Published on October 21, 2018 at 14:42 / Updated on June 21, 2023 at 14:52

The number of allergic reactions to hair colouring products is increasing. In fact, more and more people are using these products. Young people use it to recreate a fashionable look, and people with grey hair use it in their quest to maintain a youthful appearance.

Could PPD be the cause?

Para-phenylenediamine (PPD) and other related chemical components currently contained in more than two-thirds of hair dyes are responsible for allergic reactions. 

Allergic reactions to PPD have become such a problem that these chemical components have been banned from all hair dyes in Germany, France and Sweden. But the problem is there is no satisfactory alternative to PPD in the composition of permanent hair dyes.

Symptoms of allergic reactions to hair dyes

In mild cases, prickling, itchiness or little pimples appear soon after hair dye has been applied. However, blisters, open sores and scarring can occur in more severe cases. In rare cases, the forehead, neck and eyelids become red and swollen, and require medical intervention.

The importance of following dyeing instructions

The fact that many users do not respect the manufacturer’s instructions only increases the problem. Manufacturers clearly indicate on hair dye packaging that you must test the product on a small patch of skin to see if an adverse reaction occurs before applying it on your entire scalp.

The government of Canada judges that PPD is an acceptable product in hair dye because, when used correctly, hair dyes do not require prolonged contact with the skin.

Allergy to ephemeral tattoos (henna)

However, the use of PPD in cosmetics that are directly applied to the skin for prolonged periods of time represents a health risk. Therefore, black henna ink and paste that contain PPD and are used for temporary tattoos (to lengthen the effects and create an intense black) are deemed dangerous. Some artists offer this kind of tattoo art in markets, fairs and amusement parks, even though they are prohibited in this country. Health Canada does permit the use of natural henna and other safe dyes.

An allergic reaction to tattoos containing PPD can trigger sensitivity to other products such as hair colouring, sunscreen and some types of black clothing.

Here are clues that let you know there is PPD in black henna paste used in temporary tattoo art: 

  • mixture and tattoos are jet-black;
  • the tattoo has to be removed within an hour; 
  • the tattoo lasts one to three weeks without fading;
  • the mixture does not smell or smells very little.

In these cases, it is better to refrain from it.

Stay vigilant when using hair colouring products. If you respect the manufacturer’s instructions, your gorgeous colour will probably last a lot longer!

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