- Hair Dye: How Badly Does It Damage Your Hair?
- Ammonia lifts the hair cuticle, and peroxide destroys the color
- Less-damaging alternatives don’t last as long
- Damage can go beyond dried-out hair
- The ingredients in hair dye can hurt your health, not just your hair
- Does Dying Your Hair Damage It Forever? Here’s What The Experts Have To Say
- Does coloring or bleaching your hair damage it forever?
- Can you ever restore your hair to be as healthy as your virgin hair was pre-color? What about pre-bleaching?
- So, how can you restore at least some of your hair’s health?
- What is the best post-dye job routine to follow to make sure your hair stays as healthy as possible?
- Hair Dyes
- Types of hair dyes
- How are people exposed to hair dyes?
- Do hair dyes cause cancer?
- Are hair dyes regulated?
- Should I limit my exposure to hair dye?
- Hair Dyes: Types, Side Effects And Safer Alternatives
- Basically, hair colouring is chemistry.
- 1. Allergic reactions
- 2. Irritable skin
- 3. Conjunctivitis
- 4. Fertility issues
- 5. Cancer
- Hair dye reactions
- Signs and symptoms of a hair dye reaction
- Links Between Hair Dye Chemicals and Hair Loss
- The Belgravia Centre
- Avoid unnecessarily harsh chemicals
- Go as natural as possible
- Here Are Your Safer Hair Dye Options
- Choose a cruelty-free brand
- Pick formulas that come in eco-friendly packaging
- 4 Hair Color Tricks for Dyeing Your Hair at Home
- ‘Like a dream’: Mom with metastatic breast cancer on outliving her prognosis
- New warning about breast implants proposed by FDA
- What the study found:
- How to treat common health ailments with everyday foods and products
- Why there’s concern:
- What women should know:
Hair Dye: How Badly Does It Damage Your Hair?
Worried your hair dye is damaging your hair? This is what you need to know. | iStock.com/kzenon
If there’s a particular way you like to wear your hair, chances are good that you’re doing some damage to it in the process. Heat-styling tools can easily hurt your hair. Similarly, chemically straightening or curling your hair can leave it dried out. And using hair products that are bad for your health can damage your hair and exacerbate other health issues.
The problem is that it’s pretty easy to avoid thinking about how badly hair dye can damage your hair. That’s because we all have our routines. Whether you have a running appointment with your stylist or a long-standing love affair with your favorite drugstore hair dye, you know the drill. You’re used to the routine and probably don’t think too much about it, even if it involves damaging bleach or colors that simply won’t fade.
So if you routinely dye your hair, or are thinking about starting, now might be a good time to learn a little bit about exactly what hair dye does to your locks. Here’s what you must know.
Ammonia lifts the hair cuticle, and peroxide destroys the color
Here’s how hair dye stays in your hair. | Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images
Cosmetic chemist Ni’Kita Wilson explains to The Huffington Post that in order to deposit color onto your hair, the dye has to be able to get into the hair shaft. To do that, it has to move beyond the cuticle, which acts a little bit like tree bark and protects your hair from damage. To penetrate beyond the cuticle, hair dye uses ammonia to elevate the pH of the hair and to relax and lift the cuticle. Immediately, you’ve damaged your hair, since the cuticle isn’t meant to be lifted up.
Once the cuticle is lifted, the next step is to dye the hair your intended color. So, hair dye uses peroxide to break down your natural hair pigment. Peroxide is extremely drying to hair and is the reason why colored hair can take on a straw-like texture. As the peroxide developer sits, the cuticle remains lifted for the dye to penetrate into the open cuticle and hair shaft. The longer the cuticle is lifted, the more it weakens. Once you rinse your hair, the cuticle comes back down. But damage has already been done.
If you’re interested in the specifics of how the process works, chemistry teacher Andy Brunning reports on his blog Compound Interest that hydrogen peroxide is a strong oxidizing agent. It oxidizes the natural melanin pigments in hair, removing some of the conjugated double bonds that lead to their color, making them colorless. Actually dyeing the hair requires an alkaline pH, provided by the ammonia, which causes the cuticle to swell and can ultimately damage the hair.
Less-damaging alternatives don’t last as long
You can try less-damaging hair dyeing methods, but they might not be as effective. | Mandy Cheng/AFP/Getty Images
If you use the wrong level of peroxide, or if you over-process your hair by constantly performing chemical treatments, you can continue to cause serious damage to your hair. Using semi-permanent or demi-permanent dyes, on the other hand, does less damage to your hair and can even add extra shine. (Semi-permanent hair dyes don’t contain peroxide, and demi-permanent dyes contain only low levels of peroxide.) But those colors are only going to last through a finite number of shampoos before fading and washing out. Because semi-permanent dyes don’t open the hair shaft, they won’t change your natural color.
So, while a temporary hair dye isn’t going to be as damaging as products that can permanently lighten and color your hair, many people find they need to dye their hair more often when using temporary options. That means that you’re exposing your hair (and your body) to the ingredients in your hair dye even more often than you would with a permanent color.
Many companies have introduced ammonia-free hair dyes, using substitutes like ethanolamine. This is a milder ingredient and doesn’t cause the cuticle to swell as much as ammonia. But it washes out, unlike permanent colors that simply grow out, and isn’t as effective at lightening hair.
Damage can go beyond dried-out hair
Hair damage can be serious. | Donald Bowers/Getty Images
Almost everyone who’s dyed their hair knows they need to be extra gentle to freshly-dyed hair, and that they need to condition it thoroughly. Hair dye can definitely dry out your hair, but it can also cause your hair to become brittle and break if you overdo it on chemical processes. To keep your hair from becoming too dry and breaking off, you should condition regularly, and use a deep conditioning mask before and after coloring. You’ll also want to keep up this routine as needed to avoid breakage.
