Are Organic Color Systems Products Truly Organic?

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Last updated on February 3rd, 2017

 

ORGANIC COLOUR SYSTEMS ORGANIC COLOR SYSTEMS

Update as of 2015: The US distributor changed its name from Organic Color Systems to Simply Organic and does NOT carry Organic Colour Systems hair dyes anymore.  Organic Colour Systems doesn’t list ingredients on its website.  

I recently verified that I have updated the list of ingredients by getting them from a hairdresser who uses Organic Colour Systems in her salon. I also received a list of ingredients from the company by email, which has the same ingredients with the exception of Cocamide DEA (aka Cocamide  Diethanolamine), which is a Prop. 65 carcinogen.  

Cocamide DEA has been replaced with PEG-4 Rapeseedamide. The company claims that it is naturally derived from rapeseed oil.  While it is an improvement,  the ingredient is far from perfect.  The word “PEG” indicates that it is made with 4 parts of carcinogenic ethylene oxide.  As a result, the product might be contaminated with carcinogenic 1,4-dioxane, if it is not properly removed.  To read how to avoid 1,4-dioxane in the products you use every day, click here

 

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Let’s talk about a hair coloring product called Organic Colour Systems.  The US distributor uses the Organic Color Systems name. Yes, you read the word organic correctly. Have you ever thought that those stinky chemicals your hair stylist with gloves puts on your hair can be organic? So let me take you on a journey I have gone to investigate the Organic Color Systems. Is it really organic?

A couple of months ago at a meeting devoted to the harms of GMOs, I met a fellow non-toxic consultant. Her hair looked really nice, and she told me that she had tried this organic color. I was really surprised. “Did they make it out of organic beets?” I thought to myself. Instead, I asked, “What makes it organic?” She replied, “It just is.” Since she is a non-toxic consultant, I suspended my disbelief, but you know me: I had to read the label to make sure.

I looked up the ingredients that night, and confirmed my disbelief. There’s nothing organic about the product except the name. But it struck me how natural and human her reaction had been, to simply trust a product by its name. In the overwhelming amount of information (and misinformation) available, the proliferation of chemicals and the extremely limited time we all have, most consumers (except for you and me) make purchasing decisions based on marketing terms, such as “organic,” “non-toxic,” “hypoallergenic,” “plant-derived,” “plant-based,” “natural,” “naturally derived,” “approved by dermatologists,” etc.

I was disappointed that the Huffington Post seems to agree that this Organic Color Systems is truly organic. And in the article “Why I Decided To Ditch Chemicals And Go Organic With My Hair Dye,” Rebecca Adams encourages us to go with the Organic Color Systems as “[b]etween 98-99 percent of the ingredients are naturally derived or organic.”

The company Organic Color Systems tells consumers that the derivation process is natural. What does that mean exactly?

The Organic Color Systems products are sold to a great number of hair salons worldwide. The hair salons, like this one below, market their services to people who would like to avoid toxic chemicals. By looking at the salon’s banner, you can probably tell that consumers are led into believing that the hair color is organic and safe. And if you are an animal lover, color your hair away.

 

Organic Color SystemsI sent an email to this salon asking whether their “certified organic” color system is safe during pregnancy. The salon stylist did not correct me to say that the color is not certified organic and welcomed me to make an appointment. To be fair, she did sent me a text that stated the following, “Organic Color Systems’ on-staff doctor, Dr. Mazer, suggests: “Consider waiting through the first trimester to receive chemical services, but if you insist on coloring your hair, use a color such as, Organic Color Systems, which contains more natural, safer ingredients than other permanent hair colors on the market today.” So I think it is time to do our usual due diligence and look at the ingredients together.

 

The Organic Color Systems Ingredients 

 

When you visit the Organic Color Systems website, a list of ingredients is not easily found. The first thing I found is the page with the following information.

Organic Color Systems contains some of the best natural ingredients to produce a gentle color which gives a superb result every time. Our natural and certified organic ingredients, along with their functions, are listed below:Organic Color Systems Ingredients

 

Looks good, right? Everything is natural and naturally derived. Are we done here? Oh, wait, not quite yet. What about dyes themselves? As it turns out, this is not a full list of ingredients and you have to look carefully for a link at the bottom of the page that will take to the complete list of ingredients.   And here is the full list of ingredients (for Gold Concentrate, Extra Bright Orange, Extra Bright Red, Extra Bright Yellow, Light Extra Ash):

PEG-2 Soyamine Naturally-derived from soya bean Emulsifier, Aqua Pure water (filtered and deionised) Solvent, Cocamide DEA Naturally-derived from coconut Surfactant, thickener *Alcohol Denatured Naturally-derived from corn Viscosity decreasing agent, Oleic Acid Naturally-derived from olive oil Surfactant **Propanediol Naturally-derived from corn Moisturiser, Ethanolamine Naturally-derived from coconut pH adjuster, Triethanolamine Synthetic pH adjuster, **Hydrolysed Wheat Protein Organic wheat Conditioner, Parfum Natural and synthetic blend Fragrance, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate Naturally-derived from coconut Anti-irritant, *Aloe Barbadensis Organic aloe vera leaf Soothing, *Symphytum Officinale Organic comfrey root Scalp soother and healing agent, *Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Organic orange peel Anti-oxidant, *Citrus Grandis Organic grapefruit seed Anti-oxidant, Ascorbic Acid Natural vitamin C Anti-oxidant, **Tocopherol Naturally-derived vitamin E Anti-oxidant, Sodium Sulphite Synthetic Stabiliser, Sodium Hydrosulfite Synthetic Stabiliser, Tetrasodium EDTA Synthetic Stabiliser, p-Aminophenol Synthetic Colour pigment, CI Basic Yellow 87 Synthetic Colour pigment, Basic Orange 31 Synthetic Colour pigment, 4-Amino-2-Hydroxytoluene Synthetic Colour pigment, Basic Red 51 Synthetic Colour pigment, HC Yellow 2 Synthetic Colour pigment, 4,5 Diamino-1-(2 hydroxyethyl)pyrazole Synthetic Colour pigment, 2-Methylresorcinol Synthetic Colour pigment, 4-Chlororesorcinol Synthetic Colour

* Soil Association Organic Standard ** ECOCERT

Despite the fact that Cocamide magically transfers into Cocamide DEA and “parfum” is not exactly natural, a lot of ingredients are still naturally derived… Let me group them for you and take out words like “naturally derived” and see what changes, if anything.

 

Five Certified Organic Ingredients:

 

Alcohol Denatured

Symphytum Officinale Organic comfrey root

Aloe Barbadensis Organic aloe vera leaf

Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Organic orange peel

Citrus Grandis Organic grapefruit seed

 

I like that! So far so good!

 

Two Ingredients That, While are Not Certified Organic, Approved For Use in Certified Organic Products by ECOCERT

 

Tocopherol – this is Vitamin E

Propanediol – according to the Skin Deep database powered by the EWG (Environmental Working Group), it may cause skin irritation

Hydrolysed Wheat Protein – “hydrolysed” involves adding lye to it, that is why some people have allergy to it, it coats hair making it shiny but as you might guess coating prevents hair from breathing and absorbing nutrients, which might not be a good thing for the health of your hair in the long-term (read more here)

 

Synthetic Pigments (Azo Dyes or Coal Tar)

 

p-Aminophenol, CI Basic Yellow 87, Basic Orange 31, 4-Amino-2-Hydroxytoluene, Basic Red 51, HC Yellow 2, 4,5 Diamino-1-(2 hydroxyethyl)pyrazole, 2-Methylresorcinol, 4-Chlororesorcinol

There is nothing organic or natural about azo dyes or coal tar dyes, except for that they come from the earth and may be related to organic chemistry.  They do say that there is very minimum amount of p-Aminophenol in the products.  Some of the dyes are more toxic than others. But in general this is not a very friendly group to the environment and to human health. For more information about hair dyes visit herehere, and here.

 

PEGs

 

PEG-2 Soyamine, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate

While there might some coconut oil to begin the process, the process of making PEGs (polyethylene glycols) has nothing to do with being natural. At some point, carcinogenic ethylene oxide is added to make the final ingredients less irritating to the skin. If the final product is not cleaned up properly, there might be carcinogenic 1,4-dioxane left in the final product. My colleague Anne Hackman contacted the company and they informed her that there is no 1,4-dioxane in the Organic Color Systems. Let’s assume that we believe them, these two ingredients are definitely not organic or even naturally derived.

 

Synthetic Fragrance

 

Parfum Natural and Synthetic Blend Fragrance

What is interesting to me is that the page with the incomplete list of ingredients said the perfum comes from essential oils. The complete ingredient list tells us that the fragrance is synthetic. The word “fragrance” or “parfum” on any product label represents an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals and ingredients used as fragrance dispersants. Phthalates are likely to be present in the mixture. There are a number of different phthalates and some of them are possible carcinogens and hormone disruptors (for detailed information on phthalates, read my phthalate primer here). Fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system.

