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How to Correctly Dispose of Hair Dye [3 Ways]

Hair coloring or hair dyeing, today, is not just about covering grey hairs but has turned about to be one of the ways how individuals can express their personality and style. And with so many DIY hair dye kits available on the market, the process has become much easier for everyone.

From making hair appear fuller with more body, to changing hair color to keep up with seasonal trends, no matter what your reason is for dyeing your hair, one issue you are likely to encounter is how to dispose of the leftover hair dye.

Hair dye products

Discard or Reuse Leftover Hair Dye?

When you use an at-home hair dyeing kit, no matter how precise you are in mixing the dye according to the manufacturer’s instructions, you will have leftover dye and other mixing products from the pack.

Of course, your first instinct would be to not let them go to waste, in which case you might be wondering if you can reuse the product. So, can you reuse hair dye? The answer to this question depends on the type of dye you use.

In general, any at-home hair dye kit consists of peroxide (hydrogen peroxide) as an ingredient, which has to be mixed with the dye before use. If both the ingredients are mixed already, you cannot reuse any leftover dye, because the chemical reaction that colors your hair efficiently stops within a few minutes. Here are the different types of hair dyes that you can and cannot reuse:

  • Box dye: Available at your local beauty supply or drug store, box hair dyes come as a whole kit, containing different products like the dye/formula itself, color blend activator, hydrating oil, after-color conditioner, gloves, and user instructions. Most of the time, you will find that you are left with about half of the due and activator after the hair dyeing process. As discussed earlier, you cannot reuse any blended dye; all you can do is store the remaining dye, activator, and conditioner in its original box or any other dry box or container for future use.
  • Permanent hair dye: If you buy a permanent hair dye, you might be required to mix two or more ingredients to use the dye on your hair. Once again, if you accidentally or knowingly make a mixture using all the ingredients, you cannot save and reuse any leftover mixture. But, if you have not used everything at once, you can save what’s left for later.

Some permanent dye kits come with tubes of dye that contain all the ingredients pre-mixed to form the hair coloring formula. Even in this case, there is no point in saving leftovers for later.

  • Semi-permanent hair dye: In the case of semi-permanent dyes, hydrogen peroxide is not the major player; here, the dye comes formulated, and you need to store any leftover formula in an air-tight container to use the same later. Some manufacturers offer their semi-perm products in resealable packets, which make storing easier.
  • Natural hair dye: When it comes to all-natural hair color, henna happens to be the most popular option. If you choose this product as your hair color option, storing and reusing it is easy. You can either store the leftover paste in a glass jar or wrap it with aluminum foil and freeze it. The main aspect to remember when storing henna is to keep it away from heat and light.

Now that you know which type of hair dye can be reused and which need to be discarded, we shall move to learn how to dispose of hair dye and why it matters.

How to Dispose of Hair Dye

Most hair dyes contain numerous synthetic chemicals, which are known to be harmful to the environment. As a result, hair dye falls under the hazardous waste category, which means you CANNOT dispose of your hair dye by throwing it in the garbage, recycle or compost bin, and flushed down the sink/drain.

Dispose Of As Hazardous Waste

The best way to get rid of hair dye that you no longer need is to dispose of it as hazardous waste. To do so, you need to check with your local environmental agency to know the proper steps for disposal and how the waste collection is done. Some agencies are likely to have specific days assigned for collecting hazardous waste at certain drop-off points. Knowing this will make the process easier and more convenient for you.

Donate or Share

If you happen to have unopened packets of hair dye or fresh leftovers that can be reused, you can consider donating them to assisted living facilities, nursing homes, women’s shelters, etc. in your neighborhood. But, before you visit the center in person, check or call ahead to make sure that they do accept donations of such products. This is because many such shelters do not accept products like hair dyes due to safety concerns and legal consequences.

Use All-Natural / Plant-Based Hair Dye Instead

The best way to not have to deal with the disposal of leftover hair dye would be to switch to an all-natural or plant-based hair dye product. Vegan hair dyes, in particular, are also cruelty-free, which is an additional selling point, and many users prefer this alternative especially for this reason.

Using an all-natural hair dye product:

  • helps you color your hair without the use of harsh/harmful chemicals or additives, as these products essentially use only natural herbs to achieve the desired color.
  • enables you to attain your desired hair color without facing the side effects, like hair damage, otherwise caused by non-vegan or chemical-based hair dye products.
  • makes your hair healthier and more vibrant. Thanks to the inclusion of natural plant and vegetable extracts, herbs, and proteins, your hair receives all the nutrients it needs to become naturally healthy and vibrant.

Above all, with natural, organic, and vegan hair dyes, you do not have to worry a lot about their disposal, because their natural formulation does not cause any harm to the environment, wildlife, or aquatic life. Therefore, you can dispose of unused all-natural hair dye just like you would dispose of any other household waste.

Why Properly Disposing of Hair Dye Matters

Similar to most other hair products, hair dye is also classified as a hazardous waste product. This is because almost all hair dye products contain harmful synthetic substances and chemicals, like p-Phenylenediamine (PPD) – a toxic colorant, which is not only suspected to be cancer-causing but also detrimental to the environment. These chemicals are also toxic to the nervous system, immune system, and respiratory system.

Furthermore, PPD, in particular, is also found to be extremely toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects. Since the chemical is water-soluble by nature, it can easily reach the aquatic environment, causing long-term harm, which is why it is recommended against pouring hair dye down the drain or sink. Also, chemicals from your hair dye, when washed down the drain, can reach the soil and groundwater, and can also damage your plumbing system.

Note that this is just one of the many chemicals used in the formulation of chemical, non-vegan hair dyes, and the others are equally harmful too.

Should You Dilute Excess Hair Dye Before Disposal?

If you have been researching online about ways to dispose of hair dye, you must have come across posts that recommend you dilute your excess hair dye and pour it down the drain. While this could seem like a better alternative to disposing of the dye in the garbage or recycling bin, understand that it makes the product only LESS HARMFUL and NOT HARMLESS.

Yes, the dye will still cause harm to the aquatic life, to the groundwater, your plumbing system, and anything else it comes in contact with. After all, less harmful does not mean it is safe. So, it is best to avoid this disposal method and stick to the ones discussed above.

Talk to Experts

The chemical compositions or formulations in hair dyes vary from one product to the other; in most cases, older products typically contain higher concentrations of synthetic/harmful chemicals than recently introduced or manufactured ones. Therefore, before you make any decision about how to dispose of your hair dye, it is wise to talk to an expert, like the members of the waste disposal service in your area. Use their expertise and learn the right techniques to dispose of any excess hair dye you may want in the future.

Though this might seem like a time-consuming and long step, doing this only does good to you and the environment. With everything that the environment is going through right now, it needs all the help it can get, and this will be your small contribution to the same.

Going forward, think about switching to a natural, organic, or vegan hair dye product. With people becoming more and more conscious about their health and that of the environment, the market is filled with all-natural products in every category possible. So, finding an all-natural hair dye that matches your expectations shouldn’t be a problem at all.

My name is Thomas Anderson, and I have worked briefly as a plumber. Even though I am currently working on a different career path I still help out my friends and family with their plumbing issues. This is a hobby blog where I share my knowledge with the audience through random articles. Through this blog, I hope to address some common questions about garbage disposals.