Can Hair Dye Cause Hair Loss?

Hair loss due to hair dye is a common fear among people that are dying or consider dyeing their hair. So, if you’ve wondered “Can hair dye cause hair loss?” we’re sorry to say but your worry is not unfounded.

Hair dyes can, indeed, cause hair loss, although not necessarily in the way you might think. There are quite a few misconceptions surrounding the way hair dye works and how it might damage one’s hair. So, how about we shed some light on this topic?

Can hair color cause hair loss?

Indeed it can. Like any other strong chemical product you might choose to apply to your hair, hair dye can tire, malnourish, and even break your hair. All of these things can lead to an overall loss of hair, especially if you’re using strong dyes, if you’re using them too frequently, or if you’re not doing a good enough job nourishing, moisturizing, and protecting your hair and scalp.

However, that doesn’t really mean that dyeing your hair is wrong or that you will experience hair loss if you dye your hair. While the answer to the “Does hair dye cause hair loss?” question is yes, hair dye doesn’t actually inhibit hair growth in any way. The hair beneath the scalp remains unaffected by the hair dye as it’s only applied to the hair that’s above the surface. This means that as long as you are not damaging your scalp and hair in any other way, you’ll always have healthy new hair growing through your scalp no matter what or how you dye your hair with.

Nevertheless, hair can’t grow at an infinite rate, so if you’re damaging, breaking, and shedding your hair at a faster rate than it can grow at, you’ll have a net hair loss, so to speak.

How does hair dye damage your hair, exactly?

There are several different ways in which frequent hair dye application can torment and damage your hair over time. How applicable each of them is will depend on the individual hair dye in question, as different hair dyes include different components, are applied over different stretches of time and are generally applied in different manners. However, more or less, each hair dye will damage your hair in any of these ways at least a little bit. So, let’s go over them one by one:

  • The manipulation of the hair shafts itself will have a direct effect on them. This isn’t directly related to the hair dyes themselves, but they do require the manual manipulation of your hair often enough. The frequent rubbing and combing of the hair that are part of the dyeing procedure will typically loosen a lot of hairs and lead to increased shedding.
  • The second and probably most prominent factor is that hair dyes contain both ammonia and hydrogen peroxide. Both of these chemicals weaken and loosen telogen hairs, thus leading to hair shedding and hair loss. This isn’t an unintended side-effect of these chemicals either – their intended purpose is to fade the natural darker colors of hair to make it suitable for dyeing. After all, you can’t really dye jet black hair – it needs to be whitened first. That’s why the stronger the dye is, i.e. the more it’s intended for darker hairs, the more hydrogen peroxide it contains, and the more harmful it is for your hair.

All this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t use hair dyes with hydrogen peroxide and ammonia, or that you shouldn’t lighten your hair – you can very well do that. However, you need to know what this process entails and what it does to your hair so that you can do it properly and take the necessary precautions in the form of adequate hair care along the way.

  • In addition to the peroxide and ammonia weakening the hairs, the dyes themselves also physically weaken and help break hairs, especially after repeated use. Again, this isn’t to say that hair dyes are “terrible” for your hair – most good hair dyes are designed to be as sparing to the hair as possible – but they are invasive chemicals nonetheless, and as such, they have their negative effect, especially over long stretches of time.

Together, these three factors contribute quite significantly to the overall weakening and breaking of hairs. It’s the disruption of the protein backbone of the individual hairs that causes their physical weakening and eventual breaking and leads to shedding. That’s why it’s important to keep your hair well-nourished and moisturized at all times, especially if you’re using hair dyes.

Of those three factors, the presence of hydrogen peroxide in most hair dyes is by far the most significant problem for our hair. The process of removing eumelanin from the hair for which the peroxide is employed is just too disruptive for our hair. It’s similar to hair bleaching which is what’s usually done to darken the hair when you want to get it ready for dyeing – it’s an even more intrusive and damaging process than just using a hair dye, but the underlying principle is the same as hydrogen peroxide is used in both cases.

What to do to prevent hair loss when using hair dyes?

As we mentioned, while hair dyes have a weakening and damaging effect on our hair, as long as you use a good hair dye and you use it intelligently, it won’t spell the end of your hair’s good health. There are several key things to remember here:

  • Make sure you’re using high-quality dye that’s also not too strong and thus – not too damaging to your hair.
  • If you can avoid it, don’t bleach your hair before dyeing it – bleaching your hair does significantly more damage than just dyeing it.
  • Use high-quality nourishing, soothing, and moisturizing hair-care products – shampoos, conditioners, oils, and so on. These will be vital in your efforts to keep your hair in as good of a condition as possible.
  • Consult with a trustworthy hairstylist in person. Everyone’s hair is different and while we can give you some general advice and recommendations, we – and other professionals – can get much more specific once we’ve seen you in person.
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