Why would I experience two types of reaction to hair dye?

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When I have my hair coloured at the salon I experience a severe reaction. Yet when I dye it myself at home the reaction is not so severe - just a bit of itching!

Why is this?

Katrina, Australia

This can often be down to the ingredients included within the product you are using. The next time you go into your salon ask your colourist for a list of the ingredients which are included in the product they are using and then you can match it against your home hair dye kit to find out which ingredient is causing the reaction.

In addition, when having your hair coloured in the salon it is essential to undergo a patch test on your skin before applying the dye over your hair. 

Michael Wilkonski, Position Stylist at Joseph Koniak, London

There are two types of reaction to hair colour, a sensitivity to the colour which is immediately felt upon application - often characterised by stinging, itching or tingling. The other is an allergic reaction which occurs after the application, maybe a few hours or a day later. This reaction is the dangerous one which can cause severe medical problems. 

Different manufacturers create their hair colours in their own way. Some contain a high ammonia content, which you can normally smell. This ingredient sometimes causes irritation.

Take your colour that you use at home to your stylist and see what is different. It may be that they use a permanent dye and you use a semi-permanent one (which is usually gentler).

If you are having reactions, I strongly suggest that you always conduct a skin test before every application!!

John Clark, Head of Colour at Brooks+Brooks, London

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