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.

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