There is something timelessly attractive, gorgeous and feminine about long flowing hair. There is no denying the added beauty and youth that a little length and color to your hair can bring.
Hair color is a superb way to personalize your style, stand out or even hide those white hairs. While colors can be a godsend and they are indeed big business, at the end of the day they are chemicals and it is important to choose allergy-free hair dyes that will have the least impact on your hair and scalp.
What is p-Phenylenediamine (PPD)?
p-Phenylenediamine (PPD) is a common chemical compound found in hair dyes. It has been linked with adverse effects such as disorders of the nervous system, kidney and lung, cancer of the bladder, and severe allergies.
In spite of its dangerous effects, all hair color products virtually require PPD in their formulation. So, the trick is to look for products with a lower concentration of this chemical compound. Preferably, go for brands with a PPD concentration of less than 1 percent.
Other than PPD, there is a host of other compounds you should look out for when shopping for hair colorants.
Dangerous Chemicals Found in Hair Dyes
The Cosmetics Safety Database classifies this as one of the most dangerous chemicals used in the cosmetics industry. It can irritate the eyes and skin, impacts bodily hormonal dynamics, cause hypothyroidism and is a major environmental pollutant.
This compound has been linked to cancer.Persulfates: These include ammonium, sodium and potassium sulfates and can be found in concentrations as high as 60 percent in hair colorants.
Yet, even concentrations as low as just 1.75 percent can irritate the skin, trigger asthma and predispose one to lung disease.
To minimize the effects of these compounds it is recommended that you thoroughly clean your skin and scalp if you apply a colorant containing persulfates.
While being less toxic than PPD, Ammoniac can irritate the respiratory system, skin, and eyes. Ammonia has also been found to damage the hair shaft therefore many brands have ceased using this compound in their products.
Hydrogen peroxide: This is a common compound in hair bleaching products. Animal studies have concluded that even at low concentrations, hydrogen peroxide can have adverse effects on the nervous, digestive and respiratory system.
This corrosive compound may also cause cancer as a result of damage to the DNA.
This chemical is common in black hair dyes. Lead can damage the nervous system.If you love your hair color, all this may sound overwhelming. But don’t be. A good rule of thumb is to buy brands from Europe or Japan. In these countries, the use of most of these toxic ingredients has been banned, making many of the hair colorants safe.
Green-washing has become a common trend among manufacturers these days. Some will label their products as‘ green' or ‘natural' but will continue to use dangerous chemicals in their hair dyes.
Take Clairol Natural Instincts. Yes, this product does not contain ammonia but it is full of hydrogen peroxide and parabens, all dangerous products.
L’Oreal with its Natural Match hair colorant could make you think that the ‘natural’ means that the product is made from clean ingredients but in fact that word refers your ‘natural’ hair color.
These are just a few examples; there are many more and you should look out for these tricks that marketers are using to sell harmful products to unsuspecting customers.
As mentioned earlier, PPD, harmful as it is will always be present in permanent hair color especially the dark variety. The legally acceptable concentration in America is 2 percent but the brands that try to be clean use less than 1 percent in their formulations.
Risks of Permanent Hair Dyes
All hair dyes, including the clean and natural ones, contain chemicals.
Some risks of using these products include:
- Cancer development- lymphoma and multiple myeloma
- Abnormal pregnancy
- Damage to the hair shaft
- Skin and eye irritation
The FDA does not regulate the compounds contained in hair dyes. If you choose to use permanent colorants, it is your responsibility to research and identify products that contain the least concentrations of dangerous chemical products.
By the way, if you are looking to spruce up your look with non-allergic eye makeup, we've got you covered!
We’ve taken the time to identify the best allergy-free hair days on the market. Have a look below:
The hair color pack features a pH-altering shampoo that protects your hair and activates the color for greater penetration. The result is natural-looking locks with beautiful color fades. The best part is that you can mix the different color tones for a custom shade that will make you stand out.
The vegan hair colorants do not contain harmful compounds such as ammonia, parabens, naphthol, or nonoxynol and the PPD concentration is lower than 0.5 percent.
All products are free of ammonia, PPD, and parabens, making Madison Reed colorants gentle to the hands, skin, hair, and scalp. It is also a delight that the dyes do not have any of the typically harsh smells characteristic of other brands.
Madison Reed dyes contain a wonderful range of natural products including keratin and the sweet-smelling Argan oil. Whether you are looking to go wildly blonde, deeply black or to cover the grey, this brand is a good choice.
This brand was a pioneer in producing high-end hair products that are free of PPD, resorcinol, and ammonia.
The range of colorants is soothing to the skin, scalp, and hair. Celebrities who rave about this product say that it offers complete grey coverage, shiny blondes, Avant-garde shades that make a fashion statement, and lustrous colors that really bring out your personality.
All colors contain hand-picked and naturally grown botanicals from Italy.
Other ingredients include essential oils, fair trade herbs, and organic flowers. Formulated with rich plant-based butters, Oway’s hair colors will leave your hair looking and feeling lustrous and healthier. While the colors do contain some chemicals to permanently dye your hair, these chemicals are generally in low concentrations.
Many of us have a love-hate relationship with hair dyes mostly because it isn’t easy to choose products that are gentle to you hair and scalp. Nonetheless, hair dye can be a fantastic way to change up your look and style.
When shopping for a hair colorant, really take your time to read labels. Look out for the chemicals listed above and avoid products with a high concentration of these potentially harmful compounds. A little investment in allergy-free certified organic, natural hair dyes will go a long way in protecting your hair.