PPD free hair dye

Allergy to PPD in permanent hair dye can be severe, and if you are sensitised you must take extreme care to avoid it. In the worst cases, it can cause swelling around the face and neck, and difficulty breathing. Angry red rashes around your hair line, ears and eyes caused by PPD can also be serious and unpleasant.

What alternatives to PPD are there?

There are many options. Although there are exceptions, most fall into one of three main categories.

1. Natural plant-based dyes

The safest options are natural botanical dyes and rinses, which use henna, cassia, beetroot, coffee, indigo and other plant extracts to impart color. These are unlikely to trigger allergies because they are so pure, although a few contain added essential oils which some people may react mildly to.

100% natural dyes such as these can’t change you from dark to blonde or vice versa, but they can help to conceal partial grey hair quite well. The results may only last a few washes, but they do not cause any damage to hair.

The following are all free from PPD, as well as ammonia, peroxide and synthetic colours, additives or preservatives. Powders are typically to be mixed with water before application.

Hannah Natural (US / Canada)
Pure henna, amla and indigo powders at low prices.

It’s Pure Organics (UK)
Straightforward and pure powders containing only henna, cassia, amla, indigo and neem.

Light Mountain Natural Hair Colors (US)
Very attractive looking kits, with only the purest of powders — indigo, henna and senna.

Logona (Worldwide)
100% natural brand from Germany. Some are powders, but most are cream blends containing henna, jojoba, walnut, rhubarb, beetroot, with added algin, wheat protein and essential oils.

Lush Henna Hair Dyes (US) / Lush Colour (UK)
These are solid henna blocks, also containing coffee, Irish moss and indigo, blended into cocoa butter, and with added essential oils.

Rainbow Research Henna Powders (US)
Another pure powder brand, featuring various hennas (neutral, red, black), plus flowers of marigold and camomile.

Sante Herbal Hair Color (US) / Sante Herbal Hair Colour (UK)
Powders and creams. The powders contain henna, indigo, curcuma, beet, ratania and other extracts, with wheat protein and alginates. The creams additionally contain water, alcohol, glycerin and a few other ingredients – including essential oils.

Surya Brasil Powder (Worldwide)
Henna, indigo, amla, arnica, acai, Brazil nut and other ingredients originating from Brazil and India.


2. Semi permanent / semi natural dyes

An ‘intermediate’ option. Despite brand names or product descriptions which often suggest the opposite, these kits typically use artificial colors – perhaps with some natural ingredients. They are usually a little more effective than 100% natural options — especially in darkening or highlighting dark hair, and covering greys — but the synthetic dyes in them can trigger allergies in a few women.

The following are free from PPD, peroxide and ammonia, but contain some petrochemical derivatives / artificial preservatives.

CoSaMo (US / Canada)
Solely synthetic colorants. Also contain a silicone and artificial fragrance.81cxyrd4l3l-_sy679_

Herbatint Vegetal (Worldwide)
Liquid formula of artificial coloring agents. NB Herbatint also produce a permanent line which contains PPD. Ensure you choose from the Vegetal range (eg pictured right).

Naturtint Reflex (Worldwide)
Liquid formula of artificial coloring agents. NB Naturtint also produce a permanent line which contains PPD. Ensure you choose from the Reflex range.

Surya Henna Cream (Worldwide)
Primarily artificial colors with small proportions of henna and botanical extracts derived from walnut, carrot, camomile, guarana and others. Free from artificial fragrance.

Tints of Nature Semi-Permanent (Worldwide)
Blend of artificial colors and a few natural botanicals. NB Tints of Nature also produce a permanent line which contains PPD. Ensure you choose from the Semi-Permanent range.


3. Permanent hair dye

51ec-1dsdnlRather than PPD, a few products use similar chemicals called PTD or PTDS (sometimes called TD or TDS) to impart permanent color, but these aren’t always as effective as PPD, and perhaps a third or so of people who react to PPD also react — sometimes severely — to these alternatives. Any product declaring itself PPD free and permanent will probably contain PTD. Proceed with particular caution if you have confirmed PPD allergy.

