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Ingredient Watch List: Phenylenediamine, the Hair Dye Allergen That Can Irritate Skin

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Have you had your hair colored lately? If so, you were probably exposed to phenylenediamine (PPD), a chemical widely used in most hair dyes, even those that claim to be natural. It’s a popular ingredient because it helps new color to look natural, and to withstand numerous washings without fading. There are some concerns with this ingredient, however, that may make you think twice about how often you change your hair color.

What is Phenylenediamine?

Also known as paraphenylenediamine, p-phenylenediamine, or 1,4-benzenediamine, PPD is an organic compound used in hair dyes, as well as in rubber chemicals, textile dyes and pigments. Manufacturers like it because it has a low relative toxicity level, high temperature stability, and chemical and electrical resistance. In other words, it helps the new color stay on your hair despite numerous washings, dryings, and stylings.

What are the Concerns?

The main concern with this ingredient is that it is an allergen, and can create difficult skin reactions on the scalp, ears, or neck—wherever the hair dye comes into contact with your skin. The National Institute for 
Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) notes the following:

  • PPD is potentially capable of causing multiple toxic effects following skin contact.
  • Data from studies of both humans and animals are sufficient to demonstrate that PPD has potent skin-sensitizing properties.
  • Several cases of contact dermatitis have been reported following occupational exposure to dyes containing the chemical.
  • Studies have also identified the chemical as the third most common ingredient, after fragrances and preservatives, that can cause contact dermatitis from cosmetics (mainly skin-care products, hair preparations and colorants, and facial makeup products).

In fact, a group of European dermatologists noted that as more young people color their hair, the incidence of hair dye allergies is on the rise. Patients with severe reactions suffer from painful rashes around the hair line or on the face. Facial swelling is also common. Some reactions are so serious that the sufferers must be hospitalized.

“Over-Exposure” Causing More Allergies?

Experts theorize that as more and more people color their hair more and more often, the incidence of PPD allergies goes up. PPD is also present in many inks used for temporary tattoos. In 2001, the FDA noted it had received several reports of adverse reactions to these temporary skin-staining products, including “black henna” which may contain PPD.

The FDA stated, “So-called “black henna” may contain the “coal tar” color p-phenylenediamine, also known as PPD. This ingredient may cause allergic reactions in some individuals. The only legal use of PPD in cosmetics is as a hair dye. It is not approved for direct application to the skin.”

PPD used in skin tattoos has a greater potential to cause allergic reactions because it is often used at higher concentrations than in hair dyes, and is also applied while in it’s oxidation process. Still, the fact that it’s not approved for use on the skin raises concerns in itself—how can you get your hair colored without some of the stuff coming in contact with your scalp or the skin around your hair, neck, and ears?

How Do You Know if You’re Allergic?

You may not be allergic to PPD. It may not bother you at all today—but it may tomorrow. That’s how so-called “skin sensitizers” work. The more you use them, the higher your risk that your skin will become sensitive to them.

If you’re not allergic, you may just want to continue to color your hair with caution. If you are allergic, you’ll probably experience symptoms such as those mentioned above (rash, swelling), and you may also experience blisters and sores on the scalp, wheezing, hives, itching, and dermatitis on the forehead, eyelids or ears.

How to Avoid This Ingredient

If you are concerned about allergic reactions to PPD, read labels and avoid the following ingredients. Realize that PPD is also in many over-the-counter hair dye products for both men and women.

  • p-Phenylenediamine or paraphenylenediamine
  • 4-phenylenediamine
  • phenylenediamine
  • p-diaminobenzene
  • 4-aminoaniline
  • 1,4-benzenediamine
  • 1,4-diaminobenzene

For hair dyes that are PPD-free, I only recommend Henna. I feel that it’s the safest option. (Read more about Henna here.) If you’re looking for other less-toxic options, you may want to try the following:

  • Semi-permanent dyes
  • Lady Grecian® Formula
  • Palette by Nature
  • Sanotint Natural Permanent Hair Dye
  • Jerome Russell’s Color Mousse
  • Temporary Color Spray
  • Grecian® Formula
  • Clairol® Loving Care Haircolor
  • Sun-In®, Spray-In Hair Lightener
  • Vegetable-based hair dyes such as juglone from walnut shells

Do you have a favorite toxin-free hair dye? Please share.

* * *

Photo courtesy BedazzledSalonSpa via Flickr.com.

p-Phenylenediamin, JADN Repository, March 2007, http://jadn.co.uk/w/paraphenylenediamine.htm.

“NIOSH Skin Notation Profiles, p-Phenylene Diamine (PPD),” Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2011-154/pdfs/2011-154.pdf.

