Answers to Your Questions About Toxic-Free Living

Safe Hair Dye

Question from Linda

Hi Debra,

Could you tell me some brands of hair dyes that are less toxic?

Debra’s Answer

Way back in the 1980’s when I first started looking at toxics in products, hair dye was pretty toxic. There were few safe alternatives.

But times have changed and there are a lot of new “natural” hair dyes available now.

Because you asked, I took a look at them.

Big Brand “Natural” Hair Dyes

If you type “natural hair dye” into a search engine you’ll get some results like Clairol “Natural Instincts” which are not natural at all. But it is ammonia-free.

Ammonia used to be the major problem chemical in hair dye, but how you can just type “ammonia-free hair dye” into a search engine and you will find plenty. Here’s a whole list at

But while most of the major brands—like Clairol—now have ammonia-free perms, they are still made primarily from petrochemical ingredients, including synthetic fragrance.

Good Housekeeping did a whole article on Finding Safe Organic Hair Dye Products Rather than repeat everything they said about the dangers of hair dye, I suggest you read their article.

Natural Hair Dyes That Are Really Natural

But there are some hair dyes that are actually made of natural ingredients, sold online and at most natural food stores. Here are some brands I was able to find easily. I’ve included the manufacturer’s website as well as amazon links because some of the manufacturers are in Europe and amazon often has the best prices.

Organic Ingredients

Organic Color Systems— made with certified organic ingredients
Organic Color Systems at

Natural Ingredients

Logona Herbal Hair Color—100% natural, botanical colorants
Logona at

Naturtint Plant-Based Permanent Hair Color—all natural 
Naturetint at

Palette By Nature—all natural,
(not available

Aubrey Organics Color Me Natural—100% natural,
Color Me Natural at

Herbatint—the original ammonia-free color,
with vegetal extracts Herbaltint


Rainbow HennaRainbow Henna at

Morrocco Method Simply Pure Henna—(not available on

Hair Dye That Restores Your Hair’s Natural Color

To me, the most interesting hair dye is HairPrint. It’s a hair color that restores gray hair to it’s natural color, rather than stripping color and then applying an artificial coal-tar dye. It’s odor-free, hypoallergenic, and you can eat it too! All ingredients are disclosed and explained. Their patented formula takes natural ingredients and creates eumelanin, the pigment that colors all brown and black hair. While you cannot choose your color, you will have a color that your hair has chosen in response to the eumelanin, and each strond will be it’s own natural shade. This treatment also strengthens the hair and adds luster and shine. There is a special formula to be used to prevent hair from turning grey as well. My hair isn’t turning grey (yet), but when I does, it I decide to dye my hair, this is what I would choose.


If you want to use some natural materials that will create nature hues in your hair, you might want to try using plants that you already have in your kitchen. Like coffee, tea, herbs, juices, and the like.

It’s easy to find instructions for using these online.

WELLNESS MAMA: All-Natural Herbal Hair Color Recipes

ANNEMARIE: Ditch the Chemicals—7 Ways to Color Your Hair Naturally

RODALE’S ORGANIC LIFE: 6 Natural Ways to Dye Your Hair Without Chemicals


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Seventh Generation Sells Out to Unilever

Well, the world is changing.

Pioneering green products company Seventh Generation was just purchased by Unilever for $700 million.

It was actually an emotional shock for me to get this news

I remember when Seventh Generation was started in 1988. It was just before Earth Day 1990 and the book 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth, which brought awareness to the mass market that what we do in our homes every day has an effect on the environment—for better or for worse.

Seventh Generation really was the first company to develop products with health and environment being the guiding star. And they did Read more about Seventh Generation…

For Seventh Generation to sell to Unilever…it’s the end of an era. Seventh Generation was an innovator, they were visionaries who changed the marketplace. And now decisions will be made based on mass market values instead of life values.

All I can say is thank goodness for all of the small businesses that are independently producing toxic free products. Please support them.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Unilever Buys ‘Green’ Products Maker Seventh Generation


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France Bans Plasticware

France has become the first country in the world to ban disposable, plastic cups and dishes.

The new law, which passed last month, requires all single-use cups, plates and other dishware sold in the country to be compostable and made at least partly of bio-sourced materials. Businesses have been given until Jan. 1, 2020 to comply.

A ban on plastic bags has been in place since July.

The decision to do this was made based on environmental considerations—France currently throws away more than 4.7 billion plastic cups every year. But it will also reduce exposure to toxic chemicals in plasticware as well.

Manufacturers, of course, are opposing the law, asserting that lower-income families regularly use disposable tableware because they can’t afford reusable tableware. I can’t agree with that argument. I once was living in a rented apartment by myself and I had one fork, one spoon, one knife, one plate, one bowl, one cup, and one glass. That’s all one person actually needs. Anyone can obtain these for practically nothing at any thrift store.

I think this is a good move, but we also need to consider the use of disposable products altogether. It is possible to have a society where everything is reusable and biodegradable. We don’t need plastic at all. Indeed, as a species we survived perfectly well without it until the twentieth century (the first plastic was bakelite, invented in New York in 1907).

