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  1. Good day

    Which brand of dark brown hair dye (permanent or semi-permanent) would you recommend instead of OWay.

    Kind regards

  2. Could you also do an article on the “RETAIL” line? Since it does not color the hair I would assume it does not need the hair swelling active ingredients so I am very curious as to your thoughts on the actual “Take home” retail products. Thank you so much!

  3. Wow! Thank you for this amazing, comprehensive review. I only wish I had read it before I got my hair dyed, 3 days ago.
    Am now suffering from serious allergic reaction.
    I hope it helps someone else not make the mistake I did.
    When the EU says something is highly allergenic, it’s not to be taken lightly… it’s most likely bad for most.

    1. Hi, LGal! We are glad the post was helpful for you, and we are sorry to hear about the allergic reaction you are experiencing right now. If you are into coloring your hair, you will benefit from our e-book Permanent Hair Color Rating List (the updated version will be released on November 17) that among other helpful information presents safer options of hair dyes:

  4. Thank you so much for your extensive research on this topic, it is very thorough and also easy to understand for people who don’t know the functions of the different chemicals! So again, cheers to you. I had been using henna until now because I have quite a lot of white hair on my brown hair, despite being 28…(genetics and stress I guess hahaha) and I was a bit annoyed at the frequency at which I had to colour my hair (every 4 months approximately), and was thinking of going for one-way but now thanks to your article I will stick to Henna! Keep up the good work, we need you!
    All the best from Switzerland,


  5. Hi Irina,
    I want to go as natural as possible and retire Hair Print for several months and it didn’t work well with my hair and most henna products make my greys turn orange. What do you consider the best for grey/root touch up for dark brown/black hair that doesn’t look orange or too inky from the indigo.
    Thank you!

  6. Irina,
    Thanks for doing the work to dig into this! Have you looked at OWAY wave shaper, their perm solution?

  7. Hi there Irina, have you heard or know about an Australian product O&M Mineral CCT Permanent Hair Color? I would love to know your thoughts on the product and company.

    Thank you,

  8. This is very important work you are doing.
    I chose an OWay salon due to reactions I was having at my prior salon…..and attributed those earlier reactions to PPD, after much research. Scalp tingling or slightly burning and two days later….a horrible rash on my face and neck. I requested the Hnectar type of color at my new salon, since it is PPD-free. Now I have noticed the same reactions occurring that I experienced before….every other time I get my hair colored.
    In looking at their website and FB page, they are not transparent about which products are gluten-free, despite customers asking. I know a chart exists, because I have profound celiac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis (wheat=gluten) and my salon showed it to me once to insure the shampoo and conditioner I was researching were gluten-free. I just was on their website and it appears Hnectar does not have wheat but Hcolor does, so that’s a relief. But something is amiss.
    I ended up in the hospital this past weekend with sudden issues in both lungs and have to have additional medical testing, but really am wondering if this has to do with the color I received 2 days earlier. Have you heard of anyone ever having a delayed serious reaction like that?
    Thanks for your love of research and helpful spirit!

    1. I’m so sorry that you experienced this reaction, which sounds like a severe allergy. I am an OWay colorist and never recommend on the scalp color to anyone with allergies. Although HNectar is PPD free, it does utilize PTD (a cousin so to speak) which research shows to be less of a sensitizer. You would be best to not color.

      1. Thank you for your kind words. Yes, I am having thorough patch testing at NYU next month, but have decided I can no longer risk my lungs; I will be going gray. It is a tremendous feeling of a lack of control over my life (I love my chestnut brown hair), but I have now been diagnosed with interstitial lung disease and they are searching for the cause. I had a delayed hypersensitivity reaction two days after that last coloring on 9/2 with a horrible rash. It was such a bad reaction, I just can’t risk another one. Oway made my hair feel beautiful…..except for the week after coloring. Crazy what I did for beautification!

  9. Hi Irina, I am so confused as to what to use instead of what I have been using at my hair salon. My hairstylist has been using Gold well Topchic for years. I had a allergic reaction to it the last two times. My symptoms were red itchy scalp that would not go away. They were so bad that I could not stop itching. The last time I used it was four weeks ago, that was the second time. I color my hair every four weeks to cover my grays. I have been trying to find another brand that will do the same as what Gold well has done for me.I first looked into Wella Kolesten line, I am afraid they might use ammonia. They say the are PPD and PDA free. They also state that this line is good for sensitive scalps. Do they use ammonia? Since I am concern they might I have been looking into Eco colors line. I will need to have my hair dyed next week. My hairstylist told me to do some research and see what I would like to use and she will use it on me. looking forward to read you response. It seems Wella might give me the same depth in color for my hair.

  10. I am a salon owner and hairstylist/ colorist and am forever in search of a brand that is not perfectly natural or organic per say but as better ingredients then your average “Schwarzkof”. Would you say that OWAY could classify as this? I mean it has to be much better then that garbage and perhaps it is a good middle ground? Any other recommendations? Love your research and papers, thank you!

  11. Irina,

    Thank you for reaching out. Good Guide is a company that might help you to support your efforts & for others for reference. I found out there the product that ruined my hair is also hazardous: Click on product names to find out some are banned in Europe (where I am from) & Canada. Also if you click on icons, e.g. ‘Ingredient Hazards’ you will find summary.

    I am talking to lawyers now. Media will not do much because they are afraid to be sued.

    I posted a video, since image is worth 1M words:

  12. I read your article “”. I am concerned since my hair is trapped & I wonder if chemicals from the colorant are trapped as well. When we unwrapped few strains of trapped hair they were very cold. After unfolding they changed temperature to room temperature. Per this video MEA stays in hair & skin. I received a document with ingredients form Naturtint. Some of them are: in HAZARD(S) IDENTIFICATION there is a CAUTION: Contains phenylenediamines and hydrogen peroxide (I found them in your first mentioned article). As HAIR DYE – INGREDIENTS: ETHANOLAMINE (aka MEA) as I mentioned before. Is it safe to keep my hair?