These three contain PTD:

Daniel Field Natural Hair Colours (UK)

Hair Wonder by Nature (US) / Hair Wonder by Nature (UK)

NaturVital ColourSafe (US)NaturVital ColourSafe (UK)


Is there anything else out there?

There are some other unique options offering more permanent solutions via natural means:

Hairprint (US / International)
for-herEntirely natural and innovative product — the Color Restorer (right) — billing itself as ‘the only product in the world that restores grey hair to its true color’. It uses peroxide to oxidise plant and mineral ingredients to recreate the lost natural and original pigment in your hair shafts, in the pattern (or ‘hair print’) that is unique to each of us. It is free of PPD, PTD, ammonia, artificial colours, synthetic preservatives (such as parabens), sulphates, gluten and silicones, and is vegan. The manufacturers say that they have not been notified to any confirmed allergic reaction to their product.

Palette by Nature (US) 
Two creams, applied one after the other to the hair, to which heat must then be applied. There are very long lists of ingredients in each of the products — which means those with allergies may have a lot to check — but completely natural, free of any oxidising agents, and uses only botanical and mineral-based colorants, that work using a patented method.


A final reminder …

  • Always perform a patch test at least two days before dyeing your hair, even with a more natural option, even if it’s a product you have safely used before (see also comment from Joolz, below).
  • Carefully follow instructions, and always double check ingredients, as these occasionally change.
  • No hair dye can be guaranteed 100% safe, but remember that extreme reactions are very rare.
  • If you have reacted to hair dyes before, consult a dermatologist for patch testing and a formal diagnosis.
  • Strictly avoid PPD / PTD if you have ever had a black henna temporary tattoo, as this can sensitise you.
  • Don’t expect miracle results with the more natural options, and understand carefully the limitations that some of them have in dyeing your hair with respect to certain shades, colors and coverage. Some will require experimentation, and you may find you need to try a few products before finding the ideal one for you.


  1. Sal

    Do you know whether the Scott Cornwall hair colour products are safe? Some new ones were recently launched. Thanks.

    1. Alex G (Post author)

      I’ve heard of them – and I think they’re launching next month, possibly in Boots. I’ll try to find out for you.

    2. Alex G (Post author)

      Just heard back from them, Sal – sorry for the delay. The entire Scott Cornwall Colour Restore Range is free from PPD and is also free from methylisothiazolinone. They seem to use phenoxyethanol as preservative instead. They are semi-permanent, but use artificial dyes only.

  2. Pingback: Black henna tattoos | Allergy Insight

  3. joolz

    May I suggest that you extend the time you recommend for the patch test? I have an allergy to PPD and the hairdresser said her products were gentle and did a patch test on a Tues and said to wait 2 days. Thank goodness I didn’t have an appt on the Thurs and waited until the following week. On the Sunday, 5 days later, the patch test flared up with a very bad reaction. I dread to think the mess I would have been in if I had only waited 2 days.

    I became allergic after a ‘black henna’ tattoo. That took several days to swell too.

    Thanks for your helpful page.


    1. Alex G (Post author)

      Goodness – thanks for that. Most authorities advise 48 hours at least, and some 72, but I’ll add a note, yes.

      1. joolz

        It probably depends on the individual, maybe 48 hours is ok for most people, but I think waiting a few extra day is worth it.

    2. pri4ster

      Henna tattoos are deceiving as some of them also have PPD and other harsh chemicals. We tend to believe it is just henna, but it is not.

      1. Alex G (Post author)

        Yep, thanks Priscila, I’ve just written about henna tattoos, incidentally: http://www.allergy-insight.com/black-henna-tattoos/

  4. BO

    Hi Alex, been reading the article as im allergic to PPD . What do you think of Hairprints is it worth a try? ( it does sound too good to be true!)

    1. Alex G (Post author)

      Hi Bo.
      I think it is an original concept that clearly works for some women but not for others. I would certainly consider it if you feel you meet the advice and recommendations on the Hairprint site. Take a look here: https://myhairprint.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/categories/200211837-Will-Hairprint-Color-Restorer-Work-for-Me-
      But sadly there are no guarantees in life! Good luck!

  5. Jem

    Hi Alex I’m also one who sadly became allergic to PPD after a black henna tattoo gone wrong at the age of 4 (little did I understand) and then dyed my hair brown at 14 and had a severe reaction. I have tried Daniel Field before but never put near scalp as I dont trust it enough. Whats your opinion on them?

