PPD and PTD - Allergy Myths and Misconceptions Clarified and Dispelled

See information related to PPD and PTD allergies here. This page shows how these allergies occur and what you can do about it.

PPD and PTD - Allergy Myths and Misconceptions Clarified and Dispelled

Organic dye is safer

It isn’t. Organic dyes are suitable for consumers who are concerned with farming practices, processes and methods, and the term “Organic dye” signifies a high percentage of ingredients that have been grown and farmed organically. The term “organic” in itself does not mean that a dye is free of PPD, PTD or any other chemical or compound, only that it contains at least some organic ingredients.

Natural dye is PPD and PTD-free

Again, not necessarily. Many hair dyes are marketed as ‘natural’ because of the higher number of natural extracts or ingredients in the formula - for example, a fruit oil or oat protein to condition the hair during colouring. The term does not mean these natural ingredients are included to the exclusion of synthetic or chemical ingredients, nor does it mean that the dye does not contain PPD, PTD, ammonia or peroxide.

Ammonia-free dye is safe for PPD and PTD allergics

Ammonia, PPD AND PTD are entirely different ingredients. Removing ammonia from dye will not affect, or prevent, a PPD AND PTD allergy in any way.

A patch test fully prevents and protects from PPD AND PTD allergies

It doesn’t. A patch test is only an indicator of whether someone is allergic to a substance, i.e. it is an allergy alert test. It is a reliable guide, and the most effective tool in preventing an allergic reaction, but it is not foolproof or guaranteed. It is possible to have an allergic reaction to a substance that caused no visible reaction during patch testing, however, this is unusual. Severe allergic reactions are most likely avoided  by patch testing.

You can get an allergic reaction to PPD in henna

Henna in its true form does not contain PPD or PTD. It is a natural product, orange-brown in colour, that is used to colour hair without the use of chemicals. On skin, it leaves an orangey stain. “Black Henna” is the misleading nickname given to the sorts of black dye skin tattoos you often see on holiday resorts and at festivals, and does not contain henna at all. In fact, this “Black Henna” is often just a high concentration of PPD renamed to sound more ‘natural’. The PPD used for ‘Black Henna’ tattoos can be in much higher quantities than is allowed in hair dye, and can trigger a sensitivity or serious allergy to all PPD and PTD products, and so these tattoos are best avoided, especially by children.

There is lots of PPD AND PTD in dark hair dyes

While it’s true that darker shades of dye will typically require more PPD or PTD than lighter shades, legislation over its use in hair dye sets the maximum concentration of PPD at 2% and PTD at 2%. Anything higher is not permitted by law in the EU. 

PPD and PTD allergic people will be okay as long as they colour in a salon

False. PPD AND PTD is an ingredient found in both salon and at home color kits. If someone is allergic to PPD or PTD their allergic reaction could happen no matter if the color used is a professional color or a home kit color.. However, salons are generally more likely to perform a patch or skin test than at-home users, making in-salon reactions more rare.

PPD AND PTD and hair dyes are dangerous to use when pregnant

False. Modern hair dyes are safe to use during pregnancy, so long as standard patch or skin tests are carried out at least 48 hours before each colour appointment, and the mother has not reacted adversely to hair dyes in the past. It is inadvisable to try a new or unfamiliar dye or chemical product during pregnancy.

PPD is always responsible for hair colourant allergies

No. Anyone can experience an allergic reaction to almost anything, including natural substances. Hair colourants contain many different ingredients, including hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, alcohol, sulphates and many more, natural and synthetic. PPD AND PTD is the most usual cause of hair dye allergy, but the only way to know for sure is to undergo specific allergy tests at the dermatologist.

PPD AND PTD are banned in Germany in France.

False.PPD and PTD are not banned in any European country, and has been declared safe to use under the strict safety regulations of the EU Cosmetics Directive. Both PPD and PTD are used in hair colourants throughout the world. About 1% of the general population have been found to be sensitized to PPD or PTD.

PPD AND PTD allergy sufferers can still colour their hair with foils

Not necessarily. Some women who experience sensitivity to PPD AND PTD or any other hair colourant ingredient, ask their colourist to apply dye to the hair only, not directly onto the scalp, then wrap the hair in foils to minimise the skin’s direct exposure to the dye while it develops. While this may work well for some, it is important to bear in mind that a mild sensitivity (a skin irritation reaction) and an allergy (involving the immune system) are very different. It is inevitable that when foils are removed and dye is rinsed out, PPD AND PTD will touch the scalp and can cause a serious reaction in those with a PPD AND PTD allergy. PPD AND PTD allergic clients should avoid the foils method, and hair dyes, altogether.

PPD AND PTD remains on towels, gowns and tools, making the entire hair salon unsafe for allergic clients

It is true that hair dye will stain towels and gowns, and will leave traces on equipment. However, this should not pose a threat to allergic clients, because the amount of free PPD AND PTD is low in the inactive stains that remain long afterwards. For the same reason, PPD AND PTD allergic clients are usually safe to wear hair extensions and wigs that have previously been dyed with PPD AND PTD colourant. 

“Reduction of the incidence of allergic reactions” is used in the scientific literature in a different way 

In theory everybody can be sensitized to PPD as long as the concentration is high enough upon exposure. Therefore the term ‘ability’ is difficult in that context. Regarding the percentage, most recent studies of the prevalence of sensitization to PPD in the general population in the EU have shown that approx.1 % are sensitized, i.e. Diepgen et al 2016

For elicitation of an allergy the concentration of ‘free PPD’ is technically considered the driver. This is why diagnostic patch test using PPD alone are used for diagnosis of hair dye allergy. 

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.