Hair Coloring

Allergic Reaction To Hair Dye: Never Again {Remedies}

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I agree with you that an allergic reaction to hair dye can be the worst nightmare that will happen to anyone on broad daylight. It is one of the worst things that will ever happen to your head or hair because the symptoms and effects afterwards are just like death warming.

Unfortunately, if you are a victim, right in this post I am going to show you some quick home remedy ways to relieve the symptoms, pains, and reaction before going to the hospital- which is very important.

But before then I will love to share a short story with you. I know you aren’t here to read stories but please exercise little patience and read.

Client Hair Dye Allergy Story

I pray he never suffer an allergic reaction to hair dye again in life because it hurts so bad. I felt so sorry for him when he entered my salon to shave off his long-time trained hair with a swollen face (it’s over 9 months+ now if I am not mistaken).

This isn’t the first, second or the third time he dyed his hair, but this time around, the whole story changed. John wanted to meet his new girlfriend in the forthcoming live show within the neighbourhood and felt like he needed to stand out by dyeing his hair gold.

So he entered a salon, (Not the stylist fault, because he was in a hurry, no strands test was done) believe me he got what he will never wish for his enemies. To cut the story short, he lost 30% of his hair, he experienced severe itching on the scalp, swollen head, headache and redness with severe pain.

Quick Bites:

Let’s Continue.

After shaving off everything (now bald head) several questions popped into my head, and I was like:

  • This isn’t the first time he dyed his hair why now?
  • What brand of hair dye made him lose hair plus the reactions within a few hours?
  • Is it permanent, semi-permanent or temporary dye that was used on his hair?
  • What is an allergic reaction to hair dye?

This and many more questions kept coming in, but no answer came. So I quickly decided to research why this happened, symptoms, causes and the treatments. now, this is what I found.

Meanwhile, during my research, I discovered that he is not the only person that is allergic to hair dye. Lots of people out there in forums cried and vowed never to dye their hair again, while some kept seeking for help and alternatives. Which group are you? Never again or Alternatives?

Let’s get started.

What It Mean To Be Allergic To Hair Dye

When someone is allergic to hair dye, the body system reacts against certain chemical(s) in the dye, and most times physical outcome (symptoms) are severe, painful and terrible.

You might be wondering, How do these reactions occur? Well according to Verywellheath.

“The body will release a substance known as immunoglobulin E (IgE) into the bloodstream and the release of IgE will trigger the eruption of specialized white blood cells, known as mast cells, which flood the body with histamine. Histamine is the very substance which triggers the cascade of symptoms we recognize as an allergy.”


In most cases I found noted down that allergic reaction to hair dye can last up to 2 days, sometimes more than, it is dependent on how your system reacts to it (either too early or late) and the treatments.

Early Signs

The early reaction stage differs in everybody, but most cases at the initial stage of reaction:

-The scalp, ears, beards or any part near the affected area starts itching, turn red or becomes inflamed.

-Irritation: Some skin is faster and easily sensitive to chemicals, due to this, irritation signs usually start appearing either immediately or later (but it doesn’t exceed more than 48 hours after exposure)

Later Signs

Swelling of the affected region and some parts of the body that is close to the part that is been exposed.

Difficulty in breathing and swallowing which may lead to wheezing and sneezing.

One thing you should have in mind is that “The signs started shooting out of John this way, mine will start the same way it started with John if am allergic“. Hell No, if you are allergic to it, the later signs might be the early sign in your case.

For example:

Most people will discover that their skin may become stretched, dry, or even cracked. The scalp may tighten or feel as if it is burning in the early stage, while some experience it after some days or even not all.

Sorry if am repeating myself again and again, just that I want to emphasize on this very well.

Ingredients In Hair Dye Behind Allergic Reaction

The one chemical responsible for most of the dye allergy cases is Para-phenylenediamine (PPD). Though it’s not the only chemical that can cause allergy, others do cause a reaction as well.

Don’t be scared too early, dermatologists and other field experts confirmed that– PPD or other dye ingredients are more or less harmful, but their percentage composition in the dye and the ability of scalp to resist the negative effects is the main killer. That’s why the strand test is always required. Also dyeing hair few inches away from the scalp is the best way of doing it.

According to Wikipedia, PPD can come with different names like.