 

Ammonia-Substituting Ingredients

 

Ethanolamine, Triethanolamine

While the Organic Color Systems does not contain ammonia (yay!), it does contain its relatives – Ethanolamine and Triethanolamine. According to Cosmeticsinfo.org, both have ammonia-like odors. They are highly corrosive and toxic and perform the same function as ammonia – help open the cuticle layer of the hair and allow the color molecules to penetrate the hair.  Organic Color Systems informs that Ethanolamine is used in very small doses.

By the way, they are rated 5-6 (10 being the most toxic) in the Skin Deep database, while ammonia is rated 4-6.

Also, Triethanolamine under certain conditions may break down into carcinogenic nitrosamines during the life of a product. The Organic Color Systems claims that there are no nitrosamines in their product.

 

In conclusion, while the Organic Color Systems contains five certified organic ingredients, this product is far from being organic or natural. I strongly believe that it should not be advertised as organic.  Please share this post with others so they can make their decisions as to whether apply the Organic Color Systems products based on the actual ingredients, not the brand name.

 

organic colour systems

To learn more about hair color products, read here:

Madison Reed Hair Dye Review

Organic Hair Color: Buyer Beware!

OWAY Hair Color Review

Hairprint: Restoring Your Hair Natural Color

About My Experience with Henna

For the safest alternative I’ve been using for over a year, head over here.

 

 

 

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140 Responses

  1. Sarah Amber

    Apparently, you don’t read well, but I’m guessing that’s because you’re not a cosmetologist.

    In the HuffPo article, they state it’s not 100% organic and the dyes you speak of are NECESSARY to permanently color hair.

    Also, Cocomide DEA is no longer in their formula, they’ve change the fragrance to be all natural, there is no Triethanolamine in the product, and Ethanolamine is used in very small percentages. Usually, ammonia-free color lines just swap ammonia for ethanolamine in the same percentages (not good).

    Maybe, you’d be happier if they changed their name, but it originated in UK in 1994, before the organic craze here in the states.

    I’m a licensed cosmetologist, and have been using this line for 5 years. It’s the safest, most natural color line out there. Right now, the technology is not there to have 100% natural or organic hair color, but if that times does arise, this company will be the first to adopt it (trust).

    • Irina Webb

      Hi Sarah, thank you for your comment. You are right that only in 1990s people started realizing that the same chemicals that were supposed to improve our lives were undermining them. Fortunately, we are in 2014 now. And I agree that chemicals are NECESSARY to permanently color hair. The main point of this point remains that something that is not organic should not be advertised as organic because that may be misleading and dishonest. As for the ingredients, I accessed them yesterday on the Organic Color Systems website. You can see the list here. If you know of any other lists, please let me know.

      • smk

        The ingredients have changed over the last couple of years. Organic Colo(u)r systems is constantly working to make their products cleaner and greener.
        If you are interested in the updated ingredient list contact the manufacturer in the UK or the technical team at OCS in the US.
        The fragrance is now all natural oils, no artificial fragrance.

        The colour itself is 98% natural and around 60% organic, the only synthetic ingredients are the pigments themselves.

      • Jenifer

        Irina, I loved your post, what you have to say is so important. Thank you so much. Ps: I am looking into buying Hairprint.

    • Elizabeth

      First, you don’t have to be a cosmetologist to read, or even to read well.

      Second, yes, I would be happier if they changed the name. The product is not all organic or even mostly organic.

      • Shirley

        This totally made me laugh, like the statement I hear so often “I want to cut my split ends off so my hair will grow” ~>>”but as you might guess coating prevents hair from breathing” Hair grows from the root and your hair gets its oxygen from your blood. However, thank you for this rather interesting article I’ve pinned it as I was just learning about this system and I am very interested in buying/using it. I have COPD from working as a Cosmetologist and it is the safest on the market I’ve seen so far. Thank you Sarah Amber for your comment as well.

        • Kristine

          Yes, Thank you Sara and Shirley. As a hairdresser, this is the only line I truly feel comfortable using. No FUMES!! I’ve used it for over 4 years now and would not try any of the newlines out there. They have not been out long enough to completely trust. The U.S. has too many chemicals allowed. So sad.

    • Vera

      What about henna? You can’t go blond with it when you’re brunette but it is an alternative to chemical dyes.

        • Nelly

          Correction: natural (mine is even bio-certified) Henna may work perfectly even on 70 % white hair as mine. It’s a vibrant color that doesn’t wash off (maybe changes a little overtime but remains nice and vibrant) that may have different hues depending on (natural) additions in the mixture. I need to do only the roots now and then. I was surprised myself. Maybe not on EVERY grey hair, of course, but let’s not rule it out like this. Worth trying IMHO, esp. if you can live with red/ginger. You can also get chestnut or black by adding natural indigo – there are recipes.

          • Irina Webb

            Yes, this is what I am learning too. I actually got it (certified organic by the USDA) and it is sitting on my counter. I need some encouragement. So thank you for your comment!

        • Lizzie

          I thought Henna work like a wax coating? Surely if your hair needs to breath then this is not a good option?

    • Jennifer

      I commend you for doing research and trying to disprove, or approve of Organic Color Systems. I encourage you to speak to our technical director for the company, Rebecca Gregory. She can clear up your mistakes made in this article. I am the creative director for the company and can tell you that there are some truths and some incorrect statements and details made in this article. Our company does not claim to be 100% organic. The ingredients used are derived from certified organic ingredients up to 99%. We are in direct contact with the chemist that makes this product and I can assure you that what they claim is correct. Ive been working with this company closely for the past 4 years and know the details in and out of our product. I hope that everyone in speculation will not simply believe what they read online, but take their own time to call and get a full list of ingredients that OCS offers any professional that calls, also consumers that have a valid concern. At this time Organic Color Systems is the safest, cleanest ingredients in any hair color in the world with the highest performance. If you happen to develop a better color line, or know of one, please feel free to let us know about it. OCS has been a color line and perfecting their line for 20 years. They have taken every precaution available to make it this way and our proud of our product for its performance and am confident that we have the correct information about where our ingredients are derived from. Please make sure you have all your facts straight before writing articles about a product. I personally have had most excellent results with the color line, seeing hair grow back, thicken and become stronger, after using our color line. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about our line and am sorry that inconsistencies are being written about such an awesome line. I feel there will always be people out there trying to disprove something great. I urge anyone reading this to do your homework and feel free to call our tech line to ask any question you are in concern with. We have a transparent list of where are ingredients come from, how they are manufactured and why they are in our product.

    • Jennifer

      Ethanolamine found in OCS color is derived from organic coconut oil. Ammonia is a toxic gas, corrosive to lungs and the cause of many bronchial issues. Also, the peroxide used to mix with the color is a pharmaceutical grade and has no smell, similar to distilled water smell. Ammonia also eats away the cuticle of hair, leaving it in poor integrity and exposing underlying colors causing brassiness in hair. OCS color does NOT have ammonia and has the lowest amount of ethanolamine to gently soften the cuticle to help assist in opening hair we apply heat. Heat and a low amount of pH balancing oil to open hair does not sound better than ammonia that blasts open the cuticle and chokes up your nose and lungs? Also ammonia robs the oxygen of what is around it, so why would anyone want ammonia around their bodies?

        • Nichola

          Irina, yes professional hair colour lines have stopped using ammonia, however they have replaced it ethanolamine also, so please do not try and make out that it is “good news”

          • Irina Webb

            Of course not. I might have said “good news” in response to the fact that Organic Color Systems positions themselves better than others because they do not use ammonia. I want people to understand that there is nothing special about ammonia-free hair color because, as you said, most hair color lines do not use ammonia any more. And yes, we always have to ask what is used instead. Unfortunately, often, substitutes are NOT less toxic.

  2. Anna@Green Talk

    What an amazing post. Thanks for including me in your article. Unfortunately when you are as gray as me, many greener options don’t cover the gray. I found the color in Organic Hair Color to last and my scalp doesn’t burn. However, I do wish they would change the name since people think it is an organic hair color which it isn’t.

      • Lisa

        I’m 20% gray. I use Surya Henna Cream in dark brown. It works pretty darn well, but I have to leave it on for 2 hours instead of just 45 minutes and have to reapply every week due to growth. Have you tried it? I had a pretty good solution which was Henna and Buxus. But they stopped importing buxus and I got stuck with Henna and Indigo, which makes my hair too blue-black. Here’s a resource for getting various dark colors without buxus–I haven’t been that patient to get it just right. http://www.mehandi.com/shop/buxus/. Anyway the henndigo process is super messy and I don’t have that much time since I’m working again. Surya Henna Cream is a good option. I came to this article looking for an organic color option to get it professionally done once in a while and do Surya henna myself in between– I’m trying to get my natural highlights back which have darkened and mostly disappeared from frequent dyeing of roots into their natural color. Maybe if I just got a highlight job with peroxide then I could add differing amount of different colors of Surya Henna to different parts of the hair… thanks for the info!

