.
In my Permanent Hair Color Rating list, you can find out how Natulique compares with other permanent hair colors. And yes, in my opinion, there are safer permanent hair colors and they do not even claim to be organic or natural.
In the Permanent Hair Color Rating list, you will also find my suggestions on how to protect your hair and health. Yes, there are techniques that you or your hairdresser can use.
Your financial support helps me to work full-time to encourage manufacturers to be more truthful and transparent with us.
I wholeheartedly believe that together we can demand and receive safer consumer products! In my blogging career of 5 years, I have seen good changes to happen.
I really hope that Natulique will spend their resources on making their hair coloring product safer instead of trying to shut me down.
Please share this post with people who you care about because they need to make their purchasing decisions based on the truth, too. And you do not want them to suffer from an allergic reaction, do you? If they do, at least they will know and seek medical help right away.
And if you’d like to see what I use and like, visit here.
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