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How is Hair Colour Manufactured? Ingredients and Formula Used in a Hair Dye

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Hair dyes are primarily used in the hair industry to change hair colour. Consumers use hair dyes to cover grey or white hair or change it into any fashionable colour. The strong chemical properties inside hair dyes coat each strand, penetrate the colour, and retain it for a certain period. This blog discusses how hair dyes are manufactured, their types, and their characteristics. 

Hair dyes are a substance that alters the colour of one’s hair. Hair colour ingredients make a billion-dollar market in the global hair-care business and with increasing revenues each year. Manufacturers also appeal to the younger generation, particularly teens who use hair colour as a fashion item. 

The article includes every component needed for the manufacturing of hair colour. 

Did you know?

Fine hair does not absorb hair colour faster than coarse hair. 

What is Hair Dye?

Hair dye is a substance that is used to change the colour of a person’s hair. Permanent hair colour represents roughly 80% of the hair colour industry. It consists mainly of uncoloured indicators of “p-amines” and ‘p-aminophenols” that absorb into the hair tissue, where they distil with the dye couplers (e.g., “resorcinol”) and are then oxidised into active intermediary substances (e.g., “diammonium” or “quinolinium”) most commonly by hydrogen peroxide.

History and Evolution of Hair Dye

 Hair dye composition has been used since prehistoric times. The red dye extracted from henna shrub leaves was a popular hair colouring ingredient for ancient Egyptians. Henna is the most widely used plant-based hair dye today. 

 Ancient Persians also used henna to colour their faces, braids, and beards. The Greek women painted their manes blue, and the males dyed their hair red to symbolise boldness. 

 The Romans used natural hair dye ingredients like quicklime and walnut oil to obtain a red and gold hair colour or a bronze-brown shade. 

 Europeans and Asians dyed their hair with various plant extracts, and Indigo was blended with henna to create light brown to black colours. Chamomile flower extract is still used to lighten hair colour in several treatments today. 

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Italians applied a mixture of rock alum, black sulfur, and honey throughout their hair and then cured it in the sun. This gave them the famous golden red hair. 

Preparations made from lead, quicklime, salt, silver nitrate, and rose water were hair dye ingredients in the sixteenth century.

Pure white hair colouring powder for hair wigs was a hallmark of the European aristocracy. White hair colouring powder was created by combining wheat or potato starch with plaster of Paris, chalk, or burned alabaster. 

To manufacture the black dye, a black ink known as Indian ink was used.     

Combining wax, soap, and pigments into blocks creates other hair colour compositions. The block was then soaked and put on hair with a wet brush. 

Until the eighteenth century, these natural compounds originated in hair colours. Powdered gold and silver were popular in the mid-nineteenth century.  

Present-Day Hair Dyes 

We have so many options to choose from; permanent, temporary, organic, or chemical hair colours are all in vogue. 

The options can be summarised as follows.

1. Semi-permanent Colour

The semi-permanent hair dye does not lighten hair colour as it contains neither peroxide nor ammonia. It does not interact with the natural pigment in the hair and instead provides colour by coating the hair. 

It only covers 50% of grey hair and typically lasts six to twelve shampoo washes.

2. Demi-permanent Colour 

This hair dye also does not lighten hair as it contains no ammonia. However, it contains a minor amount of peroxide and lasts around twenty-four to twenty-six shampoo washes.

3. Permanent Colour 

Permanent colourants are the most prevalent of the three basic hair dyes since the colour lasts until the person’s natural hair colour shows. This colour lightens and colours hair melanin, or natural pigment. 

Permanent hair dyes are classified into two types: 

  • Oxidation Permanent Hair Dye 

In this, the developer is a hydrogen peroxide solution, and the couplers are an ammonia solution containing dye intermediates and premade dyes. The chemical hair dye intermediates undergo a process to produce colour, while the preformed dyes contribute to the creation of the appropriate shade.

  • Progressive Permanent Hair Dye 

Progressive hair dye is the second form of permanent hair colour commonly used by males. Progressive hair dyes are applied over time and affect the hair colour. In most cases, lead acetate, which enhances colour, is the active component in these hair colours. 

Although the FDA has cleared lead acetate for progressive hair dyes, there are concerns regarding how the body absorbs it. Many people use women’s hair colours for colour changes to be safe.

Formula Used in Hair Dyes

Human hair is made up of Keratin, Water and dead cells. The single strand of hair consists of three layers: Cuticle, Cortex and Medulla. The outermost layer, the cuticle, has a natural black colour due to melanin clusters. There is no one chemical formula for hair colour. The majority of permanent hair dyes are a blend of various chemicals. Paraphenylenediamine (PPD) is the main chemical. 

Formula is C6H4(NH2)2. 

Some of the ingredients used in various hair dye techniques are given below.

The Formula for Temporary Hair Colour

Crayon technology, wherein the colour is rubbed on the hair or applied with a wet brush.





Glycerol monolaurate


Gum Tragacanth


Stearic Acid




Carnauba wax







The Formula for Hair Dye Powder



P-phenylenediamine Sulfate


P- Aminophenol


m-Phenylenediamine Sulfate




Tetrasodium EDTA


Erythorbic acid


Carrageenan and Xanthan gum


Sodium Lauryl sulfate


Monohydrate sodium perborate


Sodium Chloride


The Formula for Permanent Hair Colour (Base Oxidation)


Amount (weight %)



Oleic acid


Coconut diethanolamide




Deionised water

Q.S to 100


The Formula for Oxidation Dye


Amount (weight %)

PPG-2-methyl ether


Oleic acid


Coconut diethanolamide


Sodium Lauryl ether sulfate 






Deionised water

Q.S to 100

Raw Materials for Hair Dye Production

Most conventional hair dye formulations are intricate and complicated. Furthermore, formulae vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but a few ingredients or raw materials remain the same, like the modifier, antioxidants, colour, wetting agents etc.

