Whether you’re experiencing graying or want to update your hair color with an enticing new color, hair dyes can go a long way to enhance the way you feel about what’s on your head. But while you might be tempted to change the color of your hair, it might not be in the best interest of your health. Many hair dyes are actually quite toxic and can seriously harm the health of your scalp, immune system, and organs. What specific dangers do hair dyes pose? What are common signs of hair dye-induced damage? Let’s take a closer look.
The Negatives of Frequent Hair Dye Use
The chemicals most commonly used in hair dyes contain toxins that can seriously impact your overall health. From causing allergic reactions to being linked to certain cancers, hair dyes are far more dangerous than many think. While shown to be effective at changing your hair color, they might not be worth the risk. Here are some common chemicals found in over-the-counter hair dye treatments:
- Formaldehyde – You might know this chemical from its use as a preservative agent for dead organisms. It’s been shown to be related to cancers of the blood and lymphatic system.
- Para-Phenylenediamine (PPD) and Tetrahydro-6-Nitroquinoxaline – Both have been shown to cause cancer and genetic damage in animals they have been tested on.
- DMDM Hydantoin – This allergenic releaser of formaldehyde is known to be toxic to the immune system.
- Ammonia – A corrosive substance with fumes that can cause serious damage to the eyes, lungs, skin, and internal organs.
- Parabens – A known endocrine disruptor known to cause significant hormone instability.
One of the most dangerous things about hair dyes is the toxic fumes they release while the dye is allowed to sit on your scalp for anywhere from 45 to 60 minutes. Inhaled into the lungs, these vapors are able to easily enter the bloodstream and vital organs, possibly causing irreversible damage.
And while hair loss in women—involving gradual thinning over the scalp—often occurs due to genetic and environmental processes, it can also be influenced by regular color treatments
Signs of Hair Damage Caused by Dyes
Hair dyes are dangerous, but you might still be tempted to use them from time to time. If you’re still using hair dyes on a regular basis, watch out for these warning signs. These are symptoms of hair damage brought on by the toxic nature of hair dyes.
Hair dyes work by depositing color on your hair. How does that work? The dye has to be able to enter the hair shaft, which requires getting beyond the cuticle—the primary part of the hair that protects strands from damage. For the dye to penetrate the cuticle, it has to be “lifted,” which is achieved by applying ammonia to increase hair acidity.
Even though the cuticle will eventually lower following initial lifting, that line of hair’s defense is now forever harmed. While the pigments provided by your hair dye will then be able to effectively bond to the hair, the downside is that your cuticles will be significantly damaged.
Can’t retain moisture
Because your hair cuticles are lifted and damaged, your hair will no longer have the means to properly absorb and maintain moisture like it once did. Beyond broken cuticles, you may then begin to notice that your hair is dry and brittle. This is a significant sign that scalp damage has occured, so hair cannot receive the proper moisture and nutrition it requires.
Peroxide, which is one of the main chemicals that allows the dye to penetrate into your hair, is an extremely drying substance. As it sits on your hair and your cuticle remains lifted, the hair strand and cuticle continue to become weakened and dried out. Although your cuticle will technically lower once you wash your hair of the chemicals, the damage done to your hair will have already settled in its place—your hair will be weakened, stripped of essential moisture.
Forever changed hair color
Permanent hair dye works by changing the color of your hair. While you might think it’s a process of having color supplementing your natural hair color, it’s far more complicated than that. Once the cuticle is lifted, the added chemicals make your natural hair color proteins colorless—which is needed for the new color pigment to effectively bond to the deepest layers of your hair. Once it’s in there, it won’t be able to be washed out. Why is this?
By removing the natural color of your hair and filling it with an artificial pigment, the added hair dye molecules are trapped within your hair fibers. That natural color is now gone, all due to opening and closing the hair shaft and causing significant damage. Semi-permanent hair dyes work by sitting on the surface of your hair, but they are obviously not as effective. If you’re looking for a safer option, consider semi-permanent dyes and they will cause less damage in the short and long term.
Hair thinning and breakage
Does your hair look thinner all of a sudden? This damage might be caused by regular usage of hair dye products. While not considered hair loss, hair thinning caused by color treatments is brought on by regular breakage—the damage to your hair shafts and protein can lead to hair appearing weak, thin, and flat. If you begin noticing this, stop using your hair dye immediately. If you want to restore the quality of your hair, consider utilizing a laser hair growth treatment device. Laser hair growth treatment has been shown to be safe and effective at restoring the health of your scalp, meaning it can help reinvigorate your hair when you need it most.
Rough to the touch
Noticing that your hair isn’t as smooth as it once was? It might be a sign of breakage brought on by protein insufficiency and lack of nutritional vitamins.
Use Natural Alternatives
Your hair health matters. Don’t take your chances with chemically laced hair dyes. Consider using natural alternatives instead.