Many people use hair dye, whether it is to cover up grey hair or to change up a look. Investigations have showed that more women use hair dye than men and on a much more frequent basis. Unfortunately, many women do not know that hair dye can cause unexpected damage.

According to experts, because hair dyes use chemicals to set colour into the hair, damage can occur to the hair and its follicles. The chemical used, including ammonia and peroxide, are abrasive and damaging, and hair can be sensitive. The combination of these two factors can cause unexpected damage to over processed hair.

If you are among the 50% of women who colour their hair, or a man who covers his gray, you might want to do more investigation into your favourite hair coloring.

Experts have also identified negative effects of hair dyes to scalp irritation, hair breakage, hair loss, and allergic reactions (including itching, swelling of the face, and difficulty breathing.)

However, studies have shown a proof that hair dye chemicals do cause cancer in laboratory animals at high doses, it is still debated whether the low doses from hair dyes are sufficient to cause cancer in humans. There has also been trials to determine whether long-term hair dye use causes cancer. Most of these studies focused on a possible increased risk of bladder cancer. Some found that women who had consistently used hair dye long term had higher levels, and other studies did not.

But new studies have linked hair dye use to development of a specific type of cancer and the strongest evidence that hair dyes can cause cancer in humans comes from studies of cancer rates in hairstylists. One study found that if a hairstylist had used hair dyes at work for five years or more, she had a three times higher risk of developing breast cancer. Other studies have consistently found that hair colourists have an increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma and leukemia.

Again, experts say when hair has been dyed many times, it becomes ‘over-processed, which leads to brittle, dry hair that lack shine. Since hair only grows slowly longer hair can end up receiving multiple dye treatments. If other chemicals such as hair relaxers are used, the damage can be even worse, and over-processed hair easily breaks and splits.

To reduce your chances of getting a reaction from hair dye, it is recommended that the consumers follow all directions and do not leave hair dye in longer than advised. Hair dyes should be less frequently, and try to substitute a semi-permanent colour for alternate treatments. Semi-permanent dyes contain fewer chemicals, although not worry-free.


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