    1. Alex G (Post author)

      Hi Jem. Sorry to hear that. Daniel Field contain PTD / PTDS instead of PPD, so could still be a problem for many with PPD allergy. If you’ve used it without any reaction it might be OK for you, but I would perhaps consider consulting a dermatologist before doing so again. Other options in this article are far likely to be safer for you, but results are unlikely to be as good. I’ll add them to the list – thanks for reminding me of them. Alex.

  6. Irina

    Hello . I enjoyed reading this forum . In addition to PPD allergy , I am also allergic to propylyn glycol, which is in most developers . Anybody can recommend something that is free if those ? Thanks

    1. Alex G (Post author)

      Here is what I’ve managed to find out:

      Hairprint is propylene glycol-free (they say so on their website).
      The Herbatint Vegetal line look to be propylene glycol-free (but the Herbatint PERMANENT line contains both PPD and propylene glycol).
      Surya is propylene glycol-free (they say so on their website)
      Daniel Field *appears* to be propylene glycol-free, but their website is very user-unfriendly. They contain PTDS, though, which people with PPD-allergy may still react to.
      The Naturtint Reflex CONTAINS propylene glycol (in the colorant)
      Naturvital ColourSafe contains propylene glycol (but seemingly only in the shampoo, having checked a few examples). They contain PTDS, though, like the Daniel Field.

      All the henna-type options in category 1 above should almost certainly be completely safe and propylene glycol-free.

      In summary:
      If you are sure you can tolerate the PPD-alternative ingredients (PTD / TDS etc), then Naturvital ColourSafe could be an option (just don’t use the shampoo – and double check your chosen shade, as I didn’t check all).
      If you are not sure you can tolerate PTD / TDS, then I’d look to brands like Surya or the more natural ones mentioned early on in the article.

      As always, double check ingredients and patch test before going ahead – and good luck.


  7. Randi

    Hello! .. so, this PPD allergy has been the first thing to officially install a sense of fear into me 🙁 I colored my hair, through my hairdresser, every 6 months, the last time I got my hair dyed, I went really dark brownish black, 30mins into getting the colour I got really dizzy and light headed, told my hairdresser I didn’t feel good and needed water, she asked if I needed something to eat maybe and by then, as she explained to me, my face went grey, my eyes were black and I was convulsing. I woke up covered in sweat and slowly started feeling better, we finished my hair and I went home. One week later, all of a sudden I developed a lot of severe food allergies. I’m now allergic to an unknown amount of legumes, nuts, tree nuts, almonds, most tress, grasses… the list is ongoing 🙁 never had food allergies before, only a simple animal hair allergy that was totally manageable without meds, I’m wondering if the hair dye caused all this? And, due to the “plant” allergies, is there a hair dye that doesn’t have PPD and isn’t plant based? … at a loss with all this 🙁 can’t do anything safely anymore, including eating … was hoping to get more tattoos but now I’m afraid, will never travel again due to food complications, pollen/inhalant allergies… so hard to get answers, can only keep researching for myself ..

    1. Alex G (Post author)

      Sorry to hear this. Randi, that’s a troubling story. It’s very difficult to advise. Ultimately, I feel you must see an allergy specialist – the food allergies are an additional burden that need to be evaluated properly. I would guess it’s possible that there is a link. By the sounds of it, you have hay fever (tree / grass) so you may have had these previously, but not obviously, and the PPD reaction magnified them by heightening the sensitivity of your immune system. I’m speculating. I’m not a medical expert.

      If you definitely can’t tolerate things like henna (which features in most of the 100% botanical products in category 1 above), I could perhaps look at Category 2. (Category 3 contains PPD alternatives, which I think could be too risky for you to experiment with, at least without an expert’s opinion.). Category 2 tend to use artificial colours (rather than from nature) and avoid oxidative processes where PPD / TDS are needed. Herbatint Vegetal, for example, has artificial colours, no PPD / peroxide / ammonia, but does contain a few botanicals (aloe, wheat, jojoba) as well as fragrance, which can irritate some.

