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

Hair Dye

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 or temporary hair dye
  • 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

p-Phenylenediamin, JADN Repository, March 2007,

“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.

Salynn Boyles, “As More Teens Use Hair Color, Incidence of Allergies Increases,” WebMD, February 1, 2007,

Temporary Tattoos & Henna/Mehndi, FDA, April 18, 2001,

“p-Phenylenediamine – Patient Information,” Allergen Patch Test,

comments (113 and counting)


Reader Interactions


  1. Michael Anthony says

    I was a hairdresser for 55 years and first used L’Oreal tints in 1960. As far as i am aware para/phenylenediamines often referred to as PPD is a banned substance and it is not used in any hair colour dye. If you read the labels it clearly says that the tint contains a colour dye known as Toluene-2,5-Diamine, unlike PPD there is no known colour test for it. If Garnier are saying in their OLIA adverts to be colour-safe and test 48 hours before use then perhaps they can explain why it has failed to protect both salon and home-users on numerous occasions. Schwarzkopf actually put a disclaimer within their instructions where it offers no guarantees the test will work. I also do not believe that Garnier tints are ammonia free. All dyes used in hair colour derive from ammonia and there is no alternative to it. Go into a website which states a List of banned substances used in hair colour dyes and you will find that phenylenediamines is number 2 on that list.

    • Stephanie says

      I have been a Stylist for over 30 years and worked on the manufacturing side of the business as well. PPD is not banned, there are ammonia alternatives, oil delivery and mono-ethanolamine (a type of ethanol)

  2. Barbara Savage says

    After having a severe reaction to PPD four years ago, I have been successfully using CoSamo Love Your Color. I buy it online and have my stylist apply it (the dark brown can be very messy in my white bathroom!). I am not all grey – mainly on my temples and a little throughout, but she saturates my whole head, and puts me under the steamer for 10 minutes and then I sit for another 20. I only go every two months, although it should probably be done every month. I also don’t wash my hair every day, so I can make it last the two months.

    I have been very happy with this product. It’s one bottle – no PPD (obviously), no ammonia, no peroxide, and as gentle as shampoo. It basically stains the hair and I think multiple applications of it helps layer on the stain. Anything product that requires mixing 2 bottles together just aren’t worth the risk!

  3. kemme says

    I have a friend who had this allergy problem with hair dye ingredients for many years. During a breakfast gathering, a friend recommended a hair moisturising shampoo and a conditioner that she said worth using that could repair damaged hair. After tried 2 weeks the hair scalp was healed. The company also sell hair dye, only available in dark brown colour. This is the first hair dye that is friendly with no allergy to her scalp.

  4. Prada says

    Hi From African Caribbean background and used sta sof fro non permanent hair dye have used for over 20 years. Had adverse skin reaction swelling itching hives blotches etc. So changed to Nice and Easy used a couple of times great coverage for grey hair (on black hair). After third used a more severe reaction than with previous dye. I am so scared to try any others as I nearly ended up in hospital this time.


  5. donna moore says

    i would like to know what hair dyes are safe to use. I have a severe reaction to hair dyes with this ingredient also and it peels my skin sometimes. i even protect my skin with vasoline. i like the color but have had to cut back on how often i do it.

  6. John says

    I am suffering from an extreme chemical burn from using Redken Color camo, I used it for about 4 years, stopped 9 years ago, my head is still swelling chronically and the pain is incredible day and night. Its been 9 years.

  7. tara says

    I have been suffering with skin for over a year now.Horrible. Hands were first. Itchey,flakey,peeling and even bleeding. Then the legs and arms,chest and back. Now the face.Red blotches all over. sometimes my eyes are swollen. never goes away. My hair is getting thinner. Iam a hairdresser and have used CHI forever. love it. Been to 2 dermotaligest now going to Uof Chicago on the 14 of Oct. Hope they can find out the cause. Been on predisone 7 times in a yr. lears up but comes right back. Embarraced to go out in public.Maybe it is the PPD. One Dr.told me Iam allergic to sun. HELP.

