PPD-free hair dye products

Following on from Michelle Berriedale-Johnson's investigation into PPD hair dyes here, Alex Gazzola surveys what PPD-free and all-natural alternatives are available.

No hair dye product can ever be deemed totally risk-free, as allergies to most ingredients are theoretically possible.

When using any type of colourant or dye on your hair, perform a 48-hour patch test first (some brands sell trial tester sizes for £1 or so) – even if you’ve used the product before. Always follow instructions carefully, and if you do have allergies, ensure you take sensible precautions, such as keeping a friend or at least your mobile nearby – and don’t use the product behind a locked bathroom door. Always use the gloves / cap usually supplied (though beware that these are often of latex, should you be allergic to it – our Latex Allergy section has suggestions for latex-free gloves). Stick to the timings given in the instructions, not only to avoid damaging your skin – but also your hair. Remember to always read the full list of ingredients, even if you are familiar with the product, as ingredients change regularly. A consultation with a dermatologist is well worth your time should you have had skin-related reactions before.

The types of products available can be divided into three categories:

1. Those using only 100% natural ingredients and botanical dyes

The best stockists we have found for these are Suvarna. These types of dyes cannot lighten hair and results aren’t as effective as using other methods, but their purity and strong 'free from' qualities appeal to many women looking for wholly natural alternatives. Radical changes – blonde to dark, for example – aren’t possible using natural dyes, but covering of partial grey hair can work well. All disclose their ingredients fully online.

2. Those using artificial colours

These use artificial colours but contain some natural ingredients and occasionally (but certainly not always) have reasonable ‘free from’ qualities too. Sometimes the names of the products belie their dyes’ synthetic origins, and it can be easy to assume that the colouring agents in them are botanical when they are not.

3. Those using the PPD alternatives

Those using the PPD alternative ‘toluene 2,5 diamine sulphate’ (TDS) – which research suggests is less allergenic than PPD – with hydrogen peroxide.

Note that some hair dyes which go under a ‘natural’ banner may not be free of PPD or other potentially problematic ingredients: Daniel Field’s Natural Colours is a good example.

100% Natural Dye Products

Aubrey Color Me Natural (UK) / Aubrey Colour Me Natural (US)
Natural hair colourants made with pure herbals grown and harvested according to ayurvedic traditions.
Contains: indigo, henna, Indian gooseberry, false daisy, mimosa catechu – and nothing else
Free from: PPD, ammonia, peroxide, parabens, resorcinol, or propylene glycol.

It’s Pure Organics
Certified organic henna powder, indigo powder, and other botanical oils and powders to mix and match.
Contains: henna, indigo, cassia, amla …
Free from: artificial ingredients, PPD, peroxide, preservative, ammonia, petrochemicals.

Khadi Natural Products (UK) / Khadi Natural Products (US)
100% natural and pure products based on Ayurvedic formulations.
Contains: henna, indigo, bhringaraj, amla, neem, senna, cassia
Free from: artificial ingredients, PPD, peroxide, preservative, ammonia, petrochemicals.

Logona (UK) / Logona (US)
Natural herbal hair dyes which come in creams or powders.
Contains: natural plant colours (eg beetroot, henna, indigo, coffee, cassia), wheat proteins, fragrance, alcohol.
Free from: artificial colourings, PPD, peroxide, preservative, ammonia etc.

Synthetic-free henna-based ‘no s**t’ dye which come in ‘blocks’ from this popular high-street store.
Contains: Cocoa butter, henna, botanicals, fragrance.
Free from: synthetics, ammonia, peroxide, parabens, PPD, artificial colours

Sante (UK) / Sante (US)
100% natural colours which last 4-6 weeks.
Contains: wheat proteins, botanical colours (eg indigo, beetroot, cassia), nuts (walnut shells)
Free from: peroxide, ammonia, PPD, parabens synthetic colourants, fragrances or preservatives

Artificial Colourant Products

Herbatint Vegetal (UK) / Herbatint Vegetal (US)
Temporary hair colour range available in 13 colours lasting up to 8 washes.
Contains: artificial colours.
Free from: ammonia, resorcinol (currently being phased out), PPD, hydrogen peroxide, fragrance, alcohol, diaminobenzene, silicones, wheat proteins, nuts.

Natures Grey Busters
Range of hair colourants whose makers are against the often-given advice to undertake a 48 hour patch test.
Contains: Synthetic dyes. Ingredients not listed on website.
Free from: PPD / PTD, peroxide, ammonia, resorcinol.

Naturtint Reflex (UK) / Naturtint Reflex (US)
‘Non-Permanent Color Rinse’. (Note that their Permanent Hair Colorant does contain what are described as “minimum levels of PPD”).
Contains: petrochemicals, fragrance, soya, artificial colours, alcohol, sulphates, silicones. (Ingredients not supplied on website.)
Free from: PPD, peroxide, ammonia, resorcinol and parabens.

Surya Brasil Henna Cream (UK) / Surya Brasil Henna Cream (US)
A semi-permanent dye which combines natural dyes – herbs and fruits from Brazil and India – and artificial dyes.
Contains: petrochemical derivatives, nut extract (Brazil nut), artificial colours (full ingredients at point of sale online).
Free from: PPD, peroxide, ammonia, parabens, resorcinol, artificial fragrances or heavy metals.

Tints of Nature (UK) / Tints of Nature (US)
A semi-permanent colour range with some organic ingredients (they also have a permanent range which has PPD).
Contains: wheat proteins, fragrance, artificial colours. (Ingredients not supplied on website.)
Free from: ammonia, parabens, resorcinol, peroxide, PPD, PTD.

Products with TDS & Hydrogen Peroxide

Colour & Care by Hairwonder by Nature (UK) / Colour & Care by Hairwonder by Nature (US)
Claims to be “the first hair colouring which colours, protects, nourishes and strengthens the hair all within one treatment”.
Contains: soy, wheat, corn, TDS, resorcinol, fragrance, hydrogen peroxide (full ingredients at point of sale online)
Free from: ammonia, parabens, PPD.

Its Coloursafe range has been reformulated to no longer contain PPD.
Contains: TDS, sesame, wheat, SLS, fragrance, silicones, hydrogen peroxide, petrochemical derivatives (full ingredients supplied on website).
Free from: ammonia, resorcinols, parabens, PPD.


First published July 2013. Updated May 2015.



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