Salynn Boyles, “As More Teens Use Hair Color, Incidence of Allergies Increases,” WebMD, February 1, 2007, http://www.webmd.com/healthy-beauty/news/20070201/hair-dye-allergies-rise.

Temporary Tattoos & Henna/Mehndi, FDA, April 18, 2001, http://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/productandingredientsafety/productinformation/ucm108569.htm.

“p-Phenylenediamine – Patient Information,” Allergen Patch Test, http://www.truetest.com/PatientPDF/Patient_pPhenylenediamine.pdf.

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66 Responses to “Ingredient Watch List: Phenylenediamine, the Hair Dye Allergen That Can Irritate Skin”

  • Heidi Dietz says:

    Is there any products with out these chemicals? I am been looking and can not find anything. I had a horrible reaction about two months ago that resulted in a hospital stay. I am desperate!

    • Susan says:

      Beautiful Browns by Clairol, only those colors without descriptive names like warm or ash. I use Brown, & Dark Brown for 20+ years. No problem

      Was kph hair, let it air dry fir a few min, then apply , sit under dryer for 30 min. Wash out with cool water very quickly, don’t wash out too long.

      Good Luck

    • Taylor says:

      I use Matrix hair color and i have sensitive skin. Im not sure what the cemicals in it are but the Matrix SoColor line works for me. When i used schwarzkopf i got cemical burns on my next and scalp. It might be something to next time

  • Sam says:

    There is a new healthy hair dye called Love Your Color by CoSaMo and they came out with a product very similar to the old Clairol Loving Care. I used it and it is phenomenal. Recommend it to all of you

    • linda erickson says:

      My dermatologist recommended Free & Clear shampoo and conditioner. It is available at Walgreens. It works very well for me, since I was diagnosed with allergies to p-Phenylenediamine. Good Luck.

  • Margo says:

    Hello ladies
    I just had a name put on my problem and am trying to find juat a shampoo and conditioner. I went through everything I had and most of it had some form of this compound so I gave it to my daughter ( BTW she is thrilled that she gets all this new stuff to play with). I used something with NO similar compounds listed and after one use 2 days ago, thought I’d give it a day or 2 to see what happened, I am bout to scratch holes in my head!!!!!!!
    If I have to buy, try and wait I will go broke! does anyone know of an Actual phenylenediamine free shampoo and conditioner?

  • Margo says:

    Me again….. if anyone has any reccomendations as far as color as well that would be Great! I haven’t colored in about a year because the last time I did i reacted so bad that my head was one big wound! the it “weeped” for almost 2 weeks and still itched like Crazy after that……My Whole Head!!!! Thanks again in advance

  • Diane says:

    I had a severe reaction 4 years ago, required hospitaliztion. Since then I’ve been using a natural product named “Sanotint”. I highly recommend for those of you that have allergic reactions or for those that just want a natural colorant.

  • Kacy Green says:

    I’m a hairdresser and would love to have a permanent coloring option that is safer. I can manage most colors off the scalp, but gray coverage is a big problem. How do these products you’ve mentioned work for gray coverage?

    • Jayne says:

      Have found a product which only contains natural ingredints to colour grey….called… silver to gold/…..gives a golden to copper colour,, contaiins some henna and plants/herbs only. Look it up on line (has a short processing time) also there are red/brown all natural henna plus other plant ingredients powders ,,,,,,but make sure there are no chemicals added…Biotique do a good one called bio henna (red/brown….not bright)

    • My hair stylist uses L’anza healing hair color on my hair. However, I am allergic to PPD but she says L’anza does not have it. Does it or not? What alternative to I have to color gray hair (a permanent color)

  • paula says:

    I have an allergic reaction to just about everything, I have tried tints of nature, sanotint, and just about ready to scratch my head off. I am not ready to go gray. if anyone has any advice please please please let me know

  • bernice says:

    I had an extremely severe reaction to hair colour, resulting in a ICU stay in hospital, very high blood pressure, etc. a near – death experience. Subsequently looked around for a couple of months before using SWARZKOPF ESSENSITY – available in many various colour, and applied by trained professionals, leaving the hair looking beautiful, and lasts for the full term until the roots need to be re-done.
    Thank you Schwarzkopf for taking the trouble to manufacture a product that is natural and perfect to use !!!

  • Jules says:

    Remember, manufacturers do not have to list PPD as an ingredient if it has less than a certain percentage in it…I think it is 4 or 6%. So, you must always do your research for ingredients… contact the manufacturer and ask for a complete list of ingredients. This can be painstaking and requires time. To date, and it has been over a year, I have not found one permanent hair dye product with zero PPD in it, only semi-permanent which washes out so quickly.

