Hair Dye Allergy

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time now, but for some reason I kept waiting for the story to be “complete” (you’ll understand what I mean…) before publishing it. But I decided to just share everything that has happened up until this point, and for the rest, well, you’ll have to wait for part II.

My hair is really important to me. I know this sounds dumb and superficial, but for someone who lacked self-confidence most of her life, I’d often get compliments on my hair. The shine (when it was healthy), how sexy it looked “cascading down my shoulders”… And, well, you can image that it quickly became the one thing I was able to appreciate about myself and that made me feel slightly more confident. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I loved it, because while it looked beautiful on the outside, it was really hard to manage. It became that way after I hit puberty… if I could go back to the same quality, texture and colour as my childhood hair, I’d be in heaven. All this to say that I was really attached to my hair, and then all hell broke loose.

Up until I was 38, I didn’t have any issues colouring my hair. But then I started to notice some itching on my scalp after I’d get my roots done. I tried more gentle products at the hair salon and even tried natural products at home. But nothing would work, if anything, it would just get worse and worse every time. It went from scratching my head with my nails, to wanting to take a fork to my scalp to relieve the unbearable itching. Eventually it got to a point where I had swelling in the face. But I had no idea the swelling was related to the hair dye. I went to the pharmacy to ask what it could be due to, but they had no clue. So, I did a little digging online and found out about hair dye allergy. That’s when I put 2 and 2 together, and immediately made an appointment with my dermatologist.

I won’t go into details, but I met with him, he referred me to an allergy specialist who basically explained that most hair dye allergies are to PPD. However, even PPD-free hair dyes can cause allergic reactions (it did in my case) because most of them still contain a chemical which is a by-product of PPD. He then sent me to get tested for chemical allergies at the hospital. It took forever to get an appointment, only to get there and be told that it was just a consultation, and that the actual test would take place about a year later! Yup, I wanted to cry at that point but kept telling myself “It’s just fucking hair, people come to the hospital for far more serious issues, get over yourself!”.

Fast forward to about a year later, I get my tests done and find out I’m allergic to PPD (paraphenylenediamine) which I already suspected. But guess what? I ended up also being allergic to a bunch of other ingredients found in beauty products (propolis among others). I remember coming home with those test results and checking every single unused/new product I had to make sure they were safe for me to use. And you know what? I had a face mask that I really wanted to try but kept on procrastinating and for some reason was not really comfortable using. It’s almost like I had a feeling it wouldn’t work. Guess what? That face mask contained one of the ingredients I am allergic to. Can you imagine? A FACE MASK. I can’t even begin to think what could have happened. I swear, all that procrastinating and weird feeling was the universe saving my face. Literally.

Anyhoo, during that year I was waiting for my appointment, I found out about this natural hair dye called Hair Print which worked quite well, considering it is all natural. I can honestly say that 90% of the white hair had taken on the black colour, while the rest had turned a really dark grey. And I’m happy to report that I had absolutely no reaction to it. So the end result was really satisfying. That said, if you live in Canada, the product ends up being super expensive. It cost me approximately CA$200 for two boxes, including shipping and duties. Plus, the process is arduous: lots of steps, lots of product to use and lots of rinsing to do. Shoutout to my poor BFF Nat who was kind enough to do pretty much everything while all I had to do was rinse… So needless to say, after I finished the second box, I decided not to purchase it again.

When I left the hospital with my test results, they also gave me a list of hair salons in Montreal who offer hair colouring with a product that apparently works well and is natural (it’s called Elumen). My next step was to call one of the salons and make an appointment, but then the pandemic happened and we couldn’t do anything. To be honest, at that point I couldn’t care less what my hair looked like. But now that it is all slowly coming to an end, I’ll definitely be giving one of these salons a call. But that’ll be for part II, which I’ll update you on in a new post as soon as I get my ass to a hair salon!


  1. Ouf, quelle saga… Très contente que tu aies trouvé une alternative qui se fait à Montréal :D Cela dit, ça me faisait réellement plaisir de “jouer à la coiffeuse” hehe! Très hâte de lire la part II ;)

Leave a Reply