Also consider your cut. Everybody likes to have their preferred hair color and to maintain the length they like, but you may need to be a little bit flexible if your hair isn’t responding well to the formula you’re using. You need to get regular trims to prevent and remove split ends. It’s much better to keep your hair as healthy as possible, and go a little shorter than you’d like, than to walk around with hair that’s over-processed, too dry, and full of unhealthy (and unsightly) split ends.
The ingredients in hair dye can hurt your health, not just your hair
Hair dye ingredients can affect your whole body. | Cindy Ord/Getty Images
It’s not just your hair that hair dye can damage, either. The Environmental Working Group recommends minimizing your use of dark, permanent hair dyes. This is because many such hair products contain coal tar ingredients like aminophenol, diaminobenzene, and phenylenediamine, which have been linked to cancer. Coal tar is a byproduct of coal processing and is recognized by the National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a human carcinogen.
It’s important to note researchers haven’t yet established a strong link between hair dyes and cancer, though some studies on people who color their hair regularly at work discovered a correlation with a minor increase in rates of bladder cancer. Because hairstylists and other professionals are exposed to the chemicals in hair dyes on a daily basis, European regulators have banned many of these ingredients in hair dyes. The FDA sanctions the use of coal tar in specialty products, including dandruff and psoriasis shampoos, but the long-term safety of these products hasn’t yet been verified.
Additionally, it’s worth noting allergic reactions to hair dyes are rare, but possible — and they’re a reaction you’ll want to avoid if you can. You should definitely patch test the first time you dye your hair or when you change colors, but if you can, it’s even better to test before every application.
Does Dying Your Hair Damage It Forever? Here’s What The Experts Have To Say
As someone who started highlighting her hair in the fifth grade, and has since tried out multiple hair colors, from platinum blonde to the blackest black, I’ve often wondered if dying your hair damages it forever, or if I’d be able to completely restore my hair’s health, even with continuously coloring it. Needless to say, the question is a loaded one, and the answer depends on quite a few different variables.
To break down this question and others surrounding the topic of keeping color-treated hair healthy, I enlisted the help of a few celebrity colorists that you’re more than likely familiar with. Here, George Papanikolas, Jennifer Yepez, Jonathan Colombini, and Kellon Deryck all set the record straight on whether or not coloring your hair damages it forever and provide some tips you should know about maintaining healthy, color-treated hair.
Does coloring or bleaching your hair damage it forever?
In short, the general consensus amongst the celebrity colorists that I consulted with is that, yes, dying and bleaching your hair permanently alters the integrity of your hair. However, if you make sure to get your hair done by an experienced colorist, then the damage should be minimal.
“Once you lighten the hair, the texture is changed forever. However, how drastic that change is will depend on how well your stylist knows how to care for colored hair,” says Kellon Deryck, a L’Oréal Paris consulting hair colorist & expert who slays the manes of celebs like Cardi B and Blac Chyna. “Color damage is a permanent downfall of coloring hair, but it can be avoided by using the proper techniques”
Jonathan Colombini, a L’Oreal Paris celebrity hairstylist & colorist whose stylist chair has seen the likes of Kylie and Kendall Jenner, says that the elasticity of your hair is always reduced “to some degree” when you color your hair. And, of course, the color you choose to dye it effects the amount of damage done. “Bleaching your hair is going to damage it faster than coloring, so be sure to always follow with at-home care,” he explains.
On that note, Jennifer Yepez, a Kérastase celebrity hairstylist whose client roster contains the likes of Bella Hadid, Winnie Harlow, Hailey Baldwin, and Emily Ratajkowski, also suggests getting your hands on at-home treatment to care for your hair post-color appointment. “If you go to a colorist that knows what they are doing and takes steps to properly care for your hair, your hair should not be damaged beyond repair,” she says. “If you feel like your hair is damaged from color, you can do several treatments. The best at-home treatment is Kérastase Fusio-Dose Homelab. The kit comes with four treatments that you can do throughout the month.”
Prior to sitting down in the salon chair with your trusted colorist, you should know the general rule of thumb for coloring hair to avoid damage. According to George Papanikolas, Matrix celebrity stylist to stars like Fergie, Jenna Dewan, and Madonna, “the universal rule for keeping hair in optimum condition when going lighter is to stay within two shades of your natural base color when coloring (otherwise it can get brassy) and four shades when highlighting (otherwise it can be harsh on the hair/skin and get damaged).”
Can you ever restore your hair to be as healthy as your virgin hair was pre-color? What about pre-bleaching?
Papanikolas says the only guaranteed way to restore your hair’s health back to its pre-colored state is to cut off the previously colored, bleached, or damaged hair and grow it back. “Then, it will be healthy, virgin hair again, even after bleaching,” he says. “The new hair untouched by chemicals will be virgin.”
The good news, if you want to continue coloring your hair, there are still ways to maintain healthy color-treated hair that is almost as healthy as the pre-treated, virgin hair you once knew.
So, how can you restore at least some of your hair’s health?
While you can’t technically ever get your hair back to how healthy it was pre-color appointment, unless you grow it out and start fresh, the experts here agree that the two most promising ways to preserve the integrity of color-treated hair moving forward are by seeing a professional stylist and by using quality products at home following your color appointment.
Yepez asserts that seeing a reputable colorist is of the utmost importance, rather than trying to cut corners and do something drastic yourself. “Don’t try and save money and not get what you want or have your hair damaged,” she says. “You will always spend more money trying to fix your hair! Also, be sure you do treatments and have a good shampoo, conditioner, and mask regimen at home.
What is the best post-dye job routine to follow to make sure your hair stays as healthy as possible?
In short, after you color, it’s best to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate — and protect your hair against heat.
“Deep conditioning is an absolute must — the longer the conditioner sits, the better,” shares Deryck. “Don’t perform any other color job or apply any perms or relaxers for at least a few weeks to avoid over-processing (aka frying) your hair. Try to stay away from heat as much as you can, your hair struggles to retain moisture after being colored (especially after it’s lightened), so excessive blow drying or flat ironing will only dry the hair out more.”