  • Benzene-1,4-diamine
  • Paraphenylenediamine
  • 1,4-Diaminobenzene
  • 1,4-Phenylenediamine and many more.

To be honest with you, No hair dye in the stores or supermarket that doesn’t contain PPD, because it is what gives hair its colour after been exposed to air. You just need a proper guide, caution, technique, common sense and quality dye that has PPD in its appropriate measure (usually around 1%-3%).

Quick Home Remedies

If negative effects start to show off early, just wash it off with warm water and shampoo immediately. But if signs came late or persist, do this.

1. Apply Hydrogen Peroxide on Scalp: It helps to oxidize the PPD, thereby making it non-reactive. But If the worsen the situation, discard hydrogen peroxide and go for other remedies.

2. Apply Unrefined Shea Butter From Africa On The Affected Areas: Apart from Benadryl, Shea butter works like magic to relieve the swelling, inflammation, and pains. The only thing that you might find displeasing is the smell (Because it is unrefined).

But if you can withstand it- which I think you can. then you have the one magic in your hands. Aside from being a remedy for allergy symptoms, you can also use it on anybody of any age for other skin related problems.

How And When To Use Shea Butter.

You can apply Shea butter on any part of your body at any time, any day. All you just need to do is apply it like body cream on the parts that are reacting, watch and wait to see it perform the African magic.

3. Use Steroid Creams And Olive Oil: Studies has stated that olive oil reduces the risk of dermatitis, also steroid cream may be used to reduce inflammation, swelling and irritation, if the case is less severe.

If they persist with more severe symptoms like hair loss and severe headache, Then you have one last hope which is consulting the doctor or dermatologist.

Safety Precautions To Avoid Reactions

As the old African man proverb says “Prevention is better than cure”. You should play safe and apply caution than to be ignorant and turn to big-headed or face dude.

  1. Firstly, Apply sense when you are to move to another brand of dye because the new dye might not favour your scalp.
  2. Ensure you wear gloves and wash your hands before and after application.
  3. Patch testing is a must: Before you apply any dye on your hair, make sure you have tested it on some parts of your body that can be easily covered by clothes. If you react to the dye while patch testing, just discards it and go for another brand or alternative. This testing should be done 72 hours before the D-day to know and see its full effects. Don’t do it yourself, it is recommended you consult professionals.
  4. Follow the instructions by the manufacturer to avoid over or under usage problems.
  5. Wash hair thoroughly and don’t wash too early or too late. Be accurate with your timing.

Allergy To Hair Dye Alternatives

You simply can’t stop dyeing your hair, but you are allergic to hair dye. What can do next? It’s simple just look for an alternative, and here is one.

If you want to avoid allergens totally, one of the most natural types of hair dye to use is henna, though it’s not common, that is, you can’t find it in every part of the country.

I have witnessed most cases were my client ended up buying fake henna that has hidden PPD. So when purchasing make sure that you buy only pure henna.

Other Alternatives includes tree dyes, vegetable dyes and semi-permanent dyes that have been certified by an expert to be free of harsh and toxic chemical additives.

FAQs On Allergic Reaction To Hair Dye

Q: How Long Does An Allergy To Hair Dye Last?

Allergy to hair dye can last more than 6 days if not treated early. Some cases become so severe to the extent that it can exceed more than 6 days. It is also dependent on the type of skin and the chemical responsible for the reaction.

Q: What Hair Color Is PPD Free?

There are lots of hair colour dye that is PPD free, you just have to manually check the ingredients listed by the manufacturer. Getting black and brown refined dye without PPD is very rare.

Q: Do Semi Permanent Hair Dyes Contain PPD.

Yes, some contain PPD, while some don’t, as I said earlier you just need to check out the dye pack for its constitutes.

Q: Am Allergic To hair Dye What Can I Use To Cover Grey Hair?

Henna is a good alternative to cover grey hair if you are allergic to the dye.

After all up and downs, we have fully discussed the allergic reaction to hair dye and its quick remedies.

Now I would love to hear from you;

Which remedy are you going to try out?

Or maybe you got something different to tell us on this.

Either way, do let us know by leaving a comment below right now.

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I am Stanley. A Professional Unisex Hairstylist, Writer and books lover. After 12 months apprenticeship program as a stylist I started working with my boss for extra 1 year. This time frame made me acummulate knowledge and experience in the hair industry, of which I will love to share with friends all over the world through my blog.

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