The Salon Nightmare That's Becoming More and More Common

Imagine going into your local hair salon to update your color. You meet with your stylist, she dyes your hair a lovely dark shade and everything looks great—you’re a happy customer. That is until the next day, when your scalp starts itching and your head swells up to the size of a balloon. Unbelievable? Check out these before-and-after images currently making the rounds on the Internet.


Imgur user, thechosenginger, posted these unbelievable photos on Reddit showcasing her friend’s nightmarish reaction to hair dye. In the thread, thechosenginger says her friend used that dye before “so it wasn’t expected,” and was rushed to the ER a few days after she went to the salon.


It would be easy to chalk this up to a freak accident, but having this allergic reaction to hair dye isn’t exactly unheard of; in fact, it's happened to one of our editors. What people are reacting negatively to is paraphenylenediamine (PPD), an ingredient found in permanent hair dye that allows for, particularly, dark color to withstand fading.

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According to Montclair, NJ, dermatologist, Jeanine Downie, MD, allergic reactions to PPD are becoming more common. “As hair solutions get cheaper, the reactions to PPD only get stronger,” she says.

Not everyone will react to PPD the same or within the same timeframe. “For some people, it’s instant,” says Dr. Downie. “For others, it takes time and could happen after a few more sessions.”

If you believe you’re having a reaction to PPD, Dr. Downie says to look out for any signs of swelling, redness or itching of your scalp, and even hair loss. Any severe reaction must be seen immediately and followed with an appointment with a dermatologist to get a patch test. Dr. Downie also advises to resist scratching your scalp and to take any oral antihistamine, like Claritin.


The silver lining here is that not all hair dyes contain PPD. Our tip? Try looking for salons that carry professional color lines that are PPD-free like the Wella Koleston Perfect Innosense line and always do a patch test, even if you’re going to a professional. In these types of cases, it’s better to be safe than sorry.


4 Comments
  • Selena
    Posted on

    How did you get on Jenny M ....I have had to stop dying my hair because of the same problems you had. I tried the sweet and low and sadly it did not work in fact tried everything I think it's PPD that's the problem . interesting what you said about going blonde though . I just use a toner as I am dark brown it only lasts 8 washes.

  • Jenny M.
    Posted on

    I had this same horrific allergic reaction to dark hair dye about 15 years ago, and I've been allergic ever since. It doesn't matter whether the dye is from a drug store or a salon, whether it's permanent or demi-permanent or even semi-permanent, and even some supposedly PPD-free colors cause the same reaction. Even having full foils, with the dye barely touching my scalp, causes an allergic reaction (less severe, but still like a bad case of poison ivy with weeping welts and intense itching). I finally found that bleach and toner don't cause this reaction, so I've gone blonde. It may actually be a reaction to the ammonia. My hairdresser is trying the trick of adding Sweet and Low to the dark dye and adding a few lowlights. This was done to yesterday, and so far I haven't had any itching or reaction. If the Sweet and Low trick works, I'll gradually have her add more lowlights to go back closer to my original brunette color.

  • zandile
    Posted on

    hello thanks for sharing this information about hair dye last week I end up in hospital after colouring my hair with inecto hair dye .mmmmmm I nearly die.

  • lorijprather
    Posted on

    There's a reason why they should do a patch test before doing any kind of chemical service. They teach you tjus beauty school. Salons are too busy trying to make their money and pay attention to making sure that whatever they are doing is completely safe.

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