A couple of years ago, a friend asked me what I thought of Naturetint, a hair dye. I took a look and found the ingredients to be hair-raisingly scary, including common colorant ingredients, PPD (para-phenylenediamine),  linked with severe allergic reactions, and resourcinol, which usually carries a sensitivity warning and is used at concentrations of less than 1%. At the time, I was hard pressed to come up with safer alternatives, but happily the natural colorant category seems to be growing and here are a few that are worth taking a look at if you are of the view that your tint isn’t worth dying for.

Tints of Nature is a UK company that recently debuted in the US. It has a range of permanent hair colors ($12.50 to $18) that will fill in between pricey salon treatments and are said to condition as they color. Tints has shampoos and conditioners as well. They are free from resorcinol, parabens, and ammonia. Organic botanicals include aloe, soy, wheat and grapefruit. There are 21 permanent colors with five being introduced this year. Tints of Nature claims that if properly applied, its natural color will last as long as the chemical ones.

Phyto Subtil Botanics and Subtil hair color were introduced into the US professional market in 2010. Subtil’s permanent hair color range has 12 shades (there are a lots of semi-permanent colors as well) that contain 15% to 81% natural pigments extracted from a range of tinctorial plants, including Indian and Brazilian wood, madder, broom, and calliopsis. Although not ammonia-free, concentrations are lowish at 0.76% to 3%. Subtil is free from phenylenediamine (PPD) and resorcin, while offering full coverage for gray and white hair. The key ingredient is Epaline, which uses pigments, low concentrations of ammonia and vitamin E.

Silk Degrees Botanical Hair Color by Pravana ($13) is a plant-based hair color treatment that claims to be more than a color refresher. It can by used on natural and color-treated to deepen shades. It will last through several shampoos before fading. Shades include Honey, Red, Copper, Platinum, Chocolate and Mahogany. It contains no ammonia, peroxide, or PPD. Silk Degrees contains keratin, silk amino acids, and (gluten sensitive people take note) wheat protein, cocoa seed butter, sunflower extract, and coconut oil, to add moisture, shine, and protection to the hair.

Whilst we haven’t reviewed the above, Surya Brasil's Henna Cream $11.99 has been tested by Leslie for TIA. It is about 90% natural, with the remaining 10% being synthetic dyes and preservatives. The product utilizes henna not as a dye, but as a conditioning agent. Of the synthetic dyes used in the product, the company has researched carbon-based dyes and says it avoids heavy metals, and only uses ingredients with the mildest properties. Surya Henna Cream is available in 15 shades, all of which are said to last seven to ten washes and is blendable, enabling other shades to be mixed. It is safe for use on chemically treated, color-treated hair and highlights and Suyra claims it provides gray coverage on the first application.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has tried these or has other recommendations to share.