What is in Aveda Hair Color Ingredients?

Do you agree with the saying that nobody likes change, but everyone likes improvement?  When it comes to women, we long for a change from time to time, especially in appearance.  One of the simple ways to do it is to change the color of your hair.  Hence, finding a safe hair color becomes a vital task.  However, I must tell you right away that there is no such thing as a safe permanent hair color.  Read on to find out why it is so, as we look into Aveda hair color ingredients.  Searching for the relatively safest hair dye, I compare the hair color ingredients of the major players in the industry.  So, let us dissect Aveda hair color Pure Tones to answer the question, “Is Aveda hair color safe?”

What is in Aveda Hair Color Ingredients. A photo of a woman's hair dyed with Aveda hair color. Hair color ingredients.

I study hair dye ingredients to help you buy confidently.

To begin with, I have been researching consumer goods ingredients since 2012 when I was expecting a baby.  That year was a turning point for me because I wanted to find safe products to use on my baby.  So, I started reading the ingredients of products before buying them, and my first product was a baby shampoo.  Sure enough, most of those ingredients did not make any sense to me, especially the long unpronounceable ones.  The presence of several plant extracts did not comfort me either.  Therefore, I looked for proof of the safety of the ingredients in the available scientific literature.

It turned out that I really enjoyed doing research, and it became my full-time occupation.  Moreover, I have published my findings in several e-books, which I update annually.  For example, consider buying the diaper and baby wipes rating lists if you are expecting or have a baby.  Additionally, my shampoo and conditioner rating lists will help you find non-toxic care for your hair.  Plus, there are body lotion and nail polish rating lists, and an e-book on mattresses.  And if you are into hair color, my Permanent Hair Color Rating List e-book is a must-have for you.  The purpose of all these books is to provide you with the knowledge to help you make informed decisions.

Before we dive into Aveda hair color ingredients, I would like to give you some tips about permanent hair color.

Look for dyes among hair color ingredients.

When we look at the Aveda hair color later, we will focus on the long words that look like chemicals.  Some examples are p-phenylenediamine, toluene-2,5-diamine sulfate, resorcinol, 4-amino-2-hydroxytoluene, and such.  To clarify, these are hair dyes or colorants.

Along with other ingredients, every permanent hair color formulation has hair dyes that do the coloring job.  As for other ingredients, they include water, emulsifiers, plant extracts, oils, and an alkaline agent.  The latter opens the hair cuticle for the dye to enter and color the hair.  Most hair colors contain fragrance, too, something that is not innocuous even when it is “natural.”  Read my post on natural fragrance to discover the truth about this ingredient.

The reason you should look for hair dyes first is that there may be extreme sensitizers among them.  Keep reading to find out more about sensitizers.

Forget about permanent non-toxic hair color.

As I mentioned earlier, there is no such thing as a completely safe, or non-toxic, permanent hair color.  When I looked for the Aveda hair color ingredients, I noticed that the website described it as “93% naturally derived.”

The photo and description of Aveda hair color

However, the presence of such words as “natural,” “naturally derived,” or even “organic” does not change the fact that hair colors must contain chemical hair dyes.  It is hair dyes that can cause allergic reactions and are also associated with an increased risk of cancer.

Therefore, how important is the fact that your “natural” or “organic” permanent hair color uses botanical oils and extracts?  When you are allergic to one of your hair color ingredients, it matters little that jojoba oil was among them.

Additionally, it is not clear how helpful natural oils and herbal extracts are in permanent hair coloring products.  A hair color damages hair by design because of the alkaline agent that allows the color to penetrate the hair.  Every permanent hair color, including Aveda hair color, must have this agent.  Alternatively, I have found no studies on the healing powers of tiny amounts of oils and extracts, especially in the presence of harsh alkaline chemicals.

In general, a hair color can hardly be organic.  An organic certification can only apply to a product whose ingredients are 95% of agricultural origin.  So far, I have not found a permanent hair color that would consist of 95% of plant-based ingredients.  Read more about organic hair color to protect yourself from misinformation.

What is in Aveda hair color ingredients?

Among Aveda hair products, there are two kinds of hair color, both of which I evaluate in my Permanent Hair Color e-book.  For several years now, as I have updated my findings, there have been no alterations in Aveda hair dyes.  Although the ingredients are not available on their website, I appreciate Aveda emailing them to me.  Thus, as of October 2020, the ingredients of Aveda hair color Pure Tones were as follows:

I know they are not easy to understand – it took me years to figure out hair color ingredients.