    • Tammy says

      I have been going through the same thing you are and have been to doctor after doctor. I am now as we speak been going to an allergist and just today they came to the conclusion that I an allergic to Phenylenediamine. It is definetly in my hair color. I am not looking forward to this journey of having to read every ingredient label before I decide to buy a product but I also don’t like my skin looking like raw hamburger. Good Luck and I hope you are lucky with finding a good allergisg

  8. sandy says

    i too am highly allergic to PPD among many other chemicals. My hairdresser tells me there is one that she uses on another coustomer with no problem. it is PPD and AMONIA free. its called Chi ionic. if anyone has used this please reply as she is going to do a path test on a strand of hair and see if I can tolerate it. im scared!

  9. Dusty says

    I was training to become a hairdresser and became severely allergic to hair dyes and perms, a horrible rash went over my whole body for 2 years!!

    Now I’m looking to get a tattoo. Does anyone know if there is PPD in tattoo ingredients?

    Thanks for any help.

  10. Cathy C. says

    I recently dyed my hair, using a dye I’ve used for years. I don’t color my hair frequently but when I do I always use L’oreal hair dye.

    I panicked when I looked at the back of my head to see if I missed any spots, only to see two white patches on my scalp. I lost my hair in those spots, some areas on the top of my head and sides of my head. My bangs shriveled to the top of my head! It was an awful experience, like I burned my hair!

    I spoke to my doctor who suggested I speak to my dermatologist. Her office told me to call my allergist. He suggested I come in for a chemical patch test, an invasive test where I would have to see him three times a week for 36 weeks! My back would be covered with ink dots where the patches would go. I would not be able to bath for those three days. I decided not to go through all that as I am not exposed to chemicals for any reason.

    I did my own research and have been doctoring my hair myself, using Biotin with Saw Palmetto and it is working great. My hair is almost completely back to normal. The crown of my head is still thin but it’s a lot better than it was. I also give my scalp (where the part is), an oil treatment twice a week, using Castor oil. Google it! It’s amazing! I think the combination of the biotin and Castor oil are doing a wonderful job.

    Please note that I am a breast cancer survivor, was diagnosed five years ago, and did have chemo and radiation. I don’t know if this has anything to do with the change in my body’s chemistry that may have contributed to this newly discovered allergy.

    • Cathy C says

      I forgot to add in my comment that my beautician thinks, based on her experience, and the condition of my hair, that I am most likely allergic to a chemical in hair dye, called PPD, otherwise known as Paraphenylenediamine. It is a very harsh chemical and common allergen found in permanent hair dyes, shampoos, make-up, conditioners, even mascara. Women have been known to lose their eye brows, using mascara that contains PPD. I may also be allergic to ammonia in hair dye.

      I can no longer dye my hair or perm my hair as the chemicals in perm solutions are extremely harsh. I must read all hair product labels before purchasing. I will do some research on natural, chemical free hair dyes. If I am lucky, I will find one. If not, I will learn to live with gray hair – at my age, I earned every one!

      • Darleen says

        Please keep us posted if you found something that does not cause an allergic reaction for you. Good luck in your quest and I’m sure you will look beautiful with gray locks of hair.

  11. Adolfo Giron says

    I get skin rush and itches from color dye that contains P-Phelynedamine is there a product with out it? I dye my hair and need something I am allergic to Pphelynedamine. Help!

  12. henrietta wolfe says

    When I type in a product to see if it contains PPD’s. I see the following Missing:ppd’s with line thru PPD’s. What does this mean?

    • Annmarie Skin Care says

      If you see a line though PPD, it means that it isn’t listed on the page or in the product that you’re looking at. You might want to use the full word and search for other names for a PPD to conduct your search.

  13. denise says

    I read about a hair dye from Germany called Logona in a book called Healthy Beauty by Epstein, a medical doctor. This dye is supposed to be free of ppd and many other toxic ingredients. I’d love to know how to find it in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area)

    • Aiden says

      Hi Denise
      I live in Ireland and purchased logona online through Amazon:) I have recently had a bad reaction to PPD and to be honest the logona is just sitting here as I am afraid to use it! Also I have just had delivery of hairprint from the US and that is actually edible! You should look into it!

  14. Katie says

    Has anyone ever tried Kenra hair products?

    I have an allergy to PPD and have had it since I got a temporary henna tattoo 15 years ago. To date the only hair colour I have found that work are bleach (no toner) and Elumen by Goldwell. Elemen is great for colour except it is impossible to reverse and does not cover grey! I’m currently looking for alternatives. I had a patch test of Kenra 2 days ago and have no reaction so far but am still hesitant to cover my scalp in it.

