When you’re looking to dye your hair, avoid using any of these harsh chemicals that can cause you a lot of harm. The best thing you can do is to get a non-toxic hair dye. But, which kind? Luckily there are many! These are safer than the other chemicals on the market.

Some of the worse offenders in nontoxic hair dye are: Butyl, ethyl, propyl, and methyl. All of these are chemical preservatives and fragrance components. They are all known endocrine disruptors and some even cause breast cancer. Propylparaben, a common ingredient in shampoo, is the most dangerous. It’s been shown to cause birth defects, genital wart disease, convulsions, respiratory failure, liver damage, and brain damage.

The best nontoxic hair dyes will contain only natural plant-based ingredients. These ingredients are mild enough to be absorbed by our skin, but are strong enough to not irritate our systems. One example is coconut oil, which is very similar to the skin’s own sebum. Beeswax also makes a great ingredient because it is very similar to human sebum and also acts like an emulsifier. It works with the hair to gently pull color while preventing it from breaking.

Another ingredient to look for when shopping for a new hair dye is Ammonia. Ammonia is a no go ingredient for anyone who is allergic to it, so if you’re avoiding toxic hair dyes, you should know that there are some safe alternatives. However, it is a very powerful bleaching agent and can cause temporary discoloration, so read the labels carefully. You may find that a safer alternative is a patent product called Pantene pro-can, which has ammonia as well as sodium azide, both of which are much less damaging than ammonia and unlikely to cause color damage.

Many of today’s safer coloring agents are lead acetate free. This compound is a byproduct of the process that coloring our clothes creates, and as a result, it can form its own toxins. Lead acetate is seen as particularly dangerous because it combines with other toxins during processing. One such toxin produced during the bleaching of ordinary hair dyes is called trimethrin, which is found in certain insecticides and is known to cause cancer.

Fortunately, there are now safe alternatives for coloring our clothes. For example, dyes that don’t contain ammonia are now available, and they don’t create the cancer-causing toxins that ammonia based dyes do. However, if you are allergic to these nontoxic dyes, you may want to try out some of the ordinary hair dyes available, as they are less likely to produce toxins.

Zoe Kickhefer