ASSOCIATED PRESS: France to bid adieu to plastic dishes with controversial ban


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Finding Hotels That Are Non-Toxic

Question from Mimi

Hello Debra,

This is an area in need of change!!

We have been staying hampton Inns for many years and have always called before to ask them not to use fabrezee and any fragrance in the rooms.

For a couple of years we found most of the rooms to be at least ‘liveable”

But, for the last two years we have traveled Florida panhandle, and up and back on the I 77/ I81 corridor from Fl to NH…and had some horrible experiences.

At the Hampton Inns in Florida and Virginia.. the one in Tallahassee reaked so badly that we had to leave the property at 3 AM and drive for more hours to our home,because my husband and I were getting sick. it took us two weeks to recover.

We contacted the customer service department many times and they just kept referring us to one new person after another . Yes, they compted the room, but that means nothing when you have a whole night without sleep and have a full drive the next day!

We are very upset about this!!! There are so many of us out here wanting to travel and having chemical sensitivity.

Can you recommend a hotel chain or group that would identify which hotels have nontoxic options as of Sept 2016.

We support your work and will spread the word .. thank-you for any info you can give us! And keep up the good work. More of us need to join in and change this!

Thank-you Mimi


Debra’s Answer

I totally agree with you!

I have a page about travel on Debra’s List.

I just went there and unfortunately found that the Safer Travel Directory website is no longer there.

And I searched online for anything new. Nothing. Old links broken.

I read that Hyatt Hotels and Fairmont Hotels are offering hypoallergenic rooms, but that was an old post, so I don’t know the current status. Would you contact these chains and see what the story is, and let us know?

We really need some improvement on this. Let me think about what we can do.


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New Labels Can Help You Find Sofas Without Fire Retardants-But… They Still May Contain Toxic Chemicals

Last year there was a big change in the furniture world. A California law went into effect that allowed furniture manufacturers to make and sell upholstered furniture—such as sofas, loveseats, and chairs—without toxic fire retardants. That’s certainly good news!

The problem is that while the fire retardants are gone, most of the affordable sofas and chairs are still made with synthetic materials and toxic finishes like stain repellants.

Less toxic to be sure…but not toxic free yet.

Since January 1, 2015 the CA labeling law has required all upholstered furniture (couches, sofas, loveseats, and recliners) to have a label that states whether or not harmful flame retardant chemicals were added to the product.

I could have told you this last year but didn’t, because it only applied to upholstered furniture manufactured after January 1, 2015. Stores were still filled with furniture manufactured before this date.

Now, furniture manufactured since the beginning of 2015 is more widely available.

If you are buying upholstered furniture, what you want to look at is the “law label.”

And now I’m going to send you over to an article that has a very clear explanation of how to find the label, the three different labels you might see, and how to find the information about flame retardants—complete with pictures.

NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL: Want to Avoid Toxic Couch Chemicals? Just Look for New Label!


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Toxic Plastics From China

I know a lot of you are concerned about toxics in products from China.

Here’s a website that recently came my way via Q&A comments. I’m pulling it out and making a post so we can all find it easily.

Campaign to Halt the Import of Chemical-Emitting Smelly Plastic from China

If you know of any other sites with specific information about toxics in products from China, please post a comment with the name and link.

Thank you.

Debra 🙂


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FDA Finds Glyphosate in Honey

FDA has found residues of the weed killer glyphosate even in a food that is not produced with the use of glyphosate: honey.

All of the samples the FDA tested in a recent examination contained glyphosate residues, and some showed residue levels double the limit allowed in the European Union. There is no legal tolerance level for glyphosate in honey in the United States.

According to the FDA records, samples tested by an FDA chemist showed these residue levels:

 Carmichael’s Honey  Louisiana  107 ppb
 Leighton’s Orange  Blossom Honey Florida 22 ppm
 Sue Bee Honey Lowa 41 ppm

Sue Bee is marketed by a cooperative of American beekeepers as “pure, all-natural” and “America’s Honey.” Customers “can be assured that Sue Bee Honey is 100% pure, 100% all-natural and 100% American,” the Sioux Honey Association states.

The obvious recommendation is to choose organic honey, but I’m not sure it has less glyphosate. What is becoming more and more evident is that glyphosate is now widespread in the general environment, and not limited to GMO foods.

The good news is that honey has a tremendous amount of nutrients and inherent healing qualities. Of all foods, honey is the food most likely to have the ability to counteract the negative affects of glyphosate.

I would still choose organic honey.

THE HUFFINGTON POST: FDA Finds Monsanto’s Weed Killer in US Honey.

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What We’ve Learned in 25 Years of Research on Endocrine Disruptors

This week, researchers, public health advocates, government officials, and industry spokespersons will meet at National Institutes of Health (NIH) to celebrate 25 years of scientific research on endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs).

Here is a good commentary on what we’ve learned about this chemicals, and where we need to go to learn more.

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH NEWS: 25 years of endocrine disruptor research – great strides, but still a long way to go.

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New Study Compiles Data on Toxics in House Dust—45 Chemicals Found


An interactive version of this graph can be found here (scroll down the page).


