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Hair Color Disasters: Allergic Reactions


Ellen DeGeneres 33rd Annual People's Choice Awards 01-09-07 All Rights Reserved

Many people, men and women alike are unaware of the fact that at some time in their lives they will develop an allergy to hair color.

Allergic reactions to hair dyes and lightening agents are actually more common that most think.

Allergic reactions can range from mild to life threatening. Even more troubling is the fact that an allergy may occur with a product you used for years without any problems. Then suddenly the product produces sensitivites.

A mild allergic reaction might include a slight burning or itchy sensation along the scalp, watery eyes or slight swelling,

Life threatening allergic reactions can include a swollen throat resulting in belabored breathing and in some rare cases danger of sudden death.

Whether a mild or major allergic reaction is experienced, a medical professional should immediately be contacted for treatment.

Some people will continue to use a hair care product even after suffering an allergic reaction. History has shown that an allergic reaction will most likely worsen over time. Therefore if you suffer from a mild reaction you may suffer increasing more severe symptoms.

Once an allergy is experienced, the product in question should no longer be used.

Although most hair dye allergies are linked to semi-permanent and permanent hair colors, some people do develop sensitivities to bleach based products or products used to lighten the hair.

Experts link allergic reactions to paraphenylenediamine known as PPD. Others suspect a reaction to the bleach, ammonia or peroxide.

While natural dyes are available from both salons and over the counter that have minimal amounts of paraphenylenediamine or offer reduced amounts of chemicals, these products are often much less effective than traditional hair colors. Even more noteworthy, chemical free dyes may add color but generally will not lighten or provide lift of existing color.

When severe allergies exist the best option is to achieve highlights, lowlights or special color combinations through custom hair extensions. Human hair extensions can be applied on a strand by strand basis to achieve instant color enhancements.

Other options for chemical free hair color changes include wigs, clip-on temporary hair extensions and clip-in ponytails or braids that are pre-colored to blend with your natural hair color.

While some salons do carry chemical free professional hair color lines, make sure the products can achieve your desired color changes before investing in any treatments. If a previous allergic reaction has been experienced it is important that a patch test be performed before trying the product on your entire head.


Thousands of people may experience an allergic reaction to popular hair color products. Any type of reaction should be reported to a medical expert.

Once an allergic reaction is experienced use of the hair color product should be permanently suspended. Consider alternative methods for re-creating your favorite color style or investigate all natural color products.

If you want to talk more about this or other hair care articles on or anywhere else, please post a message on's Hair Talk Forums.

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