    1. Katarzyna: The way permanent hair color work is that ammonia and ethanolamine help open the shaft of the hair so hair dyes penetrate inside the hair. On the hand, semi-permanent hair colors coat the hair. And yes, ethanolamine is not the only evil. There is a lot of information on my website to answer your questions. For example, you can sign up for my 5-email series to learn more: How are you doing now? ~Irina

  13. Thank you Irina. I am worse. The tense that tangled hair creates on my head causes headaches & migraines. I read ETHANOLAMINE stays in skin & hair, so even separating my hair might mean not stopping degradation process caused by chemicals. Thinning & losing hair might continue regardless. I have someone dedicated, working on my hair every evening till 3 am. We both are tired, our backs hurt. I am on the edge to make decision to shave my head.

  14. I used Naturtint. I probably will lose my hair since after applying the color & rinsing it (what I read dryers hair even more) hair tangled & created many hard cocoons placed agains my head. Hair pull my skin. My scalp hurts. After over 2 weeks of trying to untangle hair, most of it looks the same & I developed skin rash. It looks in daglocks is still substance from colorant. In a list of ingredients are ETHANOLAMINE = MEA & HYDROGEN PEROXIDE = H(2)O(2).

    Per medical research there ingredients lead to hair loss and dermatitis:

    I see the company made all possible precautions with written statements on their flyer.

    Is there any place I can report it and make others aware?

    1. Hi, Katarzyna: I am so sorry to hear about what you are going through. You could file a complaint with the FDA but as long as the warning is written on the box, they can’t do anything else. I thank you for posting about your experience here. I educate women about the potential of hair dyes. And there are a lot of comments and emails I receive from women. You can also post here where there is a bigger audience: Please let us know how you are feeling now. ~Irina

  15. Hi Irina,
    I am a salon owner and obviously like many trying to reduce the amount of chemicals we use every day. My question to you is have you looked at the “O&M”color line?
    In the salon in we rely on results. I would like to use a color line that maybe has less chemicals than what I used the last 20 years in this industry. Any thoughts on that line ?
    Thanks for your insight!


  16. Dear Irina,
    As an elderly consumer and a registered nurse I am completely confused.
    My salon has been coloring my hair with Organic Color Systems for years and I recently found out that they are not safer than anything else.
    My current stylist uses semi-permanent color.
    I wonder which would be a better choice – so called “organic” hair dye or semi-permanent color?
    Feedback please.

    1. Hi, Barbara: hair dyes are a complex issue – no wonder you are confused. Many people are. You are not alone. First, there are two major components of hair dye safety – allergic reactions and cancer. Independent studies showed permanent hair dyes that are marketed as organic and natural are NOT least likely to cause an allergic reaction. So-called natural and organic hair dyes still contain potent allergens. You are correct to switch to semi-permanent hair dye to reduce the risk of allergic reaction. However, there is a Finish study published in 2015 that found that semi-permanent hair dyes increase the risk of cancer by a higher percentage. You can read about that here: And you can read here about how to reduce the risks of allergic reactions: Does it help? What do you think? ~Irina

  17. Hello, I had a horrible experience with Tints of Nature Hair Colour. I have used over the counter dyes for over 15 years and never had a reaction. I thought this was organic and I bought it on a whim in the local health food store believing it was this premium product. I used it once October 2016, had a little tingle but thought nothing of it as they use different oils and thought maybe rosemary or peppermint. I looked great and life was grand. I used again January 2017 and did not have any indication of any sort of reaction or problem. Life as usual. I had never heard of hair dye reactions before this. Within approximately 2 WEEKS I became deathly ill with severe flu like symptoms, went to my doctor was prescribed antibiotics and sent home. Within the next week my head was on fire and my hair started coming out in chunks 3 weeks AFTER USE!! I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what was going on and frantically ran from doctor to doctor, back and forth from health food store to health food store looking for relief and answers. No one had any. It was a total nightmare and by the end of 8 weeks I had lost most of my hair and was in excruciating pain. The hair kept falling out for over 5 months. I finally had a patch test and tested positive for PPD and Nickel. My body went into total shock, I think I was walking dead. My eyes even had lightning bolts, vision blurred, dizziness, memory loss, ringing ears, Asthma, fever, sweats and my head was zinging. Even the hair stopped growing on my body and it went into shock. This went on for months! After many emails to Organic Colouring Systems and many doctor visits, I finally got a reply from Tints of Nature Customer service and the director scheduled a call with me. He was sympatric and offered The REP Hair Follicle strengthening System product Free to grow my hair back. I was desperate for help and wanted to believe in the product. I was almost bald. I tried it for 3 months , a strict regiment, everyday with hopes my hair would sprout and follicles would produce. Long story short it’s now been 13 months and I still have a sore scalp and my hair is damaged and so very very thin. I have had months of steroid injections and now I finally gave in to Minoxidil. I am scared to death but doctors are so in their medical own world and really have no clue how bad this chemical is or affected my health. One trip to Vitamin cottage and Sprouts changed my life. Beware, don’t trust products with pretty organic packaging available in health food stores. It can be deadly.
    I use to use chopsticks on top of my head and now I use a little baby clip. I wonder if the Red Clove or Capixl had anything to do with it not growing and continued hair loss? There is a lot of talk about the ingredients in Monet and I find them similar. I would share photo’s as it was horrendous and embarrassing. The last Doctor said I would have NEVER reacted to a 24 hour patch test because my reaction was DELAYED FOR WEEKS. He said there must have been HIGH amounts of PPD or another chemical that cause such catastrophic damage. I am sick over this and now worried about this product I was lead to believe would heal me and grow my hair, so being trustworthy I tried it. Do you know if they are the same ingredients Monet and REP-HAIR? I can’t figure out why I still suffer and have grass hair.
    Beware patch test don’t always work. Everyone’s body reacts different. I had a very strong immune system or I probably would be dead. My reaction was over 2 WEEKS after using Tints of Nature Dye. It changed my quality of life and ruined my health and hair. TEST before using does not always work. I am living proof!!

