Can Hair Colorants Be Made Exclusively from Herbals? Yes, Say Italian Researchers

Can Hair Colorants Be Made Exclusively from Herbals? Yes, Say Italian Researchers

Scientists from Italy, Francesca Schumann, Annamaria Ratti and Viviana Brancato from the organization Bregaglio S.R.L, a subsidiary of the Zschimmer & Schwarz Group at Biassono, Italy have created (or recreated) natural hair dyes.

Hair dyes of natural origin exist and contain botanicals with coloring properties; henna is the most well-known. These align with today’s consumer values for natural and sustainable products. But many dyes on the market using misleading claims such  ‘botanical,’ ‘natural,’ or as containing ‘herbal’ additives. In reality, many of them also contain synthetic colorants, alkalizers such as ammonia or other amines, and peroxides or other oxidizers.

However, a 100% vegetable-derived hair colorant did exist in the Siddha tradition of natural medicine and well-being. Siddha is an ancient holistic system indigenous to the people who lived in the current state of Tamil Nadu in South India. It can be traced back to 4,000 B.​C. through textual and archaeol­ogical evidence, as also by examining the culture of ancient civilizations that existed in the same area, pre-dating much of recorded history. To Siddhas, all therapies were derived from vegetable or mineral sources.

A sample of hair dyes

To recreate the formulas, a range of botanicals were chosen from vast geographical areas including: Tibet-South, Sikkim, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Mauritius, Madagascar, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and other ASEAN countries. The specific extracts tested for tinctorial properties included: Aloe barbadensis, Coccinia indica (ivy gourd), Curcuma longa (turmeric), Eclipta prostrata (false daisy), Corallina officinalis (coral weed), Melia azadirachta (neem), Moringa oleifera (horse radish), Ocimum basilicum (basil) and Solanum melongena (eggplant).

The coloring extracts used for this study were obtained through a manufacturing process with minimal modifications to the original method (specific details undisclosed). Traditio­nally, the natural high molecular weight waxes from Siddha botanical sources are incorporated with a variety of substrates, e.​g., minerals or freshwater-sourced pearls.

Several hair color formulas were developed based on different emulsifiers, from anionic to cationic and nonionic, to ascertain the stability and color delivery performance of each formula. Emulsions were prepared by separately heating the oil and water phases, adding the oil to the water phase and homogenizing. The extract (colorant) was dispersed in a part of the water (5%) and added at the end of the process.

Testing showed good semi-permanent hair color efficacy without the use of synthetic colorants, alkalizers and peroxide or other oxidizers.


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