Are hair dyes safe? Common Hair Dye Side Effects to Avoid

Are hair dyes safe? Common Hair Dye Side Effects to Avoid

Few chemicals are toxic, so minimize exposure even when it comes to hair dye side effects. Try to keep the color off one’s scalp, a pathway to internal chemical exposure. Skin exposure also raises the risk of an allergic reaction. Applying it with a brush or comb can help keep dye off one’s scalp.

Combining different hair dye products needs to be avoided, as they may lead to harmful reactions.

Hair dyes are indeed widely used for cosmetic purposes, but their safety has rather been a topic of discussion.

What does research say about hair dye’s side effects?

Chemical Composition and Types of Hair Dyes:

Hair dyes do vary in chemical makeup, with three main types: temporary, semi-permanent, and permanent.

Permanent dyes, which tend to cause lasting changes in one’s hair shaft, are the most popular and also contain substances that can pose the greatest concern for health risks.

Potential Health

  • Few ingredients in hair dyes can in fact cause allergic reactions, skin irritation, and contact dermatitis.
  • There is, of course, a potential link between hair dye use and certain types of cancer, like blood cancer, bladder cancer, and breast cancer.
  • Permanent hair dyes do not appear to increase overall cancer risk, but there can be a slightly higher risk for certain cancers with long-term use.

Exposure and Concerns:

  • People can get exposed to chemicals in hair dyes via skin contact or inhalation during the coloring process. Hairdressers and stylists, due to their occupational exposure, can have a higher risk compared to occasional users.


  • Few doctors advise avoiding hair dye during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester.
  • It is suggested to perform a patch test before using a new hair dye to check for allergic reactions.
  • Choosing hair dyes with safer ingredients and less ammonia or P-phenylenediamine can certainly reduce potential risks.

Many people use hair dyes, which can contain different sorts of chemicals. Studies have indeed focused on hair dyes as a possible risk factor for various types of cancer.

Are hair dyes safe? Common Hair Dye Side Effects to Avoid

Types of hair dyes

Hair dyes vary greatly in their chemical make-up. There are three main types of hair dyes:

  • Temporary: Temporary dyes tend to cover the surface of the hair but do not penetrate into the hair shaft. They generally last for 1 to 2 washes.
  • Semi-permanent: Semi-permanent dyes penetrate the hair shaft. They typically last for about 5 to 10 washings.
  • Permanent (oxidative): Permanent dyes do cause lasting chemical changes in the hair shaft. They are the most popular types of hair dyes, as the color changes last until the hair is replaced by new growth. These dyes are sometimes referred to as coal-tar dyes due to some ingredients in them. They contain colorless substances like aromatic amines and phenols. In the presence of hydrogen peroxide, these substances undergo chemical reactions to become dyes. Darker hair dyes tend to use more of these coloring agents.

Most people are concerned about cancer risk, and that too with semi-permanent and permanent dyes. Because darker dyes do have more of the few chemicals that can cause cancer, these products are no doubt of the greatest potential concern.


While hair dyes are usually safe for most people when used as directed, it is important to be aware of the potential risks and take precautions. If you have concerns, consult with a healthcare professional, or even consider natural or safer dye options. Always follow the instructions as well as the safety guidelines provided with the hair dye product. Being aware of hair dye side effects is important.