Last year, the total sales of U.S. hair dye vendors amounted to 1.5 billion U.S. dollars! So,it’s safe to say that many of us see hair dye as a fairly safe cosmetic. What many hair color consumers don’t realize is that it contains many ingredients that can cause allergies, skin irritations, and permanent baldness. Hair color can even be life-threatening to individuals with severe anaphylaxis. What’s even more surprising is the fact that the FDA (Food, and Drug Administration) is totally aware!
One of the most harmful yet common ingredients in hair color is known by multiple names which include paraphenylenediamine, 1,4-benzenediamine, and p-phenylenediamine but is most commonly referred to as “PPD”. PPD is the active ingredient that allows a hair color to maintain its vibrancy despite multiple washing and drying. It is very powerful and resistant to high temperatures and other chemicals. Besides perfumes and preserving compounds it is the most common cause of dye allergies such as allergic contact dermatitis; a condition that presents itself in forms such as rashes, papules, or blisters. Although the severity of allergic contact dermatitis may not be extensive after the first application,repeated use can worsen symptoms over time.
Anaphylaxis is the most unfortunate and life threatening condition that can result from allergies. If a consumer fails to read the label of a hair coloring product before use, they could actually be risking their life. Nothing can be done if a person dies from using a hair dying product because it is the consumer’s responsibility to read instructions before using the product.
The FDA only requires the manufacturer to meet simple labeling guidelines which can be easily overlooked by an unsuspecting consumer. Manufacturers only have to disclose the ingredients, warn the consumer of potential results, and advise them to do a skin patch test, leaving most of the responsibility to the consumer. Consumers should perform extensive reading and research in order to protect themselves against dye allergies. The disturbing results of a recent study of 263 male and female hair dye users discovered that 34% never performed a skin patch test prior to use.