If you’re leery about coloring your hair because you think hair dyes are unsafe and unhealthy, this news may make you hopeful. University of Leeds scientists plan a two-year project to extract chemical compounds from seaweed to replace the synthetic stuff found in many products currently on the market, according to press materials from the institution.

The synthetic ingredients found in hair dyes, most notably PPD (p-phenylenediamine) sometimes cause allergic reactions and contain chemicals linked to long-term health issues.

“We are hoping to be able to offer people a real alternative to current hair dyes that contain chemicals known to be very bad for you,” explained project leader Richard Blackburn, PhD, a natural products researcher at the university.

If you’re wondering what colors can be made from seaweed-containing hair dyes, prepare yourself for a variety of shades.

“We can make a range of colors using these natural compounds because the variety of British seaweed is so diverse,” said Christopher Rayner, a professor of organic chemistry at the university.

Scientists said they will focus on special techniques to isolate and extract compounds found in seaweed for use in hair dyes and other cosmetics, such as hair treatments and skin care.

These compounds, researchers said, have special anti-aging properties, making them perfect for these kinds of beauty products.

Read RH’s “Extreme Green Makeover: The Hair Care Edition” for more information about eco-friendly hair care products.