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Natural hair color choices grow

Is a Solution for:
Dry or Brittle Hair, Limp Hair, Dull Hair
May 20, 2012 Reviewed by Marta 16 Comments
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.
  • April 22, 2018

    by Hanna

    Used Naturtint and caused allergy - sensitive people pls avoid

  • August 24, 2017

    by Sylvia

    I've read about the 4 safe, natural haircolors. I decided to use Phyto Subtil Botanics. I have dry and very frizzy hair. Tints of Nature sounds good too, but a comment was made that it has the same ingrediants as the chemical colors? It's confusing. So i decided to order the Phyto Subtil Bonanics. Is it available at Ulta? I hope this has conditioners n it too. I hope this can help tame my hair, because i can't afford to go to the salon often.

  • July 16, 2017

    by Linda

    Phyto Subtil Botanics I have searched far and wide for this product and it comes up no where....even phyto does not like it. Is this off the market or still available somewhere?

  • December 1, 2015

    by Margaret

    Vegetal and No Limits both cover my grey but unfortunately only last for 3 washes. I am in the UK but I'm fairly sure Vegetal at least is available in many countries.

  • October 5, 2015

    by chris

    the tints of nature hair color seems to have the same bad ingredients as the naturetint brand.

  • April 30, 2014

    by Christina

    Hi Gerry. You might have some luck finding Subtil Botanics hair color on eBay:

  • April 30, 2014

    by gerry

    Where can I buy Subtil Botanics color Dark Blonde #8 in Philadelphia or surrounding area? Had my hair done in Naples and can't find it here.HELP!

  • February 9, 2014

    by CatScholz

    could add links on where to buy these products? Thanks.

  • December 14, 2013

    by amberleye

    My stylist has me HOOKED on Subtil Hair Color! I LOVE IT!! Totally covered my grey and is the richest color I have put on my hair to date.

  • April 17, 2013

    by Michelle Greene

    I get a severe headache most of the times that I get single process done at my salon which uses Scwartzkoff hair color. It begins about 12 hours after I have had my hair colored and lasts for 30 hours and the headache gets so severe that I am nauseaus and cant eat until the 30 hours pass. I was told to try a PPD and resorcin free hair color by Subtil Botanics and would like to know of the closest location to the city...I live in Chicago.

  • March 3, 2013

    by Genhi

    Andrea -- I'm also based in Chicago and am looking for salonshere that use Subtil color. Any recommendations? Thanks, in advance!

  • January 8, 2013

    by ANDREA

    One thing you left on on Phyto Subtil Botanics is that the ammonia in it is a natural ammonia derived from rotting wood. It is more gentle than the synthetic kind and no harmful to the enviornment.

    Also in Subtil Botanics the highest leve of ammonia is .76% ( the 3% is in Subtil high lift which is not in our "Botanic" collections).

    Jennell, you can find a location near you by calling out cust service number 1800-557-4986. I am an educator for Sutbil based out of Chicago. Please let me know if you have any questions.

  • September 3, 2012

    by Leeza

    I tried the Surya Brazil henna cream multiple times and it never covered my greys

  • September 3, 2012

    by Cher

    I tried the black Surya Brazil henna cream today for the first time and love, love, love it. It covered the gray well (56 yr old) and I was really pleased with the ease of use and 30 min processing time.

  • August 12, 2012

    by jennell

    How can i get more info on Phyto Subtil Bontanics?? I am allergic to PPd. Would like to give the info to my hair colorist!!
    Thanks so much:)

  • May 23, 2012

    by Michelle D'Amico

    Hi Marta,
    I wanted to let you know that I tried Naturetint once and it didn't do anything so I was reluctant to try another natural hair dye until I discovered Tints of Nature.

    The 2N dark chestnut brown color is pretty and even covers up some of the stubborn greys that have been popping up recently.
    Thanks for the review for Naturetint. That is what you call greenwashing: jumping on the all natural bandwagon while still using dangerous ingredients but calling your product natural.

    After reading about their ingredients, I'm glad that I switched to Tintsof Nature. Tints of Nature can be found in the US at most Whole Foods stores.


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