Thursday, November 19, 2009

More on Innovative Approaches to Hair Care: Ochres, non toxic natural stains

This post has been updated 01/01/2014, links only.

There are natural clays that have staining abilities and staying power as pigments. One of these is ochre, which comes in a variety of colours. The pigment is from iron oxides, which are considered to be non-toxic. Iron oxides are used in many cosmetics, including shampoos, conditioners and conventional hair dyes, as well as being used in make-up. There are cautions about inhaling iron oxide dust.

Cosmetic grade iron oxides or cosmetic grade ochres could be used in a paste form with water to deepen the stain and a small amount of a semi-drying oil added, or in a liquid form, (the powder soaked in water to release stain) strained and then applied to hair. Drying oils are used with iron oxides for painting and other applications to make them more resilient. Drying oils can be problematic for hair though, making it difficult to manage and tangle, stressing it, if they are used often and can be hard to remove from the hair without clarifying.

How permanent are such stains? That depends in part on the tap water one uses. Hair can absorb both iron and copper from water and cosmetic products and the stains from either (copper can stain hair green) can be hard to remove. They are not just on the surface of the hair. Do not attempt to use a peroxide containing dye to cover them as peroxide reacts with iron and copper, to create free radicals that cause hair damage.

Coconut and argan oils can chelate iron and copper. I suggest trying a heavy oiling with coconut oil, with argan oil added on top of it and left on the hair for a good while to try to remove the stains from either before buying a product on the market specifically to do that, which may be harsh on the hair. Do not have too much product, such as conditioner, styling aids, or residue on the hair, prior to the oiling.

The Himba tribe women of Namibia Africa, use a mixture of red ochre, goat fat and herbs to cover their hair and bodies to give themselves a much prized red colour and protect themselves from the ravages of the sun. Iron oxides offer UV protection. That does not mean, without an SPF rating, that they should be used in place of a sunscreen with one.

As with anything untried, patch test beforehand and strand test to see shade results. Strand testing can be done most easily on clean, shed hair. The shed hair can be taped at the top end, to create a hair swatch. Testing this way allows you to not only see colour results but judge hair condition too, without risk. You can experiment with timing and washing the hair to see how well the stain takes.

Ochres and iron oxides can be options for natural hair colour stains. Both need to be cosmetic grade for safety reasons concerning purity related to heavy metal content. Comparison shop. Ask vendors questions if you have any concerns and ask for an MSDS sheet.


Iron Oxide Safety

Brown Ochre

Himba Woman

Suncreen Update

Pigments used in Tattooing

See Also