    1. Dear Lori: I am so sorry to learn of your injury. But I am glad you use this experience an opportunity to educate and warn others. This is exactly right. Scientists tell us that patch tests are not based on science and can’t prevent injury. And an allergic reaction can happen to the same product after repeated use. That’s the definition of sensitization. In other words, you can use the same brand for years without a problem but that does not mean that at some point you will not have a reaction to it. I have been researching hair coloring products for the past 4 years. The FDA is powerless and openly admits it. This is what the FDA states on their website “FDA’s ability to take action against coal-tar hair dyes associated with safety concerns is limited by law. It’s important to follow the directions on the label. It is also important to be an informed consumer and understand the risks.” After I learned that, I started reading everything the Scientific Committee on Consumer Products has to say and all scientific journals, as well surveying hair color manufacturers so I can publish my finding to help you guys can become informed consumers and save time. All of you can learn how to reduce your risks in my Permanent Hair Color Rating List ebook and in my FREE 5-Day Hair Color Email Course. Let me know how I can help. ~Irina

  18. Hair print is a vegetable dye. I knew it had to be a dye, making is sound as though it is replacing the browns in the hair is kinda a play on words. I just read ALL the ingredients and it has well known herbal dyes in it.

    1. Hi, Maribeth: I will add this to my long to-do list. Alternatively, you can sponsor a blog post, if you are interested in learning about it sooner. Maybe you know others who might be interested. ~Irina

    2. OWAY is a groundbreaking company. The HNectar hair color is their newest professional hair color, preceded by Hcolor. HNectar is formulated to plump and condition the hair. It is without PPD or Resorcinol, which are very common allergens. It does contain alternative pigments which may still cause sensitivity, but the ACTIVE holistic proprietary ingredients are meant to soothe and protect and rejuvenate the scalp and hair during the coloring treatment. This is THE SAFEST permanent professional hair color I have researched in 10 years.

      1. No offense, Tony, but let me ask you this. How do you know that Hcolor is the safest permanent professional hair color? In order for me to arrive at this conclusion, I need to study every ingredient for safety by reading independent safety studies and then compare multiple brands against each other to see which brand uses the safest ingredients. I use a spreadsheet-based rating model that I created for this. And you can access to it here: Have you looked at the actual ingredients as well? ~Irina

      2. Hi Irina. Let me first agree with your original statement that no permanent hair color is entirely natural, albight pure henna. I have studied the both the ingredients list and formulations of OWAY compared to Aveda, Natulique, Kevin Murphy Color.Me, Kemon YoColor, L’Oréal Innnoa, Wella Koleston, Goldwell Topchic, Redken Color Gels, Schwarzkopf Igora and Essensity, and Matrix Socolor and Color Insider. The basic formulations are quite similar, however what sets OWAY apart is the high percentage of naturally derived low/no toxicity emulsiphying, conditioning, and preservative elements along with what I call the “active holistic ingredients” which comprise a base in which the synthetic (lowest percentages necessary) pigments live. The intent being to defensively approach the coloring process vs counterbalancing sensitizers and toxins in a formula. I’m old school so I took about a week with pad and paper. Lol. I’m a professional and I take my responsibility very seriously. I encourage clients concerned about sensitivity to embrace their natural hair, and I honestly provide the disclaimer that anyone with a pigment allergy should never color. I do endorse OWAY based on a lot of my own personal investigation for those clients who choose to color. Thank you for providing a fair forum. Blessings, Tonya

        1. Hi, Tony:

          I am glad you are doing your homework and provide the disclaimer. I have seen any proof that some “holistic” ingredients in a hair color formulation can “counterbalance” sensitizers. They can “coat” the hair to hide the damage. Has the OWAY company done any clinical studies to prove the efficiency of their “holistic” ingredients? Thanks. ~Irina

  19. Sara, your experience sounds nothing like mine or any of the other 30 plus stylists I met at a Training with Simply Organic Beauty. I stand with the Oesy brand as THE BEST OPTION compared to ALL other ingredient lists. I find the company and distributor to be open communicative and transparent.

  20. I truly appreciate this article & the research you’ve done!! I’ve been a hairstylist for 18 years, and have been made aware of how toxic most beauty & personal care products are in the last few years. (As well as our food & environment & medications, etc, etc.) I’ve been wanting to switch to a less toxic haircolor line, for my own health & my clients’. I ordered a starter kit of Oway Hcolor without looking at an actual ingredients list. I believed all the claims they made on their site. I was disappointed & upset at some of the toxic chemicals that are in their color & developer. Yes, they do have some good, organic ingredients. But how much does that really help? And is it worth paying more for their color, & the inconvenience of having to order it online & pay shipping? Rather than the ease of buying conventional color at the local beauty supply for less money. I’ve only tried the color once, & it didn’t cover gray. I called the company & they said to mix in hplus pigment additive & measure differently & buy their color scale. I was annoyed that they didn’t tell me I needed those things when I ordered my kit, after I very specifically mentioned the need for gray coverage. I lost steam, & it’s taken me 6 months to get answers to my questions via email with Simply Organic, & get a list of ingredients in all their shampoo/cond & styling products. (As I would like to find a non-toxic styling line that yields professional results.) I’m still going to order those few items for gray coverage & experiment more with using Oway color. If there are less harsh fumes & less scalp irritation than my conventional color, then it might be worth switching. Even though I think they could clean up their ingredients even more, & not be so deceptive with their advertising. They definitely are “greenwashing” their consumers into thinking there’s nothing toxic about their hair color. I saw an ad Simply Organic sponsored on fb today called Holistic Hairdressing, with a link to an article talking themselves up about how non-toxic their stuff is. Just at a glance at Oway’s styling product ingredients, I noticed most had these chemicals in them (amongst others):
    METHYLISOTHIAZOLINONE (preservative, allergen, skin irritant)
    DIMETHICONE (silicone, organ system toxicity, environmental toxin)
    CYCLOPENTASILOXANE (silicone, bioaccumualtes in body & wildlife, organ system toxicity, endocrine disruption)
    SULFATES (harsh on dry or color treated hair)
    PROPYLENE GLYCOL (allergen, skin irritant)
    PARFUM (supposedly from essential oils, but potential undisclosed toxic chemicals)
    It’s frustrating that companies like Oway play off people’s emotions with warm-fuzzy buzzwords, rather than being purists & having true integrity in their mission & advertising. I like what Oway is attempting to do. But they do need to be called out for half-assing it. The non-toxic health movement expects more. I don’t agree with those saying not to criticize them, because they are being misleading.
    Thankyou again for your post!!

