Dear Scott: I am thinking about coloring my hair and would like to know if you know anything about the all-natural hair color products. I have started getting a lot of gray hair. I saw Simply Organics and Organic Color Systems online and some others in the drugstore. I am afraid of having chemicals on my skin or hair, but I just can’t stand this gray! Do you recommend these products as a natural way to color my hair? Do they work as well as the ones with chemicals in them? Why would anyone use hair color with chemicals in it when there is a natural way to do it?

Answer: The art of salesmanship can be frustrating at times. Some salespeople always talk and sell and sell and talk, never answering a question they’ve been asked. They are probably politicians on an alternate universe.

The fear of the unknown, of disappointing others or yourself, loneliness, inadequacy, being out-of-touch, and growing older are just a few of the doors to open in the mind of the consumer to create the circumstances where the purchase is absolutely necessary and unavoidable.

Using the power of fear is common in the beauty industry. It’s usually up in your face and obvious though. If you don’t buy what is being sold, you will look ugly and no one will like you. It’s usually as plain as that. But sometimes it can take a rocket scientist to spot the manipulations of a good advertising and public relations department in this business.

Looking at the websites of these organics companies anyone would be led to believe that the color is derived of nuts and berries and made in grandma’s kitchen. As a consumer you are not permitted in the professional areas that explain the ingredients in detail. You must be a registered cosmetologist to enter the site. So I checked it out for you.

Their showy packages of information arrived in the mail within days of registering and plenty of phone calls came from sales people trying to sell me a special introductory package. But when I asked them how they can advertise “natural” hair color with peroxide as the activating ingredient, I couldn’t get anyone to answer me. The phone calls stopped, too.

Peroxide is used to open the cuticle layer of the hair and is necessary for the deposit of pigment in permanent hair color. Many hair color companies advertise a product as “natural” but really have only removed some of the other scary sounding ingredients. When used properly, most of these ingredients are no more harmful than peroxide and help to produce longer lasting color with more accurate end results. Even semi-permanent color has some kind of activator although they claim to be peroxide free. Without the peroxide, they are terrible.

There really isn’t any “natural” hair color other than henna that I know of. Henna plant was used by the ancient Egyptians. Crushing berries to produce the variations of color is simplified since then but the henna product is still a pain. It must be mixed up a day ahead and the processing time can be up to 4 hours. The results are iffy, too. I’m going to stick with modern technology and get it done right in 20 minutes.

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