Now, call me a beauty industry heretic . . .
But when I noticed my first gray hairs I picked up a box of henna hair dye at my local health food store, calculated the hassle factor, and put it back on the shelf. I am not really the type to want to touch up my roots very often, so I was pretty sure I’d end up with two-toned hair before long.
Plus, I was concerned that adding dye to my dark hair would make it even darker, which I totally didn’t want. I wanted to look like ME, with my natural hair color – whatever that turned out to be!
Overall, I was actually pretty happy with things. My dad was completely gray by his mid-twenties, so the genetic component of the process was not in my favor. However, I’d had the benefit of real food, and that seems to have made a huge difference. All that to say, I wasn’t looking for a way to change anything when I came across Hairprint, but I was immediately captivated it.
Hairprint is not a dye – it’s a way of replenishing brown/black hair’s natural pigment while strengthening overall hair structure.
Developed by Dr. John Warner, of the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry in Massachusetts, Hairprint uses eight easily pronounceable ingredients to activate eumelanin – which is “a variation of the melanin pigment that is responsible for the color of your skin and eyes” – within the hair follicle. (source)
Let’s take a closer look at them . . .
About The Ingredients
Unlike coal-tar based dyes, which work by chemically damaging hair in order to make it porous enough to absorb color, Hairprint mimics the way hair naturally acquires color while preserving its overall health. (source) Here’s a look at their ingredients:
Bicarbonate of soda
Yep, that would be baking soda. Though in my opinion it’s too alkaline for frequent use, it can be helpful for “de-gunking” hair if used appropriately.
Sometimes called soda ash because it can be made from burning kelp, seaweed and other vegetation, sodium carbonate can also be created by processing limestone and salt. Also called washing soda.
An extract made from velvet beans, which are tropical legumes that have long been used in medicinal preparations.
Aka iron, an essential mineral.
Also an essential mineral.
A fine powder made from fossilized phytoplankton. Here are some ways I was already using it in my beauty routine.
Our hair follicles naturally make hydrogen peroxide – it’s an inherent part of creating eumelanin. Since Hairprint mimics that process it’s no surprise to find it in the ingredient list.
WHOA, what just happened here? We’re talking about all these naturally occurring minerals, extracts, etc., and now we’ve landed on carbomer. If you’re not familiar with it, carbomer is a thickener made from petrochemicals. So obviously, I had to research it. The Environmental Working Group lists it as a 0, which is the best possible rating, and all the info I could find on it concluded that it is inert.
In fact, according to formulator Lisa Lise, “Carbomer is actually one of a very few petro-chemical based ingredients that I am unable to find any dangers, warnings, or even environmentally-worrying facts about – at all. Even the hard-core green sites can’t find anything bad to say about carbomer . . . Carbomer won’t cause irritation or allergic reactions – even if a product contains up to 100% of the stuff.” (source)
Because I would love for it to be 100% natural, I talked with the folks at Hairprint about using a botanical alternative – konjac glucomannan. It’s something they are discussing, but the carbomer does not require a preservative and the konjac glucomannan might. It’s a tradeoff and they’re considering all options. Though I would love for the carbomer to be replaced, from a safety standpoint I think this is one of the cleanest products out there. (The other one I like is Morocco Method henna, but as I mentioned before I personally prefer to keep my actual hair color rather than dye it.)
I tried Hairprint for the first time four months ago. The first few days it was a little darker than my normal color, but after a few washes it looked exactly like it had before, only without any grays.
Unlike actual dyes, which are not recommended for use with most homemade shampoos, Hairprint works beautifully with my homemade shampooo bar, vinegar rinse and coconut milk leave-in conditioner, and the pigment hasn’t faded at all in the last four months.
Who can use Hairprint?
Individuals with brown/black hair
Blonds and redheads catalyse another pigment with eumelanin to create their natural color. Hairprint is working on a way to mimic this, but right now the product is only for those with brown/black hair.
Dyes are often discouraged for women that are pregnant/nursing. Here’s what Hairprint has to say about safety in those circumstances:
“Many health professionals recommend that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding stop using hair dye because it enters into the bloodstream through the skin. The melanin pigment in Hairprint is already present in millions of your skin cells and due to its relatively large size does not pass into the bloodstream. However, we recommend you consult with your physician by reviewing an ingredients list before using this product.”
There’s a very extensive FAQ on their site that covers how to transition if your hair is currently colored with coal tar-based dyes or henna, products to avoid for a couple of days prior to use (coconut oil is one because it may block Hairprint), and other considerations.