7 Safety Tips For Using Chemical Hair Dyes

Tiere Christyan
Photo Credit: Instagram/@tierechristyan

Many of us often want to change our look by changing our hair color, especially when we need to cover gray hair. There are a variety of chemical-based dyes, ranging from a mild rinse to the harsher permanent dyes. The milder the dye, the faster the color is washed out from the hair with less damage.

[SEE ALSO: 6 Tips For Transitioning To Natural Hair Without Doing A Big Chop]

However, semi-permanent and permanent dyes use ammonia and other developer chemicals, which allow further penetration through the hair strand. Although the color lasts through many washes, they are more damaging to your hair and can cause severe health issues.


So, if you are using home-based hair dyes or getting your hair done by a professional stylist, please follow these tips to reduce damage.

Do An Allergy Test

If this is your first time using a chemical hair dye, always do a test using a small area of hair. Reactions can be mild (think: redness and itchiness) or more severe (think: breathing problems).

If either occurs, consult with a doctor immediately and avoid future use of all chemical hair dyes.

Protect Your Scalp

Before applying any form of chemical hair dye, protect your entire scalp with a petroleum base. This reduces the risk of chemicals absorbing into the scalp. If they absorb into your scalp and get into the blood supply, severe health side effects can occur. Also, make sure your scalp is washed thoroughly after dyeing.

Know The Risks

A new NIH research study linked the frequent use of semi-permanent and permanent hair dyes to breast cancer. There was a greater than 40% increase in African American women. It is believed that the darker hair dyes have harsher chemicals. There have been other cancers associated with darker hair dyes, including cancer of the bladder and lymphoma. There is more risk if they absorb into the scalp and get in blood vessels, which can cause hormone disruption and cancers.

Consider natural dyes such as henna, vegetable or other safer options.

Don’t Over Dye

Most often, especially if you are covering gray, you may desire to dye once a month or even every two weeks. However, frequent use of permanent dyes, which is typically used for gray, can weaken your hair strands and create a higher risk of severe skin and scalp irritation.

Consider limiting exposure to every six to eight weeks and using safer hair color sprays in between dyeing. Additionally, try switching to color rinses that have milder chemicals.

Moisturize (Before and After)

Because chemical dyes alter the cuticle and cortex of your hair strands, your hair can become extremely dry, brittle, dull and coarser, overall.

Saturate your hair with coconut or olive oil, which is my favorite to apply to hair the night before coloring. Additionally, use a moisturizing conditioner after coloring and a moisturizer a few times a week to reduce daily breakage. 

Avoid Extreme Color

The more extreme the hair color change, the higher the risk of damage. Your hair strands become stripped, trying to remove darker color resulting in severe dryness, brittleness, and breakage.

Nourish From Within

Because hair grows from the roots deep within your scalp, the chemical hair dyes can damage them. You can help keep them healthy with the use of an internal proprietary blend of nutrients found in dermatologist developed, BellaNutri supplement.

Hair will retain more moisture and grow stronger, thicker and overall healthier while using hair dyes.

About The Author

Dr. Melanye Maclin-Carroll, M.D.

Dr. Mac is a licensed hair research dermatologist and founder of Innovative Hair Technology, Inc. Her company develops and distributes advanced all-natural hair and skin supplements, ‘BellaNutri®’ for Women and ‘BeauNutri®’ for Men. These products benefit hair and skin from an internal nutritional perspective. She has also helped to launch L’Oreal Garnier Fructis ‘Triple Nutrition’ hair products in 2009. For info, visit www.drmaclin.com.