A 15-year-old girl, Rylee MacKay, was removed from classes at Hurricane Middle School in south Utah. The reason: her recently dyed reddish hair was “too distracting” and not “within the spectrum of color that grows naturally.” As a girl who dyed her hair as a teenager, I found MacKay’s hair to be a beautiful shade of red. Luckily, after washing her hair at home for four days, the school did deem her hair appropriate for returning to class. Yet, as a parent, it got me thinking about kids dyeing their hair. What sort of ground rules will I put in place for my children when they ask the inevitable question: Mom, can I dye my hair?
Demi-Permanent vs. Permanent
When I was 10-years-old, there was an expo at the beach. One of the vendors was doing Sun-In demonstrations. I didn’t know much about hair color. At the time, I was dark blonde. The Sun-In made my hair white blonde. The roots were very noticeable. This is why it is good to have kids use a demi-permanent hair color that is not too different from their natural color. A demi-permanent dye will last about six weeks. According to clairol.com, demi-permanent hair color will enhance, refresh or darken hair color.
Traditional hair dyes contain a lot of chemicals. Some of these chemicals can irritate the scalp. Thus, look for dye that is ammonia and hydrogen peroxide free. Be careful about dyes that are labeled natural. Some natural products are not at all natural. For instance, Clairol’s “natural” instincts 002 shade contains things like “Cocamidopropyl Betaine and 2-Methylresorcinol.” These ingredients are listed as a moderate hazard on the Environmental Working Groups’ cosmetics database. Regardless of the hair dye chosen, make sure to do a strand test to ensure your child doesn’t have an allergic reaction and also to make sure he or she likes the color. You can also go to ewg.org/skindeep to see how hazardous a hair dye product may be.
Follow School Rules
Many schools have rules about what kids can wear and do to their hair. I think it’s important for children and parents to respect the school rules. In Rylee MacKay’s case, I think the school overreacted. I think schools need to be a little more focused on things like drug use and bullying than hair dye. However, I do believe some hair styles and colors can be distracting. If your child wants to dye their hair an outrageous color for an event or just for fun, consider using a temporary dye. However, be advised that these dyes don’t always wash out as quickly as they claim to.
As far as age goes, I would personally wait until my child is a teen before allowing him or her to use hair dye (at least a more permanent one). Yet, it’s basically up for the parent to decide what is right for their children.
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