Salon Allergy Specialist

Salon Allergy Specialist

Sunday, September 7, 2014

I'm Allergic to PPD, What Can't I Use?

The question I am most often asked..."Can I use _______ color?" I use a cheat sheet that is a compilation of colors that are professionally available. There are also many colors available at drugstores, which have the ingredients listed on the package by law. I'm a member of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, both the New York Chapter, and the National Chapter, so I'm aware of any new developments. I can access ingredients of most products. A few color companies I have contacted won't discuss what the diamines were in their color, which means that you don't want to try it. Secrecy is never a good thing! There is reason it's important to know and trust the company and brand of color. 

This link is a Spanish study done that includes PPD testing of several colors available in Spain. It found one blond color by Wella that had PPD in it that did not include it in the ingredients. It is dated from 2010, so this COULD have been corrected by now. Scarier information included that was from reference material was that about 45 percent of the hairdressers tested in 1981 were sensitized to PPD.  I will remind readers that in the U.S., in 2006 PPD was voted as the number one allergen. Between then and 2012, the number of people who became allergic doubled. I am not sure how this could possibly have happened, because no one can find a doctor who has heard of it TO THIS DAY. That is the second most asked question, followed by "Where can I find a hairdresser that will understand this?" I offer classes to anyone who will listen, so don't be afraid to ask!

This is a list of ingredients to look for- it is NOT complete!
  • TDS TOLUENEDIAMINE SULFATE (not all will be allergic to this...only 60%)
  • PPDA
  • Phenylenediamine Base
  • p-Phenylenediamine
  • 4-Phenylenediamine
  • 1,4-Phenylenediamine
  • 4-Benzenediamine
  • 1,4-Benzenediamine 
  • para-Diaminobenzene (p-Diaminobenzene)
  • para-Aminoaniline (p-Aminoaniline)
  • Orsin (trademark)
  • Rodol (trademark)
  •  Ursol (trademark)
  • 2-Nitro-1
  • 4-Diaminobenzene
  • Dye GS
  • Durafur Brown 2R
  • Fouramine 2R
  • 1,4 Diaminonitrobenzol (German)
  • 1,4 Diamino -2-Nitrobenzene
  • C.I. Oxidation Base 22
  • Fourrine Brown 2R
  • NCI-Co2222,4-Amino2-Nitroaniline
  • 2-Nitro-1,4-Benzenediamene
  • Fourrine 36
  • o-Nitro-p-Phenylenediamine
  • 2-Nitro1,4-Phenylenediamine
  • Nitro-Phenylenediamine
  • Oxidation Base 22
  • Ursol Brown RR
  • C.I. 76070
  • Zoba Brown RR
  • 2-Nitro-4-Aminoaniline
The following colors are PPD based colors, so DON'T USE:

Aveda - Pre 2011
Beth Minardi
Clairol Natural Instincts
Herbatint - Pre-2014 
Matrix (There is one without PPD, it's TDS)
Naturtint Reflex
Paul Mitchell 

The following are TDS based colors, so SOME many not be allergic:

Aveda - Post 2011
Clairol Beautiful, Advanced Grey
Framesi Eclectic
Kemon-yo, Ne-Yo
Mastey Teinture
Matrix Colorinsider
Pravana Silk Degrees
Sanotint (most people react to this)
Schwartzkopf Essensity, Igora
Wella Koleston/color charm - (May contain PPD) 

The following have AZO dyes, which many people CAN use:

Clairol : Beautiful, Born Blond Toner, Glorious Greys, Jazzing Shades 94, 96, 97, 98 & 99, X-treme FX Color Shocks, and Loving Care
Davine's Finest Pigments
Goldwell's Elumen
Manic Panic (the red sometimes bothers people)
Roux Fanciful Rinse
Roux Color Mousse

This is NOT a complete list. This is only for people to avoid asking me the same questions over and over. EVERY COLOR SHOULD BE TRIPLE PATCH TESTED! Twice on the inner arm, three days apart, for 15 minutes, and then once behind the ear. Mixed if this is an option. There should be NO marks what so ever after testing is finished. No welts, bumps, rash, hives, itching, or redness for the entire three days. It took me a few years to develop this way of testing, but it will save you from getting your entire head covered with a reactive product because the current patch testing doesn't work. 

I hope this blog helps some people to react less. 

