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Is Dihydroxyacetone an Effective Dye for Hair?

Is Dihydroxyacetone an Effective Dye for Hair?

Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) is a biotechnologically or synthetically produced coloring agent that is contained in some hair care products and self-tanning products. The focus is on the use of this active ingredient for hair.

Dihydroxyacetone – An Overview

Dihydroxyacetone is a sugar with three carbon atoms. It occurs naturally in plants such as chestnut bark. However, it can also be obtained through a biotechnological process. This process involves microbial fermentation of glycerol extracted from plants such as sugar cane, beets, corn, canola and others. The resulting DHA is a white crystalline powder that is soluble in water and ethanol, but insoluble in oil.

DHA acts as a coloring agent; it is mainly used as an active ingredient in self-tanning care products and natural hair color. When DHA comes into contact with skin cells and/or hair fibers, it reacts according to the Maillard reaction to form heterogeneous polymers called melanoidins, which are responsible for the brown color.

Dihydroxyacetone for Hair – The Active Ingredient in Natural Hair Dyes.

Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) is a coloring active ingredient usually found in natural hair dye, also known as non-oxidative hair colorants. Among other things, it is used to conceal gray hairs that may appear over time.

As a reminder, classic, so-called oxidative hair dyes color the hair by replacing the natural pigmentation. This type of coloring affects the hair structure, as it penetrates the cuticle. As a result, the melanin in the hair is replaced by the chosen color. However, it should be noted that this type of coloring can be aggressive, so it is advisable to use suitable care (moisturizing and repairing) after application.

Unlike conventional hair color, natural non-oxidative hair dyes with DHA color the hair without denaturing the hair structure. They act only on the surface, where they come into contact with the keratins in the hair fibers. As a result, the shine of the hair is preserved because the keratin remains intact. Recall that keratin is a natural protein that acts as a protective barrier for hair fibers, forming the hydrolipidic film.

Note that DHA hair dyes are temporary, as they act only superficially. So, to maintain the coloration, you need to wash your hair at longer intervals and reapply the color after a few weeks. In addition, prior preparation will help the coloring last long. This includes exfoliating the scalp to remove dead skin cells and revitalize the hair. So, you can use our PHA 5% + jojoba beads scalp scrub in advance. This exfoliating gel used before washing your hair gently removes dead skin cells and ensures a healthy and balanced scalp.

Precautions for the Use of Hair Dyes Containing DHA.

The use of DHA in hair dyes has recently been regulated. Accordingly, the maximum allowable concentration of DHA in hair care products is 6.25%. However, there are no contraindications for this ingredient. It can be used without hesitation, as it does not cause any undesirable side effects. However, since hair color may contain other ingredients, it is advisable to test the product in the crook of the elbow to avoid allergic reactions. The product should not be used in case of redness or itching.

Source :

  • CIRIMINNA R. & al. Dihydroxyacetone: An updated insight into an important bioproduct. ChemistryOpen (2018).


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