        • Irina Webb

          Hi Lisa, I had done strand test and my hair came out black with green tint. That discouraged me to try it on my head. I am not sure when I am going to have time to do another strand test. At this post, I am looking for a professional stylist who can do it for me. Thank you for the information. I might use it. Will see. I wonder if I have to prep my hair in a certain way, such as detox. ~Irina

        • yuls

          Great information and discussion, I just started learning about the subject and having a hard time choosing a good color line for my hair(I’m 10-15% gray) .
          My mom who’s 64 yo only uses henna since shes 30, shes 60% gray, she even says :” yes its messy” and she re-applies it more often than most of us …but she has a LONG BEAUTIFUL SHINNY HAIR.
          I personally hate it…LOL because I have dark brown hair, I like highlights and absolutely no patience for the mess….but I think that product is really great…My mother has a more healthy looking hair than me(I’m 36) by far 🙂

    • Marla

      Hi Anna,

      I was wondering what the other greener options were that you had in mind? thanks! marla

      • Anna@Green Talk

        Maria, I wish there were other options. Right now I am sticking with Organic hair color since I don’t think henna will work on my hair. I am pretty white now. There is Palettes by Nature which doesn’t have PPD but it just coats the hair. It didn’t cover the gray. I sometimes tell people who have less than 10% gray to use OCS’ demi color which coats the hair. No ppd. Or they can highlight with OCS–again no PPD.

  3. Elizabeth

    Clap, clap, clap! You did the research to prove what I suspected. My Mother-in-law wanted to use the Organic Color Systems, but I discouraged her in that just after looking at some of the ingrediants. I knew that in order to cover grey, a product must have ammonia or an ammonia-type substitute to open the cuticle layer of hair. I also knew that the box says it the color covers grey hair, so they have to use something else which I figured must be just as bad, if not worse, than ammonia. If a company ever did actually develop a product that could cover grey hair safely and naturally they’d make a mint. Henna doesn’t truly cover grey, in case someone else out there wants to know! Thanks for the hard work, Irina!

      • Lisa

        Yes you can cover grey with henna!! I am living proof… I decided to give up box and salon color for my health and did exhaustive research on this. If you do a two step henna color process it works!! And I don’t have red hair now either! My 70% grey hair is VERY stubborn (I am 48) and I was feeling hopeless until I learned about Color the Grey by Light Mountain (I think a few other henna kits may use a two step process) and while it is time consuming (and messy -read all the amazon reviews for tips) I couldn’t be happier with the color (I use Light Brown and achieve a med to dark brown with slight auburn highlights where the grey used to be). After coloring my whole head twice I now only do the roots. My hair is stronger, less frizzy, thicker and shinier. I get compliments on the shine and color all the time. It took me so long to figure this option out, I want to let more people know you don’t have to go grey!!

      • Lisa

        Yes you can cover grey with henna!! I am living proof… I decided to give up box and salon color for my health and did exhaustive research on this. If you do a two step henna color process it works!! And I don’t have red hair now either! My 70% grey hair is VERY stubborn (I am 48) and I was feeling hopeless until I learned about Color the Grey by Light Mountain (I think a few other henna kits may use a two step process) and while it is time consuming (and messy -read all the amazon reviews for tips) I couldn’t be happier with the color (I use Light Brown and achieve a med to dark brown with slight auburn highlights where the grey used to be). I put step one on for about 30 minutes, rinse then apply the second step for 45-60 minutes. So using this kit I only have henna on my head for a total of 1-2 hours. After coloring my whole head twice I now only do the roots. My hair is stronger, less frizzy, thicker and shinier. I get compliments on the shine and color all the time. It took me so long to figure this option out, I want to let more people know you don’t have to go grey!!

        • Irina Webb

          Hi Lisa! Your comment is so timely. It is encouraging to know that it works. I have been experimenting with Color the Grey by Light Mountain. I did a strand test and my hair came out greenish. I followed their directions and put step one for 15 min and step two for 2.5 hours. I will do the way you recommended and I hope to get better results. Do you do anything special to prep your hair? Thanks!

  4. Kimberley

    Thank you, Irina.
    It’s too bad since I so much want to find a healthy alternative to hair color. I used “beautiful brown” which is peroxide free, but it’s FAR from natural! Thanks for all the work you do to help us stay healthy!

    • Jennifer

      Peroxide is not the issue, peroxide is simply two things found in our natural bodies…energy and water. Its the mix of ammonia, a toxic gas, and peroxide as the catalyst making ammonia more active that causes problems for our hair and our bodies.

  5. Josh

    I would take Irenas advice before I took a cosmotologists advice that believes just what she is told to believe. It’s common sense that none of the chemicals are safe

    • Irina Webb

      Thank you, Josh! I’d like to add that I do not have any financial incentive to warn you guys about pitfalls.

    • Sarah Amber

      Irina who hasn’t been educated in chemistry or cosmetology (like myself) and is spreading misinformation…

      If you’re not in our industry, then you don’t know what other professional brands are like and how loaded with harmful chemicals they are. You don’t understand how it works and why it’s formulated the way it is, and is precisely why I commented to begin with.

      There are safer hair color products out there, and this is the cleanest for professionals (aka can cover grey), hands down. You’re right, they aren’t perfect, but they are the closest we can get.

      Also I wish I was getting compensated for the amount of times I’ve had to explain this to non-professionals… I’d be rich.

      • Irina Webb

        Thanks, Sarah. My main point is that Organic Color Systems should not be called organic because it is NOT organic.

        • Jennifer

          Do you have some kind of MSDS sheet disproving that OCS is NOT organic? I encourage you to speak to the chemists in England to clear this up for you.

          • Shirley

            Bravo Jennifer! Since I have COPD from using all the chemicals normally used in a salon .. I think the Organic Systems will be the best for me AND my clients. When I was young I was told not to eat apple seeds or I’d die because of cyanide in them… isn’t it funny now days they say eat the apple seed in the apple you consume to fight against cancer. Obviously the cyanide percentage was nothing to worry over.

          • Hanna

            Thank you Jennifer for answering in the name of the company in such a awkward way that just confirms exactly what is written here. First, why is the complete list of ingredients available to everyone instead of only to ” any professional that calls”. Shouldn’t that just be disclosed everywhere?
            I’m happy I read this blog before deciding to use these products because what you’re doing is fake publicity and I wonder if not criminalized in some countries where you sell your products (like Germany where I live and where you have posters saying that it’s safe for pregnant people).
            It seemed obvious to me that this couldn’t be a 100% organic product since the scope of colours obviously need hard chemicals.

            It is indeed a pity because the company should certainly be commended for doing a product that tries to be more organic, but the fact that fake information is given shades all of that effort.

            Thank you Irina for your research!

  6. Teresa

    Thank you so much for doing this research!! You are providing such an important service! In the near future I was considering dying my hair and I wanted to see if there were any safer/organic options available. This helps me out but saddens me as I’m sure there are none. 🙁 Thanks again!

  7. Joy Wygant

    I wish I had read this article last week— I just went to a local Marin color bar that uses this product and I was under the impression it was, well, organic! (where did I get that idea from?) I appreciate Sarah’s comments that this may be the best option available, but I’m very very disappointed that the term “organic” is being used to mislead people about what the product is (and is not).

    It’s really frustrating that you can not trust any terminology used in marketing products. Thank you Irina, for sharing your research.

  8. Christopher

    Organic Colour Systems clearly state on all their literature that it contains the maximum amount of Organic ingredients and make no claims on it being 100% Organic. There is no dishonesty involved and if you contact them they will be open and honest and tell you what is Organic or not.
    Also, the unmixed colour is between 96% and 98% naturally derived, it is as Organic as reality allows and they are constantly working on increasing that percentage so you would be very hard pushed to find a healthier option that will create blondes, cover grey and give a permanent result.
    There is not and probably will not be for a VERY long time ANY permanent colour that is 100% Organic and gives the performance that a salon client expects, it’s just physically impossible for a pigment molecule to reach the cortex all on it’s own.
    Unfortunately this seems to be a case of people reading something at face value, being very picky and not using common sense. Many things are open to interpretation and it just sounds a little ridiculous to expect a company to change it’s name because you have made assumptions based on the name of the company.

