Camouflage is one of the reasons many people dye their hair. However, with hair colouring, there’s also believed to be a risk of more hair loss, which renders the idea of camouflage moot. But with so many people regularly using these chemicals, it begs the question: does hair dye truly cause hair loss?
While you may experience hair loss as a result of dyeing your hair, it’s also important to keep in mind that hair loss can occur due to a number of other reasons. In fact, androgenetic alopecia or pattern baldness is the leading cause of hair loss in both men and women, and it has to do with your hormones and genetics.
Still, that doesn’t completely rule out hair dyes as the potential culprits behind hair loss. In fact, there are a number of ways in which these chemicals are believed to harm the shaft of the hair and even the skin of the scalp. In this guide, you’ll learn more about it.
How To Dye Your Hair?
How you dye your hair depends on the type of hair dye you’re using. Mainly there are 4 main types of hair dyes, which are as follows:
- Temporary hair dye – sprayed on
- Semi-permanent hair dye – coats the shaft without penetration
- Demi-permanent hair dye – Penetrates the hair cuticle – the outermost layer of the hair
- Permanent hair dye – Penetrates into the cortex – the middle layer of the hair
In temporary dyes, the colour is essentially sprayed onto the scalp, and once it dries, you’ll be able to see the new colour. The benefit of this type of hair dye is that you can experiment with different colours without constantly putting your hair under a lot of stress. It’s also a wash-out colour that you can get rid of when you shampoo next.
In semi-permanent dyes, you usually have to begin by “prepping” or cleaning your hair with a shampoo and conditioner a day before. While wearing gloves, you can then brush the dye onto your strands. The instructions regarding the use of semi-permanent dyes can vary, so make sure to follow the directions on the packaging. This type of dye may be expected to last 6-8 washes.
With a demi-permanent dye, you’ll have to use something known as a “developer.” This developer, which contains hydrogen peroxide, is what essentially opens up the cuticle of the hair. This then allows the hair dye to get lodged in for a relatively longer period of time (about 24 washes). Again, when it comes to the use, you should read the instructions on the packaging.
If you’re using a permanent dye, you have to be careful about staining. For this reason, it’d be better if you wore old clothes and covered your shoulders with a towel while “sealing” the skin along your hairline with some vaseline. After that, you mix the developer with the dye and apply it to your hair, which is then followed by rinsing (with the gloves on). Permanent dyes don’t wash out, but you will continue to grow out your hair with its natural colour.
Is Dyeing Harmful For Hair?
There are a number of ways in which dyeing can cause harm to it. Some of these are explained below:
According to a study published in the Chemical Research in Toxicology, mainly 3 chemicals in hair dyes are believed to be responsible for causing hair loss:
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Paraphenylenediamine (PPD)
The researchers also reported that oxidative stress is believed to be the reason behind the allergic reaction caused by hair dyes.
A chemical like hydrogen peroxide is oxidative, which means that it undergoes a kind of chemical reaction to form the new hair colour. Monoethanolamine, which is used to replace ammonia, can also lead to oxidative stress.
A study published in the Journal of Dermatological Science identified hydrogen peroxide and monoethanolamine as “causative ingredients” of not just an allergic reaction caused by hair dyes but also hair loss. These chemicals were shown to be toxic to keratinocytes – cells that produce keratin and which the hair mainly consists of.
PDD can also cause severe a allergic reaction, which can then lead to hair loss. ISRN Dermatology reported the case of a woman who lost 90% of her hair after using a hair dye with PDD to which she was allergic.
The researchers cautioned that allergic reactions caused by hair dyes can also cause hair loss as a result of telogen effluvium, which is a type of hair loss induced by a shock to the system. Therefore, hair dyes also have the potential to indirectly cause alopecia.
Damage To The Shaft
In particular, chemical dyes that penetrate the shaft of the hair can be more damaging. According to a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, permanent dyes use both hydrogen peroxide and ammonia as a way to “open up” the passage all the way to the cortex, but these chemicals can damage the shaft of the hair and irritate the scalp as well.
Hair dyes can also leave your hair dry, rough, and brittle which makes it more prone to breakage. As a result, you might notice more of your hair on the bed sheets, your shower drain and around the house.
Thermal And Chemical Burns
A study in Frontiers in Medicine reports different ways in which hair dyes can cause hair loss:
- Heat injury – Can be caused by the use of aluminium foils or hairdryers during the application process or heat produced by chemicals when used in improper proportions. In serious cases, it can cause scarring or cicatricial alopecia, which can permanently damage the follicles.
- Chemical injury – Oxides in hair dyes can cause death of the scalp tissue, which will also result in permanent hair loss.
The researchers of this study also warn about the abnormal development of cells (dysplasia) and “canceration” as a result of long-term use.
How Often Should Hair Dye Be Done?
While the answer can vary depending on the type of hair dye you’re using (based on how quickly it washes off), generally it’s recommended to wait for 4-6 weeks until the next colouring session.
In any case, you should consider consulting a medical professional about this. They might also recommend you do a patch test before you fully commit to make sure you don’t have an allergic reaction to the product (this way, you can get a small-scale demo of the final results).
If you’re colouring your hair, it’s also important that you take good care of it by using nourishing and hydrating products. Excessively styling the hair using hot irons or blowdryers while tying the hair too tightly might only end up inflicting more damage.
Do Natural Hair Dyes Cause Hair Loss?
Considering the chemical-laden nature of traditional dyes, some people choose to take the more “natural” route with products that contain ingredients like henna, rhubarb, indigo, black currant, elderberry, etc. With fewer chemicals in them, these products might be better in terms of safety, but that doesn’t mean they’re completely without risk.
According to the study in Chemical Research in Toxicology, there have been reports of allergic reactions to natural hair dyes with henna, black tea and indigo powder in them. So, you need to be careful about their use as well. There can be a connection between hair dyes and hair loss, even when the former is “natural.”
Is There Any Hair Dye That Does Not Cause Hair Loss?
It can be hard to say which hair dye does not cause hair loss. That’s because not only does it come down to the formulation of the product but also its usage.
For instance, even with spray on hair colours, there might be a risk of the spray contributing to a scalp build-up. And scalp build-ups can lead to inflammation and infection of the follicles.
So, does hair dye cause hair loss? It definitely has the potential to do so because of the chemicals it contains, but the damage can even come from the process of applying the dye. And you have to be careful because, in some instances, the hair loss can be permanent and you might end up needing a FUE hair transplant or DHI hair transplant in Turkey or anywhere else.
It also doesn’t mean that if you’re losing your hair, only your hair dye is to blame. There can be many causes of hair loss, so make sure to consult a board-certified medical professional for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
Reviewed and approved by Trichologist Yaprak Yazan
Should I dye my hair?
Hair colouring can be damaging, and it may exacerbate hair loss if you’re already losing your hair because of another reason. However, by using the right products and taking good care of your hair, you might not inflict too much damage.
Is dyeing hair bad for you?
Dyeing hair can be bad, especially in the case of permanent dyes that penetrate the shaft and change the hair from within. It can leave your hair prone to breakage.
Does box dye cause hair loss?
Whether or not box dye can cause hair loss depends on its ingredients, how you use it, and the existing condition of your hair, among other factors. Ingredients like PDD, ammonia, toluene, formaldehyde, etc., found in hair dyes can not only be bad for your hair but might also pose a health risk. So, be sure to talk to a dermatologist.
Does men’s hair dye cause hair loss?
Hair dyes work the way they do, regardless of gender. At the end of the day, the chemicals used are the same for them to “dye” the hair. And since certain ingredients can be harmful, both men’s and women’s hair dye can cause hair loss.