Read my other entries, they can help! If you like what your reading, subscribe to this blog. I write once a month.

Happy Fall! 


Friday, July 25, 2014

Still Reacting to the PPD in my Hair, Can I Remove It? (and a mention to Ms. Perette)

I want to say I'm sorry that Pauley Perette had a reaction to PPD. I am also sorry that there are people out there saying ignorant things. I hope that she gets well, and only reads the nice things that people are saying. We don't need to have a "spokesperson" until she is feeling better, and has decided if she has any desire to be involved with this. If you read this, Pauley, I hope you feel better soon! XO

  Pauley Perette, A.K.A.,  Abby Sciuto on the popular TV series, NCIS, a crime drama from CBS.

On to the regular article!! :)

I often get e-mail requests from clients around the world asking "How can I get the PPD out of my hair, I'm still reacting  after ____ amount of time!" It can be for days, weeks, months, one woman even has cross reactions that have been plaguing her for YEARS. Before I can explain how to know if you are reacting to PPD being released from your hair, or from "un-cured" color, let's check to see what type of color you have used.

There are multiple types of color that we can apply to our hair. There is temporary color, or a direct dye, which is a one step color. These are usually an AZO based dyes, and the most popular ones are generally bright primary colors. If you have used this type of color, these can continue to release for a long time, so you may continue to react from these if you are continuing to see your hair color get lighter, or your towels still get stains. This is the easiest way to tell if your hair is "leaking dye", which is a question that I get asked often. Temporary dyes last only one shampoo, but overly damaged hair, or porous hair, can hold the color for a bit longer. Direct dyes  can hold the color for a longer period, anywhere from a week or two, to several months, even until it's cut off in some cases. Goldwell's Elumen can stain bleached hair until it is cut off, even though it is a direct dye.

Semi-permanent color is a color with no ammonia, has a two part mixing, and is a very low volume of developer. Semi-permanent usually lasts 4-5 shampoos, but can last up to several weeks. It is not very good at covering grey hair. This type of color should not lift. You should not have any roots..

 Demi-permanent color is a bit more penetrating than semi, and will often blend gray hair for a month or so, sometimes longer. The fading doesn't always spell disaster if you are having a reaction. The roots are not very much with Demi, as it usually can not lift more than one level, if at all.

Permanent color uses the strongest chemicals, and the most pigment, which is what PPD is. It will always be a two part mix. It is usually a mix of pigment, peroxide, and ammonia, with a few other things to tweek it to manufacturer specs. If there is no ammonia, there will be a substitute, MEA. (monoethanolamine) It still is permanent color.

So, did you use a permanent color, a demi-permanent color, or a temporary color? Most of the time, it's a regular two part, permanent color.

 Let's assume you have used a two part color, a very dark brown, and your beige towels have a "muddy" look to them in the middle after you are done taking your hair out of the towel from blotting it. This is hair that is leaking, or releasing pigment, or PPD, or para-phenylenediamine. It's possible its TDS, or PTD, but you need to either cure it, or stop it from coming out so your skin can heal. Your going to want to sit under a dryer with a plastic bag, or a plastic bag in the sun, or under a bonnet style hair dryer.good conditioner. Don't rinse it! Take coconut oil, and slather your hair. If you don't have a dryer, or the sun, then just put some plastic on it and watch TV for a while. after an hour or so, shampoo it as usual. You can condition it as usual too.

Give your scalp a few days to rest. Still persisting?

If you are still having issues, then you will want to try rinsing your scalp with 25% apple cider vinegar and 75% water after you shampoo. Do not rinse this off.

If need be, you can shampoo with pure baking soda. You will rinse your hair, put some of the soda in a plastic cup. Grab some and apply it to your wet scalp and gently rub the area it's applied to. let it set for a few minutes, and then rinse it down your hair, rubbing your hair as it goes. This can be a stripping to your hair, so it should only be used as a last resort. If you aren't releasing pigment from your hair, you can START releasing pigment from stripping it.

The best thing that you can do for your hair is keep it DRY. When your hair is wet, your skin can break down, your hair can release pigment, and your hair can damage easier. So, drink lots of water, but keep it off of your scalp!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Salon Sink Injury? Your Not Alone...

