PPD – Paraphenylenediamine

What is PPD?

PPD (Paraphenylenediamine or p-phenylenediamine) is a chemical substance that is widely used as a permanent hair dye.

The use of PPD as a hair dye is widespread, due to its coverage and results. Permanent dye cases include a bottle with the developer or oxidiser and a tube with a substance containing the PPD dye preparation. PPD is a colourless substance that requires oxygen for it to become coloured. It is this intermediate, partially oxidised state that may cause allergy in sensitive individuals.

Where is it found?

PPD is commonly found in textile or fur dyes, dark coloured cosmetics, temporary tattoos, photographic developer and lithography plates, photocopying and printing inks, black rubber, oils, greases and gasoline.

What allergic reactions does PPD cause?

Reaction caused by the use of hair dye in mild cases usually only involves dermatitis to the upper eyelids or the rims of the ears. In more severe cases, there may be marked reddening and swelling of the scalp and the face. The eyelids may completely close and the allergic contact dermatitis reaction may become widespread. Severe allergy to PPD can result in contact urticaria and rarely, anaphylaxis.

People working with PPD such as hairdresser and film developers may develop dermatitis on their hands; patch testing usually reveals hypersensitivity to PPD.

Contact allergy to PPD


Is PPD present in all dyes?

PPD is an oxidation colourant widely used in permanent dyes and is necessary in many formulas of the tones, especially dark ones. However, permanent dyes may contain other similar oxidation colourants. The dye package label must state “contains phenylenediamines” when it contains PPD or “contains phenylenediamines (toluenediamines)” when it contains an equivalent ingredient, Toluene – 2,5 diamine sulcate. The PPD must appear in the ingredient list as p-phenylenediamine.

Am I allergic to PPD?

Most hair colour preparations, particularly those containing PPD, carry a warning on the packaging to the effect that a patch test should be done prior to use of the dye. There are basically 2 patch testing methods available to test for allergic sensitivity to PPD (dermnetnz.org).

Is its use banned?

No. PPD is not banned, but its use is regulated.

PPD free hair dye