Can Hair Dye Cause Hair Loss?

We get asked by lots of women can hair dye cause hair loss? Unfortunately, like most hair loss related questions, there is no simple answer. The short answer is: no, probably not and the long answer is: probably not, but maybe.

How does Hair Dye Actually Work?

Hair dye works by penetrating the hair cuticle through the cortex and reacting with the melanin in your hair strands. This can sound extreme, but when you dye your hair, you’re essentially dying something that is dead. Once the hair has reached the skin’s surface, it no longer contains any living cells. Hair grows from the follicle at the root and is fed via the bloodstream. It’s for this reason that many people assume that hair dyes cannot possibly cause hair loss and for the most part, they’re right. There are some instances; however, where dying your hair may be the cause of or contributing to your hair loss, even though these instances are rare.

Can Hair Dye Cause Hair Loss?

In some people, some hair dyes can penetrate the hair follicle itself and cause the follicle to die or become inactive. It’s not known why this can happen to some people and not others. Some doctors speculate that it may be an allergy or reaction to certain chemicals; whilst others think it may have more to do with individual hair, skin and follicle types. It’s important to note, however, that dying your hair is extremely unlikely to be the reason for your hair loss.

And here is something else to consider. It is possible that your hair may appear thinner if you are colouring it. If you are lightening your hair you are stripping out some of the pigment and nutrient from the surface of the hair shaft which makes it finer, drier and more brittle. Brittle and dry hair tends to be more flighty and breaks more easily and both of these attributes lead to the appearance of less hair. Keep in mind also that lighter hair tends to look less dense.

If you are darkening your hair then you are adding pigment to a hair shaft that is otherwise lacking pigment and darker hair tends to look more dense and therefore thicker.

Keep in mind also that while darker hair may look thicker, for those of us with thinning hair, the contrast between hair and scalp can be more noticeable. One solution for that is to try a shake in hair fibre which will add extra volume at the roots so that the contrast between dark hair and the colour of your scalp isn’t as obvious.

To read about some more common causes of hair loss in women, click here.

Tips and Tricks

If you have been tested for all the usual culprits and still have not found a reason for your hair loss, the only way to determine that your hair dye is the culprit is to stop dying it for at least a few months to see if your hair loss eases. This may be out of the question for many of us, though, so here are some tips to minimize the risk.

Natural Hair Dye

Find a salon that uses natural (or mostly natural) dyes. When hair dyes have been found to be the culprit for hair loss, it is usually a specific chemical or combination of chemicals used in the dye, rather than the act of dying itself. If you tend to be sensitive to chemicals or have sensitive skin, it’s a good idea to stay away from chemical hair products too.

Foils and Highlights

Consider “off-scalp” hair coloring. The use of foils is a good way to color your hair without slathering the hair colour on your scalp. Foils and tips can give the overall appearance of a different color without the need for hair dye to come in contact with your scalp. Try highlighting to lighten hair all over or low-lighting to darken hair.

Organic Hair ProductsOff-Scalp-Hair-colouring

Use natural and/or organic hair products. Just like with hair dye, slathering your scalp with chemical shampoos, conditioners and styling products can not only be harmful but it’s completely unnecessary. There are plenty of organic hair products on the market these days, and many women report that switching to these products has given them much stronger and healthier hair, which means less breakage. For more information on the benefits of switching to organic hair products, click here.


So, there you have it. Like so many hair health issues there is often not a definitive answer, but hopefully you have some more avenues to explore and you are a little closer to figuring out what is causing your hair loss, if indeed you are still searching. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions and we hope you’re getting closer to every day being a good hair day!

In the meantime, check out the real hair volume solutions developed by women for women at Boost N Blend.