    And then there is TDS…apporx. half of people with PPD allergy will also have TDS allergy. The reactions to TDS can mock those to PPD, so one must be very, very careful. Do a patch test and another one 48 hours later before using! I am going for a true patch test for TDS at my allergists office next week so I know for sure in a controlled setting whether or not I am also allergic to TDS. Fingers crossed!!!

    • admin says:

      Yes asking for a full list of ingredients is the way to go. Thanks for sharing and make it a wonder-filled day :).

  • Laurie says:

    Goldwell’s Elumen is said to be PPD-free. Has anyone had experience with it?

  • Janice Smith says:

    Hi I am also wondering for those that tried PPD free hair dyes/ henna. Did it cover greys??

  • Christy Anderson says:

    COLOR BRILLIANCE, is now PPD free. In most colors, try Sally’s beauty supply store.

  • Brenda says:

    My ppd sensitivity was made known to me years beforehand & unfortunately filed away in memory banks, forgotten. I started dying my hair black at home semi perm, probably the third time of colouring after washing dye out my scalp seemed a little warm, an hour later i had burning itching all over my scalp and my backs of ears had lost top layer ok skin & were dripping literally, stupidly when all healed bout 8 weeks later i tried again, with an expensive PPD free, all natural semi from health shop, this reaction was so severe my face looked like i had been bashed i was so swollen could barely see out my eyes, the weeping lasted forever to be superseded by this follicle infection i seem to have developed. Ten months is a long time to be dealing with a “sensitivity” my hair is natural colour first 3 inches but still the infection continues. Why Why Why

  • Danielle says:

    I’m a hairdresser and I have used Goldwell’s Elumen before it’s a good color, but if you ever want to change it, it’s hard to get out. I’ve heard Neyo hair color is ppd free from my fellow hairdresser. I’m going to try it out the next time I need to touch up my roots. I’ll let you guys know how it goes.

  • Trisha says:

    Going to have to look at some of these products. I too had a severe allergic reaction to PPD and my hairdresser even used foil to keep the color from touching my scalp. But, with long hair, it still ends up touching the scalp and I had facial swelling, weepy scalp and ears and a rash on my neck. I think I went through a bottle of baby shampoo trying to wash out as much of it as I could and was researching online to find any relief. Even prescriptions seemed to take forever to kick in and offer any relief.
    Hard to believe a chemical that caused eye infections and blindness from mascara use is still allowed in any beauty products. Yet, here I am looking for a product I can use because we live in ageist society and I am hunting for a new job. Can’t let any grey peek through, ;)
    Thank you for such an informative post!

  • Lindy says:

    I suffered from terrible reactions to hair coloring. I thought Sanotint was my answer but I had a SEVERE reaction to this product, so severe an ambulance had to be called … near anaphylactic. Sanotint does not contain PPD, but it does contain TDS or Toluene 2.5 Diamene Sulphate.

    My lifesaver: Lustrous Henna, a wonderful Henna-based hair coloring option available from Saba Botanical. Several shades to choose from. I use Lustrous Henna Dark Brown, which is amazing. My hair has dimension and is super soft and shiny, in better condition than ever. I only use 1/2 package so it costs me less than $4 to do my hair! Their service is amazing.

    Be sure to get allergy testing done as these allergies may migrate over to anesthetics. Let your dentist and doctor know.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for sharing your reaction, Lindy! Glad you could find an alternative and henna-based hair dye that doesn’t contain those nasty chemicals!

  • Lyn says:

    I tried a PPD free product, the Chi Ionic by Farouk..and I still had one of the worst reactions from another ingredient in this hair color. .I was aware I was allergic to PPD…so I thought (very wrongly) that this product would be the answer…NOT…I have to get ingredients so that I can compare to these other options. I tried one henna product (dark hair), applied by a professional…it did nothing…and took hours for the application, etc. I haven’t seen anything here yet that may help me…so it’s back to research I go. I have long dark hair and I really am not ready, at 60, to go grey…my mom is 87 and still colors her own!!!!

  • Jen says:

    I also was diagnosed with an allergy to PPD, I broke out in hives on my face, and even arms. I now use the CHI line of hair color, it’s PPD and ammonia free. My hairdresser buys it separate for me because the salon where she works does not carry it. So far so good, it’s been over a year now.

  • Ali says:

    I too have had a horrible reaction to hair dye that sent me to the ER. Since, I’ve done a couple patch test and found goldwell elumen and haven’t a reaction. It’s the only thing that has worked. The only thing I don’t like about it is that it is translucent and doesn’t last very long. My hope is that there is a solution soon that will make the color last a little longer. I’m in my early 30s and the gray has come early for me :/

    Also, the ingredient is in so many other things. After I had my first child, it was in a spray that was supposed to help sooth the area; however, it contained some form of ppd which landed me back in the hospital for a steroid shot.

