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Naturtint hair dye- reviewed and rejected

Reviewed by Marta August 3, 2013 77 Comments

My friend D is a dark-haired beauty who dyes her raven (and currently straightened) locks to cover up the odd gray hair. She uses a permanent hair color called Naturtint ($17.99) and she asked me to check out the ingredients. Since a 2001 study by the International Journal of Cancer found that people who use permanent hair dye (either black or very dark dyes) are twice as likely to develop bladder cancer as those who go au naturel, I was more than happy to take a look to see if Naturtint (dark chestnut brown) is safe.

I'll cut straight to the car-chase. Naturtint's ingredients (despite the fact it makes a big deal about using vegetable ingredients) are positively hair-raising. Like many dark hair dyes, Naturtint  uses p-Phenylenediamine. This is in widespread use and here is what the Environmental Protection Agency has to say about it: "p-Phenylenediamine is primarily used as a dye intermediate and as a dye.  Acute (short-term) exposure to high levels of p-phenylenediamine may cause severe dermatitis, eye irritation and tearing, asthma, gastritis, renal failure, vertigo, tremors, convulsions, and coma in humans.  Eczematoid contact dermatitis may result from chronic (long-term) exposure in humans.  In rats and mice chronically exposed to p-phenylenediamine in their diet, depressed body weights, but no other clinical signs of toxicity, were observed in several studies."

p-Phenylenediamine gets a perfect score from the Environmental Working Group. Make no mistake, that is not something to brag about.

This was reason enough for me to shoot an email to my friend and urge her to look for an alternative to Naturtint (one of our reviewers liked Surya Henna). However, I'm not going to let Naturtint off the hook for the other nasties in this hair dye. PEG-2 Oleamine is often used as a thickener in food. Like all PEGs, it may contain contaminants and shouldn't be used on broken skin. Ethanolamine is also known as acetamide MEA and the European Union classifies it as corrosive and harmful if in contact with the skin. However, the industry body, Cosmetic Ingredient Review, proclaims it is safe in concentrations up to 7.5%.

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There isn't much information on 4-amino-2-hydroxytolueno.p-aminophenol other than a 2004 paper in the International Journal of Toxicology saying that it there was insufficient data to support its safety. The European Union says it can cause allergic reactions. Another common component of hair colorants is 2-Methyl-Resorcinol. A 1980s study found that this was moderately toxic, but also concluded that it was safe for cosmetic use. 4-Chloro Resorcinol is usually used at concentrations of less than 1% and hair dyes that include it usually carry a sensitivity warning. It can be an eye irritant and emits toxic fumes if heated (source) and EWG rates it a moderate hazard. Oxyquinoline Sulfate is considered safe for rinse off products, but there is insufficient data to pronounce it safe for leave on products, according to the CIR.

To be fair to Naturtint, the hair dye ingredient, m-Aminophenol, has been deemed safe by the EU.

Ingredients in Naturtint: PEG-2 Oleamine, Aqua (Water), Cocamide DEA, Alcohol Denat (Alcohol), Propylene Glycol, Ethanolamine, Oleic Acid, Hydrolized Vegetable Protein (Triticum Vulgare, Soy, Corn, Avena Sativa), Sodium Sulfite, Sodium Ascorbate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Parfum (Fragrance). (+/-) p-Phenylenediamine, 4-Amino-2-Hydroxytolueno.p-Aminophenol, 2-Methyl-Resorcinol, m-Aminophenol, 4-Chloro Resorcinol, N,N-Bis (Hydroxyethyl)-p-Phenylenediamine Sulfate, 2-Amino-4-Hydroxy-Ethylaminoanisole Sulfate

Ingredients in ColorFix: Aqua (Water), Hydrogen Peroxide, Cetearyl Alcohol, Laureth-3, Ceteareth-20, Cetyl Alcohol, Oxyquinoline Sulfate

Editor's Note 2017: Naturtint has since revised the ingredient list and the latest is published on the right

  • March 26, 2017

    by Liz

    I just used Nuturtint for the first time. I purchased it from Whole Foods who i totally trust. It turned my hair an awful red. i was so upset, went back to Whole Foods, but they did not know how to correct it, suggested I go to Walgreen next door and get some help. I did, and was shown a product called "Oops". It also had no ammonia etc. Now im in real trouble as its orange/yellow/red. Im amazed my hair has not fallen out. I dont know what to do, cant go out like this. Any Help would be appreciated

  • March 7, 2017

    by Jane

    I just used this for the first time...I was not happy with the color or how dry it made my hair. Any suggestion on how to get rid of this color that I now have? What can i put over top of this color?

  • December 10, 2016

    by Marcia

    I have been using Naturtint, wheat germ blonde, for several years. For the past six months or so I have noticed how dry my hair is after coloring. I agree with Agnes (above) that my hair seems "straw-like" after coloring. It causes such damage to my hair. now. I also agree with Regina that Naturtint cause my scalp to burn and itch after. This is strange because I don't think it used to do that. Unfortunately I am looking for an alternative now...I love the Naturtint color, but my hair is fried.

  • October 14, 2016

    by Agnes

    I used Naturtint for over 2 years in the past, always wheat germ blonde. I absolutely loved the color and got many complements on it even when it was time to do my roots (my natural color is darkest blonde). I chose this hair dye because it is supposedly natural. After 2 years my har got completely damaged (my hair is fine and fragile), ends would break and split. I stopped using it a year ago and my ends are still damaged, I have to wait for my hair to grow to get rid of the damaged part (even with regular trims).My hair is long and I didn't want to cut it short. I would not recommend this hair dye to anyone, it would always burn my scalp and after first year of use I got a rash everytime I would put it on. After using this color my hair would feel like straw, after using the conditioner that comes in the package it would feel better. Whatever they use as ingredient in that dye is not good for your hair and scalp.

  • October 2, 2016

    by Regina


    I hope this comment reaches those who manufacture this product. For over 15 years I have been using this product with great satisfaction. I was eagerly encouraging friends to try it.

    I had forgotten some of the bad things that would occur with other dyes.

    Now, this year I have noticed in the last two shipments of the product, it now has at least two properties that it did NOT before:

    1) when I apply the product, my scalp gets "warm" and makes me itch a little too. I never liked that feeling before I found Nutratint.

    2) after washing the hair and conditioning it, I notice that my hair has that "doll-like" feeling that I just can't stand.

    I don't know what has happened to manufacturing my favorite hair product, but I may have to look for another to replace it, if this continues. It is truly a shame that this wonderful product has joined the many others on the shelf that give the same problems to people.

    As always, I wonder if it is a money problem. By that I mean, production on "the cheap". I hope not. If it is, shame on you!!!

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