Remedies for hair dye allergy

Updated November 21, 2016

Many people, especially women, colour their hair in an effort to either cover grey hair or simply to change and enhance their looks. Great care has to be taken to keep the product away from hands, face and ears, because the chemicals in most commercial hair dye are highly toxic, especially PPD, sodium laurel sulphate, ammonia and propylene glycol.

Sometimes a strong allergic reaction can occur even on the scalp. When this happens, and you want relief as soon as possible, remember that there are ways to treat allergic reactions from hair dyes naturally.

Allergic reactions

Allergic reactions to chemical hair dye usually appear as contact dermatitis somewhere on the face, scalp or ears. The scalp feels like it is burning, and redness, extreme swelling and rashes can appear. The scalp can itch intolerably. Breathing the fumes from the hair dye can cause throat irritation and trigger asthma attacks. Multiple chemical sensitivities can also develop from overuse of commercial hair dyes, especially to other petroleum products. In the worst cases, even death can occur.

Relieving the burning sensation is the first thing to do in a reaction to hair dye, followed by treating the skin inflammation and irritation.


Drink as much water as possible immediately after discovering you are having an allergic reaction to hair dye. This is to flush the toxins out of the body as fast as possible. Stop using the hair product, and try to rinse the chemicals out of your hair. Keep rinsing your hair until the water runs clear.

Chamomile tea rinse

If you have some chamomile on hand, make a strong tea of one cup chamomile to a quart of pure water. Boil the water, pour it over the herbs, and let it steep for about five minutes. Cool the tea down with ice cubes, and then use two cups of tea as a hair rinse twice a day until the itching and swelling subsides.

Plant oils

Massage plant oils such as cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil or virgin coconut oil into your scalp to feed nutrients into your skin a well as soothe it. This can be done as often as you like, but a minimum of twice a day. Only 1 tsp to 1 tbsp oil is necessary for each application.

Other herbs

The following herbs have been used traditionally to heal many skin conditions, as well as joint and muscle issues: oak bark, comfrey, marshmallow root, black walnut hull (or bark), gravel root, wormwood, lobelia, and skullcap. Herbalists refer to this combination as "bone, flesh, and cartilage," or "BF&C." It is usually taken as a capsule, drunk as a tea, made into a tincture, or used as a poultice and placed on the affected area. For the scalp, you can soak a clean, cotton towel in BF&C tea, and then wrap it around your head like a turban. You can wear the wet towel all day, reapplying tea to the towel when it begins to dry out. At night, you can rinse your hair in BF&C tea, pin or clamp it up with a claw if it is long and put a shower cap over your hair and scalp to keep your head moist as you sleep.

Carrot juice

Make fresh, homemade, organic carrot juice to give your body extra Vitamin A to heal your skin. One pint to one quart of fresh carrot juice is recommended on a daily basis for best results.

Safer Alternatives

Obviously, if a hair colouring product is creating an allergy, either a safer alternative must be used or hair must return to its natural colour. One natural product to consider is henna. Henna gives hair reddish highlights and looks beautiful on auburn to dark brown hair. Henna can be mixed with other herbs to create lighter colours. Henna does cover grey hair successfully. With each application, the colour builds up and deepens over time. Even with henna products, be careful to read the label before applying it to skin or hair.

Remember to seek the advice of your health care provider if you suffer from a particularly severe reaction and do not forget to talk about the plants and other natural remedies that you have used or plan to use.

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