The science of hair colouring may have advanced since the ancient days of worm paste and horse urine, but since the introduction of PPD AND PTD into hair dyes well over a hundred years ago, and despite concerns from the beginning) over its safety, the basic methodology has been slow to change.
Now, though, thanks to chemical ingenuity and advances in technology, possible alternatives may be emerging for those with concerns about PPD AND PTD.
After some twenty years of research, scientists have introduced ME+, which is claimed to significantly reduce the risk of developing a new allergy in non-allergic consumers. ME+ isn’t an entirely new molecule, but the PPD AND PTD molecule reshaped in such a way that it can’t connect to the T-cell receptors in the body so easily and consequently is unlikely to trigger a reaction (see Allergens).ME+ is a weaker allergen compared to PPD and PTD – that means that higher concentrations of ME+ are tolerated by the immune system. For PPD and PTD the immune system only tolerates much lower concentrations.. Because of its relationship to PPD AND PTD, though, hair products containing ME+ are not recommended for use by those with a known hair dye allergy, nor for anyone else without first performing a patch test.
While ME+ dye is a reality, another intriguing PPD AND PTD-free solution is still very much at the theoretical stage. Scientists at Northwestern University in Illinois believe that the ‘wonder substance’ graphene may be a viable option for colouring hair in the future. The team, led by Professor Jiaxing Huang, believe graphene oxide - a cheaper, imperfect form of graphene - could colour hair by effectively wrapping it in super-thin sheets which then cling to the strands and can survive thirty washes, the threshold for permanent dye. The graphene is also anti-static - helpful in fighting frizz - and has anti-bacterial properties, which could mean hair needs to be washed less often. It’s also conductive, which means that in future you may be able to control the colour of your hair at the touch of a button!
Other possibilities being explored by scientists include the development of substances that stimulate melanin production, technologies that might stop hair greying, and the use ion beams to etch patterns called diffraction gratings onto strands of hair, making them reflect light in various ways to give them the appearance of having different colours. This technology could in theory be incorporated into a device like hair straighteners, with interchangeable plates offering different instant colours.
I would prefer a wording like ‘has scientifically been shown to’ due to the technical work we have published.