  21. Irina thank you for your commitment and research into products. I recommend your site often. Your OWay review is accurate in saying the haircolor is not without possible allergens, but I’m disappointed that the tone is more accusatory than explanatory. I have continued my own research after reading your review and do find this professional haircolor to be a much improved upon formula compared to its counterparts. I totally agree that consumer education is a must. In fact, hairstylists need to be more committed to their knowledge of ingredients. Sadly, the necessary evils of efficient and effective permanent haircolor are 1) an alkalinizing agent & 2) pigment.

    The innovation of OWay haircolor is that the MEA offers no harsh smell, as it is oil based, not gaseous like ammonia. The “active” holistic ingredients, when researched, offer proven medicinal benefits including anti inflammatory, anti bacterial, anti carcinogenic, inhibited skin absorption and ph buffering. The synergy of the ingredients working in high concentrations is meant to lessen any risk of sensitivity for the client. The FDA does require ingredients be listed in descending order, therefore where the pigments show up on the label matters too. OWay has many variable pigments, thus allowing lower concentrations of each, in order to not sensitize the client. And ALL holistic ingredients precede any pigments. I have not found another ingredient list similar. Indeed, anyone looking for 100% non toxic ingredients will not find it in professional haircolor. However, the honesty, integrity, and transparency of the US distributor Simply Organic Beauty and OWay deserve major cudo’s for raising the bar in an effective effort to improve what is available in the professional haircolor market. Thank you.

  22. My hairdresser used Oway color on me and I had a serious allergic reaction. Welts and encrusted sores in multiple places on my head. I do have an allergy to hair dye, so she has used other products in the past, making sure the dye did not touch my scalp. But the Oway product is runnier and dripped onto my scalp. This happened three times before I even knew she had switched products.
    My hairdresser is going to go back to a L’Oreal product that she used on me before, so hopefully, that will work okay. But my experience with Oway was a very bad one

    1. Hi Ann,

      I’m very sorry for your experience. I am a professional and do not take allergies lightly at all. I would stay off scalp with any haircolor! OWay, when mixed properly is actually quite thick. Which I have liked. The Active Holistic Ingredients are in high concentrations, thus listed ahead of the necessary pigments, therefor offering anti inflammatory, conditioning, and inhibited skin absorption. Sadly, once immunity is broken the client is always at risk. Blessings to you.

    2. hi there,
      ouch firstly, I use Oway on my clients. I have never seen it runny. It actually is quite thick. Maybe she was not using both color and developer that comes from Oway. It just doesn’t add up:(

      1. That’s the fault of a poor hairstylist not the product itself, she should have notified you that she was changing brands, skin tested you to ensure that it was safe to use on you, known that HColor was a PPD based colour and realised that this may be a problem if you have allergies. I would change salons as well as hair colourant!

  23. Hi 🙂

    I see that you recommend HairPrint above all as the safest way to go for hair color, but would you please let me know what you’d recommend as the #2 and #3 spots for hair color? Or do you feel only HairPrint is best to use and no other brand?

  24. Miss Irina. Hello again. I found the ingredients list you were looking for the All Nutrient “organic hair color.”
    I got my stylist friend to buy a tube and take a picture of the box for me
    Remember what I said about sneaky companies who add the “may contain” note when in fact all of their color contains these ingredients or it wouldnt work. Awaiting your thoughts

    1. Hi, Adam: thank you for sending this over. It is challenging for me to input these ingredients into my rating model because I can’t copy and paste them. Any thoughts as to how I can copy and paste? As for “may contain,” the reason companies do that is that which colorants and percentages of colorants vary depending on a shade. So “may contain” list is a master list of all colorants used by the brand. Does it make sense? When I rate different brands, I compare master lists; otherwise, it is impossible to compare all 50 shades each brand may have. As for MSDS and the percentages of colorants, no hair dye company will ever disclose that. At the most, some disclose PPD amounts. But it is not extremely helpful because we do not really know at which concentration you will have an allergic reaction. Thank you, Adam, for helping out with this enormous undertaking. I believe more of us start asking question, eventually they will have to disclose more information and eventually make safer products. Together we can change the beauty industry. ~Irina

  25. Yes, let’s please be civil to each other. If we can’t have civility on a web site dedicated to “clean” products, then we have no hope of ever being able to discuss politics or religion in a civil manner. Let’s practice here for the more highly charged issues. Let’s discuss the issues using facts and knowledge and try to enlighten each other in a wise and gentle way. Thanks!

