Brand Breakdown: Is Oway a Clean Beauty Brand?

Discover if Oway is actually a clean beauty brand and if we would recommend them based on their ingredient breakdown.

Background on Oway

Founded in 1948, Oway, which stands for Organic Way. They claim they are the first and only professional hair care and color line made with biodynamic (as well as organic, fair trade and non-toxic) ingredients. They have come up with a term called agricosmetica® which is the virtuous circle of choices and actions which Oway puts into place in order to improve the wellbeing of the Earth and of its inhabitants at every stage of the product’s life cycle. But do they live up to what they actually say?

We reviewed the brand to find out. 

How we Rank the Brand

Green Heart – We approve of this brand’s products and they contain zero known toxins.

Yellow Heart – We approve of most ingredients in this brand’s products, they might contain some toxins or known allergies. 

Red Heart – We suggest you proceed with caution and limit your expose and use to this brand’s products as there are toxins present.

Ingredients of Oway

*For this particular review we are going to focus mostly on Oway’s Hair Dyes.

Oway markets their products as “the organic way”, they claim to be “the world’s first professional organic hair color, care and styling line with biodynamic, organic and fair trade ingredients.” They have a few different product lines that range from ammonium free, to hair health and treatments. 

What Is Oway Hcolor?

Their professional ammonia-free hair color line:

  • 95 permanent colors
  • 100% Ammonia Free

What Is Oway Hnectar?

Hair color infusion with the ability to lift 1-3 levels while improving hair softness and brightness.

  • 34 Shades
  • 100% Ammonia Free
  • PPD Free / Resorcinol Free
  • No Alcohol / No Mineral Oil / No Fragrance

    What Is Oway Hbleach?

    Ammonia-free cream lightener

  • 100% Ammonia Free 
  • Lifts up to 6 Levels

Below you will see a snapshot of their Tobacco Blonde Hcolor Ingredients.


Breaking Down the Ingredients

A few things that pop out to us right away about Oway is the use of terms such as Organic and Ammonia free. 


Can a hair dye actually be organic? Well, Oway’s color lines roughly contain only 6 “organic or biodynamic” ingredients of the 40+ ingredients in their products. For a product to be truly certified organic it would have to consist of 95% organically grown ingredients and have a recognized organic certification per USDA. In Oway’s case, Organic Hair Dye is not an accurate depiction.



As you can see a big part of their products contain “no ammonia.” What exactly does that mean for hair dye?

Ammonia is used in hair color to blast the cuticle and deposit the color.  Besides it being toxic, it’s also really damaging to your hair.  So instead, they use Ethanolamine as the cuticle opener.


This study found that hair colors with ethanolamine versus ammonia are more likely to cause hair loss. Although, Ethanolamine has not yet been evaluated for cancer risks, there is some evidence that it may elevate the risk of birth defects.

Parfum/ Fragrance

Fragrance is usually a combination of numerous ingredients, some of which can be allergenic and endocrine disruptive especially those like Citronellol,  Geraniol, or Linalool if they are not derived from pure essential oils. Also, phthalates are likely to be present.  There are several different phthalates and some of them are possible carcinogens and hormone disruptors such as styrene.


Ethanolamine P Aminophenol, M Aminophenol, Amino 2-Hydroxytoulene

There are several different phthalates and some of them are possible carcinogens and hormone disruptors such as styrene. P-aminophenol, M-aminophenol, 4-amino-2-hydroxytoluene are all hair coloring agents in hair dye and a strong sensitizer. Read more about what a sensitizer is here. 


Toluene 2,5 Diamine TDS

Toluene-2,5-diamine (TDS) Toluene is used in permanent hair dyes and is an extreme sensitizer. It is typically used instead of PPD.  Besides getting headaches, getting dizzy and having allergic reactions, long term exposure can lead to female reproductive system damage and pregnancy loss.  (6)


Resorcinol is a hair coloring agent in hair dye and a moderate sensitizer. One reason for it’s toxicity, is because it may suppress thyroid function in case of dermal exposure to ulcerized skin at high doses (SCCS)and the European Chemicals Agency indicates hormone disruption assessment.

Going Beyond Beauty


Oway states they cancel 100% of the carbon emissions generated by their company through eco-design, the use of 0 Km raw materials from organic and biodynamic agriculture, virtuous production processes, the use of renewable energy, the choice of sustainable packaging and materials, offset projects.

Giving Back

Oway does not report that they support any giving back initiatives. 

Cruelty- Free/ Vegan 

Oway is cruelty free and PETA certified. A few Oway products contain non-vegan ingredients, such as honey, silk, and beeswax. Although these ingredients are acquired through ethical means, they could not certify Oway as 100% vegan.

However, Oway consists of 98% vegan products, only 2% of products contain honey, silk or beeswax.

Certified Organic

Oway is not certified organic.

Where is it Manufactured

Oway is made in Bologna, Italy.

Parent Company

Oway is owned by a parent company called Rolland.

Final Rating:

Oway is a yellow heart for us when compared to other hair dyes. While we believe that going without hair dye altogether is the best option to avoid toxins, we understand that it is a “treat” for some to get their hair done once or twice a year. In turn, we do love Oway’s transparency and push towards “clean-er” ingredients. Not to mention, stylist reviews have reported they feel better about using Oway’s products than others. 

We would recommend this Brand with discretion. 

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