      Hairprint, mentioned as an alternative to the main 3 options, could be suitable, but it depends on your particular circumstances. It does use food-grade botanical ingredients, but some unusual ones, teamed with minerals, and it does use peroxide too.

      Regarding tattoos, yes you must be careful. I recently covered this on another site I edit, with respect to another allergen (MI). I didn’t check for your allergens, but you may find it of interest: http://mi-free.com/tattoo-creams-and-balms/

      Hope some of this helps. Let me know how you get on. As always, do a patch test if you do go ahead with something, but I really would consult an expert in the very first instance, as yours sounds a complex case.


      1. Randi

        Thank you so much Alex for your time and your input, it means a lot to me to be able to reach out to others in order to gain further knowledge, your response is very greatly appreciated!

  8. ellen

    I had recent allergy patch testing & was found sensitive to PPD. I have had red itchy eyelids for years & couldn’t find the reason. I was given a list of products I could use (extremely limited from dermatologist)I have 50% grey and my haircolor is medium brown. My hairdresser tried Elumen by Goldwell which was the only color listed! I didn’t have a reaction, but it didn’t cover all my grey and after 2-3 days looked like it needed to be colored again. There are so many products listed on the web, can you PLEASE help sort out a good choice! I refuse to go grey! Thank you!

    1. Alex G (Post author)

      Hi Ellen. Thanks for letting me know about Elumen as I’d not come across it before, but could be considered another ‘alternative’ to the three main options out there.

      It’s impossible to ‘sort out a good choice’ because all dyes and colors work to a degree – but different women experience different degrees of success with them. It’s very personal; very ‘trial and error’.

      Have you considered Hairprint, mentioned in the article above? You would need to ‘grow out’ the dyed hair you currently have before using, I imagine, but it could be one option to try, as it is unique and some women have great success with it (others less so — but that’s always the way).

      I take it you’ve tried the henna / henna-based options which are totally natural? No joy?

      All the best, Alex

  9. Ellen

    Hi Alex, my hairdresser thought henna color wouldn’t work for me. Are you familiar with any of these permenant hair colors, PPD free. Trying to narrow down my choices.
    Calura by Oligo
    Kevin Murphy- Color me
    Wella- Koleston Perfect Innosense

    1. Alex G (Post author)

      I’m not familiar with any, sorry, Ellen – but please bear in mind that I’m a man, and have no hair to dye even if I wanted to! My interest is in ingredients and their safety / reactivity. It’s difficult for me to recommend on effectiveness. That advice must come from hair professionals and trichologists.

      I’ve looked at Calura by Oligo but I can’t find much information about it on their site, and not their ingredients either. I’ve emailed them though.

      Kevin Murphy Color Me’s website is very frustrating and user-unfriendly – I can’t finding anything useful at all.

      Wella Koleston Perfect Innosense – this seems to contain a patented dye molecule called ME+ which is related to PPD / TDS, but seems to be less likely to trigger allergies. I would still be very wary of this as it’s in the same family of chemicals – it’s full name is in fact ME-PPD. The one study I have found on this found that 2/3rds of women who were allergic to PPD / TDS could tolerate ME-PPD. But that still leaves one-third who couldn’t. I will add this to the article – thanks for bringing it to my attention.

      All the best, Alex

    2. Alex G (Post author)

      Hi again Ellen,

      I’ve now had a response from Calura by Oligo with regard to their ingredients. It’s not fully clear to me, but it is ammonia free and PPD free, and it seems to use TDS (mentioned in the article).


      1. chris

        FYI my understanding is that Ellumen uses magnetic technology rather than oxidative dyes, however, Ive read that you can end up with patches where the color does not adhere. Desperately hoping for a non oxidative solution to permanent hair color. Probably wont happen though.. sadly!

        1. Alex G (Post author)

          Thanks Chris. Useful to know. Must look into it.

        2. Nicki

          I have hair dye allergy, also allergic to henna. I have used Ellumen once successfully with no reactions. I did only use it with foils so that there was limited contact with my skin, but for now at least I can manage my scattering of grey hair.

          1. Alex G (Post author)

            Good that it’s worked for you. Hairprint (mentioned in article) might be another worth looking at.