Deryck also recommends wrapping your hair or sleeping with a silk pillowcase, which helps drastically decrease the chance of breakage.
The takeaway? While you can’t technically reverse the damaging effects of coloring or bleaching your hair, you can take very important steps to maintain the integrity of color-treated hair to ensure a shiny, strong, healthy mane.
Many American women, as well as a small but increasing number of men, use hair dyes. You may have heard rumors about a link between using hair dye and getting cancer. Many studies have looked at hair dyes as a possible risk factor for various types of cancer. Here we will discuss what the research shows so that you can make choices that are comfortable for you.
Types of hair dyes
Hair dyes vary greatly in their chemical make-up. People are exposed to the chemicals in hair dyes through skin contact. There are 3 main types of hair dyes:
- Temporary dyes: These dyes cover the surface of the hair but don’t penetrate into the hair shaft. They generally last for 1 to 2 washings.
- Semi-permanent dyes: These dyes do penetrate into the hair shaft. They typically last for 5 to 10 washings.
- Permanent (oxidative) hair dyes: These dyes cause lasting chemical changes in the hair shaft. They are the most popular types of hair dyes, because the color changes last until the hair is replaced by new growth. These dyes are sometimes referred to as coal-tar dyes because of some of the ingredients in them. They contain colorless substances such as aromatic amines and phenols. In the presence of hydrogen peroxide, these substances go through chemical reactions to become dyes. Darker hair dyes tend to use more of these coloring agents.
Concern about cancer risk is largely limited to the semi-permanent and permanent dyes. Because darker dyes have more of some chemicals that may cause cancer, these products are of greatest potential concern.
How are people exposed to hair dyes?
The most common way to be exposed is to dye your hair or have it dyed. Some chemicals in hair dyes can be absorbed in small amounts through the skin or inhaled from fumes in the air.
People who work around hair dyes regularly as part of their jobs, such as hairdressers, stylists, and barbers, are likely to be exposed more than people who just dye their hair on occasion. Many of the concerns about hair dyes possibly causing cancer have focused on people who work with them.
Do hair dyes cause cancer?
Researchers have been studying a possible link between hair dye use and cancer for many years. Studies have looked most closely at the risks of blood cancers (leukemias and lymphomas) and bladder cancer. While some studies have suggested possible links, others have not.
What do studies show?
Researchers use 2 main types of studies to try to figure out if a substance causes cancer. (A substance that causes cancer or helps cancer grow is called a carcinogen.)
In studies done in the lab, animals are exposed to a substance (often in very large doses) to see if it causes tumors or other health problems. Researchers may also expose normal cells in a lab dish to the substance to see if it causes the types of changes that are seen in cancer cells. In lab studies, researchers can control many of the other factors that might affect the results. Still, it’s not always clear if the results in lab dishes or animals would be the same in humans, for a number of reasons.
Another type of study looks at cancer rates in different groups of people. Such a study might compare the cancer rate in a group exposed to a substance to the rate in a group not exposed to it, or compare it to what the expected cancer rate would be in the general population. But sometimes it can be hard to know what the results of these studies mean, because many other factors that might affect the results are hard to account for.
In most cases neither type of study provides enough evidence on its own, so researchers usually look at both human and lab-based studies when trying to figure out if something might cause cancer.
Studying something like hair dyes can be even more complex because not all hair dyes are the same – they can contain any of thousands of different chemicals. On top of this, the ingredients in hair dyes have changed over the years. Early hair dyes contained chemicals, including some aromatic amines, which were found in the late 1970s to cause cancer in lab animals, so hair dye manufacturers changed some of the chemicals in their products. Studying exposure to hair dyes from decades ago may not be the same as studying current exposures. In fact, many studies classify personal hair dye use based on whether it took place before or after 1980.
Studies done in the lab
Some of the ingredients used in hair dyes (including certain aromatic amines) have been shown to cause cancer in lab animals, usually when the animals were fed large amounts of the dyes over a long period of time. Although studies have shown that some of the dye applied to an animal’s skin is absorbed into the bloodstream, most have not found a link between skin application and cancer risk.
It’s not clear how these results might relate to people’s use of hair dyes.
Studies in people
Most of the studies looking at whether hair dye products increase the risk of cancer have focused on certain cancers such as bladder cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia, and breast cancer. These studies have looked at 2 groups of people:
- People who use hair dyes regularly
- People who are exposed to them at work
Bladder cancer: Most studies of people exposed to hair dyes at work, such as hairdressers and barbers, have found a small but fairly consistent increased risk of bladder cancer. However, studies looking at people who have their hair dyed have not found a consistent increase in bladder cancer risk.
Leukemias and lymphomas: Studies looking at a possible link between personal hair dye use and the risk of blood-related cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma have had mixed results. For example, some studies have found an increased risk of certain types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (but not others) in women who use hair dyes, especially if they began use before 1980 and/or use darker colors. The same types of results have been found in some studies of leukemia risk. However, other studies have not found an increased risk. If there is an effect of hair dye use on blood-related cancers, it is likely to be small.
Breast cancer: Results of studies looking at a possible link between personal hair dye use and breast cancer have been mixed. Many studies have not found an increase in risk, although some more recent studies have.
Other cancers: For other types of cancer, too few studies have been done to be able to draw any firm conclusions.
Many people use hair dyes, so it is important that more studies are done to get a better idea if these dyes affect cancer risk.
What expert agencies say
Several national and international agencies study substances in the environment to determine if they can cause cancer. The American Cancer Society looks to these organizations to evaluate the risks based on evidence from laboratory, animal, and human research studies.
