Salon Allergy Specialist

Salon Allergy Specialist

Monday, March 23, 2015

Indigo Gives me a headache, am I alone?

Some people are getting headaches from indigo. I previously had not had issues in the salon, nor on my own head, with several hundred uses per year. I can't say how many times I have heard this, and I was stumped. It nagged at me...I sat at stop lights, thinking of what to type into a group search engine. (I use dog pile a lot) So, here are the answers. The first information is some chemistry.  It's from Wikipedia, "Indigo Dye". I know people can change things on wiki, it currently matches the other info I have. If I missed something, let me know. I chose this article because it was short, easy for others to look up, and the least technical. Most of my personal information is much more chemistry based, and I have to sit with it almost every time I need it. I can't just whip it off the top of my head. -but I wish I could!

Chemical synthesis of Indigo
Given its economic importance, indigo has been prepared by many methods. The Baeyer-Drewson indigo synthesis dates back to 1882. It involves an aldol condensation of o-nitrobenzaldehyde with acetone, followed by cyclization and oxidative dimerization to indigo. This route is highly useful for obtaining indigo and many of its derivatives on the laboratory scale, but was impractical for industrial-scale synthesis. Johannes Pfleger[10] and Karl Heumann Karl Heumann eventually came up with industrial mass production synthesis. The first commercially practical route is credited to Pfleger in 1901. In this process, N-phenylglycine is treated with a molten mixture of sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, and sodamide. This highly sensitive melt produces indoxyl, which is subsequently oxidized in air to form indigo. Variations of this method are still in use today. An alternative and also viable route to indigo is credited to Heumann in 1897. It involves heating N-(2-carboxyphenyl)glycine to 200 °C (392 °F) in an inert atmosphere with sodium hydroxide. The process is easier than the Pfleger method, but the precursors are more expensive. Indoxyl-2-carboxylic acid is generated. This material readily decarboxylates to give indoxyl, which oxidizes in air to form indigo. The preparation of indigo dye is practiced in college laboratory classes according to the original Baeyer-Drewsen route.

Now, if you get your indigo from anywhere besides where I order from, you could be getting some of this in your package. The other explanation could be that you are getting pesticides in your indigo. Both of those can be causing headaches. If you read the second sentence, it refers to "o-nitrobenzaldehyde" , which you will notice has the nitrobenzene right in the name. That is directly related to the PPD allergy. The NITRO and the BENZENE.

If you are getting your indigo from a good source, I can try to help you. I finally had a reaction in the salon, and I can tell you exactly why it happened. In my case, I was taking a client from bleached blond to black. I first colored it with henna, then indigo. I had her under the dryer for an hour, and instead of washing off the indigo and replacing it with new indigo, I allowed her to remain under the dryer for another hour. She developed a migraine. So, the amount of time you have straight indigo on your head is a contributing factor. I normally have the client under the dryer with straight indigo for about 30-45 minutes. With this normal timing, I have never had a problem. I have also never had a problem with mixing the henna and indigo together and putting a client under the dryer. The timing for that is the same, about an hour.

 I would also have liked to check to see if the plastic wrap being wrapped close on the head is better, or if it's better to have some amount of breathing room. This would only be for the straight indigo. since the looser plastic wrap can sometimes allow the indigo to dry, it will be difficult to test. I may not have the patience to actually try this. Success sometimes is best left untouched.

I hope that this will help some of you who have had headaches with the indigo. If you have not been using heat as a catalyst, then it's time to invest in a heated conditioning cap from Sally's. It's quiet, and you can hear the TV, or kids, and you can un-plug and go to the laundry area, kitchen, and so on.,default,pd.html,default,pd.html

You can also purchase a bonnet style dryer, which is what I use.  I've had many of them given to me, as I collect old ones.,default,pd.html,default,pd.html

It will be the best investment you make for your color. Remember, if you buy an ugly outfit, you can throw it back in the closet, return it, send it to the rescue mission, give it to ________, (we all have that person who looks good in everything!) or just plain old throw it away! Hair is not so easy. If your spending several hours to do something organic, healthy, and good for you, save your pennies and do it correctly. In the desert, they had heat. A LOT OF HEAT.  They sat in the sun, sometimes in 120 degree heat. We may not have access to that, but we can mimic that. You have to think outside the box, and remember that these plant pigments have been used for thousands of years. What did they have that we don't? Sun, heat, dry air. That adds up to a dryer, or for sanity, a heated cap.

Cheers, as a friend of mine in NYC says!


Remember, I am NOT a doctor, if you are having any symptoms that you think may be an emergency, please call 911. If it is not an emergency, please call a doctor. The doctors that usually deal with the PPD allergies the best are allergists and dermatologists. You may need the T.R.U.E. test information from the FDA web sight.  Feel free to provide the doctor with the link as well, or a printout of the information. Here are the links:

The next one is just the PDF of the actual test.