My Hair Color Quest in Cuenca, Ecuador
Yep, I admit it, vanity. I’ve carried white and grey in my hair since age 19. If my hair were pure white, I might wear it that way. For the moment I feel best as a strawberry blond, a color that picks up the gold and auburn in my hazel eyes, and, complements my skin tone.
For more than a dozen years I have been content using NaturColor, a product made in Italy with no ammonia, no resorcinol, and no parabens. See http://www.NaturColor.com. I’ve been buying it in Los Angeles at Erewhon Market or at Whole Foods Market, and at Clark’s Nutrition in Palm Desert, CA. No stinging, no reaction on my scalp. The color I use gives a flat, natural result; my hair comes out smooth, silky, healthy. My hair does not need a conditioner or conditioning because of aloe vera and other herbal ingredients. I’ve always felt good using this product.
But in Ecuador, it’s been hard to find a mostly organic hair color product. And as in North America, natural written on the box does not mean organic, nor does it mean without chemicals.
I’ve found three salons in Cuenca that use Redken Chromatics with no ammonia. At one salon my scalp turned bright red, followed by a wild headache. I called NY to talk to a veteran Redken colorist to get a take on what could have happened. The 8NW color result was beautiful, yes, but I learned it is possible I am highly allergic to this product. I did try. Next, I experimented with a L’Oreal product without ammonia. Ouch. Same story, toxic for me.
After these experiences I headed to central Cuenca, where I found two beauty supply stores with choices for products without ammonia, but each of the products, I discovered after reading the boxes, have components of resorcinol and parabens. Visit cosmeticosdelaustro.com at Gran Colombia 12-01 if you are scouting on your own or Distribudora Pedro Santos at Tarqui 10-77 where they sell no ammonia Revlon Color Silk products.
Next I tried a semi-permanent Italian product made in Mexico, Designer Color by Tec Italy. No stinging, no discoloration of scalp, no ammonia, but it does contain resorcinol and parabens. So far it is the mildest but I am concerned about resorcinol and parabens entering my body through my scalp.
At Burbujas, a high-end beauty product store that can be found in all major Ecuadorian cities, I discovered NaturVital. NaturVital is based in the UK but has a Latin American office with headquarters in Spain. I was very excited to read on the box no ammonia, no resorcinol, and no parabens. But alas, sorry to say, the hydrogen peroxide in the formula is really strong. It stung, and I developed a very strong headache during the wait period that got worse as the day progressed.
I realize I am more sensitive than most people. But who will take care of my health if I do not? Maybe the universe is sending a message, no more hair color. Umm….. what shall I do?
While I’m deciding, I’m still on the quest…
Here are some of the salons that apply hair color that I’ve discovered in Cuenca, there are many others:
- Lucy’s Edificio Los Pinos (a classy new building), Calle Los Pinos, just off Ordonez Lasso in San Sebastian, the west part of town. Lucy is young, charming, and gifted with color. She’s also a great cutter. This is the high society Cuencana hang-out and the place I tried both the Redken Chromatics and the L’Oreal products without ammonia. Tel. (7)410-2725 No English spoken.
- Peluqueria Lucia Palacios Roberto Crespo 5-34 in the attractive El Vergel neighborhood on the southeast part of town in a non-descript older building. Lucia has been a stylist for 30 years; she is attentive and loving, and understands differences between products. She reads, carefully studies, and is knowledgeable about effects. Prices less than at Lucy’s. No English spoken. Tel. (7)288-1473
- Renova Also in the upscale El Vergel neighborhood at Los Fresnos 1-100 and Paucarbamba, tel. (7)2885802. Redken Chromatics products. Ask for Adriana Bazallo. Priced a little under Lucy’s. Some English spoken.
- Roxanne Lord at Sojo Spa. American stylist in Edificio La Cuadra #2 on Jose Astudillo at Eduardo Crespo Malo She has a lovely personality, a number of Americans go to her, American prices. She does not use color products without ammonia. Roxanne_lrd@yahoo.com
- GringoTree.com has received several recommendations for a lady I have yet to meet, Berenice Lopez of Berenice Spa, who worked as a cosmetologist in New Jersey and New York for 17 years and has returned to her hometown of Cuenca. She speaks English. Calle del Arupo 1-08 at Calle de Los Alisos. Tel. (099)273-5378 cell
If you are interested in toxic effects of hair color tints, permanent or semi-permanent, there are several resources on the Internet which put forth their ideas. Here below is an article by a British gal, published at NaturalNews.com:
Suffering From Hair Coloring – A Chemical Overdose
(NaturalNews) Recently a young woman in the U.K. suffered a severe reaction to a hair dye with chemical burns to her skin around her face, neck and scalp and a rash over her body (1). This is in line with reports of an increase in hair dye allergies. A survey in London found that contact dermatitis due to a hair dye allergy rose by 7.1 percent over a six-year period after a patch test (2).
According a story on a Current Affairs program, the number of reactions to hair dye is soaring (3).
Hair dye, particularly permanent hair dye, contains harsher chemicals than other dye types. Permanent hair dye consists of color and developer. Contained in the color mixture are a range of synthetic dyes and intermediates such as ammonia, diamino-benzenes, phenylenediamines, resorcinol and phenols. The color, mixed with a developer such as hydrogen peroxide, produces a color.
A team in the U.K. tested permanent hair dyes due to concerns that many products contain highly allergenic and potentially carcinogenic chemicals. They found 6 of the main sensitizers, each with different degrees of strength, in a number of the 15 products tested and without mention on product labels.
“Those ingredients included P-Phenylenediamine, an extreme sensitiser found in all but three of the products tested; Phenlymethylpyrazolene, a strong sensitizer found in three of the dyes; m-Aminophenol, found in six of the dyes; N,N-bis, a strong sensitizer found in four dyes; 4-Aimon-2-hydroxytoluene, a strong sensitizer found in six dyes and Toluene-2.5-diamine, a sensitizer of unclassifiable strength found in two dyes.” ((http://www.cosmeticsdesign-europe.com/n…)
These chemicals cause sensitization which means that after initial exposure to them, or other products containing them, a more severe reaction may occur.
Reactions to the hair dye products include severe swelling and rashes. In addition, there are links to a range of cancers, including breast, bladder and leukemias which have as yet to be definitely proven.
Note that p-phenylenediamine (PPD) is derived from coal-tar which is a potentially carcinogenic ingredient. Du Pont does not recommend prolonged skin contact with this chemical.
About the author
Lynn Berry loves good food and cooking and is passionate about nutrition and natural health care. She has a website promoting healthy eating at www.low-calorie-vegetarian-recipe.com.
Entry filed under: Organic Hair Products, Travel blog. Tags: Burbujas, hair color in Ecuador, Lucia Palacio, Lucy's in Cuenca, Natur Color, natural hair products in Ecuador, NaturVital, Redken Chromatics, Tec Italy.