    • Cassandra says:

      Hi Ali,

      I too am allergic to pod and nickel. Have you been able to find anything that is suitable? I am thinking of Cosomomor henna from Mehandi with indigo.

      Are you able to use mineral base makeup, I am struggling because it has nickel?

      So frustrating!
      Any feedback would be welcome!


  • Lenora says:

    I need help . Allergic to nickel and ppd skin is now imfected on legs back and arms camt stop scratching. Dr has me on antibiotic and steriod cream noth ing os working the rash is so uncomfortable I can’t sleep. Any suggestions

    • Severley Allergic Cosmetologist & Instructor says:

      Yes, you can bleach but cannot tone. Toner is color which contains Ppd.

  • Zee says:

    I discovered that I am allergic to PPD. I’ve been told that using bleach for hair is ok, is that true? I asked my hairdresser, he said he don’t have any products without the PPD. he said he can do a foil with bleach and then he will need to use a toner. He have MATRIX COLOR which is ammonia free. he did a test patch on my arm it was good. I am terrified to die my hair but I need to do it. last time the swelling on my face and my eyes was horrible. I am thinking of doing bleach with a toner using a foil. Will that help? I need to know from people who did highlight with bleach and using foil if they still had reaction. Please let me know

  • vivian says says:

    PPD is horrible chemical. Just recovering from the toxicity. Have rash on back, abdomen, chest, the up to face with progressive swelling., Had to be admitted to ER and then to the hospital. On Pednisone,, Diflucan in very high doses. Hair color is not worth dying for.!!!

  • Iturmero says:

    Hi & hope someone can advise if the Keratin Hair treatment is safe.

    Appreciate comments.


  • Lucy Dawson says:

    Glad you mentioned henna. I’d like to praise this some more, it’s a lifesaver if you want to dye your hair without all those chemicals!

  • Allie says:

    Hi everybody! Great to see that many of you have discovered henna, just be aware (and consider yourselves warned) that real pure henna is flaming orange/red – and ONLY that colour. If you see “henna” which claims to be able to colour your hair brown or black it is not pure henna. It may be mixed with other natural powders (walnut shell, cassis, indigo, etc.) which would probably be okay or it may be mixed with chemical dyes which is not okay at all if you’re trying to avoid harmful chemicals.

    Also, it can be difficult to colour gray hair with henna (and other natural dyes) because gray hair tends to be compact and the dyes do not penetrate or stick easily. I cannot use henna to cover my first grays because the henna only make the grays a bit yellow-orangey and then it immediately washes out. The rest of my hair (which is dark brown) gets a beautiful warm red-brown colour from henna which lasts fairly long and fades slowly but that really does me no good as the henna only turns my grays yellow-orange and then disappears.

    I use Sanotint Light (a semi-permanent dye) which contains no PPD, but does contain other chemicals, to colour my hair and cover my grays. As a chemical dye it does damage hair (as opposed to henna) but not so much that I won’t use it.

    I’ve been reading about pre-oiling with coconut oil – that is, covering dry hair with coconut oil for a couple of hours (preferably under a plastic shower cap and a warm towel) and then colouring hair with chemical dye directly on top. This is supposed to cause less damage to the hair as the coconut conditions and protects hair. In some cases it supposedly even makes the colour stick better which is kind of counter-intuitive but apparently it works. I’m just wondering if the Sanotint Light hair dye, which is supposed to be milder than other dyes and which is only semi-permanent, is strong enough to work together with the coconut oil.

    Has anyone tried pre-oiling together with Sanoting Light?

  • Allie says:

    Update on pre-oiling with coconut oil before colouring with Sanotint Light.

    Last week, just after posting in this forum, I tried pre-oiling with coconut oil before colouring with Sanotint Light and it worked like a charm. On dry hair (free from styling products) I applied pure coconut oil from roots to tips. Coconut oil is solid in the jar but melts on contact with the heat of your hands. All oiled up, I separated my hair into 5 strands (as if to make 5 plaits/braids) and folded them across my head and secured with hair pins. I did this to keep all of my hair close to my scalp to keep it warm enough to keep the coconut oil liquid. Apparently, cocnut oil has a molecular structure which allows it to penetrate the hair cuticle (whereas most other oils simply coat it) but this only works with liquid coconut oil so you have to prevent it from solidifying on your hair. Then I covered my hair with a shower cap, wrapped a towel around to keep my hair warm and left it for about two hours.

