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by NIKKI POPE, September 16, 2020
Changing your hairstyle and color can rejuvenate your look in an instant. Many thanks to hair dyes and straighteners/curlers, you need not visit the salon anymore. While these products help change your appearance greatly, they can bring about harmful effects to your locks. So before you decide to revamp your hair once again, consider these facts first:
Also known as a hair coloring agent, this product is meant to alter a person's hair pigment. While most people use it to cover their white or gray hairs, some use it to restore their hair color. After all, this could restore hair that may have faded due to hairdressing and sun bleaching.
• Effects on the Hair
While dyeing your hair every once in a while is not a problem, overdoing this could take a toll on your locks. The chemicals in dyes can damage your strands, causing them to break easily.
Unfortunately, the use of some dyes could lead to hair loss as well. Ingredients such as Paraphenylenediamine (PPD) can trigger an allergic reaction in some people. According to a Japanese study, this can lead to severe hair loss – to an extent of about 90% in certain individuals.
Apart from PPD, hydrogen peroxide and monoethanolamine were also identified as key ingredients behind scalp irritation and hair loss. According to a study, they can trigger oxidative stress, which can lead to poor hair growth and retention.
Hair dye ingredients can also trigger contact dermatitis, a condition characterized by a red, itchy scalp. This usually occurs within 48 hours of dye application.
According to an Italian study, contact dermatitis can bring about mild to moderate hair loss. It could also lead to telogen effluvium, which occurred in 2 of 8 patients. This temporary form of hair loss pushes the strands to enter the resting phase of the hair cycle. Since it could affect 30% of your mane, it could lead to the shedding of as much as 300 locks every day (the norm is 100 to 150).
Why this happens in hair dye users remains unknown, although researchers believe that this could be due to the cytokines that were released during the inflammatory process. While these are vital to immune functioning, cytokines can bring about a ‘storm’ where they end up attacking and injuring the host’s own cells.
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• What You Can Do
If you want to prevent dye-related hair damage, then you need to take a breather from this habit.
Should you really need to use hair coloring agents, remember to do some patch testing first. Remember to apply some dye behind the ear or your inner elbow and leave it to dry. If you develop some irritation or feel unwell throughout the process, this might mean that you are allergic to the dye.
Even if you don’t develop a bad response after the patch test, it doesn’t mean that you are safe from dye allergy. To prevent dermatitis and the hair loss that it might bring, you should remember to:
◦ Follow the dye instructions carefully
◦ Wear gloves while applying the dye to your hair
◦ Avoid leaving the chemical for a longer time than intended
◦ Rinse your hair well after coloring
Another thing to remember: PPD allergy is no one time, big-time deal. As this could occur again, it's best to avoid dyes made with PPD. Instead, opt for temporary hair colorants that are devoid of PPD.
Heat Tools and Chemical Straighteners
Hair irons or tongs use heat to change the hair structure. As the names suggest, curling irons curl your hair, straighteners/flat irons straighten the strands, while crimpers ‘crimp’ your locks.
Apart from heat application, chemicals can also be used to alter the hair. Also known as chemical relaxers, they contain additives such as calcium hydroxide, lithium hydroxide, and sodium hydroxide, to name a few.
Another type of heat tool, a blow dryer can speed up hair evaporation on the hair, cutting the usual drying process in half.
• Effects on the Hair
Heat, while great for hairstyling, can make your strands dry, weak, and prone to breakage. With wrong use, any of the above-mentioned devices may end up burning your locks as well.
According to a study, the use of heated straighteners may lead to central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia. Also known as CCCA, this scarring condition could lead to permanent hair loss. It commonly affects middle-aged ladies and African-American women, although it can affect men and other races as well.
CCCA hair loss usually starts in the middle of the scalp, progressively moving outward later on. Apart from hair issues, it could also lead to itchiness and scalp burning/tenderness.
As for chemical relaxers, the wrongful application of such a product could lead to skin burn. According to a study, this may lead to hair breakage as well. This reaction is due to straighteners having a basic pH ranging from 12 to 13.
Hair is particularly sensitive to pH changes. With repeated use, alkaline products can swell the fibers and open the cuticles. This makes your strands weaker, leaving them more susceptible to the damaging effects of friction.
Unfortunately, hair loss and thinning/weakening, which occur in 47% and 41% of the participants respectively, are not the only problems that occur with chemical straighteners. They could also lead to hair frizz (67%), dandruff (61%), graying (22%), and split ends (17%).
Chemical relaxers also prove to be more harmful to bleached hair. Using such products can lead to hair breakage, which can result in eventual shedding.
• What You Can Do
The best way to prevent the above-mentioned hair problems is to discontinue the use of hair straightening devices and chemical relaxers.
Should you need to curl, crimp, or straighten your hair, it's best to use a tool with a temperature gauge.
If you have bleached hair, it’s best to avoid chemical straighteners. These can weaken the hair, making it more prone to breakage and shedding.
When it comes to using chemical relaxers, it’s better to opt for a no-lye relaxer, which is a product made with guanidine hydroxide. Applying some petroleum jelly on the hairline and behind the ears may also help prevent painful burns. Since the chemicals are very potent, make sure to rinse them out of your hair right after.
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