Can Your Hair Dye Kill You? (Answer: Possibly)

Whether it’s to cover grey or change color entirely, hair dye is big business. Unfortunately, it’s also dangerous business if recent stories are any indication.  Over the last several months, there have been reports of many instances of severe reactions to average, everyday drugstore hair dyes — to the point where one woman is dead, another is severely brain damaged and still others have been left with injury and permanent sensitivity to PPD — also known as p-Phenylenediamine, an active ingredient in most drugstore hair dyes.

Tabatha McCourt was only 17 when she suffered a violent allergic reaction 20 minutes after applying hair dye. She was rushed to the hospital, but subsequently died. The hair dye is being investigated as a possible cause of her collapse.

38-year-old Julie McCabe of England collapsed minutes after applying the same hair dye she’d used for years. Now, she is in a coma and will likely have irreversible brain damage if she survives.  Again, the hair dye is being investigated as the possible cause.

Chloe Robins did what the package said — a strand and patch test 48 hours prior to using her hair product. She still ended up with a horribly disfiguring reaction after using the hair dye, with her head swelling to twice its size.

All of these reactions are thought to have been to the product PPD contained within the dye.  PPD is banned in products that are applied directly to the skin, as it has known side effects of blisters, rashes, redness and other unpleasant problems. It was also recently banned in Canada for use in temporary henna tattoos, again due to the possibility of serious and potentially fatal reactions. However, it’s perfectly OK to have it in hair dye… because presumably a product on the hair won’t touch your skin? (Have any of these people used hair dye?)

L’Oreal, the company that made the hair dye Julie McCabe used, said they will cooperate fully with the investigation into her reaction. However, is that enough? Is this product truly safe?


Related Stories:

Texas Woman Fired For Having Gray Hair

New Government Report Says Formaldehyde Causes Cancer

Toxins in our Hair and on our Faces

Photo Credit: Orin Zebest on Flickr.


Margie B.
Past Member 6 years ago

Very Interesting

Zion Raphaella
Zion Raphaella6 years ago

I stopped having my hair colored for more than a year now.. (despite the fact my parents own a beauty salon). I used to have terrible allergic reaction to chemicals but I'd have my hair dyed nonetheless. I came to my senses and stopped having chemical treatments done. I know I'm swimming against a tough current.. people think I'm odd for not having treatments done since my parents do own a salon.. people say I'd look prettier with a lighter shade of hair color.. etc etc.. but it doesn't matter what people say or think. God didn't make a mistake when he created me with dark blackish brown hair. I'm fine this way:) and...Better safe than sorry!

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons6 years ago

The Grecian formula for men has lead acetate in it.

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons6 years ago

PubMed search engine found "at least one well-designed study with detailed exposure assessment" that observed associations between personal hair dye use and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, multiple myeloma, acute leukemia, and bladder cancer,[6] but those associations were not consistently observed across studies. The CDC lists PPD as being a contact allergen. But then again, there are 40 to as many as 100 deaths annually from insect-sting-related anaphylaxis

Marcie JNP
Marcie Perskin6 years ago

Hair Dye is tremendously poisonous, I myself had blood poisoning from Nice N Easy a hair dye meant for Elderly Women== I was in my 40s. My head was emitting Lymph and the next morning went to the Drs and was put on Prednisone . I finally found a Hair Supply that sells the only thing I can use T.I G I and I have to take Zyrtec before i apply. I recommend for those of you that dont need it dont use it and for women like myself in my mid 50s go easy ===it is killing us slowly==try to stretch the use to every 3 months===it adds up. Just another toxic substance that we add to our Glamorous Lives===sick aint it?

Maria S.
Maria S6 years ago

WOW L'Oreal is what I have been using for the past 30 yrs.I usually have my hair dyed every 8 weeks. Thanks for the info. Now I guess it's time to change to henna.

Jolyne R.
Jolyne R6 years ago

After reading that article, I love my grey hair.

Shoba Daniels
Shoba Daniels6 years ago

wow did not know these well now i know

Christy A.
Christy Elamma6 years ago

Oh My! L'Oreal is the product I use, I have found that it doesn't dry out my hair like other products I've tried. I do not like the gray that is slowly but surely replacing my natural hair color, and do not want to give up my hair coloring. All of these products have basically the same ingredients, whether from a box or at the hairdresser. If something is found to be a serious health risk you can be sure that all these products will be pulled from the market, but the research will take time. My guess is that the company already has their chemists trying to come up with different formulas without the offending ingredient

Cathy Noftz
Cathy Noftz6 years ago

~This is real scary stuff!~Thanks for the info!!~