In the United States, most hair dyes do not go through the rigorous safety testing that other cosmetic color additives do before hitting store shelves. Many conventional hair dye formulas contain chemicals like ammonia, which irritates the skin and lungs, and p-Phenylenediamine (PPD), which is linked to problems with the immune and nervous systems, and some studies have connected conventional hair dyes to a variety of diffferent cancers.

With raised awareness of the health concerns related to conventional hair dyes, many women are searching for safer alternatives that still provide shiny, glossy, and long-lasting results. Jolene Eyre interviews Sidney Hollwager, a celebrated stylist who uses organic hair dyes at Salon Vagabond at the Aviary in Atlanta, to get the lowdown on organic hair color options. (Video: Michael Lindsay, Nick Scott/MNN)

Want to learn more? Check out the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep cosmetic safety database.

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Jolene:  Hi. This is Jolene Eyre with Mother Nature Network, and we are here at Salon Vagabond, which is part of the Aviary organic beauty collective, talking to Sidney, master organic color technician, about everything we need to know about organic hair dying.

Jolene:  Hi, Sidney.

Sidney:  Hi.

Jolene:  Thank you for talking with us.

Sidney:  Yeah.

Jolene:  One thing I’d like to say about Sidney is that he has just been featured in Allure magazine as one of the finest hair technicians in the country.

Sidney:  Yeah.

Jolene:  So, Sidney, congratulations from all of us at Mother Nature Network.

Sidney:  Thank you, thank you.

Jolene:  And, one of the things we like best about Sidney is that he is an entirely organic hair color technician.

Sidney:  As I’ve evolved as a hairdresser, I feel like I’ve grown as a person. You know, it’s just become about integrating a more holistic way of being and working, and so I decided to step outside of my comfort zone, working with traditional ammoniated color, to using the Organic Color Systems. You know, I’ve just been more than pleased.

Jolene:  Now, my question to you is why isn’t everybody using this? I mean, if you can get--I mean, I just saw one of Sidney’s clients leave, and she looked like a supermodel. I mean, her hair was glossy, and blonde, and you can achieve the same colors. I mean, granted, Organic Color Systems has 45 different shades; whereas, I think most L’Oreal or Clairol have 80 to 100.

Sidney:  I have everything I need to make any, you know, color by using concentrates of pigment and adding what I can. I mean, I can adjust the colors. I certainly get more than 45 tones out of it.

Jolene:  Absolutely.

Sidney:  I get, you know, 80 to 100 tones out of it. The colors that I have achieved are shinier, and I have just as many options with color. It’s just, it’s just everything I’ve ever liked about any other color line, it just, it just happens to be also a lot less toxic for my clients and for me.

Jolene:  Earlier, before we shot the segment, there was a very beautiful pregnant woman in here. And when I was pregnant, I was told I couldn’t dye my hair.

Sidney:  Well, as a general rule, I used to not apply color to a woman during her first trimester. Because I know what’s in this product, I feel free to do that.

Jolene:  I didn’t have to look butt ugly for nine months.

Sidney:  Exactly.

Jolene:  Where were you, Sidney?

Jolene:   Okay, and I know a lot of people obviously come in, because they’re concerned about grays, gray coverage.

Sidney: No, not a problem. It does require a little bit more actually working it into the cuticle.

Jolene:  Because this is an organic product, do I need to touch up more?

Sidney:  No. In fact, I think this color hangs out a lot longer in the hair. It uses a different approach. It softens the cuticle, and then we use a little bit of heat to open the cuticle, as opposed to using something corrosive that, you know, damages the hair, which means the color won’t even last as long, and it’s a lot shinier.

Jolene:  But, I mean, you know, what we’re here to talk about is that you can be as glam, as sexy, everything you can get out of a normal salon, by coming to a place and working with somebody like Sidney, and using an organic, responsible, sustainable line. I mean, as far as--

Sidney:  Right, small price to pay for it.

Jolene:  I mean, as far as I’m concerned, my endorsement, Jolene Eyre at the Mother Nature Network, I think all salons should use this. Sidney, thank you so much for having us, and telling us about all the amazing things you offer, and just showing us everything you do for your clients, ‘cause I’m sure they really appreciate it. This is Jolene Eyre with the Mother Nature Network, and I’d like to thank you for joining us. And remember, green is the new black. 


Getting to the roots of organic hair dye
Find out if organic hair dye stacks up with our fashion and beauty correspondent, Jolene Eyre.