Are lead acetates safe in hair dyes?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Lead acetate is used as a color additive in progressive hair dyes, the kinds of dyes that are combed into the hair to cover gray and darken the hair gradually. In studies, people who applied these hair dyes according to directions did not have increased levels of lead in their bloodstream and their bodies did not appear to absorb the lead. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined that these dyes were safe when instructions are followed carefully, but that every dye containing lead acetate should carry a label stating that the product contains lead acetate, that it should be kept out of children's reach, and that it should not be used on irritated skin, or on hair other than on the scalp. 

Lead acetate is used as a color additive in "progressive" hair dye products. These products are put on over a period of time to produce a gradual coloring effect. You can safely use these products if you follow the directions carefully. This warning statement must appear on the product labels of lead acetate hair dyes:

"Caution: Contains lead acetate. For external use only. Keep this product out of children's reach. Do not use on cut or abraded scalp. If skin irritation develops, discontinue use. Do not use to color mustaches, eyelashes, eyebrows, or hair on parts of the body other than the scalp. Do not get in eyes. Follow instructions carefully and wash hands thoroughly after use."

This answer is based on the source infromation from the National Women's Health Information Center.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.