  26. just because someone can read a label or write a blog doesn’t meant they have the knowledge or expertise to actually understand what they are actually talking about. Anyone can go on and break down ingredients ,but if they are not a chemist or a hairstylist they will not know what they are talking about. As a hairstylist professional we don’t call color “hair dye”. I hav been in this industry for 26 years and Oway is the best and cleanest hair color in this industry. I have also used hairprint on 2 clients and on both of them ,the gray was no covered. This product is not a reliable product to be used by any “professional”. If you are a sheeple than by all means go ahead and believe this nonsense, but remember, the person who wrote this article has no knowledge as a chemist or hairstylist, and the only thing they are using as their knowledge or defense is they can read a label. I learned how to read and write in elementary school, so is that something you would base your opinion on. Please, anybody can read a label

    1. Hi, Johnny! Let’s stop the insults, will you? I am sure if you met me in person, you would not talk to me this way. I was just on the All Nutrient website and they say, “All-Nutrient® Permanent Cream Haircolor uses the healthiest, most natural ingredients known to exist, nurturing each strand with the nutrients it needs and none of the chemicals it doesn’t. From the roots of the Amazon rainforest to the roots of your hair, it is the perfect solution for today’s organic and green demands.” Here is a question for you. As a hair stylist with 26 years of experience, how do you know that OWAY is the cleanest hair color in the industry. Thanks! ~Irina

      1. Irina,
        Just out of curiosity, have you requested a full ingredients list from All-Nutrient? I’d be curious to see theirs side by side with Oway. Also, for curiosity’s sake, have you ever had your hair colored with Oway, or are you purely basing your opinion off of an ingredients list? Thank you!

        1. Hi, Zoe:

          I have called All-Nutrient but they disclose ingredients only to hairstylists (which I believe is illegal). In fact, I have been curious too to look side by side at the ingredients of OWAY, All-Nutrient, Madison Reed, Naturlique, Herbatint, Eco Colors, etc. They all claim that they are the most natural and the most organic and the safest in the industry. Unfortunately, some of these brands do not disclose ingredients to the public. What I am going to do is by looking ingredients and scientific data figure out which of this brands are in fact safer than others. They all have to contain oxidative dyes and an alkaline agent, whether it is ammonia or ethanolamine, and hydrogen peroxide as a developer. If anyone can get me ingredients for ALl-Nutrient color and developer and OWAY developer, it would be very helpful. Thanks! ~Irina

          1. Hi, Adam:

            well… What can say? I have 4 articles on my website where I try to help people not fall pray to false advertising done by so called organic or natural hair color companies. In my experience of reading labels and helping people understand if marketing claims are truthful, hair color companies are the worst. I spent hours and hours getting ingredients from hair color companies. Here is something funny. Naturlique does not disclose ingredients to US consumers but they do to European ones. I got a full list of ingredients from their European website. Anyway, I am coming out with Hair Color Rating List that will have 9 brands: 2 conventional and 7 so called organic or natural. Among other things I base my rating on sensitization tests done by European Consumer Commission. Talk soon. ~Irina

          2. That sounds awesome! The thing is you won’t be able to do a good analysis of that unless you have the percentages of ingredients in each product. Companies have the percentage breakdown on their MSDS sheets, so ask for those. Not the ingredients list, as the MSDS sheets are much more telling. The ingredients lists for professional products aren’t regulated either, so just looking at ascending and descending order won’t be able to tell you the percentages or what it has the most of. Also a few of the companies you mentioned do something sneaky… the bad ingredients they add at the bottom of the box (outside of the ingredients lists) and say things like “May contain.” When in fact, they obviously have to have those ingredients (like certain dye molecules). I wouldn’t just read labels, you need to read MSDS sheets and lab reports to really be giving the best recommendation. I commend you for your efforts and look forward to seeing the MSDS sheets along with your studies. Don’t let the companies fool you either… they HAVE To have MSDS sheets… it’s illegal for them not to.

  27. I appreciate your article Irina. I am a stylist trying desperately to convert to a more natural hair color system. I have very recently started working with O&M color and am advertising it as one of the most natural color lines on the market today. I realize that it is not 100% organic and make sure my clients know that as well. I agree with what Jessica said completely. It is very difficult to balance performance in a color line while also working toward a more natural or organic approach. I think most of my clients would agree that when it comes to covering grey hair, performance wins out. That is a choice they should be free to make. I am very happy to know that there is more awareness every day about the products we are all exposed to. I am proud of the product lines listed above ie: Honest, Oway, O&M etc. that they strive every day for improvements to maintain integrity and exceed expectations. I will continue to use O&M. thank you for your valuable information ladies.

    1. Hi, Lara: I understand that beauty is important and as a business owner delivering consistent and reliable results is crucial. 🙂 But here is my question. How do you actually know that OWAY is safer than Naturlique or Organic Color Systems or Madison Reed or Eco Colors or Organic Pure Care or Herbatint or any other hair color? What do you look for to say that this particular hair color is one of the most natural and the most organic hair color? Thanks! ~Irina

      1. Irina,
        I’m also a stylist who works with O&M permanent hair color. I understand and very much appreciate your mission here on this blog. I am also very frustrated with the way manufacturers of varied products use words like, “natural” and “organic” to lure in consumers that are “semi-conscious” of harmful ingredients because, I believe, that over time that tactic degrades the public trust in products that ARE actually better for you.

        With that said, I’m also concerned that this post does something even more damaging; discourage people away from products that do have far fewer toxic ingredients, even though they’re not perfectly natural, because you feel the company should be punished for their marketing tactics.. To the people who really do their homework, we know to read ingredients and ignore the words on the label. And, perhaps I’m wrong, but I think your audience is made up more of the ingredient-readers and less the semi-conscious types.

        I also use HairPrint on a couple of my clients and I have about a 20% success rate with covering (more, “staining”) the grey hair. I really wish HairPrint would do three things (and I’ve emailed them about this): ease up on the material used for packaging, and/or begin to make colorist-friendly sized quantities,, and improve their product so that it is works consistently and predictably. I would have to charge somewhere near $400 for a one-step color to offset the re-do’s and refunds that using this product exclusively would require.