You can be injured when getting your hair shampooed. It's true. I have been doing hair for 30+ years, and I hadn't realized how dangerous this can be. I am so thankful that I had been properly trained to do shampoos! I had been contacted by a blog reader who thought she was having a PPD reaction. She was having "Salon Sink Radiculopathy". (I am not a doctor, I am a licensed cosmetologist. I can NOT diagnose ANYTHING. Please see your doctor for a diagnosis!) At the time, her pain was so similar to the pain from PPD, that I was unable to distinguish any difference from where I was, across the continent, on my computer. She saw several doctors, I told her not to despair. I gave her pep talks. Most of all, I was trying to recommend she not buy expensive things to put on her scalp to try to sooth it. It seemed that there were a lot of people who had very expensive over the counter products that would work miracles. Snake oil sales be damned! There is NOTHING that will work miracles except time, and the ones that actually work are NOT $50, $60 or more.  She finally found a doctor who had experience with this situation. Now she has a permanent situation that is painful, with permanent, debilitating nerve damage.  It all could have been avoided if one person had been more caring.

Vertebrobasilar circulatory disorders are conditions in which blood supply to the back of the brain is disrupted.
 Most common symptoms may include:
  • Difficulty saying words
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Double vision or vision loss
  • Numbness or tingling most often on the face or scalp
  • Slurred speech
  • Sudden falls (drop attacks)
  • Vertigo (sensation of things spinning around)
  • Memory loss
Other symptoms that may occur include:
  • Bladder or bowel control problems
  • Difficulty walking (unsteady gait)
  • Headache
  • Hearing loss
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Neck ache
  • Pain in one or more parts of the body, which gets worse with touch and cold temperatures
  • Poor Coordination
  • Sleepiness or even apparent sleep from which the person cannot be awakened
  • Sudden, uncoordinated movements
  • Sweating on the face, arms, or legs
According to the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, (June2002:81:395-399) vertabral blood flow was not reduced when the three positions checked were monitored, but there was a significant change in carotid blood flow when cervical neck support was not used. They also indicated that 84%  experienced pain without cervical support, as opposed to 32% experiencing pain with cervical support.

The three positions used  were 1) reclined with a pillow 2) Salon sink with cervical support for 12 minutes and 3) Salon sink without cervical support for 12 minutes NO CERVICAL ROTATION WAS DONE

Authors made note that "If we had included cervical rotation,  the results would have been even more dramatic."

 The timing of 12 minute durations were for shampoos and measurements because "other reports have indicated that that sustained ischemia [deficiency of blood supply] of more than 15 minutes seems to be poorly tolerated and may lead to infarct." [Infarct means death to the surrounding area, or tissue from lack of blood flow]
  NEVER, EVER Allow a client to lay in the sink with or without a chemical unless they are comfortable. Always ask them if they prefer to sit up, even if it is for one minute.


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Six varieties of the Spurling test are shown, including (A) lateral bending and compression; (B) lateral bending, rotation, and compression; (C) extension and compression; (D) extension and lateral bending; (E) extension, lateral bending, and compression; and (F) extension, rotation, and compression.
 (This photo was taken from PubMed

 I currently use an old sink that is cast iron and porcelain, the first sink style that was made for client comfort. The company began in 1927, in Belvedere, Illinois, and their sinks are known as the "one with the dip in it." They had ten employees, and a new concept "designed specifically for the comfort of the salon customer." Eighty-five years later they are still going strong. It took me five months to find this sink! It's blurry, because I've never tried to include a professional photo of it before. You might have to use your imagination a bit. The lip of the sink is wide, and the chair runs up to the edge. There is no gap, and you can use a towel to adjust each person as they recline. If they are very tall, they slide down in the chair. If they are too short, I have a pillow to place under them to "boost' them up. If they are still uncomfortable, I will move the chair out of the way, and they can stand with their head tipped forward. This is the safest way, if there is any cervical problem at all.

 I place a clean towel on every client's neck, and help them lean back. I ask them if they need a pillow, or if they feel okay. I also have a chair near by in case they want to put their feet on it. My chair is from the 1970's, so it doesn't have the raised foot rest. I make sure that they have their neck comfortable, and then I adjust the water, I wet their hair, and turn the water off. I make sure to tell the client that if they lift their head up, they may get water down their back. I will lift up their head for them. I only lift up,and only a small amount. If I need them to turn, I ask THEM to look to the left, or right side for me. I also tell them to let me know if there is any discomfort, this is relax time.

