new tattoo and hair dye allergy test
April 27, 2014 8:23 PM   Subscribe

I got a new tattoo but also dye my hair. I have some questions about the increased chance of an allergic reaction when using hair dye while having tattoos. Basically, is doing an allergy spot test on the arm with one brand of hair dye sufficient for safety across other brands, or do I have to test the specific dye? (how similar are hair dyes?)


I understand the science behind why having a tattoo can increase the risk of allergic reaction to hair dye. I already had one tattoo, and dyed my hair just fine. Last week, I got a new, larger tattoo (slightly shorter than a half sleeve, outline only) and I have an appointment to have my roots done at a salon next week.

I would really like to do an allergy test before my appointment because I understand the reaction can be very serious. Is it sufficient to use a box dye to do a test on the inside of my arm, or would it have to be the specific hair dye my salon uses? Obviously it would be much more convenient for me to do the test at home, than to go to the salon in the days before the appointment, but I will do that if it is indeed safer.

Thank you very much for responding. I googled but could not find a direct answer.
posted by anonymous to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (3 answers total)
Outline only? You're safe for now, most likely. Almost no one reacts to black.
posted by mollymayhem at 8:41 PM on April 27, 2014

I'd say try the box dye test, but wait a little longer than the box indicates before drawing any conclusions. The main allergen in (permanent) hair dye is p-phenylinediamine, which occurs in higher concentrations the darker the hair dye gets. It is a sensitizer allergen, which I had the unfortunate experience of discovering first-hand.

Anyhow, quickest test would be to obtain some *black* box dye, only put a tiny amount on your arm, and wait 2-3 days. If you're allergic, you will itch. And even if you only itch slightly it's probably best to avoid permanent dyes (including those labeled "natural" or "black henna") from here on in, though bleach and semi-permanent dye should be fine.
posted by aecorwin at 10:10 PM on April 27, 2014

If you're someone who generally has allergic reactions, I would ask the salon what type of dye they use and proceed from there with an allergy test of the same dye (you can pick up salon-quality dyes at a Sally's Beauty Supply without breaking the bank). My instinct is that you will be fine, very few people react to black ink (flare ups to red are fairly common, though). I am not your colorist, doctor or tattoo artist. I have several large tattoos and get my hair colored every 6 weeks or so and have never had a problem with allergic reactions.
posted by picklesthezombie at 6:06 AM on April 28, 2014

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