    • Erin

      I don’t think consumers should be tricked into using products. Just because something has an organic ingredient doesn’t mean the final product is organic, so it is deceiving. Maybe it’s better than everything else, but that doesn’t change the fact that it isn’t good. Companies pay lots of money to market and advertise to certain groups of people, so by using the word “organic” they are expecting individuals to fall prey to that. This reminds me of a large corporation who settled a class action lawsuit not long ago for their inaccurate marketing tactics. Natural isn’t always natural, just like organic isn’t always organic.

    • Hanna

      The problem is that the product is publicized as being 100% organic and it’s sold directly to hair salons that will sell it as being so. I don’t think anyone or almost anyone will read “the literature” on it before using it in a hair salon, after being told that it’s 100% organic. So yes, it is deceiving.
      Many people using only henna will be motivated to try these products, when in reality it can’t be compared to henna.

      I find specially disturbing that in the publicity I saw in my hair salon it states that it’s safe during pregnancy, when this is in fact unknown, specially during the first trimester.

      I would be more inclined to try these products if they would be marketed in a sincere way. This attitude just makes me not trust the brand at all.

  9. Stephanie

    People who don’t know anything about cosmetology should stay out of the technics of cosmetology. Even food doesn’t have to be 100% organic to be labeled as such. Go to cosmetology school. Re-read this article. Then smack yourself.

    • Irina Webb

      Rules are rules but what about human decency? Next thing we will be saying when I said I am honest, I did not mean that I am 100% honest. Right? I understand labeling laws without going to cosmetology school. In order to be certified organic, it has to be at least 95% organic. Organic Color Systems has only 4 organic ingredients. By the way, I read comments on the local mother’s club forum and not a day passes by when Organic Color Systems is recommended because people truly believe that it is organic and natural.

        • Irina Webb

          By the same logic, when we go to a grocery store and see the sign “organic apples,” we should not believe it unless it says, “certified organic apples.”

          • Antonella

            That word “organic” is in the company’s name and, as someone else pointed out, they had that name when organic products were not popular and the requirements for being organic were very narrow. They kept the name, but never state anywhere that the product is organic. As a stylist, I do know that this product is the best one out there. I have researched other products, and I have researched the ingredients in Organic Color Systems and their levels, and it is the most chemically-reduced permanent hair colour out there. Someone find me another that has less of the toxic ingredients such as PPD, PTD, resorcinal, etc. Yes, unfortunately their name still has the word organic in it. In their training of salons they clearly state that it is not all organic and train stylists to educate their clients about it honestly. Let me know if there is a better product out there and I’m all in!

          • Irina Webb

            Thank you, Antonella. I understand the history behind their name; however, it is still misleading to a lot of people. Have you looked into Goldwell products that they make for European market? I am planning to research them next.

        • Jennifer

          It states it right on the bottle of color. And yes the ingredients are derived from certified organic ingredients. If it was not, I can assure you it wouldnt be printed on the bottles.

    • Elenor

      Hi, Ive just finished my Chemical engineering masters in the UK . To Stephanie the “cosmetologist” I would say go get a doctorate before you tell people to smack themselves like you are a viable source of knowledge? My professors don’t even claim that . But I guess the more intelligent you are, the more you realise you don’t know.
      Violence wont get anyone anywhere, and as long as you check your sources online you can find plenty of published journal articles from Chemists, whoever you are and whatever your background.

      Since my background is in Chemistry I was curious to find out what the general public thought about hair dye, since it is one of the most toxic sources of pollutants we come into close contact with- along with car fumes, fabric treatments, ect. It seems like there isnt much information out there unless you really look for it, or are prepared to plow through chemistry journals , chemical by chemical.
      Its worrying considering how many women dye their hair and trust that companies wont fill them with toxins. The biggest issue is accumulation from a few decades of exposure, which most ingredients haven’t be tested for. It looks like there are a fair few worker bees for OCS on this thread and understandably they are standing up for a heavily researched and tested product, but looking at the ingredients list, its better than most but I still wouldnt dye my hair.

  10. Lola

    In this day, nothing created by man is 100% natural or organic. That’s just common sense. If you think otherwise you are delusional. Anyone who knows anything knows that “organic” doesn’t mean “perfect” Organic Color Systems makes it very clear that their color is as natural as possible while still getting results. Hair color is NEVER going to be completely organic. If you’re that worried about it….don’t color your hair.

    • Irina Webb

      Have you done your own research to conclude that Organic Color Systems is the least toxic? If yes, which brands have you compared it with? By the way, Goldwell is doing some strides in this direction. And of course, there are plenty products that are 100% certified organic, including hair dyes.

  11. Antonella

    Yes, I do agree that the name may be misleading…I understand the confusion. I can vouch for the company that they do want salons to give clients the proper information, and clearly let people know why they chose that name at the time that they did. There were no other products like it at that time, and there still are not in my opinion. I looked far and wide, and it took 2 years of researching and trying other permanent colour lines. Europe was the number one place I searched in because their standards are much more strict when it comes to regulating chemicals in beauty products, and they have banned chemicals that North America still uses. I have looked at many lines.

    I know the Goldwell products well, and although they are trying to “green” their image, they have far to go. So far I only see that they have eliminated ammonia in their colours and have thrown in a few natural ingredients. This is the very minimum they can do, as the real culprits are things like PPD’s and resorcinal, or similiar ingredients that are carcinogenic. Goldwell doesn’t come close.

    It’s hard for a company to change its name once it has become known, and it confusing. I only hope that salons follow the company’s lead and don’t deceive people into thinking it is completely organic (although 98-99% of the ingredients are naturally derived or organic).

    All I can say is that I have a salon that is focused on being as sustainable and healthy as possible, and this is the best option out there at this point in time. I am always looking at other products trying to find the best ones.

    • Irina Webb

      Hi, Antonella, I just spoke with Goldwell and they assured me that their Elumen hair color does not have PPD or PTD. It applies like semi-perminant color (coats hair without penetrating deeply) but it has properties of a permanent color. You might want to look into it. My stylist uses it with a big success. Here is a really good and simple USDA explanation of what “natural” and “naturally derived” really mean: http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5103308. According to this definition, I do not think Organic Color Systems has 98-99% that are naturally derived. What do you personally understand by “naturally derived,” when you say it? No offense – I sincerely would like to know. Thank you, Antonella, for taking time to converse with me.

      • Antonella

        I do know the Elumen colour and have used it in the past….I stopped because it was removing the finish on our sinks! It is a direct dye, which means that it is not mixed with an activator and it does not alter the natural hair colour but only leaves a deposit. They call it permanent because it’s hard to remove. With these types of products you can’t make brown hair lighter, for example. You can definitely get deposit-only colours without any of those harsh chemicals, and we do offer those in our salon. What I’m talking about is permanent hair colour, which gives us a full-range of options for hair colouring….brown hair to blonde, full grey coverage in natural-looking tones, bright reds on dark hair, eg. Permanent colour removes the pigment from hair while depositing new color. Honestly, Organic Color Systems is the best I have found, and I have compared it to all of those traditional salon colour lines, plus others from here and around the world: Perfecta, Tints by Nature, Naturtint, Herbatint, Palette by Nature, etc. In regard to what I consider naturally derived, as this definition states: Naturally derived means some ingredients derived from nature have been used to artificially create a product that is delivered in an unnatural form.

        I know that there is a difference between “natural” and “naturally derived”. I’m not saying that OCS is completely harmless. In its class of dyes, which is permanent, oxidative colours, it is the best one out there that I have found, in its performance and its ingredients (OCS average levels of PPD is 0.6% (some shades as low as .06%), as opposed to traditional colour which is 3 – 6%). They do the best they can to replace and reduce the most toxic ingredients as much as they can and still have it work. For semi-permanents, direct dyes, non-oxidative dyes, etc., there are more options to get natural, non PPD, PTD, products, and I do carry those as an option for those who react to the other chemicals or do not want to use them at all.

        I’m very glad to see that more people like you are becoming aware of the dangers of some of these products and that they are educating yourself about them. I hope that we see more and more safe products, and that we follow the lead of Europe and take a hard line to some of the harsh, harmful ingredients that are still in our cosmetics. We want to be beautiful without harming our bodies!

        • Irina Webb

          I wonder why Elumen removed your sink finish. I assume that means that it damages the hair badly. If it is designed to coat the hair, why is it so caustic? Do you have any opinion on Henna? I am curious to try it. Do you have any experience with it?

