Most of us think our hair products are made to fix problems, but what if they are actually the source of your distress? Can our hair products cause our hair to shed, thin, break, or just cause excessive damage? It depends on who you ask: even the experts will disagree on this question because there are so many factors that come into play to determine if products can make your hair shed or thin or become weaker.
What is certain is that improper use of any product can possibly cause harm to your hair, scalp or body, but to know if regular use of a seemingly good product will cause damage is hard to determine simply because each person may use their hair products differently.
For example, there are several brands of conditioners that say to rinse, but I will use as a leave-in and I have often wondered, could that cause damage? Or can it just create massive build-up? One thing is for sure: even if two people do the same thing with the same brand, it doesn’t mean they will have the same outcome because they have different hair. They may live in different climates, and have different health situations.
Sometimes technique is key, and a gentle application can have a drastically different result from someone who tends to be rough with their tresses. With overwhelming differences in people, usage and products, you just can’t be sure on many things, but we can be sure about a few. Here are a few cases where hands down the products may be causing damage to your strands.
Commercial Hair Dye
Hair dye can be extremely harsh to your hair, and for good reason. Many or most commercial hair dyes have ammonia and hydrogen peroxide in them to give you the rich colors you want to achieve.
“A very popular way to achieve permanent hair coloring is through the use of oxidation dyes…The preparation (dye precursors) is in the leuco (which means colorless) form. Oxidizing agents are usually hydrogen peroxide, and the alkaline environment is usually provided by ammonia.
The combination of hydrogen peroxide and the primary intermediate causes the natural hair to be lightened, providing a “blank canvas” for the dye. Ammonia opens the hair shaft pores so that the dye can actually bond with the hair and speeds up the reaction of the dye with the hair. Now people can dye their hair without bleaching it.”
Peroxide is a permanent way to lighten your hair without using bleach, which is much harsher, but it isn’t necessarily good for your hair either.
It strips the hair of its moisture, and if you don’t re-moisturize your hair, you can be left with dry, brittle strands that will feel like straw and can easily break. Ammonia literally lifts your hair cuticle by elevating the pH of your hair, and once you have disturbed the cuticle, the damage can start because the cuticle is not meant to be lifted.
There are hair dyes that don’t use ammonia, but they are limited in the color range they can give, and they are still bad for the hair because there are other chemicals in the dye.
The bottom line is hair dye is bad for your hair, especially if you do not combat the damages they can inflict with good hair practices of re-moisturizing, and adding protein after each use.
Too much protein
Proteins are needed in our hair products to give back what we take from our strands through manipulation and using certain damaging products like hair dyes, but using too much protein is just as bad as not using it at all. Using too much protein or too often can make the hair become brittle and break, so finding a balance with protein usage is necessary. Usually, getting a protein treatment once a month is more than enough, and even less if you are not doing any damage to your strands.
Long-lasting holding products
Styling gels, mousses, and hairsprays that give you maximum hold become necessary when you are planning on attending an event, and want your hair to stay in place, or hold those curls just right. The problem is they can be damaging to your tresses when you try and work them out, and over using them can be drying to your hair.
Many of these products use drying alcohols to keep your hair held in place, which means you have to always keep your moisture levels high, especially when using drying, holding products.
Edge Control Products
With these products, it isn’t the products themselves that are the issue, but rather the thought process behind it. When you find a great edge control, the temptation is always there to slick your hair back and make sure those edges are perfect. Edge control tends to make you want to manipulate your sensitive edges even more than if you did not use the product at all, leading to hair loss.
The point is we have to be smart with our hair products, as we use them to maintain our hair to make sure they do not affect our hair adversely, causing shedding, thinning, or breaking. Outside of medical conditions or allergic reactions to ingredients, hair products are not necessarily bad when used as intended, used sparingly, and with excellent hair upkeep.
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