Thursday 26 September 2013

Beware! Excessive colouring, straightening and perming could lead to hair loss

Beware! Excessive colouring, straightening and perming could lead to hair loss

by Dr Apoorva Shah

Hair styling isn't a fad that just caught the fancy of humans. People in ancient Greece used harsh soaps and bleaches to lighten and redden their hair to the colour that was identified with honour and courage. In fact, even first-century Romans preferred dark hair which was made so by a dye concocted from boiled walnuts and leeks.

Things have not changed much over centuries. More and more youngsters are experimenting with styles, going blonde or simply curling or straightening hair.

The worst hit are probably models and actresses who being under bright lights are prone to dandruff and probably have to get their hair styled every second day. Even air hostesses have to style their hair when on duty hence it is an occupational hazard. But perming, dyeing and straightening hair seem to be becoming increasingly popular even amongst the masses. But before going in for these it is best to recognise the risks involved and how too much of these can lead to hair loss.

Perming and straightening

Girls with curly hair want it straight and silky and those gifted with the latter want them curled. Salons are flooded with clients making requests for weird hair-dos.

When hair is straightened or curled, tremendous heat is applied in order to change its natural shape. This converts the protein cystine (of which the hair is composed) to cysteine and then manipulated into a certain look. However, in the process, some amount of cystic acid is generated. This process results in 20% of the hair getting destroyed. So, if you want to perm your hair or get it straightened, make sure you don't do so too frequently. (Read: Hair straightening – To do or not to do?)

Hair colouring

Regular streaking and dyeing can cause cumulative damage, although it may take years before there are obvious signs of hair breakage. Permanent chemical dyes may damage the hair by breaking through the cuticle shield to invade the cortex. They may also cause an autoimmune reaction leading to alopecia or a skin disease called dermatitis. Instead of using a permanent dye, try a rinse or a temporary dye. (Read: Hair colouring – what you need to know)

Hot rollers and dryers

Applying excessive heat to the hair can damage the scalp and cause the hair follicles to weaken. High heat and the time for which it is used on the hair will also impact its structure. While hair loses its elasticity, damage to the cuticle makes it more breakable. Steam forming inside the hair shaft causes hair breakage. It is therefore necessary to limit the amount of heat as well as the length of time you dry your hair.

If you use a blow dryer, use a moderate heat setting. Never over dry. Cold hair dryers are the best. It is also advisable to towel dry your hair gently before blow drying. 

Hair styling

Avoid tight braids and ponytails as these may cause breakage and tearing of the hair shaft. Though these may look trendy, making tight ponytails every day will make the hair prone to breakage. (Read: Tips to tackle bad hair days)


Thin may be in but definitely not when it comes to hair. Dieting can make your hair root too weak to sustain the pressure of your hair, leading to a form of hair loss called Anagen Effluvium. If you want to lose weight, do so under qualified supervision of a dietician who can help you with a safe and healthy diet plan.

If you ever notice worrying changes in your hair – such as hair loss, itchy scalp, and split ends – contact a trichologist immediately. You may be too fashionable for your hair's liking but with timely help you can rectify the condition.

For more articles on beauty, check out our Beauty section and for videos, check out our YouTube Channel. 

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