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You're all set to spice up your look with a new hair color, only to find the dye makes you break out in a rash -- not exactly the sexy look you were after. The culprit could be a chemical widely used in hair color products called PPD. There was a time when you didn't have a lot of alternatives if you were allergic to PPD, but there are now natural dyes available that can give you beautiful hair without the hives.
Almost all types of hair color contain the chemical paraphenylenediamine, or PPD; this includes some products that have "natural," "herbal" or "organic" on the label. PPD is so popular because it gives your hair a natural look -- plus you can shampoo or perm afterwards without stripping the color. But if you're allergic to PPD, you could wind up with skin inflammation on your upper eyelids or the rims of your ears. If your allergy is more severe, your scalp could also inflame -- and your face could swell so much that your eyelids close completely.
Advanced Cosmetic Technology Naturals
All the hair products by Advanced Cosmetic Technology are PPD-free. Instead, the company's Naturals line of dyes uses the vivid pigments produced by plants, combining them with a patent-pending process called Renewable Botanical Enviro-Colors. In addition to being PPD-free, these dyes also don't contain bleach or peroxide, so you don't wind up with a lighter shade than you already have. The mineral base is made of glycerin, mineral extracts and sweet almond oil, while the color base contains plant extracts from beetroot and turmeric, to saffron and green tea.
Natur Vital is a line of home kits for permanent hair color that are free of PPD and other potentially harmful ingredients like ammonia, parabens and resorcinol. Natur Vital's Coloursafe dyes use plant keratin to protect your tresses and add shine and softness, while sunflower oil from certified organic growers protects against sun and environmental damage, notes the manufacturer's website. Although currently only sold in UK stores, you can find it online.
Natulique Simply Colors
The founders of Natulique were inspired by allergies, asthma and other health issues among family and friends to create safer, cleaner beauty products. The company's Simply Colors line uses the Colour Complex System that includes sunflower seed extract and jojoba, apricot seed and grape seed oils to activate the color and restore hair health with a balance of vitamins and proteins. In addition, fruit extracts like lemon and peach help make hair silky soft, as noted on the Natulique website.
Palette By Nature
Palette by Nature is a PPD-free dye approved by the American Contact Dermatitis Society and Mayo Clinic's contact allergen replacement database as one of the safest alternatives to conventional hair color if you have sensitive skin, notes the manufacturer's website. In these products, plant-based dyes are combined with natural color enhancing actives like chlorophyll, rooibos leaf and quercetin to boost your hair's health. Organic herbal extracts like ginseng and honeysuckle will soothe your scalp and help avoid irritation, as stated on the Palette by Nature website.
Henna dyes are naturally PPD-free, with the exception of "black henna," made from a different source, often used in tattoos. Henna is a plant found in warmer climates that's been used to dye skin and hair since the time of Cleopatra. Henna is naturally reddish-orange, so henna dyes that give you a different color will have additional compounds added. One PPD-free henna dye is Saba Botanical's Lustrous Henna. Saba's tints use vegetable dye made from pure herbs like amla, shikakai, reetha fruit, aloe vera, manjith and woad. But as with all hair dyes, do a test strip first, since even henna can cause allergic reactions.