    Then I mixed the dye and developer and applied it directly onto my oiled up hair. Applying dye to my hair is usually a bit difficult because my always starts to clump together which makes it hard to ensure that every bit gets covered (I have thick shoulder-length hair). With oil in my hair this was a lot easier as there was no clumping together. I left the dye on my hair exactly as normally and then first rinsed my hair very carefully, then shampooed it very carefully. The Sanotint dyes come with a ‘Restructuring Balm’ which must be applied after washing out the dye cream and must be left in hair. It has a low pH which help ‘close’ the hair cuticle (to hold on to the colour and smoothe hair) and it contains various ingredients which conditions the hair. I always use this as part of the dyeing process but I find my hair gets a bit coarse from the dyeing process nevertheless. However, this time with the pro-oiling my hair felt and still feels just as soft as it did before dyeing. (Until I washed my hair the next time it felt a bit heavy and greasy with the Sanotint Restructuring Balm in it and probably a residue of coconut oil, but now it’s just fine.)

    I was a bit worried that the oil would prevent the dye from being truly and properly absorbed – especially because I use Sanoting Light which is a semi-permanent dye with may not be as powerful as a permanent one – but it seems even a semi-permanent dye works perfectly well on top of coconut oil.

    However, I would not recommend doing this with most other oils as their molecular structure is different. I’ve read that coconut oil (when liquid!) and possibly also avocado oil can penetrate into the hair cuticle whereas most other oils only form a film on the outside of the hair cuticle. Both actions can be useful for conditioning (coconut oil for deep conditioning and other oils for surface conditioning) but I would imagine that the oils which are unable to penetrate the hair cuticle may, to some extent, prevent the dye from being absorbed.

    Likewise I’m pretty sure that henna won’t work at all on top of any oil, not even coconut.

    In any case I can conclude that

    1) coconut oil (at body temperature) works really well as a deep-conditioning treatment on my hair, and

    2) Sanotint Light dye can be used directly on top of (liquid, that is body temperature) coconut oil with great results.

    I’ll definitely continue to use coconut oil as a deep-conditioning treatment and I’ll also use it again to pre-oil before dyeing.

  • Val says:

    Thank you for such a great post on PPD and also to Allie (Previous comment), for sharing her process and the results of using Coconut Oil.

    The first time coloring my hair (Two years prior), I had little to no reaction.

    The second time the following year, I had an extremely volatile reaction which included itching, sensation of bugs crawling/biting your skin, hives, swelling, rash, nausea, weeping welts, ear burn, and a mild form of Anaphylactic shock. I used Garnier Hair Color (Foam) – I had believed the brand was the issue and thought the formula may have been too strong.

    The third and last time, I changed brands (Revlon) and had a similar experience, but not as harsh: Rash, weeping welts, severe facial swelling.

    I have now discovered the problem is not the brand, it’s the chemical PPD (Strangely, most hair dye brands contain the same ingredients). After hours of research and reading similar stories, PPD is a very dangerous (If not deadly) chemical ingredient in hair dye products

    Quite frankly, I have decided to make it my personal mission to inform all who use these products to be aware of the danger. I find this chemical poisoning disturbing and am surprised that someone has not filed a class action lawsuit against the industry.

    More importantly, I strongly believe that the manufacturers (Garnier, Revlon, Clairol, et al) should be REQUIRED to post a WARNING label on all of the products that contain PPD. However, the best solution would be an FDA ban on PPD (And, similar chemicals) entirely.

    Stay away from products that contain PPD!

  • CJ says:

    I had a bad reaction to hair color about 4 years ago, swollen face, extremely bad rash on my scalp, hair line and ears and was on prednisone for several months to get rid of the allergic response in my body. After years of having my hairdresser do foils with dye to hide grey, I decided to try for better grey coverage by doing the whole head with dye followed by foil highlights. What a mistake!

    After a lot of research and some patch tests to test for sensitivity, I now use a PPD-free hair color line called Palette by Nature. It is shipped directly to my hair salon and they do the roots with a dark color to cover the grey, then put a foil over it with bleach for highlights. It covers well and I am pleased that I found an alternative to going grey. However, the color is less vibrant and more transparent than many traditional hair colors, so the foil highlights are needed to make it look natural. I’ll take the tradeoff thought, since I have been reaction free for 3 1/2 years, thanks to Palette by Nature.

