Dyes Demystified – How toxic is your fashion statement!!

An insight on the prevelant dyes in market.


An insight on the prevelant dyes in market and how dyes can affect a person’s health via water exposure, inhalation and skin contact. Clothing can contain harmful dyes which get absorbed by our skin pores due to heat and perspiration causing skin irritaion and people with chemical insensitivity may also suffer from extreme symptoms such as dermatitis, allergic reactions, skin problems like eczema etc. Dhaaga aims to promote an awarness to all its customers to be conscious of the textile dyes that are being used in the fabrics, the way that the fabrics are processed, and any finishes done on the fabric in the manufacturing process.

There are an enormous variety of dyes, but they generally fall into 3 major categories.dye1

Azo Dyes/Conventional – Synthetic, chemical-based dyes used in most conventional clothing today. These dyes contain chemical carcinogens like petrochemicals, formaldehyde, amines, and heavy metals.

Low impact/Fiber reactive – Synthetic, chemical-based dyes designed to give the same color palette as conventional dyes without the use of certain heavy metals, toxic compounds and carcinogens, and they are much better for you and the environment.

Organic/Natural clay and plant-based dyes – Naturally derived clay and plant-based dyes from roots, nuts, flowers, clays, and tree barks are the most ideal dyes to have in your clothing from a purity standpoint for our health and the health of our environment. These have limited color options.

What is azo-free or fiber-reactive dyes?

  • They have higher absorption rates into the clothing (greater than 70%), which means less chemical and grey water runoff into the environment.
  • They don’t include azo-dyes, a family of dye groups that contain toxic compounds ranging from chlorine bleach to known carcinogens such as aryl amines.
  • They don’t contain heavy metals.

The European Commission has adopted a proposal to restrict the use of azo dyes, a group of 43 chemicals that can cause cancer, and are dangerous to human genes if used carelessly. They are used to colour textile fibres, leather, plastics, pair, cosmetics and are  prevelant in hair and mineral oils, sleeping bags, neck-strap purses, clothes, bedding, towels, hairpieces, hats, footwear, gloves, wristwatch straps, handbags, purses, chair covers, textile or leather toys, and carpets apart from hand-made oriental ones. Their use is prevalent in China and India.

As responsible citizens and entrepreneurs, we should strive to source products that are azo free so as to leave behind a colourful and safe legacy for generations to come.

Check dhaaga’s album ikkats, ikkat saree and ikkat stoles for azo free ikkat collection made from 100% export quality reactive dyes  responsibly sourced by ministry of textiles authorized weaver.