Some of these expert agencies have classified hair dyes or their ingredients as to whether they can cause cancer.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is part of the World Health Organization (WHO). Its major goal is to identify causes of cancer. IARC has concluded that workplace exposure as a hairdresser or barber is “probably carcinogenic to humans,” based on the data regarding bladder cancer. (The evidence for other types of cancer is considered mixed or inadequate.) But IARC considers personal hair dye use to be “not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans,” based on a lack of evidence from studies in people.
The National Toxicology Program (NTP) is formed from parts of several different US government agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The NTP has not classified exposure to hair dyes as to its potential to cause cancer. However, it has classified some chemicals that are or were used in hair dyes as “reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens.”
(For more information on the classification systems used by these agencies, see Known and Probable Human Carcinogens.)
Are hair dyes regulated?
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the safety of cosmetics, including hair dyes, but there are limits on what the FDA can do. The FDA does not approve each ingredient used in hair dyes before it goes on the market, and in general the responsibility for the safety of products and ingredients falls to the manufacturers.
The FDA can take action if any cosmetics are found to be harmful or in violation of the law (such as being mislabeled). This includes any new ingredients to be used in hair dyes. However, many of the older ingredients in hair dyes (some of which are still in use) were excluded when the FDA was initially given the power to regulate these products back in the 1930s.
If cosmetics (including hair dyes) or their ingredients are found to be unsafe, the FDA can request that the company recall the product, although it can’t require a recall. The FDA can, however, take further steps if needed, such as getting a federal court order to stop sales, requesting that US marshals seize the product, or initiating criminal action.
Should I limit my exposure to hair dye?
It’s not clear how much personal hair dye use might raise cancer risk, if at all. Most studies done so far have not found a strong link, but more studies are needed to help clarify this issue.
Other than recommendations that apply to everyone (not smoking, eating a healthy diet, being physically active, getting routine screening exams, etc.), there is no specific medical advice for current or former hair dye users. Smoking is a known risk factor for bladder cancer and some types of leukemia (as well as many other cancers and other diseases), and quitting smoking can improve your health, regardless of whether or not you use hair dyes.
Some people might want to avoid or limit exposure to hair dyes for other reasons. For example, some of the ingredients in hair dyes can cause serious allergic reactions in some people. Hair dyes can also actually cause hair loss in some people. Some doctors advise women to avoid having their hair dyed during pregnancy (or at least until after the first trimester). Not enough is known about hair dye use during pregnancy to know for sure if this is a problem, but doctors often recommend this just to be safe.
For people who want to dye their hair but are concerned about safety, the FDA has provided some suggestions:
- Follow the directions in the package. Pay attention to all “Caution” and “Warning” statements.
- Be sure to do a patch test for allergic reactions before putting the dye in your hair. Do a patch test before every use. (Some people become more allergic to certain ingredients the more they are exposed. You may not have an allergic reaction the first time you use a product but you may the second or even third time, so it is important to keep checking.)
- Wear gloves when applying hair dye.
- Don’t leave the dye on your head any longer than the directions say you should.
- Rinse your scalp thoroughly with water after use.
- Never mix different hair dye products. This can hurt your hair and scalp.
- Never use hair dye to dye your eyebrows or eyelashes. This can hurt your eyes. You might even go blind. The FDA does not allow using hair dyes on eyelashes and eyebrows.
Some newer hair dye products are vegetable based. These products may have some drawbacks, such as not being able to change hair color drastically or having the color fade sooner than is seen with permanent dyes (unless they contain some of the same ingredients as the permanent dyes). But they may be another option for some people concerned about hair dye safety.
If you’re among the millions of American women (and men) who dye their hair regularly, you may be exposing yourself to dangerous chemicals that damage hair and skin. The truth is, chemical-laden hair dyes can irritate your scalp and cause hair thinning or loss in some people — while the long-term health effects are not yet known.
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A harsh chemical cocktail
Human skin, eyes and hair get their color naturally from melanin, a compound derived from the amino acid tyrosine. In a nutshell, the amount of melanin you have determines your hair, skin and eye color. When talking about natural hair color, for example, blondes have fewer melanin molecules than brunettes.
Hair dyes, on the other hand, use a veritable cocktail of chemicals to alter hair color. They often contain ammonia, lead acetates (Note: The FDA recently repealed approval of this ingredient, but it is pending), hydrogen peroxide and paraphenylenediamine (PPDA) – a common allergen.
“PPDA is common in both cheap and expensive hair dyes and present in nearly all permanent type dyes,” says dermatologist Melissa Piliang, MD. “Many people are allergic to it, so I recommend reading the ingredients on every hair dye product,” she says.
Although researchers have studied the long-term effects – including possible cancer risks – of hair dyes, many of the findings have been inconsistent or inconclusive. Essentially, this means that experts don’t have a clear understanding of the possible hazards of these dyes over time.
Permanent hair dyes use the harshest chemicals to alter hair color, but semi-permanent dyes (often used to cover graying hair) may still contain worrisome chemicals, including PPDA or a similar compound. That’s why it’s important to always read the ingredients on any type of hair color before using it, Dr. Piliang says.
Signs of problems caused by dye
Whenever you color your hair, watch out for signs of problems after use. “Any scalp redness, irritation, itching, scaling, flaking or blisters should raise concern,” Dr. Piliang says. If your symptoms are severe or last more than two days, she recommends making an appointment with a dermatologist or your primary care physician.
Other, less medically significant issues can occur from using hair dyes as well. They often tint the skin of the scalp for a few days, which may cause embarrassment. “Products that bleach or lighten hair color strip away the protective coating of the hair fibers. This makes the hair shaft thinner and weaker, which makes them more susceptible to damage,” Dr. Piliang explains. Using these bleaching and lightening formulations too often can make hair appear limp and lifeless and may even cause hair loss.
When dying your hair using a boxed product, follow these tips for best results:
- Conduct a test patch on the skin to rule out possible allergic reactions before applying the dye to your hair.
