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Traditional ammoniated hair color will cause about 5% of of salon clients to develop an allergy, mostly in the form of an allergic contact dermatitis with a redness and itch in the head area. In severe cases this can cause swelling and irritation to skin all over the client’s body and even their organs can be effected. The main cause is a substance known as Paraphenylenediamine (PPD). The kind of allergies that can be caused by PPD’s include allergic contact dermatitis, contact urticaria, and even anaphylactic shock.


Still other products advertise as being “PPD Free” because they have amounts equal to less than 1% in the ingredients. Products containing less than 1% of PPD’s can still cause severe allergic reactions to a client who is sensitive or allergic to PPD’s.

Although Oway has been very successful at producing an permanent oxidative hair color which minimizes the levels of PPD’s (many of our colors have none while our average level for our darker shades is 0.6%), we feel it our duty to not mislead our salon professional clients and be as transparent as possible. Although legally allowed, we do not advertise our product as being PPD and instead stress exercising vigilance and professionalism with clients. Whenever taking on a new client, having any reason to believe that a client is sensitive to PPD’s, or switching products; regardless of the hair color product you are using, a patch test is recommended.

The Skin Allergy Patch Test – Step by Step

STEP 1 Wash a small area of skin on the inside of the elbow or behind the ear. Mix a small amount of color and developer to be used as the directions state. When the test area is dry, apply the mixture with a sterile cotton swab and allow to dry.
STEP 2 Allow the client to go home and ask them to monitor the area for the next 48 hours. Although any color applied directly to a client’s skin may itch slightly, but it should not burn or feel like the itching is so intense that it is unbearable.
STEP 3 Follow-up with your client after 2 days to inquire about the condition of the tested skin patch. Compare the results to the table below.


Analyzing the Skin Patch Test Results

Although clients may have slight sensitivity or itchiness to any hair color that is applied to the skin, they should not experience burning or severe irritation that they consider unbearable.

Results Action
No irritation. This skin patch test did not present any signs of allergic reactions to Oway. Proceed as you would normally with scheduling the color appointment.
Mild to Moderate Irritation. This skin patch test only demonstrated mild to moderate reactions. Exercise caution and advise your client to consult their physician before proceeding with the use of any permanent hair color.
Severe Irritation, Burning, or Itching. This skin patch test demonstrated signs of allergic reactions. Advise your client to consult their physician and inform the client of non-permanent hair color options such as Henna or demi-permanent hair color products.