Natural, non-toxic hair dyes now being made from blackcurrant skins

Planning to dye your hair? Try using blackcurrant.

A team of researchers at the University of Leeds developed a hair dye using the skins of blackcurrant. The study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, has found that hair dyes made from blackcurrant skins are safer and more sustainable than chemically-made hair dyes.

Most hair dyes sold in the market cause harmful side effects because they are made with more than 5,000 substances that are often toxic. In animal studies, some of the ingredients used in making conventional hair dyes can potentially promote cancer. In some cases, these dyes can also cause allergic reactions in humans. Furthermore, these dyes do not only harm humans but also the environment. Research indicates that most of these dyes eventually end up in natural bodies of water, such as rivers, lakes, and streams, posing environmental hazards.

As an alternative solution, the research team developed a natural, non-toxic hair dye using renewable waste materials. They collected blackcurrant fruit skins from the fruit pressing industry, which usually just discard blackcurrant skins after juicing. The team extracted and purified a group of pigments from the skins known as anthocyanins, which give fruits, vegetables, and flowers colors ranging from pink to violet. These pigments were used in a dye paste and then applied to bleached human hair. The developed dye gave the bleached hair a vivid blue color. In addition, the blackcurrant dye can also produce reds and violets by modifying its formulation. The hair dye was also found to be long-lasting because even after 12 shampoos, there were no significant changes in these new hair colors.

Based on the findings of the study, the research team concluded that anthocyanin-based blackcurrant dyes are comparable to conventional dyes, except they are safer and more sustainable. The team also concluded that blackcurrants could potentially be an essential component in dye formulations used to create different hair colors and shades.

More reasons to stop using chemical hair dyes

In addition to allergic reactions and cancer development, hair dyes made with toxic chemicals can cause many other side effects. These include the following:

  • Chemical hair dyes may cause skin discoloration – Because the skin and nails are made from the same type of keratinized protein as hair, mistakes during the coloring process can lead to patches of discolored skin, especially around the hairline. People with dark or dry, absorbent skin often are more prone to skin discoloration. Nonetheless, the discoloration will eventually fade after a few days or a week. This is due to the skin’s ability to renew itself and the removal of the top layer of the skin.
  • Chemical hair dyes damage the hair – Using hair dyes regularly can make the hair brittle and over-processed. The ammonia in hair dyes increases the pH of hair and opens up the scales in the cuticle so that the color molecules enter the next layer, the cortex. In addition, hydrogen peroxide bleaches the hair and further dries it out. Eventually, the hair will become dull, dry, and brittle. Hair loss can also occur.
  • Chemical hair dyes may cause fertility problems – Research has shown that constant exposure to the toxic chemicals like lead acetate used in hair products, such as hair dye, can cause infertility in both men and women.

Other natural hair dyes

There are other natural ways to color your hair without using harmful chemicals. These include:

Read more news stories and studies on natural dye alternatives by going to

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