    If you are sensitive to PPD, the key tip I can give you is that you need to be your own advocate and watch carefully for your environment. I went to an allergist immediately (strongly recommend this for anyone who has access to an allergist, since they have much greater familiarity with these kinds of issues than GPs or even some dermatologists) and had him do a wide panel of patch tests to confirm what I thought, that it was a reaction to PPD, but also found several other related things that I am allergic to, including black rubber (which probably has PPD) and some minerals. Once you get sensitized, you can have much more severe reactions, which it tough because PPD can show up in other places including textile dyes. After getting the scalp rash under control, I was still having issues with a body rash, and realized I had to ditch my dark blue and deep green designer bed sheets for plain white. Also, some black fabrics cause me to itch (tough when it’s your favorite black skinny jeans!) and let’s not even mention how much I miss colored lingerie now that I am in all white, mostly cotton! I have learned that if I buy a dark garment that I should wash it first to get rid of excess dye, then wear it around the house for a while before wearing it out where I can’t change it if I break out in hives.

    My hair dresser is constantly on the lookout for other hair color options that are PPD free and might cover grey better. We tried one a month or so ago that claimed to work for PPD sensitive people. We put just a small dot on my wrist as a patch test before doing the whole head and within 36 hours, my wrist swelled up and blistered badly — luckily we didn’t try it on my scalp! If you are searching, definitely don’t try anything on your hair, start with a small spot on your skin first to be sure that you can tolerate it. And be aware that at any moment you may develop a sensitivity to something that was fine before, so pay close attention to what your body is telling you.

  • Severley Allergic says:

    I am a hairdresser and an instructor who is severley allergic to ppd. To the question about bleach. Yes, you can bleach. But you CANNOT get your hair toned during the process which cancels out unwanted tones. Toner is color which contains PPD. There are good bleaches out there that have amazing lightening action.

    Also go the coment about Ellumen. Goldwells Ellumin line is Ppd free. But stains the scalp for about a week. And slowley washes out. I feel it coats the hair strand but not necessarily changes the hair strands color. Its very gentel and has a jelly like consistency. It also can be hard to aquire and a bit pricey.

  • Wendy Depaoli says:

    Please join the Facebook Group: Ban PPD in Hair Dyes in the United States of America. We have added this article as well as any information we can get our hands on. We also seek out and give reviews on “PPD free” products. Please keep each other safe. Many safe wishes to all of you.

  • Lisa says:

    I get severe headaches and nausea after permanent hair dye from PPD. Good to learn toner has PPD as I was going to highlight and tone it. So are semi permanent hair dyes ok? Looking for grey coverage.

  • Lisa jekot says:

    I’m a hairstylist of 2 6 yrs. .. just became allergic to PPD…. my whole life changed overnight. … Believe I’m also allergic polyester. .. have read that you are sensitive to polyester if allergic to PPD! Having trouble finding hair products that don’t make me itch! I’m just starting my journey. .. will share all of my helpful as it comes

  • Sahra says:

    Hi, i have been dying my hair for years and then a year ago I took a severe reaction the a standard permanant dye, vomiting, chronic stomach pains,diarreha and a very sore scalp but no blisters just a headache and a feeling of tightenss. I didn’t realise at the time it was the hair dye, we thought I had food poisoning! The stomach pains lasted a couple of hours and I thought I was dying, my sister got a medic out and they didn’t kow what was wrong either. In the end the pain subsided and things calmed down. Still not sure what had happened but had a nigle at the back of my mind it had to have been something to do with the dye I bought a semi permenant dye, same reaction about an hour after I dyed my hair but not as severe, for me that was it. I needed to find an alternative so I tried Daniel Field – great no reacation and thought i had found the perfect product, hair was lovely and smooth, smelt great and covered my grey! unfortunately the next time i bought the product i didn’t realise there was another company using the same name, got the product put it on and within 10 minutes realised there was a problem, the heat coming off my head was scary, i washed it off as soon as I felt it get warm! unfortunately my reaction was worse than ever – I went to A&E knowing the pains and sickness would start only this time head felt like it was getting tigher and tighter, my whole scalp turned red and while waiting to be seen started to get a sking rash. didn’t vomit this time but had the stomach pains and diarreha. The staff weren’t very helpful because this was self inflicted I think and by the time i saw a doctor the stomach pains had subsided. i was told in no uncertain terms not to dye my hair ever again and that the next time I could die! i am now so scared i haven’t tried anything not even the dye that did work for fear of a reaction. I am waiting to see an allergist. i have read eveything on here and it looks like people have different reactions, has anyone else had the same reaction to me and what did they end up doing? I don’t want to go grey but i also don’t want to dye.

  • linda says:

    I too am allergic to ppd. My scalp is still sensitive at times. I use aloe from the aloe plant to put on tender spots on my scalp. I’m now going back to using my hair products for styling since my scalp has improved. The Free and Clear shampoo and conditioner work very well. I am now bleaching with foils instead of coloring for the time being. I do find that if I get hair products directly on my scalp they may irritate. Has anyone found a line of styling products that don’t further irritate?

    • Cassandra says:


      Any luck with sensitive skin issues? I too now have a sensitive scalp from PPD allergy.
      Can anyone recommend a gentle shampoo?


