How Dying Your Hair Affects Growth and Hair Loss
As we all know, with age comes gray hairs. In some people these gray hairs are embraced and worn with pride, but in a lot of cases they are a constant reminder of getting older. Nobody wants to be reminded of their age every time they look in a mirror or see a photograph of themselves, but could the dying, or coloring, of your hair be affecting the way your hair grows? Could it accelerate the hair loss process?
Hair dye and hair coloring is a great way to hide the gray hairs as we begin to get older. It’s a simple process yet requires the skills and knowledge in order to ensure it’s done correctly without damaging your hair.
How Hair Dye Affects Your Hair
Most people assume that hair dye or coloring just stains the outside of your hair in order to change the color or add highlights, but that’s not exactly how it works.
In order for the hair dye to attach itself to the hair in a permanent way, it must break down the outer layer of the hair, known as the cuticle. Once the cuticle is broken down, the dye can penetrate the hair shaft which is where the color information is stored.
The process of breaking through the cuticle of the hair is performed by chemicals within the hair dye. Ammonia is the most common chemical found in hair dye which will cause the cuticle to swell and allow the new color to enter the hair shaft.
There are different options when it comes to hair dying and coloring. In normal hair coloring you’re opening up the hair cuticle to allow the coloring to entire the hair shaft and then closing it back up, leaving your hair a different color or shade. The other option is usually a 2-step process that involves using a peroxide (or bleach) to strip the hair of its natural coloring before applying the new dye.
Once the cuticle is lifted and the new color has been inserted into the hair shaft, the cuticle closes back up, trapping the new color molecules within the shaft, thus making the new hair color permanent. It will not wash out when showering and can only be removed by going through the hair dying process again, or waiting for it to grow out and cutting it.
When it comes to men, there are a variety of different options out there to help reduce grey hairs, but not all of them work the same.
Box dye, which you can find at any local retail store that sells hair care products, tends to be more concentrated than what you may find at a salon. These box dyes need to be able to work on anyone’s hair regardless of the type of hair.
In addition to the box dyes needing to be able to work on anyone’s hair, you also may not get the results you’re looking for when using these dyes. In most cases if you’re buying a box dye at the store you’re going to be applying the product yourself. Without the proper knowledge and skill, your hair can easily end up looking splotchy or bad.
Outside of salon dyes and box dyes there are also shampoo products that can help eliminate or reduce the grey hairs on your head. Grey reducing shampoos, from companies like Just for Men, work by gradually restoring pigmentation to your hair through multiple use. These products are still dying your hair, but it’s a much more gradual process and the pigment is only released in the hair when scrubbing.
Now that we’ve discussed how hair dye penetrates your hair in order to change the color, let’s talk about what that process can do to your hair long-term and if it can have an affect on hair growth or cause hair loss.
Can Hair Dye Cause Hair Loss?
This is a hard question to answer as there can be two ways of looking at hair loss. Hair loss that causes bald spots, patchy hair, and just overall loss of large quantities of hair or hair loss due to hair breakage.
Obviously the first way would be more devastating and harder to control, while the second way is usually due to treatment of the hair or outside forces.
Thankfully, hair loss that causes bald spots and loss of large quantities of hair is not typically associated with dying your hair. However, because hair dye uses a chemical process in order to get the coloring into your hair shaft, this can cause issues with the health of your hair which can lead to more hair breaking and shedding.
The chemicals in hair dye can break down the disulfide bonds in the hair, which are what give your hair its strength. Once these bonds are broken down during the dying process it causes the hair to become weaker and can break more easily.
This can lead to what looks like more shedding but it’s mainly damaged hair that breaks off and ends up in your brush or shower. It’s not affecting the hair follicle, so it won’t cause you to go bald but can make hair look or feel thinner if you get too much breakage.
What Can You Do to Protect Your Hair?
The most important thing you can do to protect your hair when it comes to coloring and dying is to refrain from doing it too frequently. The more chemicals you add to your hair, the more damage you are going to do. But there are some things you can change in regards to your hair care routine that can help prevent shedding.
The damage being caused to your hair because of the chemicals in the hair dye is similar to the damage you can see when the seasons change and the weather gets cold. The hair is drying out and becoming brittle so it’s important to be gentle with the hair when washing it, make sure to use a conditioner that adds moisture to the hair, and avoid using too much heat.
A hair dryer is going to remove even more moisture from your hair, leaving it extremely brittle. Try air drying instead to help retain the moisture levels your hair needs to remain healthy and strong. The same goes for flat irons or curling irons. More heat = more damage.
The key to keeping your hair strong and healthy is moisture. So if you start to see your hair falling out after getting your hair dyed or colored, it’s important to stay calm and understand that in most cases you’re not going to go bald, you just have to be more conscious of your hair care routine.
Dr. Krejci calls this a “hair diet.” Basically you want to reduce trauma to your hair as much as possible. If you normally wash/blow dry/ and curl your hair daily on top of monthly coloring, that’s a lot of trauma to your hair. Try reducing your routine every other day or only 3 times a week. Let your hair air dry whenever possible. Limit use of hot appliances as much as you can. We all know how devastating staring at gray roots in the mirror can be so that’s usually the last thing Dr. Krejci will ask you to give up. Coloring can be done safely to the roots every 4-8 weeks but when you add more trauma on top of color, your hair may hit a breaking point. Don’t forget to eat the important nutrients for your hair to provide strength from the inside as well.
If you don’t see any improvement by changing your routine, and you’re becoming worried, there may be something else going on. In which case it’s important to contact your doctor so they can make a proper diagnosis.