The sink with the attached chair look like this:

"The Beauty Parlor Stroke", according to the Journal of American Medical Association, included "a variety of complaints attributable to poor blood flow in arteries leading through the neck to the back of the brain, including severe dizziness, imbalance and facial numbness. Four out of five suffered strokes leading to permanent neurologic damage." This means that if you have symptoms at the salon, you need to address them. As we age, your carotid arteries are not as flexible as they used to be. You want to make sure that you don't have downward pressure placed on your head. If you have had any cervical issues, shampoo before you leave home, or face forward in the sink. Don't be a statistic.

Things that are important:

1) You should be comfortable at the sink. Your shampoo should feel GOOD.

2) If your not comfortable, use your mouth until you are. You can always turn around and face forward!

3)Your nerve endings for your entire body run from your skull, through your neck, down your extremities. You don't pay attention to this until they cause you pain!  

Do you have a story about what happened to you? Send it to me at

Monday, April 7, 2014

Maternity and PPD, or hair color chemicals...

The color that I use in the salon, which is 100% lab certified organic, is perfect for anyone who is expecting, or is nursing. I still recommend checking with your doctor, and proper patch testing, but it's perfect to keep up your moral while your growing baby can stay healthy away from all of those chemicals. I used to think that I used worse chemicals to clean the toilet, but now I find myself using mild peroxide and dawn dish detergent to clean, or some baking soda. Even vinegar and water to clean the windows. Why we switched to chemicals I'm sure was because they smelled pretty, and made our lives easier. We just didn't know they would endanger our lives. So, organic henna, indigo, cassia and amla. Cover your greys, and feel beautiful, with healthy, shiny, youthful hair!

To learn more, a friend wrote an amazing book you should buy.

Natural Hair Coloring, by Christine Shahine (link)

Visit to buy product


Sunday, April 6, 2014

PPD REACTION: oozing...and eczema on your eye lids

 PPD reactions can be as small as eye lids itching, or getting a little eczema on them. It can be a little bit of itching on your scalp. I'm here to tell you that HAIR COLOR DOESN'T ITCH. Sometimes if you have a cut or a scratch, maybe in that one area, or if using a very high lift tint, but that's it. In some of the most severe reactions for PPD, people have oozing wounds that can last over six months. I try to explain that it is similar to a blister, but there is not a covering there. What it actually is is lymphatic fluid. If I then get more questions, I will say, "Back up. First, let's talk about the lymphatic system is, and what an allergen is."

 The lymph system is the body's drainage system. It is composed of vessels and structures called lymph nodes. The vessels move excess fluid from all over the body back into the blood circulation. Along the way, however, these fluids are forced to percolate through the lymph nodes so that they can be filtered. Harmful organisms are trapped and destroyed by the white blood cells, called lymphocytes, that are present in these nodes. Lymphocytes are also added to the lymphatic fluid that flows out of nodes and back to the bloodstream.

Allergic reactions rarely occur during the first encounter with the allergen because the body needs time to accumulate, actually make, the antibodies. The immune system forms antibodies against the foreign substance, and they normally work to protect the body from further attack. In the case of an allergy, however, the antibodies and other cells involved in this function trigger an overreaction to the foreign substance. The antibodies stimulate specialized cells to produce histamine. This causes the small blood vessels to enlarge and the smooth muscles (such as those in the airways) to constrict. Histamine release can also cause other reactions, such as hives, welts, and anaphylactic shock.

Antibodies are created by the lymph system. Antibodies are proteins that the body makes in response to invasion by a foreign substance. The process of antibody formation begins when an antigen,  stimulates specialized lymphocytes, called B cells, into action. Antibodies then counteract invading antigens by combining with the antigen to render it harmless to the body. Some antibodies coat the harmful organisms so that the body's scavenger cells can recognize and destroy them better. The antibody molecule combines with the antigen molecule by matching combining sites; they fit together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Other antibodies that neutralize toxins produced by bacteria are called antitoxins.

I hope I haven't lost anyone yet!

Now that we have discussed the difficult part, I can explain that your body is reacting to what it thinks is an invader. Antibodies have formed to the PPD, as if it was a bee sting, and lymphatic fluid is attempting to counteract the invading foreign substance. If you are oozing clear fluid, it is your body trying to flush away a foreign substance. In this case, the PPD. This fluid is similar to what's in a blister, but the top skin is not there.