  • Susan says:

    I developed a severe reaction to my salon’s organic hair dye after 8 years of use. I found a pure henna online called MEHANDI- unlike so called hennas and natural hair color products sold at Whole Foods Market, this is truly a pure henna. All types of hair color available. Check it out. I have had no problems after 3 years and hope it continues.

  • Karen MacTavish says:

    Dupont, the manufacturer of phenylenediamine in most
    hairdye prohibits skin contact in their MSD-sheet.

    Gloves and a cap (allowing blended contrasting tones)
    is required, yet only the gloves are included. Patch tests
    are not reliable. Hairdye is exempt from FDA control as a
    result of lobbying.

    This protection omission inevitably harms many.

  • Cath says:

    Love My Hair is a new range of chemical-free colour. Totally covers grey and gives fabulous colour. http://www.lovemyhair.co.za

    • Cassandra says:

      Hi Cath,

      I have a ppd allergy. I have just bought love my colour from a health shop. I am hesitant to you it as i have heard henna might change your grey to yellow? Also wanted to check if its free from black henna? Lastly did you do it yourself or are there hairdressers that will apply it for you?



  • Liz says:

    Hello I have MCS and I would like to share my experience with sanotint ppd free black I did the patch test and had no reaction . I would like to add that I waited 5 days as suggested by the sales clerk just to be safe. So I went ahead and dyed my hair pleased as punch that I had found something :) about 10 min. On my scalp it started itching I waited about 5 more minutes thinking I’m crazy it’s in my head did the patch test . I had to rinse it started burning . My scalp was burnt raw and swelled it was one of the worst reactions I have ever had . : Toluene-2,5-Diamine Sulfate is very close to PPD a cousin so I have read . I would strongly recommend not using this product . Or at the very least do several patch test prior to using . I do like Colora henna doesn’t last very long but nice normal colours and manic panic I have never had a reaction just a pain in the butt to use doesn’t last and not very natural colors . Happy dyeing :)

  • clarina says:

    I prefer covering grey hair with blonde color, since grey roots are more easily dissimulated when hair grows. But most natural henna brands are unable to cover grey hair blonde, so you will have to stay in the brown/red/black colors if you wish to remain 100% natural dye. However, I have found COLOR HENNA, wheat blonde as well as HENNE COLOR from Paris, golden blonde to be the two most beautiful colors and effective henna that I tried on my hair. Unfortunately, color lasts rarely more than two weeks and fades away with shampoo. Since I wash mine frequently, I finally gave up and decided to try SANOTINT which contains 5% chemicals, SANOTINT LIGHT being entirely PPD free.

  • marie says:

    I’m a 40 year old women who’s dyed my hair ever since I was a teen ager. I’ve used several different brands of dyes, all of sudden, without any warning, my hair started to feel warm and tingly. I thought it was from perming my hair so I didn’t worry. It then started to feel as though my hair was on fire. Afterwords I broke out in hives,my ears itched from the inside. My ears started peeling behind them. I stared to develope lumps in my lymthnodes behind my ears. I missed so much work because of the extreme itching. I could hardly take showers. Although the water felt good mentally, it only irritated my hives physically. I now use color me gray henna. Its messy, I hate using it, but I’m afraid to try anything eles. It works ok I have brownish black hair. I would love to have midnight black hair again, but I’m afraid that ship might have sailed. Color me gray covers your gray, no reaction,but instead of black, it’s dark brown. I feel like my youth is being stolen.
    Signed need help. Can’t use diamine sulfate or phen. Please help
    Any suggestions other than henna would be appreciated.

  • Martin says:

    50yo male here who has been using some beard & mustache coloring purchased at any grocery/retail store. Approximately 1 year ago I had all sorts of skin problems and rashes that due to a patch test, have narrowed it down to PPD. While I can easily stop using the coloring, I do enjoy how it makes my beard & mustache look (as opposed to patchy grey).

    Can anyone recommend a beard & mustache coloring that won’ t affect me in a negative way with PPD in it? So far, the only brand I ever see at Walmart is Just For Men. Thank you!

  • ashley says:

    i am a hairstylist. i have had contact dermititis on my hands. this is due to hair coloring. i am going to purchase goldweel elumen, swarzkopf essinsity, color brillance, and chi. i will have to order the neyo kemon from my rep at the salon…. i am also going to try the clean and clear shampoo,,,,,any other hairdressers out there with this problem? this is my career and i cant give it up. in need of help asap!

    thank you, ashley

    • I am a hairstylist as well who is going through what you are going through and it sucks because this is what I love to do. I’ve been doing hairstyling for 24years and 10 now owning my own business. I’m researching how to stay in the business . If you have any luck I would love to hear. Good luck on your journey!