        3. Kala

          As a hairdresser I will let you know that Ellumen and any goldwell color can only be purchased by a professional and is not sold to the public. Same goes for Kevin Murphy color. These are both color lines I use regularly. If you are purchasing these without a license then they are most likely what we call black market products, which basically means that they may be tampered with or super old.

          1. Alex G (Post author)

            That’s very interesting, Kala. Thanks for your input.

  10. Billie


    Thanks for a good article.

    I am naturally blonde (somewhere in between dark blonde/strawberry blonde). I have bleached my hair before, and also colored it lighter (both at salons and at home), but last year decided to go black and had an allergic reaction. Not a super bad one, but my skin got dry, red and inflamed for a few months, until I decided to shave my head 😉
    I have now tried coloring my hair (that had grown out in the meantime) platinum blonde two times, but it seems like I’m now allergic for good. I work as a model, and it is important for me to keep beautiful hair – but now my roots are coming out, and it’s not looking great. It seems there is a lot of products for women with brown or black hair – but not really any for women with blonde? I want to avoid PPD and TDS. I’ve researched a lot, but I don’t seem to find any – am I overlooking something? Semi-permanent or reflexes could be an option!

    1. Alex G (Post author)

      Hi Billie,

      First I would recommend you go for patch testing to a/ determine whether you really are allergic and b/ find out what you’re allergic to. It may not be PPD (although it is certainly highly possible).

      One possible product might be Scott Cornwall Platinum – http://www.boots.com/scott-cornwall-colour-restore-iced-platinum-hair-toner-100ml-10140314 – which is PPD-free. But remember that alternative products contain alternative ingredients (such as preservatives -in this case phenoxyethanol) which can trigger allergies. This is why that diagnosis is so important as a starting point – otherwise, it’s trial and error and guesswork, to some degree.

      Best wishes, Alex.

  11. Nadine Ward


    I’ve dyed my hair black for as long as I can remember. About 3 years ago, after I got it dyed, my scalp started itching and I had knots in the back of my head. I went to the doctor and was told I had an allergic reaction to the hair dye. I hoped that was not the case and dyed my hair black again a few months later. Again, I had the reaction. After some research online I realized I was all of a sudden allergic to PPD. I’ve been coloring my hair blond since then but really getting tired of it. And my natural hair color is a disaster 🙂
    Anything you can recommend would be great!


    1. Alex G (Post author)

      Hi Nadine,
      I always recommend getting a proper diagnosis to be certain what the allergy is in the first instance. It may be PPD; it may be something else.
      As for recommendations, well, I don’t offer personal recommendations as I’ve never tried hair dyes, and what works for one person, does not work for another. The PPD-free options are all given in the article. Once you know what you definitely react to, you can try alternatives. Black is difficult to achieve without PPD, unfortunately. Hannah Natural – mentioned in the article – have a black henna dye. So do Naturtint Reflex, and I’m sure others.
      Good luck, A.

  12. Pingback: Hair dye tests | Allergy Insight

  13. Juanita

    Good Afternoon

    Unfortunately I too am allergic to PPD. I’ve previously used dyes including henna’s to achieve a jet black look and one day suddenly the allergy occurred. After many attempts at locating PPD free dyes, I’ve since found the herbatint vegetal semi permanent colour which I’ve been using for ever since as it was always readily available at our Wellness and Herbal stores. This however has been discontinued (black) Are there any alternatives. I am in South Africa and some online stores in UK do have the delivery option for SA.

    1. Alex G (Post author)

      Have you tried the Naturtint Reflex Black, mentioned in the article near the Herbatint Vegetal?

      1. Juanita


        Unfortunately none of the online stores delivers to South Africa
        I’m still in search of a PPD free black hair dye


        1. Alex G (Post author)

          I’ve just asked Twitter followers and the SA Allergy association directly, to see whether they have any suggestions. You could also try contacting the allergy / eczema societies in South Africa, perhaps, as they may keep ‘safe’ product lists?