In some instances, early PPD reactions can show by eczema on the eye lids. This is particularly simple to watch for, but very easy to miss. I can not stress the importance of getting to the doctor and having a T.R.U.E. test done. STOP coloring with chemicals ASAP if you have this reaction.

The life you save could be your own.

Gina xx

Monday, January 20, 2014

Why I Use the Henna I Do in My Salon (with photos)

I often hear of clients saying that they used this brand of henna, or that brand of henna, when I say VERY OFTEN, to use Mehandi's henna. Different brands of henna's can have other additives in it, even though they are not supposed to. They can have pesticides, or over-spray of pesticides from other crops. I now use henna, amla, cassia, and indigo from Christine  Shahin, at She lives in Little Falls, NY and I also recommend her book, Natural Hair Coloring It has a ton of recipes in it. I only change the liquid to hibiscus tea. 2 bags per 8oz. of boiling water.  

The first reason I like the henna I use is that it is 100 percent certified organic. You can go to the lab of choice, type in the lot number of your batch, and you will have all of the information on your batch in your hand. The exact amount of lawsone content, the exact tolerances of pesticides, (zero) the rest is all there as well. I am a nerd, so I feel that having this information at my fingertips before I choose to use it is important. YOU however, can trust me that the tolerance amounts are so tight that your colors will be amazing.

The other brands, they have some guess work. The lawsone amounts are the lowest for hair quality henna. If you look at the photo on the right, which was just colored with Hesh Henna, you can see the striations of the coloring. The roots stayed the brown color, and you can still see the old color red with the hilighting in it from the top right corner of the photo down to the middle left of the photo. Notice in the second photo, the roots do have a very small amount of red, but it barely shows, and only in certain lights.


The third photo shows the edge of the striations in another area.

The henna I use is called Body Art Quality Henna, or BAQ henna. This is what they get from the first sift when they dry and grind the henna leaves. It is used to do wedding art and is usually kept in India, the Sudan, Africa, or wherever it's been grown. After the BAQ henna is sifted, then they sift for hair henna for their country, and the end of the henna is sent here for hair. It's the lowest quality henna there is.

 Here is a photo of the hair corrected with the correct brand of henna. It will take 3 to 4 days to complete the rich color coming through the hair completely. This is called curing. My lighting and photography is not the best, but the end results four days later was so beautiful, my client called me to say thank you for making her engagement photos spectacular.

If you are not using strong BAQ henna and very good quality indigo, you will not be able to get results like this:
This is what the color of 50/50 henna/indigo with some amla looks like after an hour under the  bonnet dryer.

This is the final result, but without the four days of getting richer in color. 

This is the client's brow after coloring, notice the 2 greys at the tail for reference. 
 People will ask me how easy is it to remove henna. It's NOT easy to remove. In fact, it WILL NOT FADE. It has been used for at leaast 10,000 years for a reason. I personally saw Pharaoh Ramses the 2nd's mummy in Egypt. He died at 91, and you could see after 4,000 years that the mummy had henna coloring on the hair still, and on the fingers. He was a VAIN man. I don't think any synthetic colors could withstand the desert heat for thousands of years. Here is how it took me two bleach sessions to remove henna from pure white hair. The hair had been colored full red twice with henna. Here is a series of color, and bleaches I did to
first bleach, on scalp with 2 boosters
show how it comes out.

Second bleach, off scalp,
 then trimmed,
One month after first bleach.

Toning with a high lift tint,
and double blue base

final result with a comparison.

Sorry about the gaps, I still am having trouble posting photos on this blog. Here are a few examples that you can see, that will give you examples as to why I continue to use Christine's. The lawsone, or pigment, also known as iron oxide in the plant can be much higher than in any other brand, depending on which batch you choose from there. So, I showed you how a cheaper brand came out, and what it looked like corrected. It was nicer before the four day curing than the other brand was AFTER it cured. I showed you what a grey coverage on dark brown hair looked like, after it's shampooed out, and after drying and styling. I also showed you what it takes to actually remove the organic henna out of your hair. It will not be an easy feat. Plan on doing some heavy cutting! Don't use imposter henna, and you can have the results above. I don't make a penny, nor do I get any discount from them. The henna just happens to be well choosen!

 Have a great January!

Gina xx