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Does Dyeing Or Coloring Your Hair Damage It Permanently


Dyeing hair is a universal practice and while those experiencing premature greying have no choice, there is also a significant number of those who want to colour their hair to up their style quotient. The hair colour of course takes off the years from your age and makes you look some years younger. Despite the undeniable popularity of hair colours, the fact remains that their repeated and continued use could lead to harmful long-term effects and on occasion, irreversible dyeing hair damage to hair. 

Hair colour does not need to be done by professionals and can also be attempted at home. This is why it is important that you know all about the dos and don’ts of the colouring process. The hair is essentially made of the shaft and root. When you colour hair, you paint the shaft, not the root. The shaft is made up of 3, layers the cuticle, cortex and medulla. While the medulla is hollow, the cuticle is full of well-packed cells and the cortex contains natural color pigments that are responsible for determining the color of your hair. The use of coloring agents takes away the natural color from the shaft, it could also add a new color or might do both. So, is dyeing your hair bad?

Yes, hair damage from the dye is a serious problem if not attended too early. 

Sometimes the use of chemical-filled dyes can cause serious damage to your hair. It could interfere with the proper functioning of the hair follicle thus negatively affecting the quality of hair. This leads to dryness and excessive fall of hair. Sometimes it could completely stop hair growth. This might necessitate surgery or expensive medical treatment to recover from the side effects. So, is hair dye bad for your hair? Let’s find out

The Types Of Dyes

Hair dyes are made of chemicals like ammonia and peroxides and are basically of 3 types: temporary, semi-permanent and permanent. They could also have other harmful elements like mercury, lead and paraphenylenediamine (PPD) which are harmful to hair. 

Temporary dyes: For the hair to be permanently colored the dye needs to penetrate the cuticle and deposit the color in the cuticle or remove the color from the cortex. The large molecules present in temporary colors ensure that the dyes do not enter the cuticles. Therefore, only the shaft of your hair is colored and this leads to the temporary coloring of hair. 

Most people tend to bleach their hair as they try to get a golden tinge which happens through the oxidization of the hair follicles. This not only robs the hair of all its moisture but also alters the healthy natural state of the hair. You might also have to face hair breakage and split ends which could cause hair loss

Semi-permanent hair dyes: These contain chemicals that cause swelling of the hair shaft. This helps the dye penetrate the cuticle and enter the cortex to colour it. The absence of bleach in these semi-permanent hair dyes adds to their popularity. These dyes are also good because they do not change the natural colour of hair but only add an extra layer that fades over the course of the next couple of weeks.

Permanent hair dyes: Permanent dyes on the other hand change the natural colour of hair by inserting permanent colours deeply into your strands. Known as oxidative dyes they are made up of amines which lead to the swelling of the cuticle. The dyes are oxidative and penetrate the cortex to remove the colour of your hair and make it lighter. These dyes cause the hair colour to last till your hair does. 

Ammonia was a constant ingredient in hair dyes until recently, but now ammonia-free dyes are also available. These kinds of dyes produce extremely negative effects on hair and therefore one has to exercise a lot of caution while using these products. The proper thing to do is to get in touch with a dermatologist before using these products. But in any case, it is an established fact that dyeing your hair frequently leads to hair loss.

Hair Dye Side Effects

Regular hair dyeing alters the hair’s protein structure and leads to a number of side effects. If your hair is brittle and weak, dyeing could only aggravate the situation. Protein makes up about 95% of the content of dry hair. The permanent bleach forces the protective protein layer to lift as the chemicals enter the hair strands. Hair dye or bleach changes the chemical makeup of your strands. It also leads to

  • Loss of hair strength 
  • lessens the capacity of hair to handle heat styling.
  • reduces the thickness of hair.
  • increases the roughness of hair follicles.

At times, one can also experience rashes and skin diseases as the chemicals penetrate the skin and lead to infections. The colours could lead to itching, irritation or flaking of skin and excessive redness. A more serious problem is the enlarged pores that are created when the chemicals seep in through them. The stronger chemicals could keep the pores open for a long time leading to loss of strength of hair. 

The hair also tends to lose its lustre and once this happens it becomes very difficult to recover its original tone with the help of chemical treatments. 

Apart from that, the fumes from the chemically-heavy dyes may also lead to respiratory problems. People who suffer from respiratory ailments may face more complications like coughing, wheezing, tightening of the chest and breathing issues. 

How Can You Repair Hair Damage?