- Always wear gloves when applying or mixing hair dye.
- Don’t leave dye on your hair for longer than the instructions suggest.
- Rinse your scalp well with water when you are done dying.
- Never mix different hair color formulations.
- Never attempt to dye eyelashes or eyebrows with hair dye. This can damage your eyes permanently and could even cause blindness.
The safest bet is to closely follow all instructions that come with your boxed hair dye and avoid formulations containing PPDA if you’re allergic.
If you want to avoid exposure to the chemicals contained in most artificial hair dyes, consider trying a natural substitute like a plant-based henna dye or another all-natural hair color product.
Looking to the future, there is potential for new and safer hair dyes. Researchers at North Carolina University have created a database with more than 300 substances in hair dye to research ways to make hair color safer and more sustainable.
Hair Dyes: Types, Side Effects And Safer Alternatives
- Permanent hair dyes has highest concentration of peroxide
- Ammonia free hair dyes are less damaging
- Hair dyes can cause eye irritation and even conjunctivitis
Dyeing your hair can be one of the coolest things to do. If you want to change your style and your look, the first thing the mind goes to, is changing the way your hair is. This change in hair colour can be just for the night, to highlight that blue dress you want to wear for the night, highlighted by your hair streaks that you coloured just for the night and the next day you can go for red or whatever you please and so on and so forth. Or if you don’t like the way your hair is black or blonde, you can go for a permanent brown look. But dyeing hair should be done cautiously as over processing of it can be harmful to the health of your hair and have adverse effects on your body too. Here, we have compiled a complete guide of hair dyes, its types, side effects and natural alternatives that can come into use for you if you are planning to dye your hair.
Photo Credit: iStock
Types of hair dyes:
1. Permanent hair dyes
Permanent hair dyes contain the strongest type of chemicals out of all the types of hair dyes. It has the highest concentration of peroxide and opens the hair shaft to get the color deeper into the hair which can cause severe hair damage. It lasts for about 8 to 10 weeks.
2. Semi-permanent hair dyes
These last for about 6 weeks. They don’t alter the natural hair shade but they can be damaging as they are comparatively temporary and need to be continuously reapplied. But they are a better option than permanent hair dyes as they colour the hair without opening the hair shaft. They deposit the colour on the cuticles of the hair shaft and contain lesser amount of peroxide than permanent hair dyes.
3. Temporary hair dyes
If you want to experiment different hair colours, the best option to go with are the temporary hair dyes. The colour is only on the surface of your hair and fades away with the next washing of your hair.
It is good for lightening your natural hair colour. It removes the hair colour from your hair by the process of oxidation. Too much of bleaching can cause the hair colour to appear yellowish.
Photo Credit: iStock
5. Ammonia free hair dyes
Ammonia free hair dyes are composed of monoethanoloamine . This is less damaging than ammonia but the excessive use of it can still cause hair damage.
Side effects of using hair dyes:
Permanent hair dyes contain ammonia and peroxide. Peroxide strips away the natural color of hair and thus exposing your hair to these chemicals regularly can cause your hair to lose luster, break easily and even lead to eventual hair fall.
2. Allergic reactions
Dyes contain paraphenyldiamine which is an allergen. By this, people who have dermatitis can have a severe reaction. People with eczema and psoriasis should avoid hair dyes. Not only this, but can also cause itching, skin irritation, redness, and swelling.
3. Effect on Pregnancy
Colouring hair can prove to be fatal for the unborn infant of pregnant women as it may cause malignancy.
Hair dyes contain persulfates which can aggravate asthma. Continuous inhalation of the chemicals can cause coughing, lung inflammation and even asthma attacks.
Alternatives to hair dyes:
It adds a reddish, burgundy highlight to hair. It also naturally conditions your hair and makes it softer. With regular use of henna, your hair can acquire its colour permanently.TO apply, make a paste out of henna powder and water and apply this to your hair. Let it settle for a couple of hours and then wash your hair.
2. Lemon and Honey
If you want to lighten the colour of your hair, lemon and honey can do the job. Mix equal parts of lemon and honey and then apply it to your hair. Blow-dry your hair and then wash it. Repeat this couple of times to get visible results.
Coffee can help you make your hair appear darker. Pour the brewed coffee through your hair as a final rinse and let it air-dry. The colour will wash out the next time you wash your hair.
Photo Credit: iStock
4. Beet and Carrot Juice
A beet and carrot juice treatment adds red undertone to your hair. Mix 3 parts of beet juice to 1 part of carrot juice and saturate your hair with the mixture. Let it sit for about an hour and then rinse it out with shampoo.
5. Black Walnuts
It is a great way to darken and enrich your hair and hide the grey hair. Peel the black walnut husks and boil them in water, reduce the heat and then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Let it cool and add it to oil of your choice and apply it to your hair and then rinse in about half an hour.
Basically, hair colouring is chemistry.
The art of hair dyeing is all about the reactions that take place in between the pigments in the hair, the pigments in dye, peroxide, and ammonia. And these reactions can best be described as chemical reactions.
Be that as it may, chemical reaction which is a process that involves the rearrangement of the molecular or ionic structure of a substance is not something we should encourage to alter our looks.
But this doesn’t change the fact that to most people, dyeing of hair is one of the most fun things to do.
To them there is really no difference between changing the colour of their hair colour and changing their clothes.
However, in as much as it cannot be denied that hair tinting gives the face a certain kind of classy, it should also be made known that dyes can often come with harmful side effects.
This is why we’ve decided to put together this article in other to let you know the side effects of hair dyeing.
Read on to see some of the side effects that come with dyeing of hair.
1. Allergic reactions
Hair dyes contain paraphenylenediamine, and paraphenylenediamine is a common allergen (An allergen is a type of antigen that produces an abnormally vigorous immune response, which the immune system fights off a perceived threat that would otherwise be harmless to the body).
