Color your hair? A must read if you do.




As beautiful as the end results may be, dyeing your hair can cause a lot of damage.

Many color lines contain ammonia. The ammonia is needed to lift the cuticle of your hair and allow the dye to seep in. While it makes the color process go faster, it weakens the hair, eventually making it look brittle, or even straw-like.

The other main coloring agent that creates longevity is PPD.  It's the ingredient I've witnessed a massive increase in reactions as a colorist behind the chair - daily.

So what happens if you have a reaction to your hair color whether at home or at the salon?

Here's a rundown on what you may be reacting to and how to recover from an allergic reaction from hair color. 

Any allergic reaction can be extremely frustrating for the person experiencing it. There is no "one symptom" from coloring. The body is constantly bombarded, and an allergic reaction to hair dye products are no different than other reactions and can look different for everyone. 

One of the key chemicals in most hair dyes is paraphenylenediamine (PPD). It is the main cause of most hair dye allergies.  One tricky part of identifying PPD is that if used at a low enough level, the company does not have to identify PPD on the ingredient list. 

This quick read covers how PPD workswhy it agitates your skin, and the common symptoms, how long a reaction lasts, and alternatives you can use to get the color you want without the harmful chemicals.

Simply put, an allergic reaction is your body’s way of trying to get rid of the substance that it doesn’t like. The friction that comes from your immune system will try to rid it out of your system.  

  Why am I Sensitive to Hair Color?

No one knows of a concrete reason to why some are more sensitive to certain substances than others. Genetics can play a factor in what you’re allergic to, but from my experience on servicing women with PPD/AMMONIA FREE color for over 17 years, its usually linked to the immune system being suppressed or cross-reactive allergic reactions to different chemicals.

Screen Shot 2018-04-15 at 7.39.03 PM.png

What is PPD?

PPD: or p-Phenylenediamine, causes highest allergy rate, and the highest toxicity level out of all dyes used in hair coloring products.

PPD is used in 90% of hair dye products and has become a leading reason for frequent dermatologist visits.  Most often, women experience an "all of a sudden" reaction due to repetitive desensitization.

    PPD is most profound in darker dye and is found in almost two-thirds of commercial hair dyes currently on the market. The reactions can be severe if not treated properly.

    If using hair dye has bothered your skin in the past, it doesn't mean its not in your future.   Going back to the immune system becoming weak and "taxed" - this can be a perfect storm for any sort of allergy.   

    So, even if you haven’t experienced one yet, it’s important to know the symptoms. Additionally, you should know the difference between a mild reaction to a certain substance, and an allergic reaction.

    So how do you know?
    Common reactions to PPD

    Slight irritation of the skin on the scalp, neck, or ears


    Dry, thick, or cracked skin that has been touched by the chemical

    Burning sensation

    Itching sensation

    Reactions are usually called contact dermatitis, in which an irritant affects the skin directly. An allergic reaction is slightly different, with more symptoms involved.

    Some of the common symptoms to look for if you have an allergy to PPD are:

    Swelling of the mouth or throat

    Skin irritation

    General feeling of sickness


    Red rash on the skin


    Swollen eyes or lips

    Hard to swallow 


     How Long Does a Reaction Last?

    Just as reactions effect everyone differently, they can take different lengths of time to fade away. As stated above, severe reactions can happen within minutes. Contact dermatitis may take hours, or even a day or two for symptoms to show up.

    With proper treatment, the symptoms should go down within a matter of hours. However, in some cases, the milder symptoms can last up to a couple of weeks, even with treatment.  The best thing to do if you experience a reaction of any kind is to contact your doctor. 

    The Best Ways to Heal 

    Most hair dyes contains multiple chemicals, so the best way to combat an allergy is to soothe the symptoms like irritation and inflammation is with a natural product that the skin doesnt take offense to. 

     Soothing creams and ointments are a great way to reduce the pain that can occur from allergies.

    If you’d like to create your home remedy to treat an allergic reaction, try any of the following ingredients. They all help to reduce inflammation associated with this type of allergy:

    Jojoba oil

    Chamomile tea

    Coconut oil

    Apple cider vinegar

    Lavender oil

    Aloe vera

    If the painful symptoms from your reaction continue, you may want to talk with your dermatologist. They can usually prescribe an antihistamine. Antihistamines work well for more mild symptoms, but may not be enough to recover from a severe reaction completely.

    The Alternative PPD FREE Hair Color

    “So called PPD FREE? “  What to look for.

    "PPD-free" formulas can contain trace amounts (3% rule) or host other toxins like benzenes and often replace some of the other potential toxins in hair color with natural ingredients. PPD/PTD toxicity and reaction rates are often measured by the amount used in a formula.  

    • p-Phenalundiamine (PPD) Highest reaction percentage
    • Toluene 2,5 diamine (PTD) Lower than PPD

    The most obvious answer is to look for hair dye without PPD.  Beauty Ecology Organic Salon has lead the natural market in Ammonia/PPD Free color.  I have tried many PPD free lines, and even on clients - in which we've still come across reactions.   This could mean its hidden within the "3% rule" of the lower deck ingredients, or other agitative ingredients like ammonia and resorcinol may be a culprit.  

    Can I Avoid a Reaction?

    If you suspect a color allergy, do a patch test. Even if you’ve used a specific dye a dozen times before, a patch test can help you to determine if you’ll have a reaction this time.

    Any professional salon can do a patch test for you.  We usually place it behind your ear or neck/hair line.   Let it dry and rinse later, following the instructions on the box.  You can do a patch test at  a allergy clinic.

    Color Your Hair "Tox Free" and Naturally

    You don't have to give up your favorite color, and we've proven that to be true at Beauty Ecology.  Give yourself the best fighting chance against a severe allergic reaction or contact dermatitis and irritation.

    Our hair color is free of "silent substitutes" and other harsh chemicals and are replaced with lipid and antioxidant rich ingredients that null fading and damage.   

    Learn more about the WAY TO SAFER and BRILLIANT HAIR COLOR (sans the toxic trio) here.


    Thank you and share with your bestie about hair color facts and the great alternatives.

    Ready for COLOR BRILLIANCE?  Book an appointment online HERE.

    // User Icon Setting (may be set to BLACK, WHITE or NONE):