Hair dyes lead to dehydration as they reduce the moisture levels of your hair. Hair masks and conditioners are the sorts of hydrating products that will help retain hair moisture and curtail damage to hair. Give your hair a spa treatment on a regular basis to keep it robust and beautiful. You have to try and maintain a proper hair care regime for a month or two to repair damaged hair. 

How To Apply Hair Color

Always make sure that your hair is clean and does not have any build-up before you apply any hair color. Make it a point to wash your hair a day or 2 before you decide to use color on your hair. Also, you should have a good look at the condition of your hair to ensure that dyes don’t do any harm.

Do not use the color on the scalp as it exposes your scalp to more skin damage through internal chemical exposure. In any case, you have to rinse your scalp well after dyeing.  

Make it a point to use hair conditioners as it adds moisture and smoothing agents to leave your hair silky and soft.

If you follow a proper hair care regime before and after you have dyed your hair you can ensure that hair damage will be minimal and your hair will improve instead of deteriorating. 

There are a number of products that help extend the life of your dyed hair as they help preserve moisture and do not strip it of essential oils. Shampoos, serums, hairsprays and conditioners are all available to cater to the requirements of different hair dyes. 

It also makes sense to use heat protectants before you use heat styling tools if you have used hair color on your hair. 

There are however those who should not attempt to use hair colors under any circumstances. Those people who suffer from hair conditions such as psoriasis and eczema should stay away from hair dyes. Permanent dyes can also lead to skin irritation, swelling and redness of the scalp and other areas of the neck or face. 

Natural Hair Colors That Do Not Damage Hair

The chemicals present in hair dyes can damage hair irreparably. However, there are other healthier options for coloring hair with the help of natural and herbal colors. Let’s take a look at some of them:

Henna leaves: These are a great option to color hair and come from an evergreen shrub that is found essentially in Southeast Asia and Africa. The best part about henna leaves is that they have no side effects. If you want to achieve blond highlights squeeze the juice of half a lemon over individual strands. This helps take away the natural pigment of hair and gives your hair golden tones. 

Vegetable juices: Carrot juice and beetroot can also be used to color hair naturally. You can use olive or coconut oil to ameliorate the effects.  

Flowers: Flowers such as calendula and marigold have great hair coloring properties. They are very easy to use as all you need to do is soak the flowers in water for half an hour and then filter the water. You can then spray the water over your hair and allow it to dry naturally. A further benefit of this procedure is that the essential oils present in the flowers will provide additional nutrients to your scalp. 

Herbs: Certain herbs such as nettle, sage and rosemary are also very effective in coloring hair. Soak the herbs in water for half an hour and filter the water. After you spray the water on your hair you can let your strands dry in the sun.  You could add coffee or tea leaves to darken the color. Coffee and tea can also be used independently to color hair. You can boil tea leaves and coffee granules in water. The colored water if used repeatedly can work wonders on your hair.  


There are plenty of organic hair colour products in the market but the use of safe natural hair colours is always recommended. Not only do natural hair colours give a very natural tinge to your hair they also keep your strands moisturised. On the other hand, an improper hair colour could also lead to severe hair loss. While the level of hair loss varies, it could assume serious proportions in a short time. It is therefore wise to check for all the possible reasons for your hair crisis. For more solutions and remedies for all hair issues take Traya’s online hair test for a correct diagnosis and get an effective plan to start your journey towards healthier hair soon. 


Q1 - How Damaging Is Dyeing Your Hair?

Ans - Continuous use of hair dyes can damage your hair seriously. This would mean reduced hair thickness and strength which would severely impact your ability to style your hair well. 

Q2 - Why Shouldn't You Dye Your Hair?

Ans - Dyeing your hair weakens your hair shaft and leads to more hair loss. Further, if the color of your tresses is lighter it could lead to brittle hair. 

Q3 - What Hair Color Is Most Damaging?

Ans - The hair dyes that are used to bleach hair and make dark hair lighter are the most harmful. Experts recommend that all hair should not be made lighter at the same time. Going gradually from dark to white is always recommended.

Q4 - What Hair Colour Is Least Damaging?

Ans - Semi-permanent hair dyes have a ‘deposit only’ function and therefore this effectively means that they will not be able to change the colour of the hair shaft as it doesn’t contain any peroxide or ammonia. 

Q5 - What Is The Healthiest Way To color Your Hair?

Ans - It is most advisable to use colours that are not permanent and do not penetrate the hair shaft. But at the same time, the radical colour change will not happen as these dyes do not contain ammonia or any strong bleaches.


Zahra Lokhandwala

Hair Coach

Zahra is the hair coach-in-chief at Traya. She works closely with the doctors to monitor all cases. She is a fitness freak and has not touched sugar in years!

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