  15. suzannr says

    I’ve been a hairdresser for the past28 years and am now allergic to ammonia and ppd it gives me an anaphalatic reaction . I had to give it up untill I found an amazing product called chi you can buy it online and it was made through a hairdresser that suffered the same reaction.I have also used the colour on myself and had no problems with it so I hope this helps you too

  16. Margaret says

    My favourite is Vegetal, made by Herbatint. Lovely and natural looking colour, although I need to re-do it weekly as it washes out easily. Covers my grey well – perhaps because my hair is fine – so I’m happy to invest the time in it!

    Hope this helps someone.

  17. Kathy says

    I’m in the U.S., but here’s my story. Three months ago I went into anaphylaxis from hair dye applied at the salon. I had ALL the symptoms, progressing rapidly, and went to the hospital emergency room. I’m certain that 10 more minutes’ delay and I would have died. I also felt toxic/poisoned for the subsequent 3-4 weeks and continue to be hypersensitive to all shampoos. Welcoming my emerging lovely silver hair now. Applaud your efforts to get it banned! It’s deadly.

    • suzanne says

      Hi I’m a hairdresser that has had the same reaction but I’ve found a product online anyone can buy called chi it’s ammonia and pod free and i can finally colour my hair good luck

    • Donna says

      I have been coloring my hair for twenty years and it was only in the past three months that I started to notice an itchy scalp after getting my color done. The first time I didn’t really connect the mild itching to the coloring as it was gone in a few days. The next time I went in I noticed a tingling sensation on my scalp at the salon and when I got home it wasn’t that long before my scalp started to itch. This time I thought there was a connection and it went away within a couple of weeks. The last time i questioned my hairdresser and asked if she had recently changed the color product. She hadn’t. She put in an additive that was to take care of any reaction. It took a few hours before the itch was back and this time it spread to a rash around my hairline after about ten days. I went to the dermatologist and he gave me some cream and it wasn’t getting much better and by this time it had spread to patches on my legs, arms and elbows. I got a patch test done and it confirmed I was allergic to PPD.
      I knew I would someday let the silver come out as I didn’t want to see my hair color, dark auburn, not match my complexion. I don’t think there is any perfect time to let it grow out, but I have short hair so I feel lucky for that.

      • anna says

        Same here i have been dying my hair using black.and blue black permanemt dye sonce i was 16 now im 34. Only recenyly my hair really badly starded do fall out…after dying my hair. I hacwdone my thyroid and blood iron ect checks but everything came out in norm. I eat ever well. I know its the hair dye. I bought henna its messy and takes longer…but im not going to let hair dye make me bald.
        So many years nothing and now suddenly this. My scalp feels tense and i get migraines…i never had this before.
        by the way i dye my whole hair every month…for 17 years without single break.

  18. Anupma says

    Hi all
    I m very allergic to hair colours and even henna as a matter of fact . I was looking for hair colour for so many years and found a nice hair colour . It does not give any allergies and it contains all herbal ingredients. Email or message me and i can send you a sample . I m sure you wont have any complaints .
    I m in sydney Australia
    Email: [email protected]

  19. fran cooperman says

    half the products advertised on the net for people who are allergic to PPD have long been taken off the market. lady grecian formula and loving care have not existed for years. why on earth clairol does not bring back loving care when so many people are allergic to PPD is beyond me. if everyone wrote them perhaps they would consider it.

  20. Jennifer says

    I had scarlet fever, and decided to dye my hair while I was ill. I have been dying my hair blond for many years, and decided to do something different. I dyed the bottom half of my hair grape black, and within a day, I was covered in a rash from head to foot. I was on cortisone, phenegans, 3 x daily, injections or both for a few weeks, and it never made any difference. I literally wanted to scratch my skin off. My scalp was covered in large bumps like huge mosquito bites.
    After suffering for 3 months, I finally started not itching. I then decided to literally do 3 blond foils on my hair, and…WHAM….. the itches were back with a vengeance.

    I have come to the conclusion that I am allergic to PPD. I have not dyed my hair for 3 months, and I have finally lost the last itchy bump on my scalp. My reaction was a full body reaction, and I was really sick for some time afterwards. This is really a pain, as it is virtually impossible to find dyes in South Africa without PPD.

