hair coloring

Hair Coloring and Allergy

Choosing a new hair color wouldn’t seem to be the kind of decision that comes with much peril. But anyone intent on going from blond to brunette, or from gray-haired to redhead, could be in for a surprise.

In fact, chemicals used in hair dyes can trigger allergic reactions, and skin exposed to the chemical paraphenylenediamin (PPD) may become swollen, red, blistered, dry and cracked.

“It’s a not so common reaction, but can happen,” says Paolo Tramonti, owner and CEO of Bios Line, an Italian company that manufactures the BioKap Nutricolor Delicato ( brand of at-home hair dyes.

Mostly the reaction to chemicals in hair dye is mild, but on rare occasions there can be a more serious situation. Two years ago, actress Pauley Perette of the TV series NCIS broke out in a rash and experienced severe swelling because of the dye she routinely used to turn her blond hair black.

Reactions can vary from person to person, Tramonti says, and that’s why hair dyes come with a caution statement about allergic reactions, and consumers are instructed to do a “patch test” on a small area of the skin before using them.

Tramonti say consumers can further reduce the chances of having an allergic reaction if they ask these questions about dyes:

Is it PPD free? Even if you’ve used a hair dye with PPD in the past without any problems, that doesn’t mean you can consider yourself worry free. An allergic reaction to PPD can develop at any stage of life, Tramonti says. That’s why it’s best to avoid it.

Has it been nickel tested? Nickel is another ingredient that may create problems and, according to the Mayo Clinic, can cause an itchy skin rash. “It’s impossible to avoid the presence of nickel completely because trace amounts are in water and in some natural ingredients,” Tramonti says. “That is why we test our products for nickel to ensure that only a small amount (less than 0.0001 percent) is present.”

Is it free of ammonia, paraben and resorcin? These common dye ingredients also can lead to various skin irritations and other allergic reactions. For example, besides the skin problems ammonia can cause, exposure to ammonia fumes also can irritate the eyes, throat and lungs.

“Most people don’t experience any allergic reaction when they color their hair,” Tramonti says. “But there are people with particularly sensitive skin for whom it’s advisable to use products that are as natural and gentle as possible.”

Paolo Tramonti is owner and CEO of Bios Line (, a company that he founded 30 years ago. Today, the company’s products are distributed in 35 countries, and most recently its BioKap Nutricolor Delicato brand of at-home hair dyes has been introduced in

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