Can Hair Dye Cause Hair Loss? What You Need to Know

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Can hair dye cause you to lose your hair? The answer is, it depends. Let’s look at whether hair dye is bad for you and if the ingredients in hair dye cause breakage, hair loss, or alopecia.

Can Hair Dye Cause Hair Loss? What You Need to Know

Hair dye contains chemicals that can cause severe hair damage, leading to hair loss. Chemicals like ammonia and peroxide weaken the hair by damaging the cuticle and hair proteins. This increases hair porosity and causes breakage and shedding. Hair dye can also cause allergic reactions resulting in hair loss.

Is Hair Dye Bad For You?

There are different types of hair dye. Temporary and semi-permanent hair dyes are gentler and easy to wash off with shampoo. 

On the other hand, permanent hair dyes don’t come off easily and cause more hair damage. That’s because permanent hair dyes require chemical reactions to impart color. 

When applying permanent hair dye, you need a developer that contains hydrogen peroxide, a bleach that weakens hair. 

The dye also contains ammonia and other strong chemicals that cause swelling of the hair cuticle. This facilitates penetration of the dye molecules into the inner layer of the hair. 

In other words, permanent hair dye has to first damage your hair before infusing color.

This explains why colored hair is prone to dryness and breakage. If the cuticle sustains oxidative damage, it can no longer lock in moisture, weakening hair fibers. 

The negative effects of hair dye are worsened with repeated exposure to hair dye or if you increase the time of dye application. 

Also, darker colors damage hair more because they require a higher concentration of chemicals to achieve the desired effect.

The worst thing about using hair dye is its link to cancer

To avoid the damaging effects of most commercial hair dyes, you should use ammonia-free hair dyes with natural ingredients. You can also use lemon juice, vitamin C, and baking soda to lighten your hair naturally.

Related: Will Dyeing My Hair Black Stop It from Growing?

Bad Ingredients In Hair Dye 

Bad Ingredients In Hair Dye

Hair dye contains the following chemicals that may damage hair or cause other bad reactions:

Ammonia

Ammonia raises the hair cuticle. It has a high pH that upsets the hair’s pH balance, causing the cuticle to swell and lift. 

This allows color to deposit inside hair fibers. However, the process damages the cuticle and weakens the hair’s structural integrity. 

As a result, hair dye can leave your hair dry, brittle, and prone to breakage.

Hydrogen peroxide

Peroxide is an oxidative agent that breaks apart the melanin inside the hair shaft. This lightens the hair color so that the new color that deposits is more visible. 

Peroxide also damages the hair cuticle, leading to breakage, split ends, and frizz. The good news is you can minimize the damage with regular deep conditioner treatments to repair the hair cuticle.

PPD

Hair dye contains para-phenylenediamine, which is associated with cancer. 

PPD also causes allergic contact dermatitis resulting in symptoms, such as redness or a burning or stinging sensation. 

PPD has been linked to severe hair loss of the scalp in extreme cases.

This substance is commonly used in permanent dyes and is more often found in darker hair dyes as it helps to provide long-lasting results.

Resorcinol

This chemical can be found in hair dye formulations as well as in some medications used to treat acne.

It’s commonly used in hair dye as it works with the peroxide to absorb the dye into your hair.

It is safe to use as only a small amount is included in the formula. However, high doses of this chemical are known to be toxic.

Other chemicals

Hair dyes may contain harmful chemicals like parabens, lead acetate, and resorcinol. 

These chemicals are associated with various issues, including allergies, skin irritation, dermatitis, and cuticle damage.

Can Hair Dye Cause Your Hair To Fall Out?

It’s normal for hair to fall out as new hair grows. 

The hair growth cycle begins with the anagen phase, during which hair actively grows. Then comes the catagen phase, a transitional phase where growth slows. 

Finally, there’s the telogen phase, where hair follicles are not active, after which old hair is shed, and the hair cycle begins.

When you dye your hair, the process can loosen hair that’s getting ready to be shed. So, if you notice some of your hair falling out, there’s generally nothing to worry about. But, remember, hair dye chemicals like ammonia and peroxide also weaken your hair, causing portions of your strands to break off.

Some people have hair that sheds faster, so more of their hair might fall off after the coloring procedure. 

More hair will likely fall off if the process involves a lot of mechanical manipulation, such as rubbing and combing. 

In extreme cases, hair dye can cause severe loss after adverse coloring reactions caused by para-phenylenediamine or PPD, a common allergen in commercial hair dyes.

Can Hair Dye Cause Permanent Hair Loss?

Can Hair Dye Cause Permanent Hair Loss

Permanent hair loss is a result of severe damage to hair follicles. 

Therefore, it’s unlikely that hair dye causes permanent hair loss as it doesn’t penetrate the scalp to reach the follicles. However, hair dye does lead to hair breakage. Remember, there’s a difference between hair loss and hair breakage. 

Hair loss happens when hair sheds off from its root, while with breakage, the hair breaks off anywhere along the length of the hair shaft.

It’s possible to experience hair loss due to contact dermatitis or sensitization if you use hair dye that contains PPD. 

