There’s nothing that can make you feel so good after you’ve been to the salon and hear “yass girl!” because your new hair colour is giving life. But it can soon turn sour when the excitement turns to “shame chommie, what’s going on?” when your dyed hair ends up dry, brittle and damaged.
Shanice Fynn from Umgababa in KwaZulu-Natal had no reason to believe that a simple trip to the salon for a hair colour treatment would end in a nightmare. After getting her hair dyed during the festive season of 2023, she was thrilled with the results.
However, just two days later, there was hair on the pillow and as she brushed her hair, she noticed large clumps of hair falling out. She was left feeling upset and uncertain of what to do next.
“It’s strange since I became a dye girl in 2015, and I’m still in disbelief over what went wrong.”
Fynn tells Health For Mzansi that the experience has made her reconsider dying her hair again. She prefers having braids to being completely bald. She fears what might happen if she tries dyeing her hair again.
Verify the source of your dye purchase
Asavela Mntumni from Cape Town in Hout Bay had been using hair dye regularly. However, in 2018 she purchased a dye from a store that she had never used before. The colour turned out as expected, but her hair became softer than it should have been.
Because the dye caused damage, Asavela had to wait until her hair grew back to a reasonable length. Then, she cut it short and started over.
Mntumni learned that some dyes may not be suitable for certain hair types and can cause hair loss. To avoid this, she buys her hair dye from registered pharmacies to ensure the products are safe and labelled correctly.
The doctor of hair
Dr Leticia Kuda Mupawose, a trichologist and the founder of Feso-Africa based in Morningside, Johannesburg, cautions against the use of chemicals on hair.
“One thing l always need to ask anyone using a chemical on their hair is, can you swallow it? Why? Because everything you put on your hair goes to your scalp, which has a million pores open going straight into your bloodstream,” Mupawose explains.
“The risk is direct poison into the lymphatic system causing toxicity.”
Besides poisoning your body, chemical dyes can burn your scalp skin tissue, adds Mupawose.
The most common allergens in hair dye include p-phenylenediamine (PPD), resorcinol, m-aminophenol, p-aminophenol, and toluene-2,5-diamine, she explains.
The health of your hair matters
If you’re worried about the impact of hair dye on your scalp, Kuda suggests visiting a professional hairdresser. They can apply a protective product and use techniques to minimise the risk of damage to the scalp.
According to Kuda, henna and vegetable-based dyes may be a safer alternative to synthetic dyes. These dyes are less likely to cause problems associated with artificial dyes.
Kuda recommends waiting at least a month before colouring your hair again, depending on the reason for dyeing it. This allows time for the hair and scalp to recover from the dyeing process.
“Besides internal health issues, colour dries up your hair and this results in breakages and some cases triggers permanent hair loss due to chemical damage.”
Get the Health For Mzansi newsletter: Your bi-weekly dose of kasi health, wellness and self-care inspiration.