Root of the Problem

by ELYSIAN Magazine

Hair dye ingredient PPD can cause allergic reactions

Style A to Z
By Amy Zimmer

A red dot from a patch test reveals Amy Zimmer’s allergic reaction to the chemical PPD.

A recent trip to the hair salon for a regular root touch-up turned out to be a little more than a venture to cover up my 50 shades of gray.

Living in denial about aging came to a screeching halt at extraterrestrial speed after a recent allergic reaction to the chemical paraphenylenediamine (PPD) that is widely used in hair dye. Published reports state that an allergic reaction can happen to one in 250,000 people.

My reaction started a few hours after my salon visit. I awoke to extreme itching of my scalp and thought applying a coconut mask would soothe the problem. I went through the next day with my head slathered in oils and decided to try Benadryl, which seemed to help. The following morning, almost 48 hours later, I woke up looking like an alien. My forehead was so swollen I didn’t recognize myself. Off I went to the emergency room, as it was obvious I was having a severe reaction. The swelling lasted the next three to four days, gravitating to all areas of my face.

After posting my experience on Facebook, I was overwhelmed by the number of women who reached out to me that had some type of allergic reaction. A friend told me she was also allergic to PPD and discovered it through a reaction she was having with sunscreen.

Knowing the dangers and risks of what is lurking in the products we use on a regular basis is ultimately our responsibility. The beauty industry has not been regulated since 1938. A crying shame if you compare that Europe has banned 1,400 ingredients used in the beauty industry and the U.S. has banned a mere 12. A simple patch test at your hair salon or selecting a safer hair product that is PPD and ammonia free can save you a trip to the emergency room. According to articles and my doctor, I was one of the lucky ones. Google “allergic reaction to hair dye” on the web, and you will find this not “fake news.”

I had warning signs of breakage and mild irritation but didn’t really pay it attention until it was too late. It was like lighting firecrackers that were duds and then all the sudden you get the big BOOM. Our bodies build up an intolerance to these chemicals, and we may or may not get warning signs. Do your research and find safe alternatives because they are available.

After a trip to the emergency room, an IV of Benadryl, a five-day supply of steroids and a trip to my dermatologist for patch testing, my outlook to aging “gray-c-fully” has become more palatable. I have always admired women with beautiful silver hair and the glow of confidence that it creates.

Tips for stretching out the need for color and conditioning:

1.  A mask of coconut oil and castor oil (organic) 1-2 times a week. Either sleep in it with a turban or apply an hour before washing your hair.

2.  Use a root touch-up temporary color available at most salons or drug stores.

3.  My latest must-have is a hair topper by The Lauren Ashtyn Collection, This saved my life when covering the inaugural events for Elysian just four days after my reaction. I literally could not style my hair, so I was matched with a topper, and off I went looking fabulous … still a little puffy, but fabulous!

Amy Zimmer - The Power of Color

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