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How Does Hair Dyeing Damage Hair?

Are you fond of carrying off different hair colors? Do you frequently change your hair color to blonde, brunette or maybe red?

Maybe you are not aware of the damage it is causing to your hair!!!

How Does Hair Dyeing Damage Hair?

How Does Hair Dyeing Damage Hair?

Hair color or hair dyes contain strong chemicals like ammonia, hydrogen peroxide and sensitizers like paraphenylenediamine and their frequent usage obviously damages hair.(1) These chemicals present in hair dyes or hair colours dry out the hair making them brittle and prone to breakage.(2)

The ammonia present in the hair dye makes it penetrate the shaft by swelling it and lifting the hair cuticle (the protective plates covering the hair). Hydrogen peroxide damages the natural color of the hair and makes the hair dry.(3) The protective lipid layer covering the hair is stripped off by these hair dyes/colours exposing them to future damage.

The sensitizers present in the hair dye are the allergen. All these chemicals combined present in the hair dye can prove to be extremely damaging to the hair causing breakage over time.

Lead acetate is a common ingredient used in the permanent hair dyes and is linked with infertility issues in males and females. It is also recommended to the women to avoid hair colouring when pregnant just to be on the safe side.

The damage caused by hair dye is not just limited to the hair. The scalp which is equally exposed to these chemicals is also affected. The chemicals present in hair dye also rips away the oil from the scalp leaving it exposed to environmental damage. The following symptoms are seen in the scalp caused by application of hair dye(4,5)

  • Stinging sensation.
  • Swelling in patches.
  • Redness on the scalp.
  • Itching of the scalp.

Some studies also link the hair dyes with a higher risk of some cancers.(6)

How Can You Prevent The Damage Caused By Hair Dye?

If you color or dye your hair, you are exposing them to potential problems, but if you follow some of the precautions well, you can reduce the risk of some damage to your hair from hair dye use:

  1. While colouring or dyeing your hair, always refer to the instruction manual.
  2. If suffering from any scalp condition, such as psoriasis or dandruff, wait for the skin to clear up. Always start on a healthy scalp.
  3. Do a patch test on the skin to see if there is any allergic effect to the hair dye before its use.
  4. Do not wash the hair 2 days before dyeing or colouring as the natural oils prevent the scalp from getting colored.
  5. Wear gloves while dyeing your hair.
  6. Do not leave the dye on hair for longer than recommended on the manual.
  7. Rinse your hair thoroughly with water after using a hair dye.
  8. Never mix a hair dye/color of two different brands together.
  9. Never dye your eyelash or eyebrows. An allergic reaction could lead to the risk of infection around or inside the eye. If by accident the dye spills inside the eye, it can lead to permanent damage such as blindness.
  10. Whenever you are using a hair dye, use conditioner whenever you shampoo the hair to protect the hair and the scalp.
  11. Ammonia-free hair dyes are also available, which are milder than those with ammonia. But these hair dyes or hair colours wash out faster.

Hair dyes are for external use only. Therefore they should be kept away from the reach of children. If there is any skin irritation felt after application of hair dye, its use should be discontinued.


Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 8, 2020

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