What Age Can You Buy or Use Hair Dye in the UK? [Full Answer]

Buying hair dye in the United Kingdom might not be an action that makes you stop and think about what’s legal and what’s not – after all, it’s just hair dye.

However, there are some restrictions in place that attempt to prevent children under the age of 16 from purchasing hair dye products due to those products’ specific chemical makeups.

You can buy or use hair dye in the UK if you are over the age of 16. Although there are no specific laws surrounding the purchase and production of hair dye, there are some informal regulations in place that prevent salons from offering hair colour treatment to minors.

I only found this out because a friend opened a salon in my home town, and the legalities surprised me. This article was written with her help.

In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss the legalities of buying hair dye in the UK, what the regulations are, and the other options that are available to children under the age of 16 in the United Kingdom.

dyeing blonde hair to black with pink brush

What’s the Legal Age To Buy Hair Dye in the UK?

It might seem strange to place legal constraints on purchasing hair dye, but these regulations are in place to protect children from harm. Certain chemicals can be highly toxic, especially to young children, so they need to be regulated.

The legal age to buy hair dye in the UK is 16, but there aren’t any actual legal requirements to prevent stores from selling hair dye to minors. The conditions usually extend to hair salons, where no stylist is allowed to offer colouring services to those under the age of 16.

The restrictions don’t extend very far, however. All hair colouring products available for purchase in the UK must contain a warning label that stipulates that the product should not be provided for those under the age of 16 (source: Superdrug).

However, this warning label doesn’t mean that it is illegal for minors under 16 to buy hair dye; it merely means it is unlawful. There is typically no legal punishment for a child who purchases hair dye in the UK.

There are warnings from the industry’s primary organisation, but this does not amount to the passing of a law against selling hair colouring products to minors (source: BBC).

What’s the Legal Age To Dye Your Hair in the UK?

Since there are no legal restrictions on minors getting their hair dyed at home, you might be wondering what the legal age is for them to dye their hair.

The legal age to dye your hair in the UK is 16, although this is just a recommendation. Many salons still allow children under 16 to dye their hair as long as they have parental permission – which means the ‘legal age’ isn’t really a legal requirement at all.

While many companies have restricted the use of their products for children, that doesn’t mean parents can’t buy these hair dyes from shops and supermarkets – making it unlikely that there is any real punishment (source: HJI).

However, there are many warnings about children dying their hair at a young age since they can be sensitive to certain chemicals at a young age.

Can Under 16s Dye Their Hair In the UK? What With?

Under 16s can dye their hair in the UK. However, they shouldn’t, according to guidelines. They are not generally allowed to undergo colouring services in salons, but there isn’t much stopping them from doing so at home. Under 16s can (unlawfully) dye their hair with boxed hair dye or henna products.

Salons are not typically permitted to offer hair colouring services to minors under 16, but unfortunately, there are no regulations (apart from salon managers) to stop them from doing so. Since there are no laws regarding this, it may be unlawful, but it is not illegal to offer these services (source: HuffPost). 

Although the hair colouring products are not purpose-built for children, nothing stops them from using them. However, these hair dyes often contain chemicals that can be very harmful to children, especially if they develop allergic reactions (source: Elesse Hair and Beauty Salon).

Under 16s can also purchase and use henna products, which, though often made from natural ingredients, can also elicit allergic reactions in children and adults alike. However, there are many unregistered sellers of henna in the United Kingdom, so these unlawful purchases often go under the radar.

Additionally, if a parent buys hair dye for themselves and keeps it in the house, any child under the age of 16 with access to the product might end up using it without parental consent. This means that many instances of minors dying their hair will fly under the radar of any existing legislation regulating it.

hair dresser dyeing a girl's hair in a salon

Is It Illegal To Dye Your Hair if You’re Under 16?

It’s unlawful, not illegal, to dye your hair if you’re under 16 in the UK. However, there are no fines, jail time, or other punishments in place for those children under 16 who do dye their hair. Most salons won’t dye hair for those under 16, however.

Although those between the ages of 16 and 18 might still be sensitive to certain chemicals in hair dyes, it is perfectly legal for them to dye their hair. A child under the age of 16 may be even more sensitive to chemical dyes. There aren’t really any restrictions in place for teenagers.

The only exception might be if a parent takes their 17-year-old child to a salon and subsequently refuses to give consent for them to dye their hair – but if the parent is not around, nothing stops the salon from dying their hair anyway (source: Family Friendly HQ).

While some salons might be ok with dying a child’s hair between the ages of 16 and 18, many salons will refuse to do it. This disparity means that any regulations regarding hair dye and its uses in the UK aren’t quite working as they should. 

If you’re under 16 in the United Kingdom, you shouldn’t really dye your hair. However, hypothetically speaking, you could do so without any real repercussions from the authorities.

The only real repercussions might come from your parents once they find out you dyed your hair green without their consent, but this is a risk you can take if you wish!

If you were wondering whether you can buy hair dye in the UK, hopefully this article helped you out. It’s best to always contact a salon before using hair dyes or bleach products at home, and probably a very good idea to tell your parents what you’re doing beforehand.


I'm a busy working mother of three, so my specialties are anything to do with kids, the home, saving money while shopping, beauty and cleaning up mess!

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