Hair Dye Allergies - The Hidden Dangers of PPD in Hair Colour: What You Need to Know

Hair Dye Allergies - The Hidden Dangers of PPD in Hair Colour: What You Need to Know

25th Aug 2023

Are you considering changing up your hair colour for a new look or to cover greys? While hair dyeing is a common practice, it's essential to be aware of the potential risks associated with some of the chemicals found in hair colouring products. One such chemical is p-Phenylenediamine, commonly known as PPD. In this article, we'll dive into the dangers of PPD in hair colour and provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision about your hair care choices.

What is PPD?

PPD is a chemical compound widely used in hair dyes to create darker shades and provide long-lasting colour. It belongs to a class of chemicals known as aromatic amines, which are used for their colorant and oxidation properties. PPD is especially popular in permanent and semi-permanent hair dyes due to its ability to produce vibrant and consistent colours. PPD has a strong protein binding ability to penetrate deeply into the hair. It is widely used as an oxidizable hair dye for its free availability.

The Dangers of PPD:

Skin Sensitization: PPD is a known allergen and sensitizer. This means that repeated exposure to PPD can lead to allergic reactions, ranging from mild skin irritation to severe dermatitis. Even individuals who have used PPD-containing hair dyes without issue in the past can develop sensitivities over time.

Allergic Reactions: Allergic reactions to PPD can manifest as redness, itching, burning, and swelling of the scalp, face, neck, or other areas where the dye has come into contact. In severe cases, reactions can include blistering, oozing, and even hives. These reactions can be uncomfortable, painful, and may require medical attention.

Cross-Reactivity: If you're sensitive or allergic to PPD, you might also react to other chemicals with similar structures, such as those found in some textiles, cosmetics, and even certain foods.

Long-term Health Concerns: While short-term reactions are more common, there are concerns about potential long-term health effects of repeated PPD exposure. Some studies suggest a link between PPD and certain cancers, although more research is needed to establish a conclusive connection.

Minimizing the Risks:

Patch Test: 48hrs before using any hair dye, perform a patch test on a small area of skin. This helps identify any potential allergic reactions before applying the dye to your entire scalp.

Choose Alternatives: Consider using hair dyes that are labelled "PPD-free" or "low PPD." Many brands now offer products formulated without this chemical. We chose to only offer PPD free hair dyes at

Lazartigue offers professional grey coverage using a high percentage of natural ingredients but it contains an alternative less allergenic version to PPD, called toluene-2,5-diamine (PTD). This product is a great option if you are concerned about becoming allergic to hair dyes in the future and want to avoid, ammonia, resorcinol and silicones. If you are already allergic to PPD though, this might not be for you. We’ll explain this better further on this article.

The Patrice Mulato brand offers a completely free of diamines (PPD) and toluene (PTD) option for natural grey coverage. Not only that, but it’s also free of ammonia, SLS, peroxide, resorcinol and fragrance. If you already have an allergy to hair dyes this product is definitely worth trying. It is not as simple as a ‘box dye’ most people are used to though. This product requires some hair preparation – washing your hair with a pH neutral shampoo before application is a must! – but it’s definitely worth it if you are looking for a colour to disguise naturally your greys because you have been unable to dye your hair at all, or had enough after dedicating hours of your time using henna.

Ask for professional advice: If you're unsure about which hair dye to use or have a history of allergies, give us a call or send an email. We’ll always give you an impartial honest opinion and do our best to guide you toward safer options.

Read Labels: Always read the ingredient labels on hair dye products. If you are allergic to hair dyes always void products that contain PPD (p-Phenylenediamine) or related compounds like p-Toluenediamine (PTD).

While hair dyeing can be a fun way to express yourself, it's crucial to be aware of the potential risks associated with certain chemicals, particularly PPD. Allergic reactions and sensitivities can turn a beauty routine into a painful experience. By being informed, performing patch tests, and considering alternatives, you can reduce the likelihood of adverse reactions and make healthier choices for your hair and overall well-being. Remember, your safety comes first!

What If I’m Allergic to Hair Dyes?

If you're allergic to PPD (p-Phenylenediamine), there are a few alternative hair dye options available that are specifically formulated for individuals with sensitivities or allergies. These alternatives aim to provide vibrant and long-lasting colour without the use of PPD or its related compounds.

Plant-Based or Natural Hair Dyes:Plant-based or natural hair dyes use ingredients derived from plants and minerals to achieve colour. These dyes are generally considered milder and less likely to cause allergic reactions. However, keep in mind that they might not provide the same intense and long-lasting colour as traditional chemical dyes.

Henna Hair Dye:Henna is a natural plant-based dye that has been used for centuries to colour hair and skin. Henna dye is typically derived from the Lawsonia inermis plant and can produce shades ranging from red to brown. It's known for conditioning the hair and imparting a natural-looking colour.

Semi-Permanent Hair Dyes:Some semi-permanent hair dyes are formulated without PPD and other harsh chemicals. These dyes coat the hair cuticle rather than penetrating it deeply, resulting in a less intense colour that gradually fades over time. Always check the ingredients.

Vegetable-Based Dyes: Vegetable-based dyes use ingredients like beetroot, carrot, and other plant extracts to provide colour to the hair. These dyes are generally gentle and less likely to cause allergic reactions.

Temporary Hair Colour Sprays:If you're looking for a short-term change, temporary hair colour sprays and chalks can be a fun and allergen-free option. They can be easily washed out and allow you to experiment with different colours without a long-lasting commitment.

Before trying any new hair dye, it's essential to perform a patch test, even with products labelled as "PPD-free" or "natural." Apply a small amount of the dye to a small area of skin, typically behind your ear or on your inner arm, and wait 24 to 48 hours to check for any allergic reactions or sensitivities.

Remember that individual reactions can vary, and it's always best to prioritize your safety and well-being. If you've experienced severe allergic reactions in the past, it's advisable to consult with a dermatologist or allergist before using any new hair dye products.

Also note that you can be allergic to other ingredients, even natural ones. So always perform a skin test.

Is PTD better than PPD?

Toluene-2,5-diamine (PTD) is often considered to be a milder alternative to p-Phenylenediamine (PPD) in hair dyes, particularly for individuals who are sensitive or allergic to PPD. However, whether PTD is "better" than PPD depends on individual circumstances and sensitivities. Here are some points to consider:

Advantages of PTD

Reduced Sensitization: PTD is generally less likely to cause skin sensitization and allergic reactions compared to PPD. It has been developed as a response to concerns about PPD allergies.

Colour Range: PTD-containing dyes can offer a range of hair colours similar to those achieved with PPD. This can be especially important for individuals who want to achieve specific shades, especially dark ones, with perfect coverage.

Less Severe Reactions: For some people, PTD may result in milder reactions, if any occur, making it a preferable choice for those who have experienced severe allergic reactions with PPD.

Considerations with PTD

Patch Testing: While PTD is generally considered less allergenic, it's still important to perform a patch test before using any hair dye containing this compound. Reactions can still occur, particularly in those who are extremely sensitive.

Individual Variation: People react differently to chemicals, so what might work for one person might not work for another. Even if PTD is less allergenic overall, some individuals might still experience sensitivities.

Alternatives: If you're concerned about potential sensitivities to both PPD and PTD, you might want to explore truly natural options like henna or plant-based dyes, which are less likely to cause allergic reactions.

Remember that hair dye allergies can develop over time, even if you've used a particular dye without issue in the past. Prioritize your safety by carefully considering your options and performing necessary tests before applying any new hair dye to your scalp.

Ultimately, what's "better" depends on your individual sensitivities, preferences, and desired results.