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Green and Gorgeous

Many people assume that the beautiful have it easy. That glamour is for the blessed and deserved. That good things come to gods and goddesses effortlessly. Well, it may be so, however beauty can also come at a price.

Preening oneself is an age-old tradition. Some cultures go to extreme lengths to adorn themselves with what they consider beautiful. Members of an African Shilluk Tribe are considered to look their best with body scarification. Shona witch doctors wear skins and beads. Kayan people wear neck coils from as young as two years old. All have an effect on the bearer or the earth.

In my world, the greatest length I go to is dyeing my hair. It seems harmless enough. I don’t have to endure extreme pain to achieve my blonde locks (Unless you count staring in the mirror for three hours painful. To me that is just plain annoying). And the fumes? Well, it’s bearable for that small amount of time, as long as I walk out feeling like the aforementioned goddess.

The dying of hair is an ancient art and it is now believed that 60% of modern women succumb to the change. In ancient times, the dyes were obtained from plants. Nowadays, over 5,000 different chemicals are used in hair dye products, some of which are reported to be carcinogenic. The National Cancer Institute‘s epidemiologic (population) studies have found an increased risk of bladder cancer in hairdressers and barbers.

Sixteen years ago, a little known hairdresser in Sydney didn’t know exactly how dangerous these chemicals were, but decided he’d had enough of the pungent fumes. He embarked on a journey that would ultimately lead him to a healthier and more enlightened existence.

Ammonia, a known poison, is the most common chemical in dyes. Pregnant women are advised not to use it. People with sensitive skin are irritated by it. And Joseph Maraud is convinced it slowly contaminates your organs. The ammonia fumes were making him feel sick so he proceeded to make the change to natural products.

He was apparently one of the first to do so and even though his initial intentions were purely selfish ones, he eventually found other sound reasons to go organic. He became better educated. He realised it was beneficial not only for his clients but when the world started waking up green, he realised he was doing his part to save the planet also.

This knowledge propelled him to do even more. He went a step further and began to use plastic, re-useable foils instead of aluminium strips that add copious amounts of waste the world over. I can vouch for the fact that the plastic ‘foils’ can pull a little uncomfortably on the scalp, however the knowledge that you are saving the planet one highlight at a time eradicates the pain.

Jo hasn’t seen anyone pass out from fumes since 1995, and his headaches have subsided. The earth is better for it too. Going ‘organic’ has changed his life personally and also that of his clients and the world.

He taught me something. That we can all be better. One small beautiful step at a time.

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