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The Role of Hair Coloring in Hair Loss

Choosing to rock tresses in shades several tones lighter or darker than your natural hair color is an exciting decision. Hair colors and dyes allow us to express ourselves in creative and fun ways. Coloring one’s hair becomes a medium of personal self-expression, whether you chose to rock tresses in a classic blonde, a deep auburn, or an unconventional mix of bright rainbow colors.

However, with hair coloring comes another perceived problem – excessive hair fall and thinning hair. Is it really true that frequently using hair dyes can lead to brittle hair that easily falls off?

This post will shed some light on the truth behind hair fall and excessive hair coloring. We’ll also give some tips on how to rock healthier and stronger dyed hair.

How Does Hair Coloring Work?

Let’s begin with an explanation of how hair dyes work to change your natural hair color permanently.

Hair is mainly composed of keratin, a protein that can also be seen in fingernails and skin. But your natural hair color is largely determined by two other proteins, namely:

  • Phaeomelanin – The predominant protein in hair with shades of red, ginger, and golden blond
  • Eumelanin - The protein mostly found in dark brown and black hair

White and grayish hair tones are the result of the absence of any of these two melanin proteins.

The proteins are typically found inside the cuticle, the hair shaft’s outer layer.

Most hair pigments we use to color our hair are permanent dyes. These products provide long-lasting color that takes several years before being completely faded.

When permanent dyes are applied onto hair, they penetrate the hair cuticles and open them up. The dye now goes straight into the cortex, the hair’s innermost portion. Pigments found in the dye now react to the naturally-occurring melanin in a two-step process to replace your existing hair color:

1. Removal of Natural Hair Color

Permanent hair dyes contain ammonia, a chemical that opens up the hair cuticle and allows the chemicals and new color pigments to enter the hair cortex.

Another chemical called hydrogen peroxide now enters the hair cortex after it has been opened up by ammonia. Peroxide is the dye’s oxidizing agent which is responsible for the removal of your natural hair color. It reacts with the melanin in the hair and releases sulfur as it breaks the hair’s chemical bonds, resulting in the removal of the hair’s pre-existing color.

2. Depositing New Hair Color Pigments

As hair is decolorized by peroxide, pigments found in the hair dye simultaneously release their colors into the broken chemical bonds of the hair. This alters melanin levels and finally results in a fresh new color.

Permanent hair dyes may also contain other ingredients such as alcohols and conditioners. They work their way through the hair cuticles, coating the hair and scalp with a layer to close the opened cuticles, seal the new color in, and protect the freshly-colored hair from brittleness and further damage.

Where the Hair Fall Comes In

Permanent dyes are usually the culprits blamed for excessive hair fall and thinning. But it’s not the dyes itself that inhibit the growth of new hair. It’s the chemical process that the hair has gone through while the actual color change took place.

Changing your natural hair’s color using permanent dyes take a huge toll on hair’s health. It may look pretty and fresh on the outside, but all those chemical changes that occur during the coloring process can make your hair damaged and unhealthy.

Frequent hair dyeing can eventually make hair brittle, fragile, and damaged. This eventually leads to hair fall in the long run.

Hair fall and other damaging after-effects of excessive hair coloring are even amplified if you switch from a very dark to a very light color and vice-versa. This is because you would need a lot of ammonia and peroxide to alter your natural melanin proteins in order to achieve hair tones several shades away from your natural color.

Aside from weakening your strands and making your hair more fragile, here are other ways in which hair coloring can accelerate your hair shedding and thinning:
  • Ammonia and hydrogen peroxide both loosen hairs in the resting telogen stage of the hair growth cycle. This leads to premature shedding and hair loss.
  • Friction from the physical manipulation of hair during the coloring session can loosen hair as well and increase the rate of its shedding. Coloring requires extensive combing and rubbing which can pull out a good number of hair strands, especially if your hair is weakened in the first place.
Preventing Hair Fall While Maintaining Colored Hair

It is indeed possible for you to get fresh-looking colored tresses while minimizing hair fall simultaneously. How? Follow these tips:
  • Switch to sulfate-free hair products.   

Most shampoos and conditioners contain sodium laureth sulfate, a detergent ingredient that adds a nice foaming effect to your hair products. But sulfates can also strip hair of its natural oils, leaving it dry and brittle.

Swap your sulfate-containing products for sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners. Lots of organic shampoo brands contain natural ingredients that can mimic the foaming effect sulfates are known for. Even some commercial brands are now releasing sulfate-free versions of their products that are gentler to the scalp and hair.

  • Use cold water to rinse hair.

Hot water showers may feel nice, but try to lower down the water temperature when you’re rinsing your hair. Hot or warm water opens up hair cuticles and exposes your hair to brittleness, so any friction applied to your hair this time can make it easily snap out of your scalp.

Using colder water to rinse helps close the hair cuticles, sealing in the moisturizing and strengthening properties of your conditioner and makes your hair less prone to damage. An added bonus: Cold-water rinsing prevents the fresh hair dyes in your hair from washing off down the drain.

  • Leave the dye in hair for no longer than the recommended amount of time.

Some ladies who DIY their hair color treatments at home leave on the dyes for a longer period of time. They do so hoping that the color will penetrate even more deeply and that will give them a brighter and more long-lasting permanent color. But this increases the damage your tresses are subjected to in the cruel coloring process.

Lessen damage to your hair by leaving the dye only for the recommended amount of time. Follow manufacturer’s instructions and never go beyond the time. You might get a bit lighter color pay-off, but the extra damage to your hair caused by longer dyeing times is truly not worth any brighter color.

  • Condition, condition, condition. 

Hydrate your mane by using conditioner every day. Colored hair is prone to damage because natural oils and moisture are lost in the chemical coloring process. Treating your colored tresses to conditioners daily will help bring back most of the oils and keep your hair healthier in the long run.

  • Consider semi-permanent color.

If you’re coloring tresses for touch-ups or to cover up grays, consider using semi-permanent color. These dyes have no ammonia, so the hair cuticles aren’t opened up and the hair experiences less damage. Semi-permanent dyes still contain hydrogen peroxide but in smaller amounts (typically lesser than 20%) that is generally less damaging to the hair as well.

Summing Everything Up

Hair dyes itself are not inhibiting the growth of hair, nor are they causing the hair fall per se. It’s the damage that occurs to your tresses during the chemical changes that occur in the hair coloring procedure.

Chemicals in permanent hair dyes may contribute to hair damage, especially if you frequently color your hair. Excessive hair coloring may leave hair dry, brittle, weak, and prone to lots of hair fall.

You can still sport colored tresses and lessen the chances of hair fall at the same time. Minimize hair shedding and thinning by:
  • Choosing semi-permanent dyes
  • Following the recommended hair dyeing time
  • Using sulfate-free hair products
  • Daily hair conditioning
  • Rinsing hair in cooler water
Got more tips to stop hair fall associated with too much hair coloring? Share them in the comments section below!

Sport those gorgeously healthy and colored tresses and say goodbye to hair fall today!


  1. Interesting post, searched the Internet for hair damage caused by hair colors and saw this article. I'm 66 years old and have thin gray hair. I go for color treatments yearly to avoid damage and extra thinning. Im actuallt gettig my hair color tomorrow.Maybe i will try using conditoner everyday just like what my daughter keeps on telling me to do.thanks for this!

  2. I value your work, and this piece is important to us. You have provided some fantastic stuff here. I'm grateful that you shared this article.Oway Colorup Color Protection Hair Bath


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