Hair Dyes, Relaxers, and the Breast Cancer Connection

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Essential # 2: Eliminate Toxic Exposure | Apr, 02 2024

Hair Dyes, Relaxers, and the Breast Cancer Connection

hair dyes and breast cancer

Your hair holds secrets, and not just if it is silver under your hair dye. This is why Hair Mineral Analysis Tests can reveal and explain the causes of many health symptoms and diseases (learn more via this blog). It also isn’t something that should be brushed off and mindlessly experimented with since it’s directly connected to your body and brain. The cells of a hair bulb are nourished by blood vessels and deliver hormones. These hormones modify hair growth and structure at different times of life. For example, remember some weird, hairy situations during pregnancy or menopause?! Every cell of you is part of your healing. Whatever connects to your blood vessels and hormones should have your attention.

This is why you have stepped into Dr. V’s Wellness Warrior Beauty School to answer the big question: Can hair dye, relaxers, and straighteners cause breast cancer? To do this, we will dig deep, split hairs, and learn how to make the best decisions for your healing journey.

Before class begins, I want to point out that I’m providing general information. Every hair product, whether a hair dye or relaxer, has its own ingredients. For more accurate details on what is used on your mane, please talk to your hair guru and research the products. is a comprehensive resource for looking up all things related to beauty products.

toxins that could be in your hair dye that might cause breast cancer.

Hair Dye Toxins 101

Below are some hormone (or endocrine) disruptors and toxins that could be included in your hair dye or relaxer. I do want to note that as of January 2023, many of these chemicals have been banned in America, thanks to the Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act of 2022 (MoCRA). This new law also provides the FDA more authority to regulate the safety and labeling of hair products than it had in the past. Still, the U.S. has much looser regulatory oversight of ingredients compared to most other countries. 

I also suggest getting your hair colored by a color professional because their products are usually much safer, and you won’t directly touch the dyes. This study also agrees, “Individuals who apply permanent hair dye themselves at home have a higher breast cancer risk than those who have it applied by a professional.”


Ammonia, a colorless gas with a pungent smell, is used to raise the pH level of hair so that the color can be deposited onto the inner part of your hair. However, it can damage your hair, making it brittle and dry, and lead to lung and sinus concerns.


It is more damaging than ammonia and can lead to hair loss and possible risks of birth defects. 

Quats (Quaternium-15)

It is a known skin toxicant and allergen that can lead to contact dermatitis (swelling and irritation of the skin). It is especially dangerous for people, such as hairdressers and janitors, who are exposed to this formaldehyde-releasing chemical for long periods.


It can cause disruptions in the central nervous system and thyroid function. To learn about thyroid dysfunction and breast cancer, please read this blog post.

P-Phenylenediamine (PPD)

PPD reacts with hydrogen peroxide and resorcinol to permanently bind the color to the hair and create a specific color. However, this process can alter the genetic material of cells. Many studies have examined whether this process is linked to cancer, and the results so far have been mixed. Please review a few studies here and here.


paraben free logo

Parabens can cause issues like hair loss, eczema, skin aging, and more. Even worse, they can cause reproductive and hormonal harm and are linked to breast cancer as they are hormone disrupters. Phthalates and BPA also fall under this category. To learn more about hormone (endocrine) disrupters that will masquerade as hormones in your body and wreak havoc on hormonal balance, please read this blog post.

I have been delighted to see that many big brands have removed parabens from their hair, skin, and beauty products. Please look for the green or black Paraben Free logo.

Safer Hair Color Solutions

As of now, 100% organic and non-toxic hair dye does not exist. However, there are brands crafting hair dyes that are made with cleaner ingredients and aim to be as natural as possible. Below are a few brands that offer safer hair coloring options.


Their products are designed with Ayurveda (a system of traditional medicine native to India) formulas that bring “health, well-being, and beauty into balance.” All their natural colors are vegan and do NOT contain chemical additives or synthetic ingredients like silicone, ammonia, and peroxide. Website >>

Tints of Nature 

They are a UK-based company and the first home hair color to use 75% certified organic and 95% naturally derived ingredients. US website >>

Green Hare Mud

They do not use fillers, binders, thickeners, preservatives, or anything in our product that is not clearly listed. It’s a 100% natural permanent hair stain made of a proprietary blend of all-natural herbs, barks, berries, and teas. It permanently stains your hair…and covers gray. Note: It’s a stain, not a “lift.” “Lift’ is the chemical reaction required to actually change your hair’s color and, thus, requires chemicals. Website >>

Are Relaxers and Straighteners Safe?

The safety of relaxers and straighteners has been in question since the start. They were historically made with many chemicals, and burning skin was often seen as a common incident. However, today, like most hair dyes, companies are curating safer formulas and products. My research on these products led me to a fascinating study published in 2021.

The “Sister Study” studied over 46,000 women who had a sister with breast cancer but themselves were breast cancer-free. The focus of the study was to examine the association between hair dye and chemical relaxer/straightener use and breast cancer risk by ethnicity. Also, note that many of the participants currently smoked cigarettes and used oral contraceptives.

Hair dye results: “Among African American women, using permanent dyes every 5-8 weeks or more was associated with a

60% increased risk of breast cancer as compared with an 8% increased risk for Caucasian women.”

Relaxer results: The researchers found that, overall, there “seems to be no link between hair relaxers and breast cancer risk in Black women.” However, another study found that there was “some evidence that heavy use (at least seven times a year for 15 or more years) of hair relaxers containing lye (a metal hydroxide) may be linked to a higher risk of breast cancer.”

And now, the answer to the big question: 

There will never be a set-in-stone answer. It totally depends on the ingredients in the products you use, how often you use them, and ALL the other things you do to reduce toxins and nourish your body and mind. Not ONE thing caused the cancer, so not one thing will take it away. This is why I created the 7 Essentials System® and the Survive & Thrive online program, a realistic step-by-step guide to conquering breast cancer with natural and conventional medicine.

More Nontoxic Solutions

Toxins easily sneak into your day and eat away at your health and healing. Another reason why Essential #2 is: Reduce Your Toxic Exposure. Please read each blog post to learn more and discover safe solutions.

  • Beauty Products. Your skin is your largest detoxification organ. Anything you put on it directly absorbs into your bloodstream and body.
  • Female Products. Toxins in these products (pads, tampons, etc.) are absorbed by your mucus membrane and then flow around your body via your bloodstream. 
  • Dental Products. Many toothpastes, mouthwashes, etc., send toxins directly into your mouth and bloodstream, the gateway to your entire body.
  • Tap water. It is a chemical cocktail that goes straight into your body. However, there are easy, at-home solutions for drinking safe water.

I’m consistently in awe of how easy it is to find clean, safe product swaps that are good for you and our planet! Do you have a pure and nontoxic brand you love? Please share it with us all in the comments!


Author: Dr. Veronique Desaulniers, better known as  Dr. V, is a Doctor of Chiropractic & has 44 years of experience in the wellness industry. For personalized support, please partner with a trained Breast Cancer Conqueror Coach.