Harmful Effects of Hair Dye or Coloring on Hair

Hair damage is one of the fast spreading disease in today’s society. It could be a result of daily exposure to dust, pollution, wear and tear or just ageing. Day-to-day tensions or sometimes unknown internal disease can also cause hormonal changes resulting into hair loss. Many times age factor is also responsible for the whitening of hair color.

Problem of greying of hair has increased a lot in today’s society. Even little kids have also started getting grey hairs on their heads. This could be due to high chlorine content in water of poor quality of air. Tough competition and pressure of studies has also exaggerated the situation.

Normally, whitening of hair begins after 35 years of age but it has started much earlier now a days. People tend to cover their white hair with any color dye to make it back black. It has become a trend to cover white hair with hair dyes, as cheap hair dyes are easily available in market. Earlier only aged people would color their hair but now a days even teenagers have also started coloring for fashion style. Different shades of colors are available like dark  brown, natural brown, black, indigo and other mixed ones.


Hair coloring or hair dyeing is done to change the color and texture of hair. In ancient times, herbal plants like henna, indigo, senna, turmeric, amla were used for making hair color.  First, Schwarzkopf introduced home product called “Poly Color” for hair coloring.

Hair dye or coloring is one of the vast spreading industry in the world and use both plant-based and synthetic dyes for making color or color.

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What are the Different Types of Hair Dyes?

Hair dye contains chemicals which can give black or desired color to your hair and imparts fragrance. Its actually a chemical that when come in contact with skin cause reaction or allergies. There are mainly three types of dyes, depending upon the nature of chemicals used in them.

  1. Temporary Hair Dye
    These are called temporary dyes as they do not enter the hair shaft. Also, the coloring effect lasts for one or two washes only.
  2. Semi Permanent Dye
    These dyes also do no penetrate into the hair shaft like temporary ones but their effect lasts till 5-10 washes.
  3. Permanent Hair Dye
    These are also called Oxidative dyes and the color stays on hair for a longer time and are commonly used types of dyes. The main constituent in these dyes is coal-tar which provides the long-lasting black color. These dyes contain other chemicals like phenols and aromatic amines.

    Over 5,000 different types of chemicals are used in making hair dyes, and some of these are carcinogenic that can cause cancer in animals. It’s a matter of interest also to know if so many people are using hair dyes rich in chemicals, then do their exposure also cause increase risk of cancer in people.

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Chemicals used in Hair Dyes

Hair Dyes are made up of chemicals which could affect differently in differently people. According to Vincent Crum of the Auckland Allergy Clinic, continuous use of hair dye can elevate the chances of a person to a severe allergic reaction. He says ”People need to be aware if you are going to dye your hair-especially if it’s a permanent dye that can increase the risk.” Dr. Crump has announced that he developed his report after careful studies and experiments. He further told how many people developed bad reactions to the hair dyes.

The main part which is used in dye, is coal-tar. The coal-tar is added to make hair black as it is a thick blackish material. Many dyes claim that they do not contain any coal-tar or such part but in most of the cases 70% of the composition is of coal-tar.

Coal tar is very dangerous and once this ingredient enters the head or eyes than could result in serious complications. When experimented coal-tar on animals, it was found that it causes skin cancer in them.

Other chemicals which are used in hair dyes are, formaldehyde, hydantoin, phenyl methyl pyrazolon etc. Hair dye can have allergic reaction also and the severe allergy can result in the swelling of mouth, face or tongue. The eyes could also get affected by this. People suffering with Asthma should carefully use  it as this could cause allergic reaction.Those who are in the profession of hair styling are in a greater risk of asthma as most of the time they are in direct contact with dyes.

Result of Scientific Studies on Hair Dye

Studies are going on round the world and in many, the use of hair dyes is linked with increased risk of certain types of cancer like in blood and bone marrow while other studies do not find any such lining between dyes and cancer.

Many International and National agencies are doing researches to find out if hair dyes really cause cancer or its a myth. Two of the expert agencies, “The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)” and “The National Toxicology Program (NTP)” have made a report according to their research.

  • The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)
    This is an organization running under World Health Organization has main goal in determining the causes of cancer. Based on report of IARC, personal hair dye use to be, “not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans.”
  • The National Toxicology Program (NTP)
    This agency has several other US government agencies, like The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As per the studies performed,  The NTP has reported that the exposure to hair dyes do not cause cancer but has classified some of the chemicals which are used in making dyes as “reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens.”

FDA Guidelines for using Hair Dye

After reading the side effects on hair dyes, one might start thinking that these should be banned. Hair dyes can cause hair fall along with some types of allergies in many.

The FDA has passed few guidelines for the use of Hair Dyes to those who want to use it but are concerned about safety.

  1. Always follow the warning instructions mentioned in the package.
  2. Always do a patch test to check the skin allergy, and do it every time you use the dye, as in first time this will not cause allergy but can cause next time.
  3. Mostly packing comes with gloves so wear gloves when applying hair coloring dye.
  4. Leave the dye on hair for recommended time only and do not exceed the time limit.
  5. Thoroughly rinse hair with water after dye application to stay any remains on the scalp or hair.
  6. Do not add another chemical or material with dye.
  7. Never touch skin, eyebrows or eyelashes with dyes. This can hurt and damage your eyes and skin.

Thus it is seen that normally if you buy any hair dye, it would surely have some amount of chemical into it. So, it is your decision which one you would like to go with.

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Hair dyes are commonly used in hair coloring, but have you ever thought the chemicals it has and their impact on hair in long run.

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