So whether you are colouring your hair for the purpose of experimenting or just to enjoy the feeling that comes with dyeing one’s hair, you stand the chance of risking severe allergic reactions.
This is why people who have contact dermatitis are particularly prone to reactions because of the PPD and other chemicals that are present in dyes.
Therefore, it is advisable for those with skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis to refrain from using hair dyes.
However, it is also important to keep in mind that not having had an allergic reaction in the past does not mean you won’t have one in the future.
2. Irritable skin
Dermatologists have been advising people for some time now to abstain from using hair dye at the slightest hint of any skin reaction; because skin reaction is another side effect that periodically comes with hair colouring.
Some common symptoms include burning sensations, redness, and flaky skin, itchiness and discomfort.
It is almost impossible to dye your hair yourself without the dye touching your face. When this happens, chemicals from the dyes can make contact with your eyes, which can lead to conjunctivitis or pink eye.
In other cases, it causes inflammation and severe discomfort.
4. Fertility issues
There is a particular ingredient that is commonly used in permanent hair dyes, it is known as Lead acetate.
Researchers have made it public that there’s a possible link between this chemical and fertility issues in men and women. And that nothing has been done about it does not mean that the researchers are wrong.
However, it is advisable for pregnant women to refrain from using any kind of hair dyes as the chemicals present may cause malignancy in their unborn child.
Although this might sound shocking and somewhat unbelievable, the fact still remains that it is true.
When permanent hair dyes were first introduced, they were found to have carcinogenic compounds (cancer-causing compounds.)
While the formulas were altered to replace these chemicals, the debate as to whether hair dyes can cause cancer is yet to be settled.
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Hair dye reactions
Signs and symptoms of a hair dye reaction
Reactions to PPD can range from mild irritation in the scalp to an allergic reaction that can potentially trigger serious symptoms throughout the body.
If you’re mildly irritated by PPD, you may find that your scalp, neck, forehead, ears or eyelids become irritated and inflamed after using hair dye.
The skin exposed to the PPD may become red, swollen, blistered, dry, thickened and cracked. You may feel a burning or stinging sensation.
Symptoms will usually appear within 48 hours, although strong irritants may cause your skin to react immediately.
Learn more about irritant contact dermatitis.
If you’re allergic to PPD, your scalp and face may feel itchy and start to swell.
PPD may also trigger symptoms throughout your body, such as itching, a nettle rash and generally feeling ill.
These symptoms may not develop until hours, or even days, later.
A severe allergic reaction that develops within minutes is called anaphylaxis, or “anaphylactic shock”. Signs of anaphylaxis include:
- itchy skin or a raised, red skin rash
- swollen eyes, lips, hands and feet – the eyelids can swell so much that the eyes close
- feeling lightheaded or faint
- swelling of the mouth, throat or tongue, which can cause breathing and swallowing difficulties
- tummy pain, nausea and vomiting
- collapsing and becoming unconscious
Links Between Hair Dye Chemicals and Hair Loss
If you colour your hair regularly or frequently use heat styling equipment, it is a good idea to keep your hair in the best possible condition by ensuring it gets the necessary nutrients for healthy hair growth. You can do this through eating a varied diet featuring the various vitamins and minerals that benefit hair health, or by taking nutritional supplements such as our exclusive Hair Vitalics.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.
The last few years have seen a bigger-than-ever push for natural and organic beauty products. Many consumers are under the impression that components found in “organic” or “natural” hair products make them inherently safer. Unfortunately it’s not that simple, according to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
In fact, not only is organic hair dye not necessarily safer than synthetic hair dye, organic hair dye simply doesn’t exist.
“Other than henna, any commercially available hair dye — store-bought for home use or found in salons — uses chemical actives for them to work,” says Birnur Aral, Ph.D., Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute’s Health, Beauty and Environmental Sciences Lab. “By and large, these chemicals are synthesized substances.”
Even when the packaging claims to be all-natural, organic or chemical-free — which is literally impossible because everything, including organic things, are made of chemicals — that could basically be an outright lie. This is because the FDA can’t do anything about the use of these terms regarding cosmetics. The FDA regulates cosmetics via the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, neither of which define the term “organic.”
In other words, if you see hair dye that isn’t henna and it claims to be organic or natural, it’s “most likely still employing synthetic ingredients for it to work,” Dr. Aral says. The good news: Hair dye doesn’t have to be organic or natural in order to be safe, and there are other ways to be both health- and eco-conscious when it comes to coloring your hair. Below are the most important things to know.
Avoid unnecessarily harsh chemicals
As previously mentioned, everything is made of chemicals. Water, for example, is a chemical compound. So get it out of your mind that chemicals aren’t safe just because they’re chemicals.
There are, however, harsh and potentially toxic chemicals in some beauty products, and while there has been growing momentum in the industry to remove or minimize these ingredients, hair dye is one of the worst offenders when it comes to including some pretty shady and unnecessary chemicals.
“There is definitely a movement happening where women are choosing more ingredient-conscious beauty products,” says Chelsea Smith, master colorist for Madison Reed, which makes at-home hair color that’s touted as the first “six-free” formula. This means it doesn’t include what they consider to be six questionable ingredients commonly found in hair-color formulas: ammonia, resorcinol, parabens, phthalates, PPD and gluten.
“These six ingredients are a mix of hair color ‘actives,’ preservatives and contaminates, and we were able to redesign our hair color from the ground up without the need or presence of any of them,” Smith explains. “We’ve been able to remove them from our products in order to minimize the chemical profile of our formulas while maintaining salon-quality gorgeous results.”
Go as natural as possible
If you still prefer natural ingredients regardless of unproven safety benefits, you may want to look to a trusted brand like Aveda, which promises a mostly natural hair-color formula.
