Is Store-Bought Hair Color Bad for Your Hair?

Some hair dye ingredients will surprise you.
Some hair dye ingredients will surprise you. (Image: Image by, courtesy of Sarah Faison)

There are a variety of hair dyes and methods to change one's hair color. Commercial dyes, widely available on store shelves, contain a lot of chemicals, some of which are bad for hair. Natural-based products, meant to be less harmful.

How Dye Works

The components of most permanent and semi-permanant chemical dyes are Para-Phenylenediamine, a dark dye, and bleaching agents, such as ammonia or peroxide. According to, a dermatological website, the ingredients combine with oxygen to form a reaction that permanently binds the hair dye to the hair shaft, coloring the cuticle.

Para-Phenylenediamine (PPD)

A French chemist revolutionized the beauty industry in the early 1900s with PPD; however, the chemical can cause hair-loss and severe scalp irritation in some women. PPD is listed as an allergen to avoid by and a carcinogen by

Natural Dye and Colors

Natural tones are usually the least stressful on hair as they don't require as many damaging procedures and chemicals, according to Hennas, herbal dyes, vegetable dyes and food-based ingredients are the least toxic and can leave hair healthy and shiney, says the Environmental Working Group.

Where to Buy

Environmentally friendly salons aren't the only place to get "healhty" hair color. Hair dyes made from botanicals and other natural sources which cause less damage to hair, scalp and health, are available at most major health or natural food stores and beauty supply stores.


According to, frequent dyeing will weaken hair, making it limp and listless. Combining processes, such as bleaching, coloring and relaxing, further aggravate the hair.

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