Natural hair dyes are not safer!

selective focus photo of woman in purple jacket

Changing your hair color is a luxurious treat, but going to a hair salon can be a costly affair.  To save time and money, many opt to dye hair at home with the help of boxed dye. Health conscious customers may purposely choose hair dye products with natural labels to reduce the risk of allergies, minimize chemicals, or cause less damage to the hair. However, the Consumer Council has discovered that many “natural” labels  are misleading and harbor false claims. Click here if you’re wondering how hair dye works!  

multicolored hair close up photography

The Consumer Council tested 26 hair dyes labelled with “natural”, “herbal”, “plant based”, and “organic”. Prices of hair dyes ranged from $18 – $450. Hair dyes were tested for 8 common hair dye allergens, ammonia, heavy metal content, pH, label information and the microbiological content of herbal henna samples. Results showed that companies utilized these keywords merely as a marketing tool, as the contents of the product failed to support its claims. 60% of the dyes tested contained allergens or heavy metals, posing a health risk to users. Conclusion of this report: don’t fall into the trap of assuming “natural” products are safer! 

13 oxidative permanent hair dyes and six henna-type products

The results showed that allergens were detected in up to 16 products. The three allergens found include p-Phenylenediamine (PPD), m-Phenylenediamine (MPD) and Touluene-2, 5-diamine (PTD) which is on the Poisons List of Pharmacy and Poisons Regulations. Phenylenediamine (PPD) contained highest content, ranging from 0.29% to 8.3%, with the latter from Herbul Sea Spirit  Grass Dyed Pure Black Hair. Although common, cosmetic regulations in the Eurupean Union and mainland China cap the concentration of PPD at 2%. Melva’s Hair Color Powder with Natural Nourishing Herbs exceeded the regulation by 100%, while Korean- made Cosline’s Squid Ink Speedy Color Cream was on point. 

What is PPD?

purple apple-cut haired woman facing at the back

PPD is commonly used in oxidative dye type hair dyes to produce colorful dye compounds when mixed with other chemical substances. Studies have shown that some people are at risk of developing scalp irritation, swelling, and even difficulty breathing. 11 products containing PPD, and 3 other henna dyes containing PPD: 

  • Herbatint’s Permanent Haircolor Gel (1N)
  • Naturtint’s Permanent Hair Color
  • Tints of Nature’s Simply Healthier Hair Colour Permanent Hair Colour
  • Khloris’ Sepia Seven Hair Color Cream
  • Naturigin’s Naturigin Natural Hair Dye – Black 2.0
  • Richenna’s Vitamin E Hair Dye
  • LUCIDO-L’s Natural Plant-based Hair Dye
  • Cosline’s Squid Ink Speedy Color Cream (1N)


  • Hair Dye produced by Herbul
  • Ling Lee
  • Melva’s Hair Color Powder with Natural  Nourishing Herbs

Henna disaster 

people hands with tattoes

Natural henna needs to be applied for at least “three to five hours  before it can show a dyeing effect,” described by Consumer Council Chief Executive, Gilly Wong Fung-han during an interview with South China Morning Post. She described that many manufacturers may be tempted to add chemical substances to improve coloring effect as well as shorten the time it takes for the color to show. 

All six henna dyes were found to contain lead, with Herbul Sea, India, and Indigo dyes leading with a lead content of 3.1. Furthermore, Melva’s Hair Color Powder with Natural Nourishing Herbs contain a lead content of 0.4 to 0.6, with one sample containing 0.043 mercury. The heavy metal contents were within mainland China regulations, however the council cautioned prolonged exposure to the dyes. 

Furthermore, the total number of bacterial colonies in all samples exceeded the mainland’s requirement of less than 1,000 colonies per gram. Be Nature Organic Herba Powder was found to contain 250,000 bacteria, 249 times higher than what was allowed. 

One mutagenic ingredient prohibited by The Europian Union and mainland cosmetic regulations was found in TS Chakhan Hair Color Cream. Furthermore, there was an issue of false lalbelling as five of the hair coloring products failed to list the ammonia content. Out of the five, two of them (Herbatint and Tints of Nature- even claimed to be “ammonia free”, when they actually contained the chemical. Seven other products only had a partial list while two did not have any information on their contents at all. Read on to find out how 1Source can help you find quality products. 

The Consumer Council reminded consumers to conduct a skin allergy test on all hair dyes before using the product and highlighted that those with eczema or scalp damage should steer clear from hair dye treatments. Read on to find out how to use 1Source to navigate the beauty world. 


“Hong Kong consumer watchdog warns ‘natural’ hair dyes are not ….” 15 Mar. 2021, Accessed 16 Mar. 2021.

 “henna Archives – ToysMatrix.” 15 Mar. 2021, Accessed 16 Mar. 2021.

 “Consumer Council announces 60% of hair dye samples contained ….” 15 Mar. 2021, Accessed 16 Mar. 2021

 “HK’s consumer watchdog found 11 hair dye products containing ….” 15 Mar. 2021, Accessed 16 Mar. 2021.

 “Hong Kong consumer watchdog warns ‘natural’ hair dyes are not ….” 15 Mar. 2021, Accessed 16 Mar. 2021.