1. Common Hair Dye Ingredients

Hair colours or dyes contain chemical modifications of colour, antioxidants, alkaliser solutions, soaps, ammonia, wetting agents, and odour.

2. Chemicals 

Hair dyes also contain small amounts of chemicals to achieve specific properties like soft texture or lessen frizziness. 

Chemicals in hair dye are also used to give the colour a desired effect like permanence or temporary effect. 

The chemicals in hair dye are usually amino compounds with names like 4-amino-2-hydroxytoluene and m-aminophenol on the product ingredient list. 

Titanium dioxide and iron oxide are metal oxides used as pigments.

3. Modifiers

Hair dyes contain substances called modifiers used to stabilise or modify the hue of the dye components. Modifiers can bring a complementary colour tone, such as green or purple, to the dye pigment. Resorcinol is a popular modifier.

4. Antioxidants 

Antioxidants stop the dye from interacting with oxygen in the air. The most prevalent antioxidant is sodium sulfite. Because the dyes operate best in a very alkaline formula, alkalies are used to modify the pH levels of the dye mixture. Ammonium hydroxide, an alkaliser, is extensively used.

5. Miscellaneous Materials 

A manufacturer may add extra substances to the raw materials or ingredients used in addition to the fundamental elements listed above. This is to give the product features that distinguish it from other goods on the market. Fragrances and shampoos are examples, as are components that make the product frothy, creamy, or thick.

Also Read: Bedsheet Manufacturing Business (Manufacturing Process Explained)

Manufacturing Methodology: How to Make Hair Dye?

Although hair dye formulae vary from company to company, manufacturing methods remain the same. The basic manufacturing process is explained below.

1. Examining the Components or Raw Materials

Before making a batch of hair dye, the chemicals undergo testing to confirm their authenticity, as they are precisely what they are labelled to be and are of the proper concentration. This is known as certification, and it can be done in-house by the manufacturer. 

In many situations, the supplies arrive with a Certificate of Analysis from an acknowledged distributor, and this certification meets the producer’s standards.

2. Weighing

A manufacturing plant worker measures ingredients for making a single batch of hair dye. If a large quantity of multiple substances is required, they can be pumped in or piped in from storage tanks.

3. Premixing

The colour components are premixed in hot water for the specific hair dye formulation. The dyes are placed in a tank with hot water, approximately 158 degrees Fahrenheit or 70 degrees Celsius. After mixing it for around twenty minutes, other ingredients are added to the premix.

4. Mixing

The premix is then added to the larger tank containing the remaining components. Portable mixing tanks accommodate up to 725 kilograms of materials. 

A worker transports the premix tank to the second tank and empties the contents. 

When preparing a large batch, the tanks may contain ten times as much as the portable tanks. In such cases, pipes are used to link the tanks. 

In hair dye formulae that do not require premixing, the components are combined in a tank until the desired consistency is achieved. Certain elements in the second mix are only briefly introduced during the mixing procedure. 

After blending the heated premix and most other components in the second tank, the liquid can cool. 

As the alcohol evaporates at higher temperatures, it is not added until the mixed liquid has cooled to about 40 degrees Celsius. At the end of this mixing procedure, fragrances are added.

5. Filling 

The final quantity of hair dye is delivered or piped to a tank in the filling area using a nozzle. Bottles on a conveyor belt are loaded with precise quantities of hair dye. The bottles are then fed into machines that cap and label them.

6. Packaging 

The bottles are transported from the bottling area to the packing line. The bottles thus prepared are placed in a box with a developer, a special complimentary shampoo, an instruction booklet, gloves, and a hat. All of these are included in the final hair dye box. Completed goods are placed in shipping boxes and sent to storage for dispatch.

Quality Assurance of Hair Dye

Reputable producers ensure that their researchers thoroughly evaluate a hair dye mixture in the testing facility before it reaches production. They conduct tests to ensure that the formula is gentle on the skin, effective and always gives the same outcome.

Employees must evaluate their products or ingredients before putting them in a batch to ensure the correct chemicals with the correct strength are used. Following batch mixing, samples are obtained and submitted to various standard tests. 

Laboratory staff inspect the batch for viscosity and pH level balance and test it with a hair patch test. Technicians will analyse dye samples following the filling procedure if the formulation is new or modified.

Characteristics of Hair Dye

Hair dyes or hair colourants are ornamental formulations used by men and women to alter the original colour of their hair or to conceal grey hair. 

The hair dyes need to have the following characteristics:

The majority of hair dyes must have the following properties:

  •  The chemical composition of hair colourants should always remain stable.
  •  The hair must be coloured uniformly in the solution.
  •  Hair dyes must not cause hair loss or loss of its original lustre.
  • The root of the hair should not be affected by dyes.
  • Hair natural hydration must not be compromised.
  • Non-irritating and non-sensitizing qualities are essential in hair dyes.
  • It must not be hazardous. Hair colour must be stable.
  • Air, water, sunshine, sweat, abrasion, shampoos and conditioners, creams and lotions, liquids, oils, etc., must not influence hair colour.   

Also Read: 7 Crucial Steps of the Concrete Manufacturing Process


Hair dye makers increasingly use computers to regulate and optimise manufacturing processes. Algorithms measure and weigh substances, manage chemical processes, and operate machineries like motors and mixers. 

As hair dye production becomes entirely automated, the future may witness increased production efficiency for the hair dye manufacturing industry.

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