        2. Alex G (Post author)

          Juanita – are you OK with henna? This one should be safe for you: https://www.organicchoice.co.za/colouring/639-100-herbal-hair-colours-powder-logona.html#/shade-henna_black

      2. Juanita

        HI Alex

        Thanks so much for the recommendation of the Naturtint Reflex Black. I purchased this product online and a colleague collected this whilst in the UK and returned it to me here in South Africa. I am absolutely thrilled with the results. The product is easy to use, no mess, no fuss, and my hair looks and feels great even after using only half of the mixture.
        I did the allergy test 48 hours prior just to ensure that I would not have any allergic reaction and can happily state that this is even better than the one I previously used

        Thanks for your help

        1. Alex G (Post author)

          Delighted to hear it, Juanita!

  14. Kathy Asbury

    I,too, am allergic to PPD along with many other things. I suffered through the contact dermatitis rashes for the sake of coloring my hair. Saw an advertisement for Madison Reed hair dye and it’s PPD free, so I tried it and am in love! Their website is easy and fun to use. Very affordable, too! I hope this helps. I wish I had found it sooner. It wasn’t listed in my “product book” my allergist gave me. I’m just happy I can have brown hair again!

    1. Alex G (Post author)

      Thanks for sharing, Kathy. Madison Reed I believe are Category 3 – they use TDS in their permanent hair colour options, so it won’t be suitable for everyone with PPD allergy.

    2. Nicki D

      Hi Kathy,
      I am very pleased that you found a product that works for you. I live in the UK, but not sure about you, can you tell me how you accessed an allergist?? I don’t know where to find one, thank you,

  15. Nicki D

    just wanted to add a comment about Henna. I am allergic to hair dye and so have spent ages looking at the alternatives. I found a Henna website that I liked and read every single bit of info on the web site, inclu all the comments.
    I did a patch test and went onto putting a very small amount on my hair, not on my scalp; I wrapped it in foil, just to be sure. I was extremely surprised to have an allergic reaction. It was Henna with Indigo to make a brown colour; the company thought it was probably the indigo. So, moral of the story, just because it is natural (like nuts, grass, pollen etc), we can still have a reaction.

    1. Alex G (Post author)

      Oh absolutely – natural compounds are far likelier to trigger an allergy than a synthetic one, which are often ‘designed’ to be safer. There are no guarantees. I would still recommend patch testing though, if you did want to be sure. A lot of the henna products are indigo-free. Some use things like beetroot, cassia, coffee etc.

      1. Nicki D

        Thank you Alex, I didn’t know that about natural compounds – that is certainly not what the websites for henna are saying. Almost guarantee its allergy free. Thank you for this website, its helpful to share information. I haven’t yet found an indigo free Henna that will dye my hair brown, but will continue to look. Also I don’t actually know what caused my allergy, it could have been the henna.
        Thank you,

        1. Alex G (Post author)

          The Sante Colour Creams look to be indigo-free. They’ve got cocoa / mahogany brown options.
          Rainbow Research do a brown chestnut that seems to be just two types of henna, but that’s in the States.

  16. Davey

    I had a PPD-type reaction to Palette by Nature. Don’t know exactly what’s in it, but I was so disappointed.

    1. Alex G (Post author)

      Unfortunately, no dye or color can be ‘allergy free’ for everyone. The ingredients are on their site (there are a lot of them). It may be worth investigating, in case it’s something that appears in non-dye products?

  17. Pingback: PPD allergy and the gentle molecule | Allergy Insight

  18. Ganga Chandani

    I heard japan, Korea & Spain made PPD free Genuine Black hair dye. is it true. If anyone know about, Pls. tell me brand name or other details

    1. Alex G (Post author)

      What do you mean by ‘genuine’?

  19. Leonita

    Hello i am allergy hair color parafenilendiamina what’s hair color i need

    1. Alex G (Post author)

      Hi Leonita. Espanol? Italiano? I speak both if you want specific help. All the products linked to in this article are PPD free, though I’m unsure about availability in countries speaking those languages.

  20. Ash

    Hi what would you suggest, I tried Hairprint no itchy and redness or swallow skin good for my skin but not covered 100% gray. I’m using black on my gray hair. Any suggestions?

    1. Alex G (Post author)

      Hairprint can be great, but doesn’t work perfectly for everyone. Have you tried Naturtint Reflex Black? Really, it’s difficult for me to advise individually. I’m afraid ‘trial and error’ is something many women have to accept, although a trichologist may be able to advise in more detail.


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