Does Aveda hair color contain PPD? No, but …

To begin with, PPD stands for p-phenylenediamine.  It is considered an extreme sensitizer by the European Union Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS).  According to the SCCS, there are extreme, strong, and moderate sensitizers.  To clarify, a sensitizer is a chemical that may cause an allergic reaction in a person after several uses.

Although there is no PPD among the Aveda hair color ingredients, there is another ingredient – toluene-2,5-diamine sulfate (TDS).  In fact, this is a common substitute for p-phenylenediamine and is also an extreme sensitizer.

While they are both extreme sensitizers, PPD is more likely to cause an allergic reaction than TDS (source).

Additionally, there was a patch test study conducted on 26 people who were allergic to PPD.  57.1% of them were not allergic to TDS.  Moreover, in most patch tests conducted in Europe over the years, PPD caused on average twice as many cases of an allergic reaction (source).

Thus, the use of TDS is some improvement in the Aveda hair color over the use of PPD.

Most of the other hair dyes in Aveda permanent hair color are strong sensitizers, as classified by the SCCS.  The exception is 2,4-diaminophenoxyethanol hydrochloride which has been classified as a moderate sensitizer.

Do small amounts of dyes in hair color ingredients matter? Yes.

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Sometimes manufacturers claim to use “only” 2% PPD or TDS.  In other words, they imply that we should not worry about such a small amount.  Well, I have two concerns about that.

First, when the SCCS evaluated hair dyes for sensitization, they used very small amounts, too.  For example, they determined PPD as an extreme sensitizer when it was tested in a concentration of 0.06%.  Further, TDS, which is among the Aveda hair color ingredients, was pronounced an extreme sensitizer in a concentration of 0.31%.  So, as you can see, tiny amounts do matter.  (By the way, the SCCS limits its use to 2% when mixed with hydrogen peroxide.)

Second, as consumers, we do not know the concentration amounts of these chemicals.  Moreover, I still struggle to get a full list of ingredients from some hair dye companies.  As I have mentioned above, I got the Aveda hair dye ingredients by email.  I really appreciate their transparency in this regard.  It stands in stark contrast to the practices of other companies in my experience and opinion.

For example, Kevin Murphy and All-Nutrients refused to provide them to me.  I included Kevin Murphy in my Permanent Hair Color e-book because I found their hair color ingredients on the box.  By law, they must list them on the packaging, but you will not find them on their website. Neither did they provide them to me when I directly asked them to.

Is Aveda hair color ammonia free? No, but …

To be more accurate, there is ammonium hydroxide among the Aveda hair color ingredients.   While Aveda is not a completely ammonia-free hair color, it contains an ammonia solution with water content.  This is what ammonium hydroxide is – a household ammonia in water, so the amount of ammonia is rather small.

The point is, however, that ammonia and ammonium hydroxide are compulsory agents in a permanent hair color.  That is to say, they serve as hair shaft openers and allow the dye to penetrate the hair.  Hence, a hair dye without ammonia or ammonium hydroxide must have a replacement for them.  Otherwise, the hair dye will not perform its function of hair coloring.

The common replacement for ammonia is ethanolamine, which is a corrosive chemical, too. (Aveda hair color does not have it.)  Most importantly, is ethanolamine safer than ammonia?  The short answer is no.

For instance, this evidence says that ethanolamine may increase the risk of birth defects.  Therefore, if you are pregnant or planning, avoid ammonia-free hair color because it will contain ethanolamine instead.

Also, this study found that permanent hair color with ethanolamine versus ammonia is more likely to cause hair loss.  Yes, permanent hair dyes may cause hair loss.  If you are experiencing this problem, read my post on Eight Overlooked Hair Loss Causes.

In sum, for a permanent hair color to be ammonia-free is not necessarily a good thing.  Please, read more about it in my post Are Ammonia-Free Hair Color Brands Better?.

Conclusion about Aveda hair color ingredients

In conclusion, I reiterate that, by definition, there is no completely safe permanent hair color.  Thus, chemical hair color ingredients affect both hair and general health in many harmful ways.  Personally, I encourage you to avoid using permanent hair colors and embrace your hair as it is.  However, if you do not want to give up coloring your hair, consider purchasing my Permanent Hair Color Rating List e-book.  It will help you find a color brand that is tailored to your health condition, risk tolerance, and convenience.

As for Aveda, it is good that it uses TDS instead of PPD in the Aveda hair color Pure Tones.  However, there is a lot of room for improvement.  I urge Aveda to consider eliminating all extreme sensitizers and to disclose the amounts of hair dyes as a percentage of all Aveda hair color ingredients.  You can do it!

Lastly, browse my shop for non-toxic products including plant-based hair colors.  Also, book a consultation with me if you need help with healthy living.  I will be happy to assist you!

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