          • Antonella

            Elumen leaves a buildup so it could be that it dulled out the varnish….not sure. It also stained the sinks very badly…I have white sinks 🙁
            Elumen was especially great for bright, funky colours but it was also extremely hard to remove when the client wanted a change. Just because a product is meant only to coat the hair does not mean that it is not harmful. Think about floor varnish! The only good thing I found is that the ingredients in elumen don’t contain PPD or other chemicals that are inherent in permanent, oxidative dyes, however I prefer other direct dyes that don’t ruin my sinks…or leave a buildup on the hair.
            I have tried Henna quite a bit. Henna is great, if it is the natural henna without any additives. It can only deposit colour and does not cover grey. It can blend grey enough to diminish it, but not generally on resistant hair. The tones tend to be very warm, with orange being the dominant pigment in it. You need to watch out for black henna, as that can mean they have added PPD to it….there is no such thing as a natural black henna. Again, you are limited to only depositing colour, so you cannot lighten the natural hair. The lighter the natural hair the more noticeable it will be. It’s extremely messy and time-consuming to apply however! I don’t use it in the salon much anymore because of it’s limitations and that there are other stains I can use. I do offer it as an alternative if clients want it.

          • Irina Webb

            I know. I thought if you mix it with indigo you can achieve pretty dark colors. I am thinking about trying henna/indigo blend. It is certified organic by the USDA. I am trying to find a salon close by where they can do it for me. I know it can get too messy at home. Too bad you are all the way in Canada. Antonella, I enjoy talking to you. I hope you will subscribe to my blog so we can stay in touch.

        • Bridgit

          Interesting article and replies. I am a professional stylist and I came across this article while researching better options for a hair color line. I am always trying to learn more and do better about the toxic lives we live. I’m trying to find the least harmful color line out there for my benefit that will also meet the needs and expectations of my clients. This is my livelihood and it’s how I pay my bills at this point in my life. I know there is no permanent hair color with no toxic chemicals and I understand that when taking one chemical out you have to replace it with another. I’ve been using Original Mineral from Australia for a year. They use MEA, replaced PPD with PTDS and replaced Resorcinol with 2-Methylresorcinol or 4-Chlororesorcinol. Still toxic I’m sure but they don’t claim to be toxic free just lower levels. I would like to know how this line compares to Organic Color. Antonella, any feedback, you seem to be well educated.

          • Antonella

            Hi Bridgit! Good for you for trying to eliminate as much toxicity as possible in your profession. It’s a hard job but someone’s gotta do it 🙂 I started doing this years ago when I realized that so many of my clients were starting to develop really severe allergies to color. It made me think about how toxic all the stuff we use in our industry is…not just to the clients but to us! A lot of companies are jumping on the bandwagon with deceiving claims and just doing the minumum they need to in order to sell their product. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not enough just to be “ammonia-free” or to replace one toxic ingredient for another toxic one just for their marketing.
            I dont ‘know a lot about Original Mineral, but I do know that PTD and PPD are closely related ingredients. One doesn’t seem to be any better than the other, but many companies use PTD so that they can say that they are “PPD-free”. They are both still phenylenediamines. Also, some people that are allergic to PPD can use PTD, but they are both still bad ingredients. The reason I like OCS is that they lower the bad ingredients as much as possible and eliminate those that they can. That’s what I was looking for years ago…a permanent dye that was as low as possible in the toxic stuff. I am always looking to see what new stuff is out there. I will have to research Original Mineral a bit more and see how they compare.

  12. Martina

    I’m so discouraged to find an organic hair dye that actually works! any advice?

  13. ap

    Irina, a sincere thank u for taking ur time to research and educate us! Amazing article, I was in search for an organic hair dye and ur info helped me a lot to make my decision. Pls ignore all those comments from the people who sold their souls for money, they are attacking u because by sharing truthful information u r taking their business away. Just like pharmaceuticals hate to hear about homeopathy. So instead of replying and fighting back these nasty ppl who do their best to fool us, invest ur time in more research and write more informative articles for us! Pls!!!

    • Irina Webb

      Thank you so much! It is so great to hear from like-minded people! I hope you stay in touch. Together we can make a difference.

    • Irina Webb

      Thank you for this, Ap. A lot has changed since then. Every day I receive emails from grateful blog readers, which gives confidence to know that the research I do is super helpful. 🙂 Is there anything I can help you with you? ~Irina

  14. EB

    Does anyone know how to mix indigo and henna to get dark hair that looks natural, and is a relatively simple process? All of the advice on the internet is complicated and takes a long time. I don’t want to risk getting reddish hair, which is unnatural for me. Thanks.

    • KK

      Hi EB, I have been using body art quality Henna/Indigo for four years now since I had a severe reaction to chemical dyes. At first it was trial and error and, as yet, there is no short cut time-wise, so it is a commitment. Having said that my hair is very healthy and a dark brown with a reddish tint – it depends on what colour you want to achieve and everyone’s hair is individual as to the colour it ends up. Initially I bought from Renaissance Henna.com (I’m not in any way associated with this company) and I read all the information on their site and other sites so that I was as fully informed as I could be before I started. I have also bought henna and indigo from another site as well, it is important to get body art quality henna. I have over 50% grey hair and with the henna/indigo combo it is completely covered but the mixture has to be on the hair 2-3 hours minimum I find – as I said, it is a commitment. I had to find a solution to potential hospitalisation with the reaction I had, so it was easy for me to make the decision, get some tools to help do the job, buy the product and start. I hope this helps. KK

    • Lisa

      Try henna first, then indigo. The best henna is found here: http://www.mehandi.com/shop/buxus/ and then cover with a strict and specific mix of henna and indigo. If you do henna first followed by straight indigo, it will come out black. It looks horrid on me–my beautiful auburn highlights disappear. So you should call their hotline and find out a good mix for you. To get my highlights back I might try getting it highlighted (bleached with peroxide) then add henna back in. Surya Henna Cream is also very good–just needs to be applied frequently if you wash your hair a lot, or in my case applied weekly due to grow out.

  15. carrie

    All I am concerned about is the product being vegan and not tested on animals. As humans its our choice to color are hair with chemicals or not chemicals . The animals have no choice . So that is my first concern. WE dont have to color our hair .. again its a vanity choice. If i DO want to color my hair ..I want to make sure that beings(animals) that didn’t have a choice aren’t suffering for my vanity. OCS is vegan and cruelty free. Wish you had touched on that with your research. Thanks.

  16. Sarah Vonn

    Hi Irina,
    I am a cosmetologist, & I really, really appreciate your review of Organic Color Systems!!! You did all the hard work for me that I’ve been dreading doing. I have been wondering for about a year if their line is actually much less toxic than other color lines. I suspected it still had tons of chemicals in it, for the color to work at a professional level. I’ve been gradually trying to find ways to convert my salon business to be the least toxic as possible. It’s been hard. I might convert to OCS since it is probably less toxic than most other lines. I hope something even better comes out very soon! Don’t listen to the rude, bratty stylists comments saying you don’t know what you’re talking about. We are hardly trained on ingredients & chemicals in beauty school. Just because stylists know how to apply the color for good visual results, doesn’t mean they are anywhere near experts on the ingredients. You don’t have to be a stylist to know what ingredients are & if they are good or bad. You really seem to know your stuff!
    I also think OCS’s name is very misleading. The word organic shouldn’t be allowed in a company’s name unless it’s at least certified organic.
    Thank you for this very informative post!!! 🙂

    • Ann

      Amen Sarah Vonn! Thank you Irina.
      ALERT: THOSE CRAZY PEOPLE RESPONDING AND TRYING TO BELITTLE YOU FOR PUBLISHING THIS ARTICLE ARE PEOPLE WHO WORK AT ORGANIC COLOR SYSTEMS!!!! No normal person would take on such an emotional and condescending response….it would make no sense. And the ammunition they use is hysterical!… “your not a cosmetologist”. Please…. where do I even begin to shred that argument apart??
      Thank you for the information Irina, I completely agree with you about the name. And yes, it is most definitely misleading!

  17. Lisa Jones

    Hi
    Which professional hair colours would you recommend as being organic or as close to as possible. I have been using this in my salon believing it to be 100% certified organic.

  18. Tonia Brow

    Hi Irina,

    I switched from Aveda products to OCS about a year ago because I did not feel Aveda was as safe or non-toxic as their advertising claims. I have been happy with OCS and my stylist but would love to know if there is a better hair coloring system you can suggest. When I made my change to OCS, it seemed the “cleanest” option available aside from no longer coloring my hair.

  19. donna

    this was great info, I am also looking for another option then Aveda, OCS was recommended to me?? just wondering if it is a better product?

    • Marla

      Hi Donna, why don’t you check out Ecocolors. I believe it is cleaner than OCS and Aveda. I tried it but couldn’t really get the color right. I think it’s a good line however and I felt good using it. Good smell, no bleeding, felt authentically more natural to me. I have to say that I tried OCS and didn’t have a good experience. It made my eyes burn and I felt pretty bad for a day. I was very surprised given that I have been dying my hair with a semi permanent color a the salon for years. I am planning pn trying Ecocolors again or maybe Henna. Hope this helps. Marla

  20. Dana

    Does anyone know anything about Mastey hair color or a line called Status Quo? Thank you!