A new study came out this week that gives us more data than ever about what types of toxic chemicals are found in household dust and amounts.

The fact that household dust contains toxic chemicals is not new—but this study is the first to make a comprehensive assessment of consumer product chemicals of concern in the dust found in US homes, provide a picture of the toxic chemicals in the home, estimate potential exposures for children and determine heath threats.

The study identifies 45 chemicals from five chemical classes—phthalates, phenols, flame retardants, fragrances, fluorinated chemicals—that were measured in dust in US homes.

Some phthalates, fragrance, flame retardants, and phenols were consistently found in 90 percent or more of dust samples across multiple studies.

The articles below do a great job of explaining the problem, but fall short on giving workable solutions.

Here’s my advice.

1. All the things you are already doing to reduce your use of chemicals in your home that you are learning on this website are also reducing toxic chemicals in your house dust. So keep finding toxic products in your home and continue to replace them with nontoxic products.

2. Get an air filter that removes both particles (dust) and gasses (chemicals. Check out my recommended brands at Debra’s List: Air Filters.

Find out what’s in your indoor air and take steps to improve it. This could make a big difference in your health.

CBS NEWS: Household Dust is Laced With Toxic Chemicals, Study Finds
a news story

NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL: Not Just Dirt: Toxic Chemicals in Indoor Dust
an analysis

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY: Consumer Product Chemicals in Indoor Dust
the study

NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL: Toxic Dust: The Dangerous Chemical Brew in Every Home
another blog post about toxic dust


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Lead-free Bathroom Sink and Faucet

Question from Anna

Hi Debra,

It is taking me time and and a half to really make this bathroom perfect and non toxic.

I am stuck on a bathroom sink as so many manufacturers use chemicals in their sinks. I am thinking about making the stand myself and just buying maybe like a stone vessel sink or something. What are your thoughts?

Before I found your site, I came across the mychemicalfreehouse blog. All of my supply ideas came from there, as far as purchasing non toxic mortar, grout, paint, etc., but the articles didn’t disclose sinks or plumbing issues (lead and plastic ) which is really my last step until I am all finished.

A lot of porcelein or ceramic fixtures with glazes almost always contain lead, especially if made in China. I guess I’m ultimately trying to avoid chinese made products. I’m having a hard time finding a USA made porcelein sink with no lead.

I did find one that had both resin and stone but they said there might be fire retardants in their products :/ The bathroom gets super hot in the summer time (third floor bathroom ) and so I know I definately don’t want resin up there or anything with chemicals /lead.

Do you know of any good eco friendly companies made here in the states that make sinks?

Debra’s Answer

I’ve been emailing back and forth this week with Anna, who is looking for a lead-free bathroom sink and faucet for her remodel.

No lead in the faucet fixture. No lead in the sink.


First, on January 4, 2014 the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act went into effect. This national mandate requires that every pipe, fixture, and fitting used to convey water for potable use contain less than 0.25% of lead by weight. Here’s an article about the problem with lead in faucets prior to the mandate.

I remember when lead in faucets became an issue. I had an antique copper faucet in my kitchen and I took it out and replaced it with a “lead-free” faucet. But note that manufacturers are allowed up to 0.25% of lead by weight. But that is much less than it was in the past.

Some manufacturers, though, did remove the lead, and didn’t wait for the 2014 mandate.

I found a lead-free made-in-the-USA bathroom faucet for Anna from American Standard On their website they say they have been lead-free since 2009. They eliminated lead from their brass alloy entirely and replaced it with bismuth. So you could choose any American Standard faucet and it’s actually, really lead-free.

I need to do a research project to check what other faucet manufacturers have done in this regard.

Anna later wrote and said she had found a brand of 100% lead free, all stainless steel shower fixture called Parmir. Anna wrote, “They are focused on healthy living and green products. There is absolutely no brass in the product and only a stainless steel finish. Another company that also produces all stainless steel things is called mgs I believe. They are from Italy, and they cost a ton of money but the design is amazing. If you are looking for a budget, health friendly product , look at Parmir.” I’m taking her word for this. The Parmir site is another language. But I found a whole line of Parmir “solid stainless steel” bathroom faucets at Factory Direct Hardware: Parmir Bathroom Faucets. has a long list of “lead-free bathroom faucets.” What needs to be checked is

1. are they 100% lead-free?

2. What did they replace the lead with? I read that some manufacturers removed the lead and replaced it with plastic [type unknown]

For the moment we have some options, but I think research could find more.


Anna asked for since made in USA and I found a whole list: Made in USA. Bathroom Sinks But just because they are made in the USA doesn’t mean they are lead-free. USA manufacturers could also be using contaminated materials.

There are many types of sinks besides the usual porcelain. Glass, stainless steel, pottery… We need to look at all the types and research which types don’t have lead. I haven’t done that research yet.

I would suggest that you get some Lead-Check swabs. Even though they are not 100% accurate to verify a negative result, if it’s positive, I would be pretty confident the sink contains lead.

So we have some new questions to look at. But at least new exposures to toxic substances are continuing to be discovered and made known so we can find the safe solutions.

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