The use of personal hair dye and its implications for human health

Environ Int. 2016 Apr-May:89-90:222-7. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2016.01.018. Epub 2016 Feb 16.


Hair dye products now represent one of the most rapidly growing beauty and personal care industries as both men and women commonly change hair color to enhance youth and beauty and to follow fashion trends. Irrespective of economic and education status, people dye their hair to emphasize the importance given to appearance. Despite adverse reactions, many people continue dyeing mainly for cosmetic purposes. This paper provides a comprehensive review on various aspects of hair dying products, especially with respect to the hair-coloring process, classification, chemical ingredients, possible human health impacts, and regulations. Permanent hair dye, which is the most commonly used product type, is formed by an oxidative process involving arylamines to bring about concerns with long-term exposure. Hence, significant efforts have been put to understand the possible side effects of such exposure including cancer risk. However, hair dyes and their ingredients are mainly identified to have moderate to low acute toxicity such as the cause of allergic contact dermatitis. Although some hair dye components are reported to be carcinogenic in animals, such evidence is not consistent enough in the case of human studies. Consequently, further research is desirable to critically address the significance of this issue, especially with respect to the safety of hair dye ingredients.

Keywords: Hair dye; Health effects; Regulation guidelines; Toxicants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Allergens / adverse effects*
  • Allergens / chemistry
  • Allergens / pharmacokinetics
  • Animals
  • Consumer Product Safety / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact* / epidemiology
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact* / etiology
  • Female
  • Government Regulation
  • Hair Dyes / adverse effects*
  • Hair Dyes / chemistry
  • Hair Dyes / pharmacokinetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / epidemiology


  • Allergens
  • Hair Dyes