Advertise on OnMilwaukee.com

In Kids & Family

"Motherfest" is an OMC-exclusive, monthly column about parenting in Milwaukee and beyond.

Motherfest: Should kids dye their hair wacky colors?


Although tattoos and facial piercings are low on the cool index these days, hair dyeing is still the bomb. Throngs of teens and preteens -- some even younger kids -- are getting their hands on bottles of shocking hair dye colors and sporting everything from atomic pink streaks to entire heads drenched in napalm orange.

As a person whose hair has been just about every color -- from candy apple red to bright blue -- it's difficult for me to gage at what age it's appropriate for a kid to dye their hair. Not that my sons have asked yet -- they aren't even 5 years old yet -- but what about when they're 7 or 10? Would I breezily buy a bottle of Manic Panic for them?

I probably would. In fact, there's a good chance I would dye my mop right along side them, potentially much to their embarrassment. Even though I'm decades older, I understand the desire to decorate one's body, and to disassociate from the natural-hair-colored masses. Perhaps that makes me an eternal 16-year-old, but I think it's just plain ol' fun to switch up my look.

However, I know not everyone feels this way. Some are concerned about hair dye allergies thanks to a common chemical ingredient in permanent hair dyes, called para-phenylenediamine, or PPD. PPD is found in more than two-thirds of commercial dyes, including many of the top-selling brands.

In the past few years, hospitals have seen an increase in the number of kids coming in with hair dye-induced allergic reactions ranging from a rash around the hairline to full-on fatalities. These situations are very rare, but it still makes a parent stop and think, and at the very least, "patch testing" the hair before applying the dye seems like an absolute must.

Milwaukee's Jennifer Lucas is committed to parenting as naturally as possible, yet she lets her daughters dye their hair once a year, starting when they were age 5 and 8.

"Last year they wanted to have it done purple before their school pictures, and the year before that it was bright red bangs for Christmas," says Lucas.

Lucas says she was extremely careful not to get any of the dye in their eyes, and that she did the patch test on both girls before applying it to their bangs.

"Of course I tossed and turned about it, but I justified it as it's only once a year and it's really the only thing remotely toxic that they are exposed to," she says.

Herbavita, a brand of natural hair color, is another option. However, although the company offers bright reds and oranges, they don't delve into the wackier hues.

Although some parents might find fake hair color ugly, embarrassing or sending the wrong message, other parents - especially those with "alternative" personal style -- often support their mini-me's cool look. I know my heart swelled with pride when my 4-year-old son choose a pair of checkered Vans as his "school shoes" last year, exactly like the pair I owned in 1985. However, the issue of age appropriateness is something to always consider.

Talkbacks

verbannter | Aug. 19, 2008 at 12:02 p.m. (report)

What dyes or methods are best for young children. My older daughter wants pink hair. I have heard of the Cool-Aide treatment and that it holds for a long time. Suggestions or tips?

Rate this:
  • Average rating: 0.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

CarolV | July 27, 2007 at 1:31 p.m. (report)

For the past 2 years we've let our son decide how he wants to wear his hair in the summer (he's 8.5 now approaching 3rd gr.). For these 3 months, he can grow it long, get it cut or colored in whichever way he wanted (he's wearing it long "like professional soccer players" right now). This is with the understanding that once school starts (he goes to an MPS Montessori school), he's gotta go back to a style that is acceptable at school, but its still in a style of his choice (he was sporting the "Troy" do from HS Musical in the spring). His school has "crazy hair" days a couple times a year and he is all about temporary bright color gels then--and that's OK, for that day and then it showers out. So far, this system is letting him chose to express himself enough to keep him really happy. I imagine that this may change in high school, but its working for us right now.

Rate this:
  • Average rating: 0.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

smg521 | July 27, 2007 at 1:19 p.m. (report)

I really don't feel that kids dying their hair crazy colors is an issue worth worrying about. I certainly feel that kids should have rules and be expected to conduct themselves in a respectful manner, but, when it comes to personal appearance, I don't see what the harm is in experimenting with these types of things. Certainly, sticking with more temporary dye products rather than permanent dye products is advisable since they are probably safer (and since kids change their preferences often). If the worst thing your kid does is dye their hair blue, consider yourself lucky. There are many other things worth worrying about.

Rate this:
  • Average rating: 0.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

antmarta | July 27, 2007 at 6:19 a.m. (report)

As a professional in the hair industry I say what does it hurt to let our kid's express themselves with a little color. Say around the ages of 7-8 and up. I however would think twice about using permanent for that can prove to be a problem as far as reactions and even some costly color correction jobs at the salon. Temporary or semi-permanent is what you would want to use. Just so you know though even these colors can and have stained hair and have been difficult to remove. But hey, a couple haircuts and it's gone!

Rate this:
  • Average rating: 0.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
4 comments about this article.
Post a comment / write a review.

Facebook Comments

Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.