“Ninety-six percent of the formula is comprised of ingredients derived from nature, such as the humectants, conditioners, viscosity builders, solvents and antioxidants,” says Justina Mejia-Montane, Vice President, Global Product Development at Aveda. “The formula is chockfull of naturally sourced ingredients, most notably our signature botanical blend of sunflower, castor and jojoba oils that help protect the hair and infuse it with amazing shine.”
Keep in mind that even a brand so committed to natural formulas must rely on some synthetic ingredients in order for the hair color used in its salons to work.
“The remaining 4% of the ingredients are of synthetic content which are the colorants, dyes and preservatives,” Mejia-Montane explains. “It is unavoidable to include synthetic ingredients in professional hair color because all of the colorants and dyes used in permanent and demi-permanent hair color are synthetic. These are the ingredients that create hair color via the oxidation process.”
Here Are Your Safer Hair Dye Options
Aveda Full Spectrum Permanent Pure Tone Hair Color Most Natural amazon.com $22.49 Madison Reed Radiant Hair Color Kit Our Cruelty-Free Pick ulta.com $26.50 Manic Panic Semi-Permanent Haircolor Best for Bright Colors amazon.com $27.61 Clairol Natural Instincts Semi-Permanent Hair Color Our Lab Loves amazon.com $16.29
Choose a cruelty-free brand
Although you may not be able to color your hair with a natural or organic formula, you can make conscious choices when it comes to the treatment of animals and the use of animal-derived ingredients.
Amazon Lime Crime Unicorn Hair Semi-Permanent Hair Dye Lime Crime amazon.com $16.00
Manic Panic, which recently celebrated 40 years of making wild hair colors used in both homes and salons, has been cruelty-free for so long that they’ve actually trademarked the motto, “Tested on celebrities, not animals.” And in addition to being free of ammonia, peroxide and PPD, all of the formulas are vegan, prompting PETA2 to name their formulas Best Cruelty-Free Hair Product in several different years.
Madison Reed is also cruelty-free, boasting certification by Leaping Bunny, which “is an international stamp of approval that recognizes no animal testing is used or commissioned in any phase of product development by our company, its labs or ingredient suppliers,” Smith explains.
Indie cosmetics brand Lime Crime also has the Leaping Bunny seal of approval, and they have a popular collection of fantasy hair colors called Unicorn Hair that can be applied at home.
Pick formulas that come in eco-friendly packaging
Want to make Mother Nature especially happy? Pay attention to the packaging too. “Aveda’s tubes are manufactured with 100% wind power and made from post-consumer recycled content — right down to the cap,” says Mejia-Montane.
And when you order directly from Manic Panic’s website, it will be packed with biodegradable peanuts. Ultimately, the dream of organic hair dye is just that — a dream. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use your head when deciding what kind of hair color to put on top of it.
4 Hair Color Tricks for Dyeing Your Hair at Home
Take the strand test.
If you’re trying a new shade, test it on a few trimmed hairs or hidden pieces first, and look at the result before you commit.
Think like a surgeon.
Pretend you’re in the OR and lay out all of your tools like you’re ready to operate. You won’t have to stop and scramble mid-process, which could lead to accidents.
Invest in a color brush.
Squirting the dye out and spreading it all over your hair may be easy (and fun!), but this method can be messy and imprecise. Mix color in a bowl and paint on with a color brush.
Start from the top.
Since roots need the most color (and processing time), apply dye there first, then comb through the rest of hair to distribute it. Work in four to six sections to ensure full coverage.
Marci Robin Marci Robin is a former senior beauty editor for GoodHousekeeping.com.
Questions about whether chemicals used to color or straighten hair can cause cancer have swirled for years.
The answers have been inconsistent and inconclusive, but a large new study released on Tuesday had some sobering findings: Women who used permanent hair dye or straighteners, or applied straighteners to others, had a higher risk of developing breast cancer than women who didn’t use those products.
The link was particularly evident in black women — their use of permanent dye was associated with 45% higher breast cancer risk, while white women faced a 7% higher risk. Straightener use was associated with 18% higher breast cancer risk.
The results suggest using hair dye and straightener “could play a role in breast carcinogenesis,” the study noted.
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Still, women shouldn’t be overly alarmed by the findings, said lead author Alexandra White, an investigator at the Epidemiology Branch of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
“We know that a lot of different factors influence a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer, and these risks we see here, they are meaningful but they are small,” White told TODAY.
“Women should take that into context with everything else in their life, including their physical activity and diet. These are all factors we have to consider when we’re thinking about our long-term health risks.”
Other experts also urged women to remember that correlation does not mean causation.
“While these results are intriguing, they do not provide good evidence that hair dyes or chemical straighteners are associated with a meaningful increase in risk of breast cancer or that any increased risk association is causal,” said Paul Pharoah, a professor of cancer epidemiology at the University of Cambridge, in a statement.
“Women who have used such products in the past should not be concerned about their risks.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not have “reliable evidence” showing a link between cancer and hair dyes available on the market today. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has concluded personal use of hair dyes is “not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans.”
Many of the associations in the study are not statistically significant, said Linda Loretz, chief toxicologist for the Personal Care Products Council, a trade group that represents the U.S. cosmetics industry.
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“Hair dyes are one of the most thoroughly studied consumer products on the market,” Loretz said in a statement.
“As with all cosmetics and personal care products, companies are required to substantiate the safety of hair dyes and straighteners and individual ingredients before marketing to consumers, and the labeling of those products must be truthful and not misleading.”
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What the study found:
The findings, published in the International Journal of Cancer, are based on data from 46,709 women enrolled in the Sister Study, named for the fact that all had a sister diagnosed with breast cancer but were cancer-free themselves.
The participants had a higher underlying risk of developing breast cancer, but the findings likely still apply to the general population, White noted. “We’re not studying women who all have a breast cancer gene,” added co-author Dale Sandler, chief of the Epidemiology Branch at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
At the start of the study, all women filled out questionnaires about the hair products they used in the past year. More than half of all the women, 55%, reported using permanent dye and 75% of black women said they used chemical straighteners.
