Rainbow of Chemicals
When choosing salon dyes and DIY color kits, try to avoid these toxic ingredients:
p-Phenylenediamine (PPD). Even box dyes found at health-food stores contain this ingredient made from coal tar. PPD ranks a toxic 10 out of 10 on Skin Deep (cosmeticsdatabase.com), the Environmental Working Group’s ingredient database, for its links to cancer, developmental toxicity, neurotoxicity, and allergies. The darker the dye color, the higher the PPD concentration.
Resorcinol. This oxidative chemical stabilizes color so hair hue doesn’t fade after washing. Resorcinol also ranks high on Skin Deep, listed as toxic to the skin and the immune system.
Ammonia. Used to open up cuticles for dye deposits, this compound can irritate eyes and the respiratory system. Ammonia also produces that all-too-familiar chemical scent that overpowers salons.
Hydrogen peroxide. While it strips away melanin to lighten hair, hydrogen peroxide dries out and damages tresses over time. OSHA classifies this acid as an eye, skin, and mucous-membrane irritant, and inhaling high concentrations can cause lung irritation, dizziness, and vomiting.