  21. Guy

    Its seems funny to me that you are discouraging people from using OCS claiming that they are misleading but yet recommending Aveda as a better option? I have met many clients who switched from Aveda to OCS because of sever allergic reaction such as irritation on scalp, dryness, itchiness and the bad smell of the color. I agree that John Master Organic has wonderful clean products but they don’t have hair color in their line. John Master used to use a mostly herbal based color (not his brand) in his salon in Soho but they closed their salon services few years ago and its now only a retail to his products, they do not offer salon services anymore.

    Have you done enough research about Aveda? The majority of Aveda’s products rate no better in the Cosmetic Safety Database than other conventional cosmetics. Skin Deep, a cosmetics database run by the Environmental Working Group, has audited a select number of Aveda products, assigning health concern ratings from 1 (low hazard) to 8 (high hazard).

    Aveda Control Paste Finishing Paste, which received an 8, was rated as having high health concerns for allergies and immunotoxicity, endocrine disruption, and occupational hazards, among other things. Its ingredient list includes:

    Aqueous (Water, Aqua Purificata, Purified) Extracts: Althaea Officinalis (Marshmallow) (Organically Grown), Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Extract, Organically Grown), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, (Coconut), PEG-25 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Tribehenin, (Rapeseed), Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, (Coconut), Glycerin, (Coconut), Cetearyl Alcohol (Coconut), Dipalmitoylethyl Hydroxyethylmonium Methosulfate (Palm), Fragrance (Parfum), Citral, Geraniol, Linalool, Farnesol, Benzyl Benzoate, Benzyl Salicylate, Citronellol, Eugenol, Limonene, Hydroxypropyl Guar, Disodium EDTA, Chlorphenesin, Methylparaben, Isopropylparaben, Butylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol, Annatto (Cl 75120), Mica, Titanium Dioxide (Cl 77891).

    Info taking from http://ecosalon.com/behind-the-label-aveda-natural-beauty-products/

    • Irina Webb

      Hi Guy: I never recommended Aveda and I have not done any extensive research into the brand. I simply approved Tonia’s comment on Aveda since this is an open forum. Since she is not going to see your comment unless you respond directly to her, it would be good you could respond to her. But before we do that, let me ask you. Is Aveda permanent or semi-permanent color? What is an activator? I agree that Aveda is full of endocrine disruptors and potential allergens by looking at the list ingredients you supplied. To color my hair and hide some gray, I use henna now and love it. Here is my post about my experience with henna. As for John Masters, I studied their shampoo and again did not think of them as a color producer. So we are on the same page. Thank you for the info.

      • Guy

        I am glad to hear that Henna worked for you, however it doesn’t for most people depending on their base color. I used to use Henna for my clients years ago before I found OCS – and thanks god I did! I can now work in a relatively safe environment with out inhaling those nasty chemicals from most conventional colors and hair products. I used to have a chronic cough that i can assure you went away since i stopped using conventional hair dye and started using OCS. Henna doesn’t work for professionals and does not cover gray hair. it works for you because your hair was has no gray and hasn’t been dyed. people have to understand that once you start with Henna you have to wait a long time for it to grow incase you changed your mind and decided you want a professional hair color other then the henna which is very limited to shades.
        1. Henna can be expensive if you end up getting the pure organic kind 2.very messy and dries out quickly so it makes it hard to apply 3. Very hard on hair dresser hands to apply due to consistency (don’t forget we apply color on clients at least 3-8 times a day) 4. can clog the sink 4. smells awful (not everyone like that smell) 5. inconsistent results 6. doesn’t cover gray. 7.have red tones. For a professional results OCS is absolutely the safest and most beautiful results and performance.

        • Irina Webb

          Hi Guy, I whole-heartedly wish more hair stylists gave henna a chance. The hairdresser I went to believes that most hairdressers shy away from henna simply because they are not trained how to use in beauty schools. Hairdressers who come from abroad are more willing to work with henna because in their home countries it is more mainstream. I believe henna is a wonderful product but you do need experience to know how to use it well. My hair is so shiny and healthy now. I love it! As for OCS, I can’t really agree that OCS is the safest on the market. For me, to make that statement I would need to study thoroughly the ingredients of all permanent hair dyes on the US market. Yes, OCS does not have ammonia, but again most hair dyes dropped it out, too. And they do use a few certified organic ingredient to condition the hair. Other than that, I do not know what is better about OCS. I truly believe that hairdressers who offer a variety of products (including henna), who openly speak about possible side effects of chemical hair dyes (including OCS), and who are not afraid to face the truth that beauty sometimes comes at the expense of health and the environment will become more competitive as they meet the growing demand.

  22. Cosmetic Chemist

    I agree mostly with your points, and can even give you several more if you’re interested in emailing me. However, I found one glaring mistake. You said that triethanolamine can break down into carcinogenic nitrosamines; this is not true. TEA is a tertiary amine therefore it does not react with nitrosating agents to produce nitrosamines. However, their formula does (or did) contain cocamide dea, which you pointed out as carcinogenic. True! This ingredient is a secondary amine and can form carcinogenic nitrosamines. TEA gets lumped in with DEA and gets a bad rap.

  23. Nicole

    What an insulting and disgruntling amount of comments you have to make about a color line! Not all salons and not all stylists are “misleading” in representing OSC in being all organic. It is an amazing line that has and remains the least toxic for those who want grey coverage. Watch out for henna dyes as they are not ALL organic either. Best thing for you sounds like going natural with your grey and calling it good. And GOLDWELL?! Give me a break! I’d like to see your research on that. Companies like that will take years to get up to speed on a line that has been formulating and redo emulating to come up with the best, least toxic results when lines like GOLDWELL were in the dark for years on their toxic level. For a salon to just carry henna as a professional line when people want results would be ludicrous and I wouldn’t even trust the henna. I’m into reading labels and explaining to my clients what’s what, but in the way that you did your blog, it’s just insulting to a very reputable company and I take offense.

    • Marla

      I would just like to say that I was excited to try OCS given that it seems to be less toxic than many color lines. However, when I did try it I had had a really bad experience. I developed a head ache and really felt ill for a couple of days. Interestingly, I have been using hair color (Wella Demi permanent) for years with no reaction. So without discussing the actual ingredients, clearly my body didn’t like something in the product!

  24. Margret

    Dear Irina,

    that is indeed good news!
    I have used Indian Summer of this product line twice so far. It is easy to apply, the smell is a little bit strange but pretty tolerable.
    I really like the color. My hair is kind of a dark-blonde, which is very common:-). I also have already a lot of grey hair.
    The colour of my hair is now a bright red-brown, which I really like. As it is a natural colour you can´t expect to cover all the grey but the result looks much more natural than the artificial colouring. Next time I´ll try the colour tizian of the same product line (Logona color creme).
    Actually there are no drawbacks for me.

  25. Margret

    Hi, here I am again, because I forgot to tell you that there hasn´t been any itching while colouring with Logona Color Cream.
    My head always felt itchy when I was dyed with artificial colour in the past.

    Well, there actually is one little drawback: You have to leave the colour in your hair for about 2 hours. But I can definitely live with this.

  26. Jenni

    I appreciate this conversation. I will agree with some of the other posters that your blog post may have read a little aggressive. However, I am a cosmetologist of nearly 20 years and fear what is in store for my health in the future. For the last many years I have been on a mission to make what I do as safe as possible not only for myself but my clients as well. I think that it is very important to note that as for my clientele (the only ones I can speak about), the majority have no concern at all about the health risks of color. or shampoo. or perfume. or makeup. If it makes them pretty, and they are not sick, they just do not care. I know this for a certainty because I go out of my way to educate them on the risks associated with the “beauty” industry in general, and very few of them take any heed at all. I also feel I need to note that most of these women are also very intelligent, well educated women. For many, beauty just is a priority. I say all this because it is important to know in order to understand the need for a company like OCS and hair stylists like myself. Despite anyone’s opinion of it, women still want traditional color results. Maybe not you, but many. I have been using OCS for years now because after weeks and weeks of hours on end head busting research IT WAS THE BEST AND SAFEST PROFESSIONAL COLOR LINE THAT I COULD FIND. I found your blog today (years later) as I still search for the safest possible delivery of the service my clients expect. I have looked at color ingredients, and researched words I can’t pronounce, and visited EWG’s database until I’m blue in the face… for years…. and I will continue to do it until I’m certain I’ve found the safest most earth friendly color possible. For now, as far as I can see, that is still OCS. Thank you for this forum to see that I am not alone. (Hello other green hairdressers!)I am so happy to see there are a few more folks like me out there. We are just doing the best we can to make a broken industry better. While, I concede that the name may be a touch misleading (they do provide a complete ingredients list, packet even if you will, when you buy into their line). They are very open about things such as PPD and encourage dialogue about their ingredients with your clientele. I appreciate your research. I appreciate that OCS is not the color for you. Mostly, I appreciate that you allow an open conversation about your and our opinions on YOUR blog. Thanks.

