Today we are going to learn about Aveda Hair Color Pure Tones, one of the two permanent hair colors sold by Aveda. When I research products and evaluate them for safety, I look at the ingredients and compare them with the ingredients of other major players in the industry. I am so glad that I was emailed the Aveda Hair Color Ingredients so I can tell you what is in them.
I have been researching the ingredients of permanent hair colors for years now and publish my findings in the Permanent Hair Color Rating List e-book updated annually so you can choose a safer hair color.
What is in Aveda Hair Color Ingredients?
These are the Aveda Hair Color Ingredients, specifically the Aveda Hair Color Pure Tones ingredients. They were emailed to me on December 19, 2018.
Water\Aqua\Eau  Cocamide MEA  Glyceryl Stearate  Toluene-2,5-Diamine Sulfate  Cetearyl Alcohol  Ammonium Hydroxide  Bis-Diglyceryl Polyacyladipate-2  Resorcinol  Glycerin  Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax\Candelilla Cera\Cire De Candelilla  Steareth-21  Aminomethyl Propanol  Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract  Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil  Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil  Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil  Erythorbic Acid  Fragrance (Parfum)  Geraniol  Linalool Citronellol  Lauramidopropyl Betaine  Polysorbate 20  Sorbitan Stearate  Oleic Acid  Sodium Sulfite Sodium Hydroxide  Tetrasodium EDTA  4-Amino-2-Hydroxytoluene  m-Aminophenol  p-Aminophenol 2,4-Diaminophenoxyethanol Hydrochloride
How do they look to you? I know they are not easy to understand. It took me years to know what I am looking at.
Hair Colorants (Dyes) are the Main Aveda Hair Color Ingredients
When you look at the permanent hair color ingredients, I recommend you focus your attention on the long words that look like chemicals. In this case, these words are Toluene-2,5-Diamine Sulfate, Resorcinol, 4-Amino-2-Hydroxytoluene, m-Aminophenol, p-Aminophenol, and 2,4-Diaminophenoxyethanol Hydrochloride. They are highlighted in red in the picture.
These long words are hair dyes or colorants. Every permanent hair color formulation has hair dyes that do the coloring job and also other ingredients, including an alkaline agent that opens the hair cuticle, water, emulsifiers, fragrance, plant extracts, and oils. The list of Aveda Hair Color Ingredients is no exception.
Some hair color brands market their permanent coloring products as “natural” or even “organic”. That does not change the fact that those hair colors have to contain hair dyes.
The hair dyes are the components that can cause allergic reactions and are also associated with an increased risk of cancer.
So, if a so-called “natural” or “organic” permanent hair color uses botanical oils and extracts, to my way of thinking, it is not very important. In other words, if you get an allergic reaction, it would not be important to you if there was jojoba oil listed as one of the Aveda Hair Color Ingredients.
Additionally, it is not clear how much natural oils and herbal extracts are helpful in permanent hair colors. We know that hair colors damage hair, by design. All permanent hair colors have an alkaline agent (ammonia or ethanolamine) that allows the color to penetrate it. I am not aware of any research that shows how much healing a tiny amount of oil or extract can do, especially in the presence of these harsh alkaline chemicals.
Extreme Sensitizers in the Aveda Hair Color Ingredients
So in this post, let’s focus on hair colorants in the Aveda Hair Color Pure Tones and their allergic properties. Fortunately, the European Union Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) has assessed 110 hair dyes and classified them into extreme, strong and moderate sensitizers. A sensitizer is a chemical that may cause an allergic reaction in a person, even after the person has already used a product in the past without any problems.
(If you are interested in learning more about this topic, each year, I evaluate permanent hair colors based in part on the SCCS reports, and publish my opinions in my Permanent Hair Color Rating List e-book, which is designed to help you choose a safer hair color based on your own needs.)
Unfortunately, the Aveda Hair Color Ingredients include an extreme sensitizer, as defined by the SCCS. It is called toluene-2,5-diamine sulfate (TDS), which is a common substitute for p-phenylenediamine (PPD), another extreme sensitizer.
While they are both extreme sensitizers, PPD is more likely to cause an allergic reaction than TDS (source).
Also, there was a patch test study conducted on 26 people who were allergic to PPD, which is luckily not on the list of Aveda Hair Color Ingredients. 57.1% of them were not allergic to TDS. Moreover, in most patch testing 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 Ingredients over the use of PPD.
The Other Hair Dyes in the Aveda Hair Color Pure Tones
Most of the other hair dyes in the Aveda Hair Color Ingredients (with the exception of 2,4-diaminophenoxyethanol hydrochloride) are strong sensitizers as classified by the SCCS.
2,4-diaminophenoxyethanol hydrochloride has been classified as a moderate sensitizer.
Tiny Amounts of Hair Dyes Do Matter
Sometimes a hair dye company tells us that they only use 2% of PPD or TDS, implying that we should not worry about such a small percentage. I have two concerns about that.
One is that when SCCS evaluated hair dyes for sensitization, they used very small amounts. For example, they found that PPD is an extreme sensitizer when it was tested in the concentration of 0.06% and found TDS, which is among the Aveda Hair Color Ingredients, to be an extreme sensitizer in the 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.
The second concern I have is that we consumers do not know the concentration amounts of these chemicals. At this point in time, I am still struggling to get a full list of ingredients from some hair dye companies. As I have mentioned above, I got the Aveda Hair Color Ingredients by email, but, for example, Kevin Murphy and All-Nutrients refused to provide them to me. I was able to include Kevin Murphy in my rating list because I got them from a box. By law, they must list them on the packaging. But you won’t find them online anywhere, even if you directly ask them to send them to you.
Conclusion about Aveda Hair Color Ingredients
It is some improvement that Aveda uses TDS instead of PPD in the Aveda Hair Color Pure Tones. However, there is a lot of room for improvement. I encourage Aveda to consider eliminating all extreme sensitizers from their hair coloring products. And disclose the amounts of hair dyes as a percentage of all Aveda Hair Color Ingredients. You can do it!
If you are curious to learn more about other permanent hair colors, please read the following posts listed below. You can also use the SCCS reports to evaluate the safety of a permanent hair color you are planning to use. And please do a patch test every time, because they are sensitizers!
If you are short on time or research is not your thing, check out my Permanent Hair Color Rating List e-book. Thank you for being part of the hair color safety movement. We will get there, but there is still a lot of work to be done.