There’s one report of a 41-year old female who experienced up to 90% hair loss after repeatedly using such a dye over a long period of time. 

However, this severe reaction did not result in permanent hair loss. The condition gradually improved after treatment with systemic corticosteroids.

So it’s safe to say that coloring your hair will not lead to permanent hair loss.

However, it’s still possible for hair dye to result in lasting hair loss in cases where bleach causes chemical burns that damage your scalp and follicles.

Can Hair Dye Cause Hair Breakage?

Can Hair Dye Cause Hair Breakage

Yes, hair dye causes breakage if you use a product that contains ammonia and peroxide. Ammonia damages the cuticle so that hydrogen peroxide can penetrate the hair’s inner layer and lighten hair from its natural color.

The bleaching process also damages the protein within, weakening the hair and increasing hair breakage.

Leaving the hair dye on for too long, repeated dye applications, and changing to a light color from a very dark color will cause more weakening and breakage. 

There’s also more breakage when you comb, brush, or rub the hair excessively during the coloring process.

When your hair is severely damaged after applying hair dye, hair fibers can break off at the point where they exit from the scalp. 

But if the hair doesn’t come off with a bulb at the end, then it’s breakage, not hair loss. The good news is your hair will still grow.

You can reduce hair breakage from hair dye by following the manufacturer’s instructions when coloring your hair.

You should also regularly apply deep conditioning and moisturizing treatments to help restore hair health.

Can Hair Dye Cause Alopecia?

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition that begins with the development of circular bald patches.

The hair continues to come off in clumps, resulting in hair loss that can be permanent or temporary. 

Hair dye does not cause alopecia. Causes of alopecia include genetic issues, hormonal changes, aging, or medical conditions. However, hair dye can cause alopecia-like symptoms. For instance, some hair dyes contain PPD, an allergen that causes hair loss. 

Alopecia is associated with symptoms such as small bald patches that may grow in size and form one large bald spot. 

In addition, hair may regrow only to fall out in other spots. Overall, alopecia can result in severe hair loss over a short period of time, especially in cold weather. 

If you don’t notice any of these symptoms, it’s unlikely that your hair loss is due to alopecia.

In any case, you should consult with a doctor to get a correct diagnosis and a recommendation for the proper hair-loss treatment.

What If I Have an Allergic Reaction – Will My Hair Fall Out?

Many hair dyes contain ingredients that can irritate your skin or cause an allergic reaction but there is no reason to worry too much about hair dye causing hair loss.

It is possible that you may experience a reaction after the application of hair dye.

A notable sign that you are experiencing a side-effect from the hair dye is excessive itching. This side-effect may also include the appearance of red blotches or a rash.

People who suffer from conditions such as psoriasis and eczema should not opt for hair dyes.

Contact with hair dye may lead to itching, redness, swelling, and even further skin irritations.

The most common cause of an allergic reaction is due to the ingredient paraphenylenediamine, referred to as PPD.

Common symptoms may include your scalp, neck, forehead, ears or even eyelids becoming irritated and inflamed after the application of the hair dye.

Safety Precautions When Dying Your Hair

It’s important to always follow the package directions carefully and immediately stop any product use if you start to experience any side effects or symptoms.

We recommend applying a small patch test to your skin to help minimize the risks of having an adverse reaction to the dye application.

This is a quick and simple process that just involves dabbing a small amount of the dye behind your ear or on your forearm and monitoring your body’s reaction to it.

If you feel that your skin has become irritated or burns, do not use the product any further.

Other safety precautions include:

  • Only leave hair dye on for the recommended time. This will be displayed on the hair dye packaging
  • Always wear gloves during the application process to protect your hands from being in contact with the color as well as protecting your skin from being in contact with the chemicals
  • Never color your hair if your scalp feels itchy or is sunburned
  • Never apply hair dye to your eyelashes or eyebrows. This can be very harmful to your eyes and could affect your eyesight

Other Causes of Hair Loss

Does hair dye cause hair loss or are there other factors at play? It’s important to determine the cause of your hair loss in order to combat the cause long-term:

  • Certain beauty treatments could cause inflammation of the hair follicles leading to hair loss
  • Stress – this factor may lead to thinning hair
  • Medical treatments – chemotherapy or radiation therapy are known culprits
  • Lacking iron and folic acid in your diet may lead to thinning hair
  • Natural aging – people may experience hair loss as a result of getting older
  • Hormonal changes in your body may affect your hair health
  • Scalp infections
  • Skin conditions such as psoriasis or even folliculitis
  • Rapid or significant weight loss may lead to hair loss
  • Pattern baldness due to genetic factors can play a role
  • Mold may also cause hair loss, so check your house and make sure you ventilate properly.

Also check out these articles on hair loss:

Disclaimer: This site is not intended to provide professional or medical advice. All of the content on LovedByCurls.com is for informational purposes only. All advice should be followed at your own discretion. Ingredients may change at any time so always check the product label before using. Check our full disclaimer policy here.

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Dee

Dee is the founder of Loved By Curls and in-house Curly Girl expert. She loves natural haircare and has tried and tested her share of CGM products. She's always happy to recommend you her favorites.