How does hair dye actually work?
Thousands upon thousands of us are dyeing our hair every day here in the UK but not all of us are completely aware of how this process works or how it can impact our hair. That’s why I’m going to take a more in depth look at this process starting with how the dye bonds with your hair.
It’s not always the case but most high-street hair dyes contain an ingredient called ‘ammonia.’ This is an extremely strong alkaline chemical that can actually change the pH balance of your hair. In hair dye, this component works to break through your hair cuticle, the outermost part of your hair shaft that is responsible for strengthening and protecting your hair.
Once your hair cuticle has been lifted, it’s easier for peroxide, another powerful chemical, to get to work removing your hair’s natural colour pigment and then replacing it with a new hair pigment that bonds with your hair matrix.
This process is efficient but it can be hugely problematic for your hair. As you may have gathered, your hair cuticle is important for guarding your hair from abrasive elements and isn’t really supposed to be stripped away in this manner. Once your hair cuticle is lifted, your hair can become more susceptible to external damage and, unfortunately, the longer your hair is dyed, the more vulnerable it becomes.
It also doesn’t help that most of the chemicals in conventional hair dye can be very harsh on your hair and scalp. This often strips away essential oils and moisture, leaving your hair drier and more prone to frizz, while your scalp may also become irritated.
Is there any way to avoid this type of damage?
Unfortunately, there’s no way to completely avoid the damage associated with hair dye. The good news is however, that there are plenty of steps you can take to minimise any harm done. Below I list some of my top tips to work around the abrasive process of dyeing your hair and how you can help to replenish any lost moisture and oils.
Don’t use hair dye on hair that’s already damaged
This might seem obvious but amazingly it still gets overlooked. If you already have dry, damaged hair that’s prone to split ends and breakages, hair dye is probably not such a good option. Similarly, if your scalp is dry and displaying serious signs of dandruff then again, you may wish to reconsider using hair dye. All of the effects I’ve just mentioned can easily take a toll on healthy hair and so could be disastrous for hair that’s already damaged.
Think about the dye you are using
Understandably, if you’re thinking about dyeing your hair the type of dye you use is extremely important. I’m not just talking about shade and longevity here either – as I mentioned earlier, many high street hair dyes contain harsh ingredients. This is why I’d recommend trying to by-pass some of these chemicals by switching to more natural alternatives.
Naturtint for example, are a natural, plant-based hair dye brand that prefers not to use ammonia. Instead their products utilise vegetable ingredients and are enriched with soy, wheat and oat protein to help strengthen vulnerable hair and give it back some of its vitality. Offering 28 different tones from Ash Blonde to Fire Red they certainly have variety on their side!
Nourish your hair afterwards
Once you’ve succeeded in dyeing your hair, you need to make sure you take proper care of it. This means that you may need to invest in more nourishing hair care products that provide more intense treatment and moisture. John Masters are a good brand to opt for here – they provide a range of gorgeously nourishing and hydrating shampoos and conditioners that are kind to your hair, helping to strengthen and enrich it. Their Lavender Shampoo is one of my all-time favourites and it has the distinction of being 100% vegan-friendly!
Once you’ve washed and conditioned your hair, you could also use a nutrient-rich oil. Argan oil is one of our most recommended oils here at Jan de Vries as it contains plenty of omega-6 fatty oils which can help to moisturise and protect your hair, shielding it from the elements and sources of thermal heat such as curling tongs and straighteners. John Masters once again provide with their 100% Pure Argan Oil that contains no unwanted extras or added preservatives!
There you have it – three simple steps to help you look after your hair before, during and after dyeing. If you want to learn more about the types of ingredients you should be avoiding if you have colour treated hair, I’d highly recommend reading my colleague Louise’s blog. In her piece, ‘What ingredients to avoid in shampoo for colour-treated hair’, Louise from the Chorley store offers a more in depth run down on the type of chemicals you may want to boycott from your hair care products!