Often there are unpronounceable ingredients in hair color, and Paraphenylenediamine is definitely one of those ingredients. Parapheny-what? Exactly.
What is PPD?
Paraphenylenediamine—more commonly known as PPD—is a chemical substance that is commonly found in permanent hair color and other dyes. PPD in hair color is most often used in dark shades; hair color companies use PPD pervasively because it provides long-lasting hair color that has a natural look. PPD hair dye is used in both salon and at-home color because it is an effective ingredient in coloring dark hair.
Is PPD harmful?
Despite its success in coloring hair, PPD has a reputation for negative side effects. Most commonly, PPD can cause reactions ranging from mild skin irritation to more severe allergic contact dermatitis. Sensitive individuals may experience dermatitis—skin inflammation and irritation commonly referred to as eczema. Eczema may first be noticed on the upper eyelids or rims of the ears after application of the hair color. These symptoms often calm down after the dye is fully oxidized, In more serious cases, there may be marked reddening and swelling on the scalp and the face. An allergy to PPD can result in widespread contact dermatitis, as well as hives and, in rare severe cases, anaphylaxis.
Alternatives to PPD
Of course, the best solution to PPD allergies is to use products that don’t contain the chemical. Because of its status as a known allergen, research has been done to create alternative ingredients that effectively color hair without leading to unfortunate side effects. Because of this, there has been a push for dedicated research into alternatives that achieve similar effects as PPD, without the harsh effects that some users experience. Manufacturers have begun creating products with para-toulenediamene sulfates (PTDS) as a substitute to PPD, which has proven effective in replacing the ingredient without posing the same level of risk.
At Tangles Hair, our preferred color line, Alfaparf uses PTD—an ingredient that effectively replaces PPD in permanent hair color while offering a lower incidence of skin sensitivities. Studies show that more than half of users who are allergic to PPD did not experience any adverse effects to products using a PTD substitute. However, as the ingredients are chemically similar, it is possible for users who are allergic to PPD to experience some irritation when using a color with PTD. We highly recommend any client that has experienced side effects from a color service before to come into Tangles and receive a free color path test at least 24-48 hours before your color appointment.
The Bottom Line on PPD
Although many manufacturers have determined that PPD reactions occur infrequently enough to continue using PPD in their products, we believe it’s important to use safer alternatives whenever possible. Color with PTD creates the same rich, dark shades our clients love, without the demonstrated likelihood of allergic reactions that one would expect from the use of PPD. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us!