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Does Hair Dye Cause Hair Loss?

Hair dyes and bleaches are extremely popular hair styling products. People choose to dye their hair for all sorts of reasons — from hiding greys to giving themselves a new look. But with hair dye horror stories all over the internet, it’s easy to dissuade yourself from using potentially damaging products.

So does hair dye cause hair loss — and is there a way to colour your hair safely?

How does hair dye affect your hair?

Hair dye is designed to change the colour of the hair on a permanent, semi-permanent or temporary basis. It can be applied professionally at a hair salon or done at home with a hair dye kit from the supermarket.

Hair dye works by either coating your hair strands with colour (semi-permanent dyes), or by bonding with the hair at cuticle and cortex level (permanent dyes). Some stylists claim that hair dye can strengthen the hair by thickening it with additional coatings, but unfortunately this isn’t true.

Can hair dye cause hair loss?

Yes — hair dye can cause hair loss. Unlike other causes of balding — like hair loss-related autoimmune conditions or androgenetic alopecia — hair dye doesn’t usually stop hair growing. Instead, it damages the hair strands, causing the lengths of your hair to break off [1]. This gives the appearance of thin, dry hair which may be mistaken for genuine hair loss.

However, at least one study has found that chemically active hair dyes can cause direct hair loss from the root [2]. So as well as compromising the condition of your hair, you may also put your hair growth at risk.

Most hair dye-related hair loss happens as a result of overuse or an adverse reaction. This particularly affects women, who are generally more likely to use hair dye than men. See how hair dye causes hair loss below.

Hair dye can irritate your scalp

Semi-permanent and permanent hair dyes usually contain chemicals such as ammonia and hydrogen peroxide. These chemicals can be harmful in large quantities.

Whilst these chemicals are mostly safe in small doses, regular use is thought to irritate and damage the scalp. If you dye your hair so much that your scalp gets irritated and damaged, you may find that it is no longer capable of producing a healthy head of hair.

Regular bleaching isn’t good for your hair

The trendy bleach blonde look has resulted in many men and women going from having dark hair to extremely light blonde hair. The only way to achieve this look is with bleach.

Bleach uses peroxide to remove your natural hair pigment and replace it with a light white-blonde shade. If your hair is very dark, you may need to bleach it multiple times to achieve the look you want. This can be extremely damaging to your hair.

Bleach can change the structure of your hair completely, impacting the texture as well as the colour of your hair. It often makes hair dry and brittle. only changes the hair’s state completely, but also requires regular upkeep — so when you bleach your hair once, you’ll have to keep doing it until you decide to let your colour grow out.

How often should you use hair dye?

To maintain your new hair colour, you’ll need to use hair dye regularly. As new hair starts to grow through, you’ll find that you need to do a touch up to avoid discoloured roots.

Everyone’s hair is different. If your hair is healthy or you’re using a hair growth stimulant like Minoxidil, your hair may grow fairly quickly. That means you may want to dye your hair more often to prevent visible roots.

However, to keep your dyed hair as healthy as possible, it’s recommended that you don’t dye or bleach your hair more than once every 6-8 weeks.

Allergic reactions to hair dye

Since hair dyes contain so many strong chemicals, there’s always a risk of allergic reaction. In extreme cases, this can lead to hair loss. If you are allergic to a hair dye, it may cause your scalp to itch, which can cause the follicles to shed hair prematurely.

If you want to dye your hair with a home kit, you should always do a patch test first. Test a little of the dye on the hair behind your ear. Leave it for 24 or 48 hours (depending on what the instructions say) to see if it causes any irritation. Salons and hair stylists should also insist that you do a patch test at least the first time they colour your hair.

The more you colour your hair, the greater the risk

Whilst some people are more genetically prone to hair loss than others, frequent use of hair dye is certainly a contributing factor. Before making any big decisions about changing your hair colour, it’s important to consider the possible effects it can have on your hair in the long term.

Can you use hair dye after a hair transplant?

Yes — but you should be careful about how soon you colour your hair. Learn more about colouring your hair after a hair transplant and see other post-transplant styling FAQs.

Should you avoid hair dye altogether?

There are all sorts of reasons people want to dye their hair. Adding colour to your tresses is a perfectly valid choice — so we’ll never say never.

However, you should keep in mind that the chemicals aren’t good for your hair or your scalp. Hair dyes can cause hair to become weak, ultimately leading to hair breakage and hair loss.

If hair loss is something that concerns you, we highly recommend that you avoid frequent use of hair dye and do everything you can to maintain a healthy scalp.

Talk to a trichologist

Our experienced trichologists are always on hand to discuss hair loss, no matter what the cause is. If you’ve experienced hair loss as a result of hair dye or bleach overuse, book a free consultation with our UK hair transplant clinic. We deal with all kinds of hair loss causes and restoration treatments, so we’re ready to help you get your hair back to perfect health.

Does Hair Dye Cause Hair Loss?, Wimpole Clinic

Sources:

  1. Comparison of damage to human hair fibers caused by monoethanolamine- and ammonia-based hair colorants
  2. Aqueous MEA and Ammonia Sorption-Induced Damage in Keratin Fibers
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
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