    • Jacqui

      First, Irina, THANK YOU for starting the whole topic of discussion. Thank you for reading labels and helping us understand about the mysterious ingredients. Really, really thank you. I’ve read every comment here and stopped at this one and just had to comment.

      I have just been searching Youtube about the henna and indigo colouring processes along with stories of how people have damaged their hair doing that also. From what I learned today, it’s a 2 step process that lasts for a day and a night, plus messy showers and an overnight preparation of the henna mixture – if you want to do it properly from scratch with excellent ingredients. I decided after all the youtubes I found that I wouldn’t do henna.

      I am 39. I have had hair going white since I was 21 🙂 I got more conscious about everything about 10 years ago and I just let my hair stay undyed for blocks of years at a time until my husband complained. I live in India at the moment so I get my hair done from a salon labelled as organic in Singapore – any expat living in India will understand why.

      Jenni, it’s so good to read about your thorough research after all the previous comments. I’m going to keep getting my hair dyed and just search for a salon that uses OCS in Singapore.

      For the OCS people that are reading this: thanks for caring and making the product as least toxic as possible. I understand why you use the term ‘organic’ so people like me can find it… This is one area of my life that I have to compromise in and given that we don’t live forever anyway I’m just going to use your stuff. All this reading around is exhausting and time consuming.

      That’s all.

      • Marla

        Hello all,

        Just wanted to share that I have been using a product called Root Vanish to cover my gray in between salon visits and it has been great! It doesn’t cover completely and lasts for 1-3 weeks depending on frequency of hair washing. For me I am trying to decrease the frequency of my chemical use as I try to find a cleaner hair dye. Hope this helps.

  27. Margret

    “I am so happy to see there are a few more folks like me out there. We are just doing the best we can to make a broken industry better.”

    I really like those sentences, Jenni!
    And I agree with you that the concern for health or our surroundings, nature and animals included, is oviously and sadly not a matter of intelligence or education.
    So it is a good feeling to see that at least a minority cares about those things … Thanks

  28. Morgan

    Hi there! I’m a professional stylist, and I use OCS in my little home hair salon. I try and make a point to use the most natural, vegan, people-and-animal friendly products I can. I have really enjoyed using OCS- but I am open to learning about other as-natural-as-possible professional colour brands and options! I DO need to stay with a colour line that isn’t a henna or a deposit-only metallic/mineral type dye. I have clients that rely on a good highlift colour, shot of highlights, etc.. and so I rely on that for my paycheques at the end of the day! The best I can offer right now is OCS- their lack of terrible burning aroma, the soothing oils incorporated in the colour, the PETA certification.. those are all integral to how I do business. Are there other professional brands out there that are available in Canada, and offer more in the way of natural results? I hear rumours that there IS at least one new brand in the works- yet I don’t have any details or a name for it yet. I’ve got my ears to the ground, but I could use some help! Other Green Stylists- what do you know?

  29. Debbie Manson

    Hi I just wanted to let you know my experience with Organic Colour Systems, I went to a salon and had it done 10 days ago, and it has been horrendous. I have had mild reactions in the past itching etc from salon colours particularly Wella but I thought OCS was the answer to my need for less chemicals in my life and particularly hair dye. I did not have a patch test as I have done them before with no reaction then have reacted to the actual dye once it was applied. Within 1 day of colour I had red scalp and could not move my neck to the back as it was so swollen, with another 24 hours my scalp/head felt like it was in a vice and visited out of hours hospital where I received steroids, antihistamine and steroid lotion for the scalp. Another 12 hours later and the sides of my eyes had swollen up so I looked alien like, the next day my eyes and face and neck were swollen and I was in Acute admissions at hospital. Thankfully after 10 days I am almost back to normal, but am shocked and amazed that I went for the most “natural” product I could find and had my worst reaction to hair dye ever from it. I have been advised never to colour my hair again. I have never had specific testing done to find out what chemical it is I am allergic to having always assumed it was PPD. But would be too afraid after this experience to ever colour again. Just letting people know, do not assume it is OK or natural because it has the word organic in it.

    • Irina Webb

      Thank you, Debbie for sharing your horrible experience. I am so sorry to hear about what happened. It is so good for others to know. There is no PPD in this products. However, there are so many other ingredients such as p-aminophenol that might have cause your bad reaction.

    • Christopher

      Organic Color Systems is not really organic at all – they utilize MEA to get the alkalinity needed for permanent hair dye; MEA is known to cause contact dermatitis and is used at really high concentrations in ammonia-free dyes. It’s especially bad when it’s used in products that sit on your hair for extended time, like hair dye.

      Here is a nice YouTube video that explains the misleading natural hair color brands do:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBGfAHGqpQQ

      Allergies to hair dye can start at any point in your life time, so it’s important to always patch test.

    • michelle

      debbie i use lots of hairs dyes same things happand to me im to scared to use them now it must be the ppd and the p.aminopenol in them that give me the allergies and iv used henna the same thing happands i was going to use the 1 that evry was talking about but when u said u had a allergie to it there no way will i use it now is there eny think out there that dosant have this in it

  30. Jenni

    Debbie, I am so sorry that this has happened to you! Irina, unless it has changed since I was last sent an ingredients list, yes, OCS does have PPD. It is a small amount as low as 0.06% in some colors, but if you have a PPD allergy, it doesn’t matter how low the percentage. I have 2 reasons for posting again. One, I have been using OCS for years on every single color client that walks through my door. I have never had one single reacton… not one. Does that mean you should use is without asking questions? NO. This brings me to my second reason for posting again. If you have allergy concerns OR if you are determined to be 100% natural/organic, you should be very cautious visiting any salon offering modern coloring results. Please, ask your stylist what is in their color. If they can’t answer that question, and it matters that much to you, please choose another salon. OCS is only a “safer” option. I am hopeful this is only the beginning. I am currently about to test a line that is new to me that boasts no ammonia, no PPD, and no resorcinol. I go into this experiment knowing that we are not there yet, but hopeful to offer my clients the cleanest option available whether that matters to them or not. For now, to my knowledge, there are no perfect options. If you know of one, please let me know. Be wise. Ask questions. Make educated decisions.

    • Irina Webb

      Thank you, Jenni! The list of ingredients I have does not reflect PPD. Could you forward me an updated list? On a related note, do you know if OCS was reformulated or renamed? Is OCS called Original and Mineral now? If that’s the case, Original and Mineral hair dye has PTDS, which appears to be worse than PPD. I wonder what hair color you are researching. I just published my research on the Madison Reed that claim to free of harsh chemicals such as PPD, ammonia, and resorcinol. The substitutes are not any better, if not worse. I am so glad that you are striving to provide “safer” options to your clients. And I agree that is not easy at all. Disclosure is the key at this point. Thanks!

      • Jenni

        Yes, Irina. I do have an ingredients list. I am off today, and so I am away from my work office. I will gladly get it to you asap. Ok. So speaking of confusing… Simply Organic Beauty formerly known as Organic Color Systems (as opposed to Organic Colour Systems) aka Organic Salon Systems aka International Hair and beauty systems has been the US distributor for Organic Colour Systems out of the UK up until very recently. OCS (the actual producer of the color) has taken it’s own distribution here and in Canada. The first mentioned company which I will refer to as Simply Organic Beauty, is now offering Original and Mineral (O&M). Confusing right? LOL You are correct that O&M does contain PTDS. We are told it is the lowest amount possible going as low as 0.04% depending on the color level. I have read very mixed studies on PTDS, but some people with PTD allergies (as many as 57% in one study) have been able to use PTDS with no reaction. I am respectfully leery and hopeful all at once. I am just beginning to look into the line and have lots of research to do yet.

        • Jenni

          I would also like to add a little disclaimer. I am only a hairdresser. I am not a scientist nor a chemical specialist in any way. My only methods of research are information available on-line, field experience, and what the individual product companies offer me. Unfortunately, I have no lab at my disposal. I am doing the best I can with what I have to work with. I appreciate you and the work you are doing!

        • Irina Webb

          So… Has the O&M hair dye by OCS been recently offered in addition to the OCS hair dye? Is that correct? I can’t find the OCS ingredients online anymore. The website is down. I see the O&M hair dye ingredients here.