  21. jasmine says

    I was looking this up for a research paper and I am planning on dyeing my hair bright blue soon. is it safe for my hair

  22. jenny says

    His reaction started on his shoulder front and chest which was where I slept. A few months later he then started getting it on his mouth area from kissing my head and his hands from running his fingers thru my hair. The dermatologist did a patch test an we found out he’s allergic to ppd

  23. Veronica says

    Can my husband be allergic to my hair color? He does not color his hair but I do, he thinks that he is coming into contact with something in my hair color that is causing a rash on his left arm, which is the side I sleep on in our bed. Could this be true?

  24. Crista says

    What if someone’s suffering of that kind of allergy? What should he/she do? face become swollen and reddish.

    • Lindsay says

      Discontinue any hair dye immediately ! PPD is lethal and can even cause the throat to close up in certain hyper sensitive individuals. if your face is swollen and red, you need to get to a hospital…. sometimes the symptoms can get better on their own but its not worth risking. I have found a product which is free of ALL chemicals, its HENNA without all the additives…”Love My Hair’ is the brand. I haven’t tried it yet but the darker colours and the reds apparently cover grey/white hair successfully. I got it from

  25. Kristen says

    I am extremely allergic to PPD and have lightened my dark blonde hair for years. I can no longer use permanent blonde dye as I react both box and salon brands contain PPD. Since my hair is dark blonde I found that sun in spray and Sanotint lightening kit (for highlights work very well) I am also sensitive to nickel and Sanotint is PPD and Nickel free.
    They both do contain peroxide however.

    • Luna says

      Please no one use Sanotint light- it does have ppd in it as well as p-aminophenol & toulene –both are also allergants. I wish I hadn’t listened to people saying it’s OK…now going to ER
      Mehandi henna was prob my best bet I feel like a fool:(

  26. Julie says

    Hi, A couple years ago I had a horrible reaction to the PPD in hair dye which landed me in the hospital. My hair is naturally dark brown but at my age the grey is coming in quite rapidly. I use the henna products from I love their products more than I can say. It covers my gray beautifully and naturally. NO CHEMICALS at all. So if you have issues with PPD, pure henna is the safe way to go.

  27. Linda Douglas says

    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)

  28. 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.

  29. 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. 🙂

  30. 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.

  31. 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!!

  32. 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.

  33. Angela Sellars says

    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 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!!

  34. 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…

  35. 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

    • Angela Sellars says

      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!

  36. 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

  37. 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!

  38. 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

  39. 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.

    • Kelly hudson says

      Did you ever ever find anything? I’m stuck with black henna hair to cover the grey…. But they are speeding up in numbers now…. Weekly henna is no fun 🙁

  40. 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.

  41. 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 🙂

    • 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?



  42. 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.

  43. 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.

  44. 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?


      • connie says

        I went to an allerigist and found out I was allergic to Phenlenediamine and Quaternium-15. My dermotoligest printed me up products that I can use. One of the shampoos that I am now using is Palette by Nature,which was tested in 3/2014.

  45. 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.

  46. 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.

  47. 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

  48. 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.

  49. Jayne says

    Have found a product which only contains natural ingredints to colour grey….called… silver to gold/… 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)

  50. 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.

  51. 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.

  52. 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.

  53. 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!

  54. 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.

  55. 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?

  56. 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!

    • Shannon says

      The only Keratin treatment approved for use in EU – much stricter guidelines than US is Goldwell Kerasilk Smoothing Treatment. No formaldehyde.

  57. 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.!!!

  58. 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

  59. 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.

  60. 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!


  61. 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.

  62. 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!!!!

  63. 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!

  64. 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!

  65. 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.

  66. 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

    • admin says

      We haven’t used it but let’s see if anyone else has. Thank you so much for stopping by, let us know if you find a dye that works. Make it a wonder-filled day

      • Nev says

        Really henna applied correctly will completely cover gray hair. You can also mix half henna half indigo to get rich brown color.
        And it makes your healthy and shiney with no allergic reactions.

    • Becky 716 says

      I know this post is old but I have been using Elumen with no ill effects so far (I have had reactions ranging from mild dermatitis to pretty severe rashes from Schwarzkopf, Wella, Redken). The only problem with it is it does wash out more quickly (about twice as fast) and it stains the scalp (and anywhere it touches). The color is beautiful and shiny.

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