  • Sara says:

    Yes, I’ve been doing hair for 15 yrs and aquired these same problems a few years ago. I wear gloves ALL the time, it sucks, but it’s my career also and I can’t give it up! I’ll have to try some of these colors for myself because my scalped blistered with my last foil…the gloves don’t always work, but it helps control the blisters on my hands…

  • Hello, I am a hairstylist of 24 years. My world in Dec changed with Allergies. Reading all your comments I’m not feeling hopeful of staying in the industry. I am taking five weeks off now and each day I’m forgetting how miserable I was. I’ve only been off a week and a half. I’ve been researching some organic lines of hair and makeup. Even though I’ve been recommended or given a booklet of products I can use from http://www.acdscamp.org I’m not sure if you need a password my Dr set me up. In this booklet for hair color I am allowed Goldwell professional color only and the others they list are Palette by Nature, ColorMark, light mountain natural, Salon Grafix, Vitale. Maybe those can help you. As for myself I’m not sure if my career is over but I will keep researching how I can keep my business open. Any Hairstylist Suggestions would be appreciated. I’ve been reading lots and be aware of tattoos . Yes I agree Sara it do Suck because we love what we do!!

  • John camaren says:

    Hello, I am a 59 year old male that has a severe ppd allergy and a nickel allergy. The first time years ago I dyed my hair I got a severe reaction, facial swelling ,scalp blisters the works. I tried other supposed natural products, and got the same results, with the final time having to go to the ER and be given high doses of prednisone. Happily, about four years ago I found a solution. I order Henna and indigo from the all India store, because they have 100% natural henna, and their indigo is pure and of consistent high quality. As you have to pay for shipping I usually order 1 lb of henna with 5 packets of indigo at a very reasonable price. About once a month I color my hair, which is a long process. I mix the henna first, the night before with water and lemon juice and wait for the color change. i mix a larger amout than I need because you can freeze it after the color change and then put it in the freezer and it’s ready to use anytime all you have to do is unfreeze it. I put on gloves or have my wife help me an later it into my hair all the wasy down to the roots and then use a wide comb and comb through it front to back and side to side thoroughly I then wrap my head( hair) in a plastic bag and let it stay on my head for about three hours. That is stage one, I have grey hair and it turns my hair all orange, no worries as long as you have you indigo. I rinse my hair out of all the henna ( looks like plant mud) outside with the hose and then shampoo in the tub.I mix the indigo with water and salt for better results and the color change takes about 30 minutes before it turns sort of blueish purple. I the with gloves do the same procedure I did with the henna in applying it and cover with a plastic bag. I leave it on about 3 hours and rinse it off the same way as henna. It makes my hair strong and conditioned and depending how long you leave the indigo on makes you hair (including all the gray) all the way to black. I’v gotten pretty good at it after 4 years and was really pleased I did’nt have to stay grey as it makes me feel much older. It has been a lifesaver and I hace a full head of hair with no scalp problems.
    i swim every day and my hair color stays good at least a month. you can do other things while you hair is being dyed and it’s a sacrifice in time that I am well prepared to make. Hope this helps someone.

  • Martha Quinn says:

    I have been diagnosed with a PPD allergy, and I’ve been using Love Your Color by CoSaMo. I purchased the product, did the patch test, and had no reaction and it colors very well and leaves my hair soft and shiny!!

  • julie says:

    I had a patch test done because they thought my contact dermatitis was from hair color. I am not allergic to PPD but I am allergic to CL+ ME– ISOTHIAZOLINONE which goes by a few different names and can be found in hair color. I had my hair colored and sure enough my scalp is broke out. I used Paul Mitchell and am now trying to find the ingredients, can anyone point me to a site that has a list of ingredients.

  • Margo says:

    I really hit the jackpot when I found this website! I too had a severe reaction to hair dye. The itching was horrible, but the swelling was the worst. My eyes were almost swollen shut. After 2 steroid shots and 2 prescriptions, I was still itchy and swollen. After reading your stories, I think that I may have to just find a haircut that makes grey hair look sexy! Many thanks to all who shared.

    • admin says:

      Hi Margo,

      So sorry to hear about your reaction! That must have been really upsetting. Maybe we’ll do an article about natural ways to dye your hair! But of course, grey hair can be sexy, too. :)

  • Jenn says:

    Hey ladies and gents! Just wanted to say how important it is to be aware of everything you put into your body. Monat is an anti-aging hair care system that contains 100% naturally and botanically-based ingredients! If any of you would like some more info, please let me know! I love sharing the word about health and promoting beauty products that are actually HEALTHY for our bodies.

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