Will Dyeing Your Hair Cause Hair Loss?
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Indulging in a new look is exciting and allows you to express yourself while elevating your appearance. One of the simplest and most accessible ways to change one’s look is by dyeing one’s hair. However, many people believe that dyeing one’s hair can lead to hair loss.
Is there any truth in the claim? Let’s explore.
Should You Be Worried?
Hair is very versatile and opens opportunities for creativity, with low stakes. After all, it’ll grow back. When it comes to coloring hair, though, most people are more tentative when it comes to experimenting, especially if there’s a chance it could lead to hair thinning. They would rather stick to one hair color for their whole life than deal with hair loss. It’s understandable – hair loss isn’t just about losing the hair on your head, it’s about losing an intricate part of yourself that makes you, you.
So, what’s the verdict? Will dyeing your hair cause hair loss?
The answer is not straightforward. Dyeing does not inhibit hair growth as the dye cannot reach the hair beneath the scalp. You can’t harm hair that hasn’t grown yet. However, while this substantially decreases the risk of hair thinning, frequent dyeing treatments may play a role in hair shedding.
How Dyeing Treatments Influence Hair Shedding
A singles strand of hair has three layers:
● Cuticle (the outer layer)
● Cortex (the middle layer)
● Medulla (the inner later)
Each of these layers plays a role in maintaining your hair. It is believed that chemicals found in hair dyes break through the layers and disrupt their normal functions. Understanding the dyeing procedure and its effects can help you make a more informed decision before you book that appointment with the salon.
Frequent Combing and Rubbing
The dyeing procedure requires heavy combing and rubbing. This can contribute to hair loss in the telogen cycle and increase shedding. This type of hair loss, known as telogen effluvium is almost always triggered by a disturbance in the hair lifecycle.
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Ingredients in Hair Dyeing Products
The cuticle protects your hair scalp. When you dye your hair, the ammonia in the hair dye has to swell and open up the hair cuticle so that dyes and high levels of hydrogen peroxide can penetrate your hair, remove pigments from your natural hair color, and ultimately, change its color.
By loosening this outer layer, these ingredients weaken the hair shafts in the telogen phase by stripping protein from your hair, thereby making your hair more susceptible to breakage.
That’s not all. Other ingredients in hair dyeing products can make your hair dry and frizzy and deprive hair follicles of nutrients. Getting multiple treatments in a short time frame may damage your hair to a point where it becomes impossible to renew the cycle of new hair strands, increasing the risk of permanent hair loss.
Reaction to Hair Dyes
Adverse reactions to ingredients found in hair dye may also lead to hair loss. If you experience itching, redness, headaches, or eye inflammation after getting a hair dyeing treatment, consult your doctor for an allergy test.
To stay on the safe side, always do a skin test before getting your hair dyed or chemically treated to minimize the risk of allergic reactions.
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Higher amounts of ammonia in hair dyes can increase your risk of hair damage. This means that hair dyeing treatments that bleach your hair to a very light color, say blond, from a dark hair color like black or brown can cause excessive damage to your hair.
If you notice yourself needing less frequent hair cuts after your hair treatment, your hair is likely going through a process called “weathering” that may result in the appearance of alopecia (hair loss). This condition is usually temporary and your hair should regrow according to your hair’s natural life cycle.
Natural Hair Cycles
Our hair grows in cycles. As we lose anywhere between 50-100 strands of hair a day, it's only natural to notice some hair in your brush, in the shower drain, or on your pillowcase.
Our hair goes through three distinct phases:
● Anagen: 85-90% of your hair actively grows in this phase. This phase can last between 3-10 years.
● Catagen: About 3% of your hair is in this transitional phase at any time. During this phase (about 2-3 weeks), you may experiences slow hair growth.
● Telogen: Lasting about 2-3 months on average, this phase - commonly called “the resting phase” - accounts for 5-10% of the hair on your head.
Telogen effluvium occurs during the last phase of your hair cycle. If you notice regular shedding for longer than six months, you may have chronic telogen effluvium. While shedding will be noticeable with this chronic condition, patients likely won’t lose all their hair.
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Is There A Solution?
If you’re looking to dye your hair with minimal risk of hair loss, you may want to monitor your hair for shedding. If the hair you lose has a “bulb” attached at the growth end, you’re losing hair. If it doesn’t, you’re dealing with hair breakage.
How to tackle breakage: Brush your hair gently, turn down the heat on your hair styling tools, and use appropriate products like moisturizers to strengthen and protect your hair.
How to tackle hair loss: Limit treatments and use semi-permanent coloration products in place of permanent hair dyes. These are generally more gentle and do not contain harmful ingredients like alcohol and ammonia.
Please note: While this will reduce shedding to more tolerable levels, it won’t completely eliminate hair loss.
Dyeing your hair is a great, inexpensive way to upgrade your look. However, it can cause hair damage which may lead to hair loss. If you’re concerned about hair loss, set an appointment with a reputable dermatologist to get their expert advice. If hair dyes aren’t causing your hair loss, a skin and hair professional can help you determine the root cause, rule out other factors, and provide solutions to promote hair growth.