        You are right in one of the above posts: permanent hair color cannot be all natural. Permanently altering the hue of your hair requires a chemical reaction and chemical reactions require chemicals. Most all of my real-life clients understand that and use reason to decide that a product line that contains 4 or 5 toxic ingredients would probably be better for them than one that contains 30 to 50 of them.

        1. Hi, Barry: thank you for your thoughtful feedback. Here is a question for you. How do you know that OWAY “do[es] have far fewer toxic ingredients.” I entered in the spreadsheet side by side the ingredients of 9 different hair color brands and according to my study, OWAY did NOT have fewer toxic chemicals. You can see my study here: Also, from the emails and comments I receive daily I know that some people including hairdressers believe that OWAY is truly organic. And because of that, they tend not follow FDA safety instructions. Some people lose hair. Some people lose lives. Some allergic reactions can be deadly. Read newspapers. ~Irina

  28. Thanks, Irina. Appreciate your help. Would love to hear from customers of Green Hare who are grey and currently use all over color.

    1. My client asked if I could get this in for her hair and I ordered it. She came in and was not too impressed. She had purchased a few other brands from our health foods store and those were junk for her brunette hair, this was better than most box brands from that store but did not have the grey coverage expected. The coloring was more of just a tint rather than a full color. The color seemed to fade pretty quickly and that was also with the use of color protection hair baths and masks.

    1. Hi, Karen and Natalia! I emailed Green Hare and their products look good. Each color is a blend of different plant powders including henna, indigo, green tea, turmeric, and lot of others. No chemicals are used. They say that it should cover gray. If anybody uses Green Hare, let us know you like it. ~Irina

  29. Irina, wow. You didn’t do enough research on this one! Like Jessica said, this company full discloses they aren’t 100% natural or organic. In fact, they have a HUGE article about what their color is and is NOT. It’s not even in their name! Having the word organic in your description when it talks about your ingredients isn’t misleading – you’re condemning good companies and brands that make a true effort to clean up chemicals in the salon industry. I mean C’MON – if they were hiding the ingredients, they wouldn’t have sent you A COMPLETE LIST. Also, way to completely discredit yourself by plugging in Hair Print with your affiliate link attached. Most won’t realize this… but she is GETTING PAID every time you buy something from the Hairprint site she just recommended… shame, shame.

    1. Hi Tina, Jessa, and Jessica! Thanks for your comments.

      In my experience, as consumers, we are growing more aware of how we can be harmed by products. As a result, demand for safe (and safer) products is on the rise, and companies are responding. And this is great news!

      Unfortunately, some beauty product companies use words and phrases like “organic,” “natural,” “naturally-derived,” “farm to chair,” “paraben-free,” and “ammonia-free,” which do not mean much, in an attempt to convey a feeling of safety to consumers. Almost every day, I receive comments or emails from people who have fallen pray to words and phrases like these. Often, it is because they switched from “conventional” to a so-called “organic” or “natural” permanent hair dye, for which they had paid a premium price, believing that it was safe. Then, they had a terrible allergic reaction, sometimes so bad that they had to go to the hospital. If you think I am exaggerating, go read comments to Organic Color Systems and Madison Reed articles and think about those people. As hairdressers, I hope you guys do a patch test on your clients every time before dyeing their hair. Please read the FDA safety regulations here.

      When I go to sleep, I think about those people who I educated about how chemical permanent hair dyes are made, who I warned, and who I saved from a trip to the hospital. I think about babies whose mothers waited to use so called “organic” or “natural” permanent hair dye while pregnant so the babies were not exposed to more chemicals even before they were born.

      In reality, permanent hair dyes CANNOT be safe. Because permanent hair dyes are not agricultural products, they CANNOT be organic, by definition. Because permanent hair dyes’ ingredients are derived in multi-step chemical processes, they CANNOT be naturally derived.

      You can improve a permanent hair dye as much as you want, but in order to do its job, it has to remain toxic. That’s like spraying organic essential oils instead of synthetic perfume on a dangerous beast and calling the beast tame and safe. Even without synthetic perfume, it is still a dangerous beast.

      I am proud of being an ambassador of change. Previous generations were thrilled to hear that companies started making products “natural” and “organic.” But a new generation of savvy consumers is asking questions. What makes a product natural? What makes a product organic? How are the products made? Is this product safe?

      In my opinion, calling a product “organic” (as Organic Way does in its very name) is misleading consumers into thinking that it is safe. In my opinion, it’s not, and it isn’t something I can recommend to the thousands of people who read this blog and trust my judgment.

      For those people who do trust me, I recommend they try Hairprint. Hairprint does not work for everybody. But it works for a lot of people. (Please read the comments to the Hairprint article.) I hope you two will use it in your salons, too. I think your clients will be happily surprised.

      To support my blog and mission please consider using my affiliate link when you make your purchases. You can do that here. Thanks!

  30. What is funny about this brand is that they are open about not being 100% natural and organic, yet. If you have actually monitored their products, you would see that they are slowly but surly finding suitable replacements for their synthetic ingredients. I have used OWay since they first launched here in the US and their formulas have changed. Simply Organic ditched OCS due to the fact that they would not change. They sell O&M and Oway which agreed to adjust their formulas and make improvements. I’d say any brand that is making strides for change is worth sticking up for. I have used Aveda which had that same principle of health until being sold out to Este Lauder, now their ingredients are like a LANZA or even RUSK in an eco friendly bottle. From a marketing perspective, they picked a name they could grow with. What is really sad…I have clients all the time trying to sell essential oils and slamming how unhealthy other brands are, but then they talk about eating at McDonalds and Burger King. If you truly know what healthy living is, you wouldnt color your hair in the first place. Going in to Whole Foods and buying some box dye isnt any better. I am a big supporter of Non-GMO and eating Organic but just because something is sourced from an organic source, does not mean it is healthier. Where is cocaine sourced from? It is important to take a look at the chemical constituents in everything. If you want 100% natural and organic hair products, make them yourself or learn the facts on why you get gray in the first place. Lets take a look at the Honest Company, who abides by the same concept. Over a year ago, they were sued because they had claims that they are not as natural as advertised. Jessica Alba comes back and stated that their products are not 100% natural…yet. My final brand to compare, Base Performance. I have used them when working out and noticed they were using sucralose as a sweetener. Before getting upset and abandoning them, I spoke to them about the negative affects of that artificial sweetener on the gut bacteria. Six months later, they changed their formula to include stevia over “splenda”. Informing people about products is one thing, but telling people half the truth is the same thing as telling a whole lie (which violates your principles of this site, right?). The goal should be to help brands rather than bring them down.

