PPD Dyes: The Alternatives

Did you know there are alternatives to PPD hair dye? See the options here for different methods of hair colouring.

PPD Dyes: The Alternatives


A natural plant dye prepared from the leaves of the Henna tree, used for thousands of years to dye skin, hair and fabric.


Entirely natural in its pure form

Highly unlikely to cause a reaction

Can be long-lasting 


Harmless to the environment




Narrow choice of shades - henna is naturally orange in hue. To achieve brown shades, it must be mixed with indigo, coffee, or other ingredients. 

Developing time to achieve desired colour and coverage can be lengthy, a second application may be required

Results can be unpredictable and inconsistent

Does not cover 100% of greys on many women

The term is frequently misappropriated, as in “Neutral henna” and “Black henna” - neither is henna and both can be dangerous

Is frequently mixed with other ingredients more likely to cause a reaction, then consequently mis-sold as a natural product


ME+ Dye

Hair colourants that use PPD, but make it harder for the immune system to identify it as such. For more details on ME+, see A Future Without PPD?


Full grey coverage

Permanent, low maintenance (depending on speed of regrowth)

Available in wide range of colours

Decreased likelihood of allergy or sensitivity



Not recommended for clients already allergic to PPD

Fewer shades than classic dye (though this is improving)

Can cause structural damage to hair if not used properly


Direct / Temporary Dyes

Hair colourants that sit on top of the hair shaft, coating it with colour, rather than penetrating the hair and altering it longterm.


Relatively inexpensive

Easy to use (usually by shampooing or painting on at home)

Flexible, no-risk - colours can be changed regularly, at will

Fun - large choice of shades

Highly unlikely to cause allergic reaction - no skin test required

Can be used as a toner-alternative on bleached blonde hair

Not at all damaging to hair




Cannot lighten hair, nor drastically change its colour

Does not cover grey

Can be messy - temporarily staining towels and tiles, sometimes running onto clothes in rain and so on

Effects are short-lived, requiring constant reapplication to maintain colour


PPD-free Semi-Permanent Colour

A colourant lasting up to 24 washes without the use of PPD. For more details, see Types of Hair Dye.


Relatively long-lasting

Can improve the condition of the hair, enhancing shine

Wide range of shades

Available in-salon or at-home

Colour is bold and vibrant

Blends some greys

Can be used as a toner-alternative on bleached blonde hair

Not damaging to hair



Cannot lighten hair

Does not cover greys

Fewer PPD-free options than PPD-inclusive options, particularly in darker shades

Not permanent


Root Disguising Sprays & Hair Chalks

Loose and pressed powders or powdery sprays, used to disguise greys or add fun colour temporarily.


Fast and easy to use (by spraying, dabbing or brushing directly on to hair)

Good range of shades, both natural and bold


Unlikely to cause a reaction

Relatively inexpensive

Not at all damaging to hair

Temporarily cover grey roots

Can usually be brushed out




Looks less natural / realistic than other methods

Can smudge onto face and clothes as day wears on

Covers grey only temporarily

Works well only on roots, not lengths

Unappealing texture to some

The Science Behind Allergies

See the science behind what causes allergies here. There are many causes and reasons for allergic reactions and the many factors are mentioned in here.

Hair Dye Health

PPD is short for Phenylenediamine. Learn more about what it is and what other applications it is used for e.g. Henna and make up.

Hair Dye Health

Here is the information on what PPD hair dye is and how it works. This includes the science behind it and best practices for perfect application.