Smiling person with fluffy sweater, blue lipstick, and natural hair dyed lavender 1
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Many people are vegan. A fully vegan lifestyle means avoiding beauty and skin care items that contain animal product ingredients.

You might not think that a box of hair dye contains animal products. Meat, eggs, and dairy will not be on the ingredient list. drugstore hair dyes contain lesser-known animal byproducts.

Selecting vegan beauty products is difficult. Checking to see if any animal testing occurred in the product.

It is not impossible to find vegan hair dye. Learn more about vegan hair dye, including how to tell which hair dyes are vegan and whether or not it is safer for your hair.

Vegans abstain from animal products. So, vegan hair dye won’t contain animal products or byproducts. It should also be cruelty-free.

“The brands that are cruelty-free don’t test their products on animals. A truly vegan hair dye will not have undergone animal testing.”

Andrea Harvey, salon manager at vegan-friendly and sustainable Salon Messina, recommends first looking for the Leaping Bunny logo to identify whether a product is cruelty-free.

The only internationally recognized logo that identifies products completely free of animal testing is this one.

“But, this logo costs money, so not all cruelty-free brands have it,” says Harvey, who’s known as The Vegan Hairdresser on social media. She recommends emailing companies to request further information — and paying attention to their wording. “They may say that the end product is cruelty-free, but their suppliers are not.”

“It is important to remember that vegan doesn’t mean cruelty-free. You should read the ingredients list before you buy a product.”

Harvey recommends that you watch out for honey and beeswax in hair dyes.

Karen Wallington, hairstylist and co-founder of vegan hair product line Noggin Oil, also advises avoiding ammonia, because it’s typically derived from animal protein (urea).

Vegan hair dye comes in temporary, semi-permanent, and permanent options. The fact that the product is vegan doesn’t affect how long it lasts.

Factors like your hair type and hair porosity can affect how long a hair dye will last.

Wallington says that hair dye fades or loses its sheen over time.

Learn more about different types of hair dyes and how long they last.

People commonly equate the term “vegan” with “healthy,” and it’s true that going vegan can absolutely offer a range of health benefits.

You might wonder if vegan hair dye is a better option for dyeing hair.

Not necessarily.

Like other types of hair dye, vegan hair dye can be natural and derived from plants, or synthetic and derived from chemicals. In other words, it won’t automatically be “better” for your hair just because it contains vegan ingredients.

Wallington says it is possible that it is not about better or worse.

It is a matter of deciding what you consider most important, as there are some great breakthrough in alternatives to animal products.

The fact remains that any type of hair dye can potentially damage your hair — even vegan or organic options.

A professional hair colorist can offer more guidance.

vegan hair dye is safe to use. Before vegan hair dye products are marketed to the public, they must undergo rigorous safety testing.

It is not always safe to say that it is generally safe. People can experience reactions to beauty, skin, and hair care products. It is important to do a patch test before trying a new hair dye product.

Patch testing can help you determine if your skin will react to the dye or any other new product you want to use.

How to do a patch test

You can find instructions for patch testing in the box of hair dye. You might skim over that little section in the directions.

It is always a good idea to patch test a new brand if you have dyed your hair before. Different products have different ingredients.

You can follow the steps to patch test.

  • The instructions say to mix a small amount of the dye.
  • The mixed dye should be applied to the inside of your elbow or the nape of your neck. If you notice any changes in your skin over the course of a day, you should check it out.
  • “If you don’t experience any adverse reactions, you can apply the dye to your hair and scalp.”

If you’ve ever had a negative reaction to any hair dye, you may want to check in with a dermatologist before trying other brands.

Non- vegan hair dye may have harsher chemicals than vegan hair dye, but this may not be the case for every vegan hair dye. Even so, vegan hair dyes could cause a reaction.

Harvey suggests that you opt for dyes that are free of paraphenylenediamine and ammonia. She notes that products free of these ingredients may cause less damage, but they may not lighten hair or cover white hair.

Wallington recommends doing a patch test on a small section of hair, close to the nape, and checking the results after the recommended processing time has ended. Your hair can react to the chemicals in hair dye in different ways.

If you notice excessive itchiness, discoloration, and swelling of the scalp, you should remove the dye immediately, Wallington says, since these typically suggest an allergic reaction.

There is a possibility that semi-permanent and permanent hair dyes may be linked to certain types of cancer.

Most research doesn’t support a strong link between cancer and hair dye — but some evidence does suggest a possible connection.

According to a 2019 study that included data from nearly 47,000 Black and white women, regular use of permanent hair dye or chemical hair straightening products may increase breast cancer risk, especially for Black women.

White women who regularly dyed their hair with a light-colored permanent dye had a 7 percent higher chance of developing breast cancer than those who didn’t dye their hair. But Black women who dyed their hair every 5 to 8 weeks, with a light- or dark-colored dye, had a 60 percent higher chance of developing breast cancer.

“The study didn’t include information on the women’s vegan use.”

According to 2021 research, certain chemicals found in hair dye, including PPD, Orange 1, and basic red 51, may pose potential health hazards, including an increased risk of breast cancer. Researchers also noted that more than 80 percent of permanent hair dyes include PPD.

The American Cancer Society does recommend vegetable-based hair dyes as a safer alternative to traditional hair dyes.

You will want to use any type of hair dye.

  • Stay in aventilated area.
  • Avoid inhaling the dye.
  • Leave hair dye on for a certain amount of time.

If you want to consider dyeing your hair less frequently, you should check the ingredients list for any potentially harmful chemicals.

Increased awareness of animal cruelty in cosmetics testing has boosted demand for cruelty-free products. Finding vegan hair dye might be easier in the future. You may not be able to find it in one place.

It is difficult to use vegan hair dye at home. You could try searching for a colorist who uses one of the brands.

  • Keune. Keune So Pure, recommended by Wallington, offers a range of cruelty-free, vegan, sulfate-free, and ammonia-free hair products. Their hair color range, which includes organic sandalwood, argan, and jasmine oils, claims to provide long lasting color and complete gray coverage.
  • LaBiosthetique. This certified vegan brand, recommended by Wallington, contains no mineral oil, silicones, sulfates, parabens, or alcohol.
  • Davines. While the entire Davines hair product line isn’t certified vegan or vegetarian, the brand does offer permanent vegan dye, which Harvey recommends.

Prefer to DIY at home? Harvey recommends the semi-permanent hair dye brand Crazy Colors, which is both vegan and cruelty free.

All animal products are not involved in vegan hair dye.

With more vegan cosmetic products on the market, you can dye your hair and remain vegan. Just know it might take a little extra work to find a dye or a professional colorist who uses vegan dye.

Not sure where to start? It is always a good idea to check out vegan hair salons.

Sarah Bence is an occupational therapist (OTR/L) and freelance writer, primarily focusing on health, wellness, and travel topics. Her writing can be seen in Business Insider, Insider, Lonely Planet, Fodor’s Travel, and others. She also writes about gluten-free, celiac-safe travel at