    1. This is the most well said reply. Irons , please understand that nothing that u put on your face, hair, body etc is 100% natural. You would need to refrigerate your product and expect it go off within days .

      These companies and there are many now , try there best and are forever changing there ingredients as soon as a solution becomes available . If you compare OWAY , Aveda, KEILS, AND so on to L’oreal, wella etc customers are getting a lot more benefits using company that strive to be green . Leave them alone.

  31. The outright lies and lack of ethics in this company’s promotional materials makes me sick. The average consumer does not care about organic products (or can’t afford them), the above-average consumer does care but believes labels are truthful. It takes an exceptional person such as yourself to go so far above-and-beyond what a normal person can reasonably try to understand across all of these products. I’m so grateful for your passion, integrity and dedication to informing people about what they are really using. I’m depressed that it’s such an uphill battle. Thank you, Irina, for continuing to fight this fight!

  32. You are simply awesome!!!
    Thank you so much for the 411. Our children need to know more and more about all of this trickery….their very lives depend on it!

  33. I always wondered about the ingredients in hair dyes or the ones in the salon places! I wanted an eco-friendly, healthier, better, harmless, and natural version for diy, loved ones, health research, beauty care, and everyday usage! The hair color contains perilla, cotton, date, hibiscus, jojoba, and wheat is too interesting and resourceful for anyone however I am delighted to know besides using vinegar, aloe vera, and baking soda as a natural remedies for my hair! What is exactly is perilla? I know where to get cotton, date, hibiscus flowers, jojoba, and wheat thou from local shops and the nearest stores where the state I am at. But has anyone else tried this particular product or used the six ingredients mixed, on another website or specialist whom does want things naturally and tested safely? Thank you for taking the time of this article and hopefully you can help with my dark-colored hair naturally. <3

  34. Irina, thank you for all the good work you do on our behalf. This article is very important, and should be on the front page of the newspaper, or one of those FB boxes!

  35. Clearly these O Way hair dye and Simply Organic dye are not safe. The question I have is are they safer than other less “natural” dyes. To put this another way, are these the lessor of hair dye evils? I know this may seem like a ridiculous question to you but I am still interested in your answer. Thank you.

    1. Hi Karen: I can just see how much frustration and hope are built into your question. 🙂 Generally, semi-permanent hair colors are a little safer… I guess the ones that do not use synthetic fragrance and safer preservatives might be better. I did not find any chemical hair color that I deem to be significantly better. I use Hairprint, which is something different. Did you read my article about Hairprint? What do you think? ~Irina

      1. Hi Irina,

        I did read about Hairprint and will try it even though I am not the best candidate. I am 100% grey and use all over color. From what I read in your blog on Hairprint and the comments, it’s not as successful on people who are all grey. I have contacted the company and am waiting for them to come out with their line of shampoos and conditioners as it seems there are a lot of ingredients, even in quality shampoos/conditioners, that prevent Hairprint from working. Since Hairprint could not recommend any shampoos/conditioners and they said their products would come out this summer, I think it makes sense to wait. Even with the right shampoo/conditioner, I am concerned about styling my hair as most styling products that reduce frizz have dimethicone which also will prevent Hairprint from working. I think the winter time when there is less humidity will be the best time to tackle this. When I give it a try, I will let you know how it works.

        In the meantime, I am wondering if it makes sense to pay extra money for O Way or Simply Organic or should I just revert back to the cheaper brands.

        Thanks for the work you do. It’s tedious but appreciated and so important.

        1. Hi Karen: Thank you for your comment. At some point, I should probably create a rating list of hair dyes… I am leaning towards saying that it is NOT worth paying extra for so called organic hair dyes. Yes, they might have a few certified organic ingredients but considering their deceiving marketing practices, I would be reluctant to support them with your dollars. ~Irina

          1. Irina, I would love to see that list!
            I’ve been using naturcolor for a while ($15 at WF), it does contain PPD and aminophenol, but at least it doesn’t have resorcinol ;/
            I’ve tried hairprint and have mixed feelings about it.

          2. have you heard of Green hare?

            it would be interesting to see how brands that claim to be natural and organic stack up against each other. And maybe add one of two regular brands (like l’oreal or clairol)
            here are the most popular “natural” ones:
            herbaceuticals naturcolor
            light mountain
            aubrey color me natural

            I’ve actually researched and tried most of these.

            There’s also a ton of henna products, but I guess these ones are the safest.

          3. Hi, Natalia! It looks like Light Mountain and Aubrey are henna products. Naturtint might be, too… Right? I am thinking to rate permanent hair dyes against each other. And then have henna type of products in a separate list. Green hare looks like an herbal product, too. I am going to email them for a full list of ingredients. Thanks!!! ~Irina

          4. Hi Irina, good job on creating this site. I use light mountain naturals and it says USDA organic. The ingredients seem to look plant based and natural. Is this a good product? I have used it 3 times and have not noticed any problems. I do use OWAY shampoo and conditioner but it looks like your review is of the OWAY hair color NOT the shampoo and conditioners right?

