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What if I am allergic to hair dye?

 

If you have had a reaction to hair dyes in the past, it is likely that you have developed intolerance to one or other of the ingredients in hair dyes.

Reactions of one kind or another to the use of hair-dye products in general are not that uncommon. They range from irritation occurring locally in areas in direct contact with the dye (irritant contact dermatitis) to 'genuine' allergy which will provoke local symptoms (allergic contact dermatitis) but may also produce a systemic reaction affecting other areas of the body. In both cases the symptoms can vary from very mild to quite severe. The local irritation will tend to affect the scalp, neck, forehead, ears and eyelids; the generalised symptoms may include more widespread itching, urticaria (nettlerash), general unwellness or, rarely, anaphylaxis.

Hair-dye products in general contain a wide range of substances and almost any of these could trigger sensitivity reactions. However there are some well known culprits.

Most permanent hair dyes contain p-Phenylenediamine (PPD), especially those at the darker/black end of the range. Daniel's Advanced Formula Water Colour does not contain p-Phenylenediamine; this is as a direct result of Daniel's on-going programme of research whereby ingredients are continually monitored and updated wherever he believes there is a better alternative that will achieve the same outcomes. Daniel’s Watercolour contains no active bleaching agents, ammonia or alcohol, the benefit being that it will not cause damage to the hair. On the other hand Water Colour will not lighten the hair; it will add colour.

Because PPD is known to be a strong sensitiser in some people, for the patient who has become sensitised there are no 'safe' permanent hair dyes and in common with all hair dye suppliers, Daniel recommends carrying out a “patch test” prior to each and every application. Details of the patch test are contained in the instruction leaflet sent out with every pack and are repeated below.

Although unlikely with Daniel's Advanced Formula Water Colour, should you experience any kind of reaction or sensitisation and are unsure as to the culprit in you particular case, you should consider undergoing formal patch testing at an allergy (dermatology) clinic. The main chemicals that cause problems in hair-dyes are well known, and are available in patch-test form. The clinic will test a range of these chemicals as well as other potential sensitisers and will then tell you which ones you are sensitive to. You can then look for products that are free of the offending chemicals. There are drawbacks with this plan - getting referred; waiting lists; the limited number of chemicals tested - they can't test everything, and you may be sensitive to something they haven't tested, that could then cause a problem if it is in the product that you choose to use.

The alternative would be to “patch test” a range of products yourself (unless you have suffered a severe reaction from hair dyes previously). This has the advantage that you test the whole product, although if you react to some of them you won't know exactly what component is causing the problem but you will know to avoid using the product. Patch test by dabbing a small amount of the dye solution on the inner elbow, leave to dry and leave uncovered for at least 48hrs. If any irritation, rash or unwellness occurs then do not use the product and wash it off your skin immediately.

If you find that permanent dyes are a "no-no" for you, you could try switching to non-permanent hair dyes. These generally use different, less troublesome chemicals, although about 10% of people sensitised to PPD will suffer allergic sensitivity to non-permanent dyes as well. Unfortunately, non-permanent dyes or semi-permanent dyes are not effective in covering grey hair.

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