I’m 27 and have a decent head of hair but I have noticed I’m going slightly grey around the sides. This is something I am not freaked out about as it can be easily disguised. However, I am using Rogaine (minoxidil) and Alpecin Caffeine Shampoo as male pattern baldness runs in the family.
Would coloring my hair weaken the hair follicles and cause hair loss?
Ammonia and peroxide are the two ingredients in hair dyes that can cause some brittleness and possible breakage of hairs. They have no effect on the follicles which are the “living” part of the hair and located under the skin. Peroxides are in almost all hair coloring agents that lighten the color of the hair. Ammonia is in most products that color the hair permanently (that is, until the roots grow out and the newest portion of the hair stalk shows some gray).
Going to a salon is always preferable to doing it yourself because the salon professional can apply the new coloring to the root portion that is not permanently colored and avoid or minimize “re-coloring” the portion done before. The repeated bombardment of the hair with ammonia can, in some persons, lead to breakage. Less hair mass on the head would make it appear as if you had thinning hair.
About 10 months ago, Consumer Reports did an article on hair coloring products and the highest rated one for men was Clairol Natural Instincts for Men. The amount of ammonia in this product is reportedly less than in most products.
There are also “rinse” colorings which have to be applied daily after (or, with some products during) showering. They can’t harm the hair shaft but obviously require frequent application.
Mike Beehner, M.D.