Can Hair Dye Cause Hair Loss?

The answer may not be what you expect.

<p>Dmitry Ageev/Getty Images</p>

Dmitry Ageev/Getty Images

Seeing a clump of hair swirling around the perimeter of your shower drain—or realizing a bit more hair than usual is making its way into your hairbrush—can be cause for concern. You may find yourself scouring the web for common causes of hair loss, and you may even wonder if there’s a correlation between the loss and dyeing your hair (especially when bleach is involved). To get to the root of this issue, we reached out to experts to see if it’s possible for overzealous hair dyeing to cause hair loss.

RELATED: What Is the Difference Between Hair Loss, Hair Thinning, and Hair Breakage?

<p>Dmitry Ageev/Getty Images</p>

Dmitry Ageev/Getty Images

Does Dyeing Hair Too Often Cause Hair Loss?

Good news: Generally speaking, hair dye does not cause hair loss, nor does it affect your body’s ability to grow hair, notes Rebecca Marcus, MD, a board-certified dermatologist. This is because hair dye targets individual hair strands and either deposits color on the exterior of the hair shaft—as is the case with semi and demi permanent hair color—or it penetrates the hair cuticle when using permanent hair color or bleach.

Hair dye does not penetrate the scalp and therefore doesn’t reach the hair follicle, which is ultimately responsible for growth. Dr. Marcus says that the exception to this would be if you’re experiencing a major allergic reaction to the hair dye.

In that case, she says you may experience “significant inflammation in the scalp, and if the inflammatory reaction were to reach the level of the follicle, this could potentially cause hair to fall out.” You’d likely notice the inflammation and experience ongoing scalp sensitivity, redness, flaking, pain, stinging, itching, and general irritation. If you suspect that’s the case, it’s time for a medical intervention so reach out to your doctor.

Another factor to consider is where you’re at in your hair cycle. Dr. Marcus notes that if your hair is in the resting phase (telogen)—which results in normal shedding within two to three months—then dyeing your hair may expedite hair shedding. “About five to 10 percent of hair on the head is in telogen at any given time and therefore vulnerable to this type of loss.”

The Link Between Hair Dye and Hair Breakage

However, if you’ve noticed a correlation between dyeing your hair and more hair strands ending up in your hairbrush, shower, or fingers, the reality is that you’re most likely dealing with hair breakage.

“The chemicals in hair dye damage the protein within the hair shaft, which can lead to the hair being weakened and breaking off,” explains John Kahen, MD, a hair surgeon and founder of Beverly Hills Hair Restoration. “Breakage usually happens around the ends of the hair that has been dyed [or processed] many times in the past or has had heat tools used on it for years.”

While breakage typically occurs on the lower part of your hair strands (the oldest and most impaired part of your hair), serious damage from hair dye can result in breaking off in the middle of the shaft or even around the very top.

Dr. Kahen says, “Try to minimize hair coloring to no more than once every six weeks, and don’t use too much heat styling to further damage the hair shaft.”

How to Minimize Hair Breakage from Hair Dye

You can certainly have your hair dye and healthy strands, too. Along with spacing out your hair dye appointments, do the following:

  • Do a Patch Test: It’s a bit of a drag, we know, but completing a patch test might save you a lot of heartache in the long run.

  • Use Deep Conditioning Treatments: “After using hair dye, especially if it has bleach, it’s a good idea to nourish your hair. Try to use hair masks with hydrating ingredients,” says Dr. Kahen

  • Air-Dry Often: Air-dry your hair as often as you can to minimize heat styling. If you must blowout, try air drying your hair 60% to 80% of the way first.

  • Use Color-Depositing Conditioners: If you’re someone who loves to change up your color, consider a color-depositing conditioner instead. These deposit rich pigment onto your hair exterior and nourish at the same time.

  • Use Products for Color-Treated Hair: Not only will these products help your color last longer, but they can help nourish and strengthen hair that’s been affected by dye.

If you’re experiencing ongoing hair loss at the scalp, reach out to a medical professional. They’ll be able to help you pinpoint the cause and get your hair growth back on track.

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