PPD free hair dye | Allergy Insight

alex g August 3, 2022 162 comments

Allergy to paraphenylenediamine or p-phenylenediamine, better known as ppd, in permanent hair dyes can be serious. at worst, it causes swelling around the face and neck and difficulty breathing. Bright red rashes around the hairline, ears, and eyes caused by PPD can also be severe and unsightly.

what alternatives exist to ppd?

With a few interesting exceptions, most options fall into one of three main categories.

1. natural plant-based dyes

The safest options are natural botanical colorants, which use henna, cassia, beetroot, coffee, indigo, and other plant extracts for color. they are unlikely to trigger allergies in their pure forms, although some contain added essential oils that some people may react to.

100% natural “dyes” like these can’t change you from dark to light or vice versa, but they can help hide partial gray quite well and add a deeper red or brown hue to your hair. the results may last only a few washes, but they do not damage the hair, since they do not penetrate the hair shaft.

all of the following are free of ppd, as well as ammonia, peroxide and synthetic colorants, additives or preservatives. powders are usually mixed with water before application.

hannah natural (us) pure henna, amla and indigo powders at affordable prices.

is pure organic (uk) pure and simple powders containing only henna, cassia, amla, indigo and neem.

light mountain (us) natural hair colors very attractive looking kits, with only the purest powders: indigo, henna and senna.

Logona (Worldwide) 100% natural brand from Germany. Some are powders, but most are cream blends containing henna, jojoba, walnut, rhubarb, beetroot, with added algin, wheat protein and essential oils.

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lush henna hair dyes (usa) / luscious color (uk) these are solid blocks of henna, also containing coffee, moss irish and indigo, mixed with cocoa butter, and with essential oils added.

rainbow research henna powders (us) another brand of pure powder, with various hennas (neutral, red, black), plus marigold flowers and chamomile.

sante herbal hair color (us) / sante herbal hair color (uk) powders and creams. the powders contain henna, indigo, turmeric, beetroot, rhatany and other extracts, with wheat protein and alginates. creams also contain water, alcohol, glycerin, and a few other ingredients, including essential oils.

surya brazil powder (worldwide) henna, indigo, amla, arnica, acai, brazil nut and other ingredients originating in brazil and india.

2. semi-permanent/semi-natural dyes

an ‘intermediate’ option. Despite brand names or product descriptions that often suggest otherwise, these kits typically use artificial colors, perhaps with some natural ingredients. They are generally slightly more effective than 100% natural options, especially for darkening or highlighting dark hair and covering gray, but the synthetic dyes they contain may trigger allergies in some women.

The following are free from PPD, peroxide and ammonia, but contain some petrochemical derivatives / artificial preservatives.

cosamo (us/canada) only synthetic dyes. they also contain silicone and artificial fragrance.

naturtint reflex (worldwide) liquid formula of artificial colors. nb naturtint also produces a permanent line containing ppd. be sure to choose from the reflex range.

surya henna cream (worldwide) mainly artificial colors with small proportions of henna and botanical extracts derived from walnut, carrot, chamomile, guarana and others. free of artificial fragrances.

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tints of nature semi-permanent (uk) / tints of nature (usa) / tints of nature (aus) mix of artificial colorants and some natural botanical ingredients. note: nature’s dyes also produce a permanent line that contains ppd. make sure you choose from the semi-permanent range of henna creams.

3. permanent hair dye

Instead of PPD, a few products use similar chemicals called PTD / PTDS or TD / TDS to impart permanent color, but these aren’t always as effective as PPD, and perhaps a third or so of people who react to PPD also react — sometimes severely — to these alternatives. Any product declaring itself PPD free and permanent will probably contain PTD or TD. Proceed with particular caution if you have confirmed PPD allergy.

Ingredients may include para-toluenediamine, p-toluenediamine, toluene-2,5-diamine sulfate, and similar variations.

these contain ptd/tds instead of ppd:

madison reed permanent hair color (us)

naturvital coloursafe (usa) / naturvital coloursafe (uk)

Is there anything else out there?

Here are other unique options that offer more permanent solutions through natural means:

Hairprint (US / International) for-herEntirely natural and innovative product — the Color Restorer (right) — billing itself as ‘the only product in the world that restores grey hair to its true color’. It is not a dye. It uses peroxide to oxidise plant and mineral ingredients to recreate the lost natural and original pigment in your hair shafts, in the pattern (or ‘hair print’) that is unique to each of us. It is free of PPD, PTD, ammonia, artificial colours, synthetic preservatives (such as parabens), sulphates, gluten and silicones, and is vegan. The manufacturers say that they have not been notified of any confirmed allergic reaction to their product. Suitable for black and brown untreated hair.

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palette by nature (us) two creams, applied one after the other on the hair, to which heat must then be applied. there are very long lists of ingredients in each of the products, which means people with allergies may have a lot to check, but all-natural, free of oxidizing agents, and use only botanical and mineral dyes, which work with a patented method .

one final reminder…

  • always do a patch test at least two days before coloring your hair, even with a more natural option, even if it’s a product you’ve safely used before (see also joolz’s comment, a continued).
  • Follow directions carefully and always double-check ingredients as ingredients change from time to time.
  • No hair dye can be guaranteed to be 100% safe, but remember that extreme reactions are very rare.
  • if you have reacted to hair dyes before, see a dermatologist for a patch test and formal diagnosis.
  • avoid strictly ppd/ptd if you have ever had a temporary black henna tattoo as this can sensitize you.
  • don’t expect miraculous results with the more natural options, and understand well the limitations some of them have to when dyeing your hair with respect to certain shades, colors and co openings. some will require experimentation, and you may need to try a few products before you find the one that’s right for you.

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