What Really Happens To Your Hair When You Dye It

So you want to dye your hair, but you’re afraid of damaging it? Trust us — we’ve all been there before.

To put it bluntly, yes, dying your hair causes damage, per Elite Daily. Think about it – hair dye has some strong chemicals which can alter the texture of your hair (or changing the hair chemistry), the outlet added. However, all is not lost if you dye your hair. “Once you lighten the hair, the texture is changed forever. However, how drastic that change is will depend on how well your stylist knows how to care for colored hair,” Kellon Deryck, a celebrity hairstylist with Cardi B and Blac Chyna for clients, said.

The first hair change you’ll notice when dying your hair is its elasticity (via Elite Daily). See, dying your hair isn’t a one-and-done process. The ammonia in the dye has to go through multiple barriers, so it sets in your hair (via Bustle). The first barrier is the cuticle, which “[protects] the integral structure of the hair fiber, much like the shingles on the roof of a house protect inside the home. The pigments responsible for natural hair color are below the cuticle, so to get to those natural pigments and deposit new color, the cuticle needs to swell to allow hair color to get in,” Valerie George, a hair color chemist, said to the outlet.

If you dye your hair incorrectly, you risk damaging your hair barriers (including the cuticle). Hence, the loss of elasticity.

Exposing your hair cuticle to dye can lead to some serious damage

So we know that we may have freaked you out a smidge when it comes to dying your hair, and the next info isn’t exactly going to help. Once your hair cuticle has been penetrated by the dye, peroxide (also known as hair bleach) will make way for a new color. There are different types of bleach concentrators — 10, 20, 40, etc. — depending on how much it takes for your hair cuticle to open up (so your hair color can be accessed and changed), per Bustle. Bleach can be the leading cause of color damage, the outlet added. “Hydrogen peroxide can also be damaging hair because it’s not a smart molecule,” Valerie George, a hair color chemist, said. “While it prefers to go after the melanins, it really will interact with anything including keratin, the dominant protein that makes up the hair fiber. This can also lead to damage.”

And, once it’s bleached, your hair is now prepared for the dye! But remember — the longer you let the dye sit on your hair, the more exposed your cuticle is and the more likely your hair will be damaged (per Bustle). But, that’s why you must go to a good stylist. As Kellon Deryck, a celebrity hairstylist, stated, “Color damage is a permanent downfall of coloring hair, but it can be avoided by using the proper techniques.” So maybe skip the box dye and go to a professional, they know what they’re doing. 

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