With the trend for beards in men showing no signs of slowing down, it’s not surprising that many guys are looking at options for dyeing them, especially if they begin to turn grey — but which are allergy safe?
With the allergen PPD found in many high street or mainstream products (such as Just for Men, Godefroy, Clairol Instincts for Men and Bigen), alternatives are not easy to come by. Here is a selection which may be suitable.
Easily the most original product on this list, the unisex non-dye Color Restorer works by restoring a man’s previous hair or beard color, rather than imparting an attempted near match.
Here’s the science: the color of any hair is dependent on its internal geometric structure — its so-called hair print — which reflects light in a manner that is unique to each of us. Hair color molecules cease to be produced in the follicles when we go grey, but the structure of the hair remains essentially the same, and so Hairprint seeks to reintroduce these molecules directly into shafts, and in so doing, replicating our own signature hair color. It contains peroxide, but does not contain PPD / PTD, ammonia, sulphates or artificial preservatives.
Search ‘beard’ on the Hairprint website to view detailed instructions on its use. Encouragingly, the manufacturers acknowledge that beard hair is coarser and requires a slightly different approach to scalp hair. The product only works well for originally black and brown hair.
For Grey Hair (US) / For Grey Hair (UK)
Formerly known as Reparex, this is another unique product, as distinct from the rest of the market as Hairprint, and similar in some ways in that the manufacturers claim the product can reinstate your original pre-grey hair colour — but results are not quick. It’s a transitionary product, which takes up to a fortnight to work, and you have to use it daily at first.
How it works is to introduce an enzyme (G-reductase) to remove oxygen from melanin at the root, a natural process which is normally undertaken by an enzyme we produce called catalase which has become lacking in the roots of grey hair. In other words, it mimics the process your body uses to keep its hair color. It can’t be used on dyed or hennaed hair, however. It contains some petrochemical derivatives, glycerin, a silver salt (an anti-dandruff and anti-bacterial), a copper salt and lanolin (to help beat any beard mites which reduce efficacy of the product) and a pine fragrance (contains limonene, coumarin), but no ammonia, peroxide or PPD.
The Natural Options …
Grizzly Mountain Beard Dye (US) / Grizzly Mountain Beard Dye (non-US)
Calling itself the original beard dye, and claiming to be ‘the best natural dye a man can use’, this is a pure henna-based blend, also including other natural herbs — including indigo, false daisy and neem — but no other ingredients. The powder blends are available in black, and various shades of brown, which you can further blend to hone in on your desired blend if you wish.
The Grizzly Mountain website gives very careful instructions, and points out that different beards may react in various ways to the dyes, and that some trial and error may be required, as might the use of a organic base product to help ‘break in’ the beard and pre-prepare it for the application of the dye. Be prepared for some weekend experimentation if you choose this option. The guys at this Canadian company appear to be very helpful and supportive should you have any problems. Products are available on Amazon.
Also henna-based blends, but offering far more color options than the Grizzly boys. The Henna Guys offer black, some browns, but also assorted reds — such as wine, orange and burgundy. Other botanicals in some of their powder blends are hibiscus, indigo, false daisy, brahmi and amla. Naturally, they too are free of all chemical additives and preservatives.
It’s Pure Organics
This is a UK range of henna powder blends, sold by natural hair dye company Suvarna. Similar blends to the above two — using henna, cassia, amla, indigo and neem and no other ingredients or chemicals. There are no instructions on the boxes specifically tailored towards beards, so any British chaps choosing this option should also read company owner Tricia’s blog Dyeing Your Beard Naturally.
This is not quite fully natural, unlike the options above, but as it comes in a less messy and ‘ready made’ format which doesn’t involve mixing, it therefore may appeal to some men who want less than minimal fuss. The product comes in a tin and consists of a pre-blended henna-based cream gel with an alcohol, some gelling agent (carbomer), fragrance and other botanicals in addition to the henna — including chamomile, carrot, açai, aloe vera and acerola. Comes in black, several shades of brown, including auburn. You get a brush for application too.
The ‘Make Up’ Option …
Blackbeard for Men
This is not really a dye as it doesn’t penetrate the beard hair, but is more accurately described as a brush-on colour, a bit like mascara for beards, so will come off when you wash your face or shower. It contains petrochemical ingredients / copolymers, silicones, plus black iron oxide as the colouring agent and two preservatives unlikely to trigger allergies (phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin). Comes in black, and three shades of brown too. Can rub-off easily and stain though, but good for short-lasting ‘touch ups’, I would imagine, but perhaps not for fuller and extensively grey beards.
Cover Your Gray Men’s Touch Up Stick
A well-known and highly regarded brand which has several men’s products, including others which may be suitable for you. Similar in some ways to the Blackbeard, this delivers its magic through a stick rather than a brush, and seems more natural, although it does contain some petroleum. Rest of ingredients seem to be mostly plant bases and mineral colours. Available in five shades, and ‘ideal for moustaches, sideburns, roots and beards’ with a promise that it ‘will not mat or clump’.
The Australian Option
Bodcare Beard Dye
This brand says its product is wholly natural and “without the allergy causing redness and chemicals”. Ingredients are provided in the FAQ, but it’s not explicitly clear that these ingredients are complete. However, as it’s described as ‘hypoallergenic’, I’m confident it is PPD-free. Those given ingredients are isopropyl alcohol, henna, carbomer and trace botanical elements (which may include Brazil nut and hazelnut, in case you have nut allergies).