This Is the Safest Way to Dye Your Hair

Changing your look doesn't have to mean damaging your locks.

While dyeing your hair at home may save you cash, it could be at the expense of your health. The chemicals in hair dye can cause symptoms ranging from itchiness on the scalp to welts. Scarier yet, they can even cause swelling so severe it causes the eyes to shut. And while no hair dye reactions have been reported as fatal yet, they are a potential precursor to life-threatening anaphylactic shock.

Paraphenylenediamine, or PPD, a chemical also found in the formula of some printer ink and temporary tattoos, is responsible for the bulk of these reactions. So, how can a person safely dye their hair without putting their health at risk?

As with any cosmetic, applying a small amount to a skin before use is the best way to rule out an allergy. This is true especially of chemical hair dyes, which tend to contain a laundry list of other potentially-irritating ingredients.

Aside from PPD, one of the chemicals most commonly cited as an irritant is ammonia. Ammonia, found in everything from industrial cleaners to explosives manufacturing, is what tends to give hair dye its noxious scent. The EPA suggests that ammonia exposure may cause everything from respiratory distress to death. Unfortunately, salon dyeing isn't always safer. Many salon formulas contain similar ingredients to those you'd find in drugstore dye, and a 2014 study of salon workers found that exposure to chemicals in the workplace, including those found in dyes, increased their risk of health issues, including certain kinds of cancer.

The solution? Save your money and your health by opting for a PPD- and ammonia-free home dye kit whenever possible. In recent years, mainstream brands like Clairol and Garnier have rolled out ammonia-free products. They've even reduced the PPD content in some of their popular lines. And companies like Saach Organics, Madison Reed, and Tints of Nature all offer dyes that are free of either potentially-toxic substance.

At the end of the day, the safest way to dye is to opt for a product free of PPD and ammonia. And always remember to test a small patch of skin a day before the main dyeing session. Once you've perfected the color, it's time for the style. Luckily, This Haircut Will Shave 10 Years Off Your Age.

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