          • Jenni

            OCS and O&M are two completely different color companies with different ingredients. The website you linked is that of a US distribution company that sells O&M and formerly sold OCS. O&M is out of Australia, and this is their link http://originalmineral.com/. It is confusing because this same distribution company that now goes by Simply Organic, used to go by Organic Color Systems, which is I’m sure the website you were using before. If you look closely at the actual OCS brand website here http://www.organiccoloursystems.com/home/, you will notice there is a slight difference. The distributor used the word “color” in Organic Color Systems and the actual color company uses the word “colour” in Organic Colour Systems. … and they both had/have a website by respective names. In other words, the distributor went to a lot of trouble so that you couldn’t tell the difference between them and the actual product manufacturer. I hope I am doing a sufficient job of explaining. :/ When OCS (the color company) pulled their brand from the distributor, they (the distributor) changed their name to Simply Organic, picked up O&M, and now redirect all traffic to their new site. This same distributor also goes by the name Organic Salon Systems and International Hair and Beauty Systems.

  31. Jacqui

    Jenni, based on the youtube that Christopher posted above – this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBGfAHGqpQQ here they say that it’s a safer option to use ammonia colours. What are your thoughts?

    What is the exact name of the colour brand that you are currently using as the safest option available?

    • Jenni

      Jacqui, I have to respectfully disagree with the video. While I’m no scientist, I believe that ammonia is horrible for you. My own person health improved so much when I stopped breathing it on a daily basis. My clients constantly complained of irritation in the form of itching, burning, and even rashes and scabs when I was still using color with ammonia. While I understand that a reaction could happen at any time even after a patch test or years of use, to date, my clients have had no sensitivity issues since I made the change. Many of my clients still comment how nice it is to not have to experience that discomfort. As far as the health an integrity of the hair after using it, there is no comparison. There are leagues of ammonia color out there, and while I used many over the years, I came no where near to trying them all. That being said, the color I that used most often in those days, while shiny, left hair feeling brittle and stiff, especially after repeated use. Fine hair around the hair line would color darker and damage. That is not the case with OCS. After using it for years on myself, I feel that my hair is as healthy as it has ever been. I want to be clear, however, I am not promoting OCS. I am not trying to talk someone who is trying to live clean into using it. I just believe that OCS has a product that is a little bit safer. I think… I hope that what they are doing is just the beginning because I see everyday of my work life that hair color is here to stay. Women want it. Men are wanting it more and more. For me, I am going to support companies that I believe are trying to do a better job of protecting people and the planet.

      Irina, I sent you an email with the OCS ingredient list.

  32. Jacqui

    Thanks so much for the reply Jenni! What I meant by my question ‘What is the exact name of the colour brand that you are currently using as the safest option available?’ Is it OCS or does it go by another name? One of the comments above, you were explaining all the different names that are linked to OCS – asking because I want to ask my hairdresser to buy it.
    Can you put a link here to the supplier that you get it from?

  33. janet sigler

    What do you think of the Naturtint hair color product? I would like to know if you had to pick one, which one would it be-Organic Colour Systmes or Naturtint?

    • Irina Webb

      Hi Janet:

      That’s a great question! I would love to know, too. However, it would be probably take a day’s worth of work to study both to determine that. Could you send me a list of ingredients for Naturtint? I can probably briefly take a look when I have a chance. Thanks.

  34. Cander

    Any recommendations for a more natural permanent hair color (dark brown gray coverage) that can be purchased online direct to consumer? I have read a lot of the replies above and the Organic Colour Systems appears to be for professionals only.

    I have tried Madison Reed due to the claim of being more natural; however, I have noticed way more hair falling out since using it than I did with Clairol Professional purchased at Sally Beauty!

  35. Valerie

    I didn’t get a chance to read through all the comments but I noticed quite a few about henna and I thought I’d chime in! Henna is AWESOME stuff and it absolutely can cover gray!
    So far the one place I’ve found that has top quality henna and GOBS of info, science, recipes etc is Mehandi.com.
    Take the time to browse the site (and her sister sites too, there’s like 10 of them!)
    Thank you for the research you do, have a great day!!

  36. Irina Webb

    Hi! This is Irina, the owner of the blog. I am so thrilled today because I’m sharing with you a scientific breakthrough non-toxic hair color product. This hair product differs from all the other hair dyes because instead of coloring the hair, it restores its natural color. I waited 7 months to tell you about this product because I wanted to make sure it really works. I tried it three times and with every application, the results were better. To read more, click here: https://wp.me/p3b5KF-1Lc

  37. Irina Webb

    Hi! This is Irina, the owner of the blog. Does anybody have a list of ingredients for Natulique color and shampoo? Could you please send them to me? Thank you!

    • wadrous

      Does anybody have a list of ingredients for Natulique color ?
      thanks

  38. t.w

    Does anybody have a list of ingredients for Natulique color and shampoo? Could you please send them to me? you!

  39. Jacqui

    I want to applaud your analytical abilities and determination for a no compromise approach to our health!!! One doesn’t need to posses a certificate, or a degree to use common sense when products misuse the name “Organic” or “Natural”. Dr Mercola among many write articles about this frequently and you find there will always be the ones who will justify or overlook the obvious because it “pads their pocket” for now and it displays clearly they have NOT done their homework or they wouldn’t be disputing what is so very clear. Thank you so very much for your hard work and diligence with this information, I appreciate it beyond words and have called contacted several local salons around me that use these products among others and were either shocked that some of their products contained other harsh chemicals that were swapped out for the “real harsh chemicals”, all salons were very polite, took down the information I gave them and returned my call with a professional mannerism and concern for what they may of missed or weren’t aware of….not one argued, or disputed this information, that’s a true sign of a Professional who is confident in their work but humble enough to listen….sounds like some need to take note because folks like myself can read through the bs when someone has to throw around their “Certification/label or education” I got one of them too, but I’m wise enough to listen to reason and common sense…Thank you Irina, I wholeheartedly respect your information and time given to this!!!!

    • Irina Webb

      Thank you, Jacqui, for your feedback! I am so happy to hear about the purpose of the blog being action! I also wanted to take this as an opportunity to let everybody know about my new e-book “Get Rid of Kitchen Toxins in 7 Days” or what I should have called it “7 Days to a Healthier Kitchen.” I know hair dyes are probably the toughest place to let go. I have no idea what I am going to do if I turn gray. That’s why I believe that it is important to start with places where it is easy to reduce exposure to toxins and where small changes can make a huge difference! ~Irina

  40. Lynne

    Has anyone used All Nutrient hair color? We have been using at our salon and been mostly happy with the color line. It is not organic but they have elimated some of the harmful fumes & their developer doesn’t burn most people. Just wondering what if any opinions are out there. The price point seems to be lower than most lines as well the tubes are a bit bigger than many lines.
    All Nutrient contains NO:
    Sulfates, Gluten, Parabens, Formaldehyde, MEA nor DEA, Triclosans, Propylene glycol
    Carcinogens, Phthalates, Toxic materials nor heavy metals, Pesticides, fungicides nor herbicides

  41. Cynthia

    As a hairstylist & using a color company that contains resorcinol, ppd & ammonia. I’m wondering how these ingredients can affect the nervous system? I keep coming across information on different sites that warns against these ingredients it mentions that it can effect the nervous system as one of the negative effects. Please give me any info if any.
    By the way I’m considering switching to a more safer Color Company. I find your page informative & helpful!
    Thank you!

    • Irina Webb

      Hi, Cynthia: Thank you for asking the question. There is a lot of fear-mongering information on the Internet. I try to rely on scientific studies to gauge safety. I say ‘try’ because most chemicals we use every day have no sufficient data or do not even have any health data at all, and we often have to use a proxy approach or practice a precautionary principle. I addressed short- and long-term health effects of hair dyes and much more in the Permanent Hair Color Rating list. I recommend checking it out. ~Irina

  42. Diana

    Hi Irina, do you plan on studying the contents of Original & Mineral (O&M) hair color? I’ve had no luck finding a chart comparing toxic ingredients and quantities in various hair color brands. For instance, my hairdresser has told me O&M has the least toxic ingredient quantities of all salon hair dyes on the market, but I don’t know what this means (what is considered the “average” amount? what is considered “too much”?). Years ago she used Organic Colour Systems on my hair but switched to O&M because it is PPD free. Both OCS and O&M haven’t caused any burning sensation on my scalp which was an issue with other hair colors in the past like L’Oreal Olia and Goldwell.

    • Irina Webb

      Hi, Diana: I do not think hairdressers know what they are talking about when it comes to “chemicals.” I think it might be helpful for you read the comparative study I conducted: https://ireadlabelsforyou.com/permanent-hair-color-rating-list/ If you are a blog subscriber, I can give 50% off.

      O&M is not included but it will give a broad picture perspective. If there are sufficient demand and funding, I am happy to include it in the next edition.

      Irina

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