          5. Light Mountain is henna/indigo powder, right? So it is a totally different product. Yes, it should be safe. As for OWAY shampoo/conditioner, they used to be included in my Shampoo and Conditioner Rating List ebooks but I removed them when I decided to leave only safer products on the lists. OWAY shampoo and conditioner did not rate well at all. ~Irina

    2. I can tell you from having first hand experience with having been to the manufacturing plant and the OWAY farm in Italy, that this line of products have the highest ethical standards and ingredients than any other line in the world.
      The land where the biodynamic ingredients are grown is not touched by any chemical and even hand planted and hand harvested, no tractors or machinery so that the purity of the plants stay chemical free. I also have witnessed multiple ppl regain their hair back full and shiny from using Oway products. In my 22 years as a stylist it is hands down the best and cleanest ingredients available there is.

      1. Readers, I received the above comment, as well as an e-mail from the same person. In the e-mail, she said very much the same thing, and offered to put me in touch with their ingredient and technical support specialist. I’m not sure what that means, as she said “our” ingredient and technical support specialist,” but she appears to be a hair stylist and not someone from OWAY, so I don’t know. I encouraged her to have the person e-mail me to set up a call, and I will report back following any call that takes place, assuming it is from someone at OWAY, as I’m not even sure if the person with whom she wants me to speak is from OWAY or is from her salon.

        I’m pretty sure the outcome of any call will be that they have not re-formulated their products, and so I will be standing by the article and my opinions above. However, I have an open mind, and just want you all to have the best information. Jennifer seems to misunderstand the point of the article; she says that the organic ingredients are great. I can’t agree more. However, only 6 out of 40 ingredients are organic. 34 ingredients, including synthetic hair dyes themselves, such as PPD are not qualified to be certified organic because they are not agricultural products. By definition, no permanent hair dye can be certified organic. Thus, it is misleading to use the word organic to describe a permanent hair dye. According to the National Organic Program by the USDA, in order to be certified organic, a product has to contain at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients (excluding water and salt). In fact, the USDA states that, “Any cosmetic, body care product, or personal care product that does not meet the production, handling, processing, labeling, and certification standards described above, may not state, imply, or convey in any way that the product is USDA-certified organic or meets the USDA organic standards.

        This comment is typical of a fair amount of comments and e-mails I get from hair stylists. They seem to be making a lot of money off this product. On the other hand, I receive emails and comments from people who suffered terrible allergic reactions to permanent hair dye so I do everything I can to help my readers make informed decisions. ~Irina

        1. To point out to your comment “they seem to be making a lot of money off this product”. I can understand why you would say that , however from a stylist who has beat cancer and am truly looking for a healthy way to create long lasting beautiful color I know from using this product on EXTREMELY sensitive clients that it is amazing. I would do a persons hair at no cost to have them experience the difference.
          Obviously you know your stuff. I took your words into consideration before using Oway at my salon. However I am so thankful that I decided to walk with my intuition. After 26 years of being a stylist I have worked with many hair products. The shampoo and Conditioner is amazing. You literally can feel the difference in your hair, you smell the purity of it. I am not sure how to word it.
          I am thankful for your work as well. I just wanted to put it out there that not every stylist is a gold digger. We actually care about the well being of our clients and ourselves.
          Have a blessed day

    3. I loved your article. I recently went to an Oway salon and had my fragile fine hair coloured and highlighted. I was told that my hair would not be compromised and the ingredients are all natural. I was assured that no bleach was used. A few days later I inquired about what ingredients lightened my hair. I was given a list and ammonium Persulfate and potassium Persulfate were listed as part of the ingredients. In researching these ingredients I realized that the are bleaching agents and can be harmful. I
      brought this to the attention to the salon owner who still stands by the products and claims that the products are made naturally and there is no breakage to the hair like real bleach. Could you please let me know if you had analyzed the Oway hair lightening products and your thoughts about the lightening agents used in the “bleach.” I feel deceived and misled

      1. Hello Talia, thank you for your interest in our opinion! We believe that there is no safe permanent hair color. All permanent hair colors work in the same way, and there is no need to compare them to bleach or anything else. A permanent hair color cannot be “natural”. Can it contain naturally-derived ingredients, like extracts and oils? Yes, it can. Do these ingredients do the job of coloring? No, they don’t because they can’t. What kind of ingredients in a permanent hair color do the job of stripping your hair of its natural color and then coloring it into a different one? Chemical dyes, many of which are sensitizers of various degree and are even associated with endocrine disruption and cancer. What can you do if you still want to keep coloring your hair? You can choose a safer option with fewer sensitizers. How do you know which hair color is safer? You can do your research on every ingredient of every hair color you would like to try and then compare them one by one. Alternatively, you can purchase our Permanent Hair Color Rating List E-Book which is the fruit of our many-hour work of studying the ingredients and comparing the permanent hair colors to save your time. Or, if you feel like talking it out, you can book our consultation service here:

  36. These posts are critical for us consumers to understand how products are formulated to work as stated. Common sense dictates that if a patch test is required then things are not as they seem on the front of the box. Its the same with the so called natural permanent hair dyes at Whole Foods too. The marketing would have us believe we can eat the stuff. You are doing amazing work.

      1. I am looking to offer a better, safer product to my salon customers. Have you found anything other then henna that is truly natural?


        1. I have been extremely happy with Mehandi Henna products. They also have Indigo for black hair, and Cassia, which I use to brighten my hair in between Henna. Of course, I’m already a redhead, so as I age this just helps me look younger. Mehandi has a wonderful product to remove chemicals from your hair before you add henna, which will go a long way towards preventing looking like a cartoon character.

          Thank you so much Melanie for this information. I was going to occasionally use Oway color for my hair. Think I’ll stick with henna!

          Excellent information!