Why PPD- Free Hair Dye Matters

Saying we’re rather proud of our hair dye is like saying that saying punk music is just a little counter-cultural. Here at Manic Panic, we’ve been making vegan hair dyes in a wealth of fun and funky colors since 1977 because life is too exciting to stick with just one color. Life is also too short for professional hair dye and at-home kits that leave your hair feeling brittle and dry. That’s why our colorful hair dye options are all vegan and free from damaging ingredients, among other benefits. So what are you waiting for, the perfect hair dye? Well, here we are to help you embrace your bolder side! 

What Makes Manic Panic Hair Dyes So Great?

It would be too easy to answer this question with the answer, “All of our great colors, duh!” Bringing bold colors is a great start, but we’re committed to more than just hair dye. For example, have you taken a look at all the causes we support? While we are so proud to help groups like the Stonewall Community Foundation do great work, we want to do good on a more individual level too — and that starts with hair dye that gives back, in more ways than one.

We support charities that do amazing work, and we support at-home and professional hair dye options that help your hair. We want to provide everyone with plenty of options for bright, colorful hair, and we want to make sure it’s not going to wreck your strands with every dye job. Our semi-permanent at-home hair dyes and professional hair dye options are all: 

  • Cruelty-free
  • PPD-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Ammonia-free
  • Resorcinol-free
  • Phthalate-free 

Some of those -free items on the list make a lot of sense. Cruelty-free, for example, should be pretty straightforward. But what about the rest? Not to worry, we’re here to explain. 

What the Heck is PPD?

If it feels like you’ve been hearing more and more hair dyes claim to be PPD free these days, you’re not wrong. It’s become a buzzword that connotes a safe hair dye option. While PPD isn’t the only thing that may be harmful in many dyes, it’s a big one, especially for folks with allergies or sensitive skin. 

PPD is short for paraphenylenediamine, a chemical substance that darkens with air oxidation. You can probably imagine why it’s used in hair dyes if it gets darker with air contact, right? PPD is commonly included in hair dyes, especially in darker shades. It’s also an ingredient used in manufacturing polymer and composite materials like kevlar. Yeah, you read that right — PPD is used for hair dyes and to make strong, heat-resistant materials commonly used in things like bullet-proof vests, photo developer solutions, and bike tires. We think that’s a bit weird too. To be fair, PPD is also a common ingredient in temporary tattoos, some darker-hued cosmetics, fabric dyes, and printing inks. It’s not just used for kevlar and hair dye. 

Is PPD Dangerous?

On its own, PPD isn’t necessarily dangerous. That’s how it was allowed to be included in hair dyes and cosmetics, after all. However, PPD is frequently the cause of skin irritations that range from mild to severe. It’s one of the big reasons it’s recommended to test any hair dye or cosmetics on a small area before doing an all-over dye job. 

The reactions to PPD are similar to other skin allergies. This can include mild itchiness, skin rashes, the development of eczema, and swelling around areas that the PPD-inclusive material comes in contact with the skin. It can be uncomfortable, but symptoms typically subside after the dye fully oxidizes. In rare cases, a PPD allergy can cause dermatitis, swelling, hives, and even anaphylaxis (an allergic reaction often associated with suffocation or swelling in the windpipe). PPD is also believed to increase the likelihood of skin irritations the more it is worked with — which is why hair colorists should always wear gloves when applying professional hair dyes. In this case, it means that individuals who often dye their hair can also develop dermatitis issues over time, whether they use a professional hair dye or an at-home kit. If a dye has PPD in it, it is possible to develop skin issues, even if you don’t have any problems during the first use. 

How Can I Protect Myself?

Whether you’re a hair professional or simply dyeing your hair at home, the best way to protect yourself from the effects of PPD is to skip the dyes with this ingredient. A lot of professional hair dye options and at-home colorants use PPD because it provides a rich, dark color. The good news is there are plenty of safe hair dye options that give you the same stellar results without the potential skincare concerns. If you do choose to use PPD-inclusive hair dye, protect your skin with nitrile gloves. You may also want to invest in a protective barrier to spread around your hairline and minimize the spread of dye. And, of course, be sure to perform a small test patch as directed by the packaging before you cover your whole head of hair with it. 

The more important way to protect yourself is through awareness. Always check the ingredients list and look for PPD or paraphenylenediamine. It shows up most often in permanent hair dyes, but it will also appear in some semi-permanent hair dyes, henna substitutes, and cosmetics. If you notice a skin reaction when dyeing your hair, the odds are good that PPD is playing a role. Stop using that dye and consult with your hair colorist for a professional hair dye option or an at-home hair dye that skips this irritating ingredient. 

Finding A Better Alternative

When it comes down to it, there really isn’t a compelling reason to stick with PPD-inclusive hair dye these days. Both professional hair dye options and at-home dyes offer the same array of colors in long-lasting options — without skin-irritating PPD. You can even find nontraditional, electric hair color without PPD, so don’t put your hair or your skin through that! 

Instead, give Manic Panic a try. Our goal is to provide bright, deep, and pastel hair dye options that actually help hair rather than causing damage — so you can change colors as often as you change your shoes, if you really want. For all of our colorists out there, we offer a line of professional hair dyes just for you! You can get the full scoop online, and connect with our team if you have any questions on how to work with our vegan hair dyes. Go bold without all the bother with cruelty-free Manic Panic hair dyes!