Are Your Hair Treatments Damaging Your Hair?
There’s no better feeling than leaving the salon with a fresh new color or style.
And let's be real...
A trip to the salon always lifts your spirits, helps you hit reset, and boosts your confidence — but is your new look damaging your hair?
Let's dig into this subject a little more.
So for starters, if you’re doing a chemical process at home or booking your appointment with an inexperienced professional, the answer probably leans more towards yes.
Here's what happens when applying these types of chemicals to your hair.
Your hair is made up of Keratin, a naturally occurring protein in the body. When you receive a chemical treatment, the chains of Keratin that make up your hair are altered, so your hair structure changes.
If your hair is already damaged, you'll notice more breakage, dryness, dullness, or even unmanageability.
Let's look at some common hair processes that can damage your lovely tresses and what you should consider before booking your appointment.
Many of us love to bleach our hair, whether it's beautiful balayage highlights, prepping for color, or going full platinum.
Sure, bleaching gives us the ability to try something new and fun, but there are some things you should know before you bathe your hair in developer.
Bleaching raises the cuticle (outer layer) of your hair, which is excellent for removing color but terrible for helping hair retain moisture. Opening your hair’s cuticle allows lightening or bleaching agents to go in and remove the melanin (pigment) from your hair.
Repeated bleaching can cause significant damage to your hair, making it brittle and prone to breaking, overly dry and straw-like, inelastic, and developing split ends.
Another reason people love bleached hair is that it adds texture, so if you have fine or limp hair, that extra texture works wonders, giving you the volume you've been missing.
This texture comes from the opened cuticle, which means you have jagged little edges sticking up all along your strands. While at first, it might feel good to have a bit more texture, over time, and with repeated treatments, the hair becomes too porous and brittle.
It’s also far more susceptible to additional damage from styling tools or other chemical products.
Sometimes it's tempting to bleach your hair by yourself, but getting the right balance of lightning agent and developer at home can be tricky — resulting in severely damaged strands.
An experienced stylist knows how to lighten your hair without damaging your hair. In addition, they'll most likely suggest additional treatments for sealing the hair and introducing extra moisture, which is especially helpful if you’re going from very dark to very light.
Dyeing your hair
Who doesn’t love a pop of color? But permanent dye can damage your hair just as much as bleach sometimes.
As mentioned above, the cuticle protects your hair, creating a seal that blocks dye from entering.
Many hair dyes use ammonia to break the seal, causing your hair to swell, allowing the dye to penetrate the cuticle and enter the hair shaft.
Dyeing your hair is in many ways better for it than bleaching since the deposits of new color will allow the cuticle to reclose and protect hair from moisture loss and damage.
But dyes are on this list because they not only go after the melanin in your hair but can also harm the Keratin in it. In addition, repeatedly coloring your hair causes the cuticle to open and close over and over, weakening its structure and can affect how well the color takes hold.
But what about ammonia-free products?
Some evidence shows that products with MEA, or monoethanolamine (an odorless alternative to ammonia), might do more harm than products with ammonia.
Ammonia-free products may also yield a weaker color and fade faster than products that contain ammonia, resulting in a need for more treatments.
What about semi-permanent dyes?
Semi-permanent dyes rest on the surface and fade quickly. Unfortunately, many people find the upkeep of semi-permanent dye is too much of an annoyance.
Keratin Treatments, Thermal Reconditioning, Texturizers, and Relaxers
Okay, wait a second. Didn’t we just talk about how Keratin is good for your hair?
Yes, Keratin is, but the accompanying chemicals in these treatments are not and can have serious side effects.
Let's take the Brazilian blowout as an example. Those with curly or wavy hair usually seek this treatment to get their hair bone straight. But unfortunately, most Brazilian straightening treatments contain a chemical, among others, called formaldehyde.
The FDA has classified formaldehyde to be a carcinogen or cancer-causing substance. For years, stylists who have done this process have complained of problems ranging from difficulty breathing, nose bleeds, itching skin, and eye irritation.
Some stylists even say their clients report dizziness, flu-like symptoms, vomiting, and eye damage, among other things. In addition, contact with the skin can cause blisters or rashes on the scalp or your face and neck.
Japanese Hair Straightening
Chemical treatments can also break your hair’s disulfide bonds, which keep your hair in its natural shape (curly, kinky, straight, etc.) When these bonds are broken, your hair becomes weak and prone to damage.
Japanese hair straightening (also called thermal reconditioning) is a process that works by breaking these bonds using a chemical called ammonium thioglycolate.
Unlike with a Brazilian blowout, the results of Japanese straightening are permanent, meaning the treatment does not wash out and will remain straight as the untreated hair grows in.
Unfortunately, most people have to head back to the salon to get this treatment repeatedly since the difference in texture can look odd when your hair starts to grow out.
Texturizers and Relaxers
This concern is also present when you do either a relaxing or texturizing treatment. Both processes, like Japanese straightening, break the disulfide bonds in your hair and can lead to damage and even hair loss.
Exposure to the scalp from treatment chemicals can leave chemical burns. This may be regulated somewhat by choosing either a lye or no-lye relaxer, with low-lye tending to be gentler on the scalp, but the tradeoff is that they tend to be rougher on the hair itself.
Unlike relaxers which leave hair pin-straight, Texturizers loosen the curl and, in some ways, provide more versatility with what styles you can do.
Results from texturizers can vary depending on the curl type you have, but your stylist should be able to tell you which process is right for your curl type and what you should expect with either treatment.
There are several natural and formaldehyde-free straightening options available for purchase with just a quick search online.
At the end of the day, hair treatments are fun and trendy, but many of them can wreak havoc on your hair. This is especially true if your hairstylist is inexperienced — or you try to do it yourself at home!
If you decide to dabble in chemical treatments like the ones discussed today...
Make sure your stylist is experienced and do deep conditioning treatments to rebuild the keratin bonds in your hair cuticles.
For those more interested in hair straightening treatments, give the Infrarose Styler a try first! The tourmaline and ceramic plates provide a healthier alternative, so you still get the sleek, straight style you want — without ruing your hair’s natural texture and composition.
Check out the Infrarose Styler to see how it can improve your hair care routine today!
I purchased the flat iron and it’s the best . It does a beauty job and I see and feel no damage as other flat irons have done.I’m ready to buy the curling iron to have when I just need a curl which I can also get with the styler flat iron . I am a woman of color and this works great on my hair