As researchers followed the women for an average of eight years, they found 2,794 cases of breast cancer.
Overall, they saw a 9% higher breast cancer risk among women who used permanent dye compared to those who skipped such products. Permanent hair dyes are both sold in drug stores and used in salons.
There was little or no associated risk for semi-permanent or temporary dye use. A semi-permanent dye is the type that fades away rather than grows out.
But in black women, any permanent dye use in the past year was linked with a 45% higher breast cancer risk. It went up to 60% if they colored their hair more frequently — at least every five to eight weeks.
Using dark or light dyes didn’t have a meaningful impact on risk, White said.
Straightener use was associated with 18% higher breast cancer risk, and went up to 31% when women used it at least every five to eight weeks. There was also a higher risk when women applied straighteners to other people, perhaps because they were inhaling fumes from the chemicals, Sandler speculated.
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Why there’s concern:
Hair products contain more than 5,000 chemicals, including those that may damage DNA or interfere with the body’s endocrine system, the study noted. The chemicals can go into the blood stream and circulate through the body, including breast tissue, White said.
Previous research has found products designed for black women may contain higher concentrations of estrogens and more endocrine disrupting chemicals. Some straighteners contain formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. All of it may be a factor in the increased risk in black women, White speculated.
The authors didn’t have information on the exact dyes and straighteners used by women in the study.
What women should know:
It’s challenging to figure out what’s in a hair dye or straightener because those ingredients aren’t always reported on the box. There’s also no specific red flag to look for, Sandler said.
“In terms of a specific chemical, we haven’t actually identified the culprit and the formulas change. It’s extremely difficult to pin it down,” she noted.
Women could try switching to a semi-permanent hair dye, if it works for them: “If you’re able to cover your hair with a product that has a different chemical mix, you might consider that,” Sandler said.
Hair dyes and other cosmetics with “organic” ingredients aren’t necessarily safer, the FDA noted. Other than vegetable dye and henna, hair dyes rely on chemicals to work.
The American Cancer Society has these reminders for using hair color:
- Always wear gloves when applying hair dye.
- Don’t leave the dye on your head any longer than the directions say you should.
- Rinse your scalp thoroughly with water after use.
- Never mix different hair dye products because this can hurt your hair and scalp.
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Conventional hair dye is made with harmful chemicals that are put directly on the scalp each time hair is dyed, either at home or in the salon. Salon workers are even more exposed to these chemicals – potentially to carcinogenic levels of harm – as they may perform multiple hair dying sessions in a day.
When you purchase hair dye at the store, the ingredients are required to be listed on the label. Whether you can make sense of those labels may be another story altogether, as ingredients listed can be complex and hard to decode. However, salon products do not even have to list ingredients, because of loose language in federal legislation. The FDA does not require “For Professional Use Only” products, which include some dyes sold directly to stylists, to list the ingredients on packaging. This means your stylist might not even know themselves what ingredients are in your salon hair color.
The Health Concern
To achieve a permanent color, many hair dyes work using a system of ammonia (or ethanolamines in the case of some ammonia-free products), hydrogen peroxide, and p-phenylenediamine. The ammonia pulls apart layers of the hair’s proteins, so that the dye can access the hair shaft. Next, hydrogen peroxide bleaches the hair and helps p-phenylenediamine, one of the primary coloring agents, to become trapped in the hair.
These common dye chemicals are associated with negative health effects. Ammonia is a respiratory and asthma irritant, a potential endocrine disruptor, and is persistent in the environment, meaning it sticks around. P-phenylenediamine is associated with birth defects, skin irritation, liver and blood toxicity, and allergic reaction. It is restricted for use in the European Union.
P-phenylenediamine is one of many coal-tar colors, which are derived from petroleum. Coal-tar dyes have been associated with a number of health effects like eye injury and allergic reactions. Coal tars themselves have been associated with multiple forms of cancer, and some coal-tar dyes have been found to cause cancer in animals. Despite these problems, unlike most color additives, coal-tar dyes do not need approval from the FDA.
Many dyes can also contain toluene, a well-established neurotoxin, linked to birth defects, pregnancy loss, and allergic reaction. They can also contain resorcinol, a chemical linked to endocrine disruption, meaning it impacts our body’s normal hormonal functioning and signaling. Lead acetate, another common ingredient, is linked to neurotoxicity. Conventional dyes can contain many other harmful chemicals like DMDM hydantoin, methylisothiazolinone, and fragrance.
One study of over 25,000 women found that the use of hair dye was associated with increased breast cancer incidence.
Because of issues in salon product ingredient transparency, it’s often difficult to know what you might be exposed to. Without this information, it is impossible to know how those mystery ingredients might impact health.
How to Avoid It
- Make the swap to a MADE SAFE certified hair color or restoration product:
- Rather than a hair dye, Hairprint restores grey hair to its natural color using the latest green chemistry, a discipline which employs benign nontoxic molecules to achieve better results than synthetic chemicals.
- Radico’s colors are made not only without harsh chemicals, but their organic dyes are tested for heavy metals, made from natural ingredients, and without the use of any synthetic chemicals at all.
- Double check the ingredients of products that are labeled “natural” and “organic.” Some of them still contain ingredients like p-phenylenediamine, ethanolamine, resorcinol, and other ingredients associated with negative health effects.
- Bring your own color to the salon. If you want the precision of a salon dyed ‘do, but want to upgrade your color, ask your stylist if she’ll apply your own color.
- If you’re not ready to make the change to a MADE SAFE product, when applying your conventional dye, make sure to use nitrile gloves and apply in a well-ventilated area.
- Embrace the grey! So many women and men are embracing this au naturel look.
- Reduce your overall exposure to harmful ingredients by choosing MADE SAFE certified personal care products here.
- Make the swap to a MADE SAFE certified hair color or restoration product: