Does hair dye damage Afro hair?

The short answer is, “Yes!” Hair dye damages afro hair … as well as all other types of hair.

It’s likely the reason you’re asking this question is that you’re tired of your natural hair shade and are eager to jump into those bold current hair colour trends you see all over Instagram.

And that’s fair.

Some of the styles and colours appearing on our feeds are nothing short of awesome and, as a trendy black woman or man, you are 100% certain that you’re going to rock that look you’ve been coveting!

Before you take the leap, pause for a few minutes.

As trichologists, we spend our days fixing decisions just like these, and it would be remiss of us not to point out the potential hurdles of colouring curly hair before you take the plunge.

Ultimately, though, the decision to colour your hair is yours alone. We’re giving you the tools and information to make the best decision for you.

Does Hair Dye Damage Afro Hair?

The very first thing to note is that afro hair, or African American hair, is generally black or very dark brown in colour. That poses a problem for people who are shooting for a permanent hair colour that is a lighter shade than what they already have.

Black hair needs to be lightened before anything else can happen. And that means, yes, you guessed it – bleach.

Hair bleaching requires applying a chemical agent that lifts the protective hair cuticles, penetrates the cortex and strips the colour from the hair strand. Melanin, the natural pigment molecule in your skin and hair, is oxidised during this process and, depending on how long the bleach is left in, results in a virtually colourless hair shaft. (This is different to the process of  greying hair , where the melanin in our hair follicles depletes as we age.)

The problem with bleaching hair is that it has several nasty side effects.

  • The hair cuticle loses its smooth outer coating and takes on a rougher texture.
  • Damage to this outer layer results in a porous hair shaft that easily loses moisture, becoming dryer over time.
  • Bleach breaks down the natural fatty acids in the shaft leaving it weaker resulting in hair breakage or splitting.
  • Hair damage is more likely for black women or men with darker hair as the bleaching process takes longer than for lighter hair shades.
  • Hair loss can result from the wrong product or incorrect application.

Can you apply a permanent hair dye to your natural hair and avoid the bleaching route altogether?

You can. But assuming you have very dark hair, the results will be extremely subtle. Is it worth the time and money? Only you can decide.

Things to Consider Before Dyeing Afro Hair

Let’s assume for a second that you’ve made the decision to dye your hair. What pitfalls should you look out for?

At the outset, it’s worth pointing out that African hair tends to be more fragile than other hair types. Understanding your hair type offers a little more insight into the challenges that you may face.

Denser heads of hair (more hair strands per cm2) and coarser hair types (thicker hair strands) require more time being bleached to achieve a lighter shade. This, coupled with a weaker shaft and a naturally dry or coarse feel, means you will need to carefully consider your permanent hair dye products and post-colour styling choices to limit further damage.

Colour Choices

A six-hour bleaching session in the stylist’s chair is going to be a requirement if you want blonde hair or a vibrant colour. That’s a lot of time and a whole lot of money.

Are you opting for a full head of coloured hair or are you leaning towards highlights? Have you considered what your hair will look blow dried or straightened versus when you are wearing your hair natural? Consider if colouring your hair is going to encourage you into using further damaging styling processes in your hair routine.

Permanent Hair Colour?

Following bleaching, permanent hair colour is the most brutal of the dyes available to you. Semi-permanent or demi-permanent hair colour products don’t penetrate as deeply into the shaft and cause less hair damage.

Post-Colour Care

A salon day of bleaching and colouring moves you out of the natural, textured hair zone and firmly into the processed hair arena. Whatever products you choose after this will need to be gentle, moisturising, and as natural as possible. You’ll need to work hard over the next few months (or years) in managing the chemical damage to avoid breakage.

Be careful of your styling choices so as not to add additional strain to your dyed hair.

Can I Colour Natural Afro Hair Without Ruining It?

Applying any sort of bleach or hair colour is going to damage curly hair.

If you are still keen to follow this path, however, we encourage you to:

  • Look for natural hair products for African American hair
  • Invest in a nourishing hair mask for curly hair
  • Be sure to deep condition your hair regularly to keep it soft and strong
  • To avoid hair breakage, ensure that your hair and scalp are in the best possible shape before committing to any chemical treatments
  • Choose semi permanent dye over permanent hair dye
  • Make sure to always patch test before applying

We hope that we’ve answered your question about whether hair dye damages Afro hair. However, if you have questions on this topic please feel free to get in touch with our specialised team.

Call or WhatsApp us today.

Additional Questions about Hair Dye and its Impact on Afro Hair

Can hair dye damage Afro hair?
Answer: Hair dye has the potential to damage Afro hair, especially if proper precautions and care are not taken during the dyeing process. However, there are ways to minimise the risk of damage and maintain the health of your hair.

What is the best hair dye for African American hair?
Answer: When selecting a hair dye for African American hair, it is important to choose products that are specifically formulated for this hair type. Look for hair dyes that are gentle, moisturising, and designed to minimise damage while providing vibrant and long-lasting colour.

Does hair dye damage all hair types, including Afro hair?
Answer: Hair dye has the potential to damage any hair type. However, Afro hair may be more susceptible to damage due to its naturally drier and more fragile texture. It is crucial to follow proper hair dyeing techniques and use products that nourish and protect your hair.

How does hair dye affect African American hair?
Answer: Hair dye can affect African American hair in various ways. It can cause dryness, brittleness, breakage, and loss of natural shine. Additionally, the harsh chemicals in some dyes may lead to scalp irritation and allergic reactions. Proper preparation, application, and aftercare can help minimise these effects.

Can African American hair be bleached or dyed?
Answer: Yes, African American hair can be bleached or dyed, but it requires careful consideration and proper techniques. Bleaching and dyeing Afro hair can be more challenging due to its unique structure and tendency to be more delicate. It is recommended to seek professional assistance to achieve the desired results safely.

What are the common hair dyeing mistakes to avoid for African American hair?
Answer: Some common hair dyeing mistakes to avoid for African American hair include using harsh or low-quality products, failing to perform a patch test, leaving the dye on for too long, and not following proper aftercare routines. It is crucial to educate yourself on the best practices to protect your hair.

Can men with dyed black hair experience damage?
Answer: Yes, men with dyed black hair can experience damage if the dyeing process is not carried out correctly. It is important to choose high-quality hair dyes and follow the recommended application and aftercare instructions to maintain the health and integrity of the hair.

What are the suitable hair dye options for black women?
Answer: Black women have a range of hair dye options available. Look for hair dyes specifically formulated for black hair, which often provide vibrant colours and moisture-enhancing ingredients. Consult with a professional stylist to determine the best options for your specific hair needs.

Does hair dying damage hair permanently?
Answer: Hair dying can potentially cause permanent damage to the hair if it is done recklessly or excessively. Over-processing the hair with dye, especially harsh chemicals, can lead to irreversible damage. It is crucial to practice caution, opt for gentler alternatives, and prioritise hair care to minimise long-term damage.

Remember to consult a professional stylist or hair care expert for personalized advice on hair dyeing and to address any concerns specific to your hair type and condition.

leena solimanleena soliman
06:19 17 May 23
Came here when I had some issues and they were able to help massively! They are not like other claimed trichologist that want to scare you and take your money, they are backed up with their qualification and experience. Reasonably priced consultation, treatment and products!
zoe Innzoe Inn
17:24 15 Feb 23
From my first consultation, I knew this was the right place for my hair.Teresa and Eleanore are very caring. The treatments are also very relaxing and my hair adores their products!
19:01 01 Dec 22
Thank you so much Fulham scalp and hair clinic for restoring the health of my scalp and my hair.Straight talking, no nonsense, friendly and professional advice and if you follow it you’ll see results.They really know their stuff and I highly recommend.
Nico PopNico Pop
18:42 13 Jan 22
Booked the initial appointment as I have damaged hair due to bleaching and I had an itchy scalp on a very small region at the back of the scalp. As a healthcare professional myself I did not expect the trichologist to have a magic wand and cure me in one session. 3 appointments ( almost 3 months) in and buying all products recommended (7 of them - the calming scalp cream is missing in the picture) , my scalp became extremely flaky and itchy to an extent that It kept me awake at night. When informed the trichologist my experience, the only recommendation was to trial the Cade oil shampoo... which caused me further discomfort and irritation.I had to stop using all their products as I couldn't stand the itchiness and inflammation anymore (although used the cade oil shampoo several times). Who would've thought that going to a trichologist you will end up with and super irritated and itchy scalp?!Very disappointed with the overall experience, I felt the focus was mainly on selling their products, booking for treatments and not necessarily helping me with my concerns, especially that the professional did not have any concers re my condition, 400£ later I ended up booking an app with the Dr in order to solve the issues caused by their products.
03:56 06 Jun 19
I really hated my experience at Fulham Scalp & Hair Clinic and I would not recommend it at all. The reason why I visited was because I had concerns about changes I saw in my hair, particularly the amount of hair I was losing at the sides (edges).I booked an appointment which comprised of a consultation + 1st treatment. I had the consultation with the owners daughter who asked me about my hair routine, health, products and also took a sample of my hair to look at underneath a microscope. During the consultation the main points she explained to me were that blow drying my hair was bad, the hair needed to be washed more often and hair grease and oils were very bad for my hair despite the fact I have been using them my whole life and I had a good amount of hair. After the consultation she then washed it with their own branded hair products, steamed it did some light therapy and then braided it. She then told me that I would have to come back at some point for a trim and that her mother (the owner) was the only one that could do it. At the end she gave me some basic instructions about using the hair products, and I also purchased some of their products.A few days using their products I experienced a very high level of dryness to my scalp even though I was using A LOT of products everyday my hair would be extremely dry after a couple of hours. When I called them about it the receptionist answered and said the clinic was really busy and that I should try and use coconut oil despite not even being a qualified trichologist, and the trichologist warning that oils were bad for the hair! At my next appointment for the trim I was treated by the owner, she made remarks about how dry my hair was (even though I was following the instructions and using ONLY their products), and how as a black person I should be proud of my hair and wear more natural hair styles, and throw away the blow dryer. She washed my hair and then trimmed it! Which I had never heard of in my life especially with afro hair because it can shrivel up to virtually nothing so when you cut even what seems like the tiniest bit it is actually a lot, but she insisted that it was the "correct" way. During the trim I found it really humiliating and embarrassing because in the styling room I was sat next to another lady who was also having her hair treated and I just really hated every moment of the owner trimming my hair and also lecturing me in it's damaged state like that. Over the course of 3 months following the instructions, steaming my hair everyday, and washing it once a week and using the products my hair just got worse and also breaking, knotty,shedding, weaker, thinner, and shorter than it was originally at my first consultation. I was really upset, especially as when I contacted them about my concerns they kept saying my hair was just "adapting".I eventually discontinued their advice and products,It didn't happen overnight but my hair eventually gradually got back to how it used to be, by doing the "bad" things such as blow drying, using greases and oils and washing it less often. I feel that Fulham Scalp & Hair clinic are not very knowledgeable in a wide variety of hair types particularly Afro hair. They preach and say blow drying, greases and oils, weaves,wigs and not washing your hair often are bad for the health of your hair yet there are thousands of videos on YouTube which contradict these "theories". I feel they cater more to people with looser hair types and not coarser hair types, the products they sell are also very expensive especially as they do not even contain a lot in them mostly comprise of menthol and water. They also seem to care more about their old customers and do not even ask for feedback from new customers, are really hypocritical of your hair choices even though they wear their hair pin straight. Don't waste your money here, if you are having hair problems think closer to, lifestyle change, stress etcI wasted almost £300 here with no results, think carefully before visiting this clinic, do your own research first!!!
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