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Not long ago, the term natural became a household word used in reference to personal care products; before that, it was popular in the food industry. While today’s natural personal care product offerings include soaps, deodorants, skin cream and toothpaste, there are still sectors lacking truly natural product offerings; among them are hair dyes.
Enter Jeff Greaves, founder and manager of Food Ingredient Solutions LLC, who built on his knowledge of the food pigments industry to create what he believes to be the first effective plant-based hair dye. A customer inquiry led Greaves to launch Advanced Cosmetic Technologies, a line of natural permanent, semi-permanent and color fixative dyes.
Selecting Safe, Effective Dyes
Greaves focused on the development of natural hair dyes to provide an alternative to synthetics, which contain ingredients that can pose problems. For instance, as he describes, p-phenylenediamine (PPD) has been found to be “a carcinogenic and a sensitizer that can result in rashes and other irritation.” Greaves also omitted other ingredients found in synthetic dyes that have been affiliated with toxicity or allergic responses, such as resorcinol and ammonia.
During the discovery process, Greaves found that not all natural dyes were viable; for instance, he avoided juglone, a natural dark brown pigment also known as walnut extract or CI 75500, as it “has been questioned by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”
Not only was safety a key factor, but also efficacy. Greaves sought edible plant cultivars from which usable dyes could be derived. However, he was not looking for any natural dye; he wanted a dye that would provide real efficacy.