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Hair Dye and Allergy

 by Sheron Hopkins
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There are hundreds of hair dye products on the market shelves.   Hair dye is no longer an exclusive item for baby boomers – but is now a necessity of the hip-hop generation.  Both young men and women are coloring their hair green and orange and even a combination of colors for a strong fashion statement.   The hair dye products in the market do not always undergo a rigid food and drug testing but governments are looking at para-phenylenediamine, an ingredient in hair dye that has proven to be toxic even in small amounts.  Proof of this?  Hairdye induced allergy.   Victims of allergy reactions due to hairdye either developed facial dermatitis or severe facial swelling.

Younger people who have started dyeing their hair are exposing themselves to the risks of cancer; they color their hair as often once as once a week, changing their hair color upon whim.  Older people are also advised to lessen their use of hairdye.  But if this is not possible, henna can be a safer substitute.  Henna leaves produce an orange-red dye, and is a safer alternative to commercial hair dyes flooding the supermarkets.   Another safer option is the use lead acetate-based hair dye.  All the ingredients of lead acetate-based and henna hair dye have passed stringent FDA controls.      

Henna hairdye come in different colors – brown, reddish-brown, and variant shades of red bordering on blond.   If you wish you lighten your hair color, henna based hairdye cannot do the job effectively.  Lead acetate based hair dye is ideal for gray hair because it is effective in darkening hair.   Young people are cautioned however not to attempt coloring their eyebrows or eyelashes with any type of hair dye.   This may induce irreparable eye infections.

Before using any type or brand of hair color, do a skin patch experiment.  Dabbing a minuscule amount behind the or on the scalp can test your skin reaction to the hair dye.  Should you develop allergy reactions, discard the product.  For those who do develop any serious allergy they must always observe the following precautions when using hair dye:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely
  • Wear gloves to safeguard your hands from drips
  • Rinse your hair and scalp thoroughly after the prescribed time
  • Ask salon attendants to do a skin patch before they use new hair dye on you.

If you still want to color your hair, proceed with caution.

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