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  1. Resources for Consumers on Cosmetics

Cosmetics Safety Q&A: Hair Dyes

FAQs Main Page

What precautions should you take if you dye your hair?

People who dye their hair should follow these safety precautions:

  • Follow the directions in the package. Pay attention to all "Caution" and "Warning" statements.

  • Do a patch test before using dye on your hair. Here's how: Rub a tiny bit of the dye on the inside of your elbow or behind your ear. Leave it there for two days. If you get a rash, don't use the dye on your hair. You should do the test each time you dye your hair. (Salons should also do the patch test before dyeing your hair.)

  • Never dye your eyebrows or eyelashes at home. This can hurt your eyes and cause permanent discoloration. You might even go blind. The FDA has provided for the safe use of silver nitrate as a color additive, in professional-use only cosmetics, to color eyebrows and eyelashes [21 CFR 73.2550]. Use is restricted to up to 4 percent silver nitrate (by weight) in a viscous gel product. These silver nitrate containing cosmetic products are not intended for use on persons under the age of 16 or for application for longer than 1 minute. Furthermore, these products are not for distribution or direct sale to consumers. 

  • Keep hair dyes out of the reach of children.

  • Don't leave the dye on longer than the directions say you should.

  • Rinse your scalp well with water after dyeing.

  • Wear gloves when you apply the hair dye.

  • Never mix different hair dye products. This can hurt your hair and scalp. 

For more information on hair dyes, relaxers, and other hair products, see Hair Products.

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