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Hair Dye Burning Scalp & Causing Hair Loss: Can It Happen?


My very first literature teacher in high school allowed his students to choose their books for an essay assignment. Any book we wanted. I chose The Autobiography of Malcolm X, so caught up in Black Power movement that was surging through California in the early 1990s. 

In the book, Malcolm describes straightening his hair with a chemical so strong that it burned his scalp. The feeling, as he describes it, was one of sheer scalding, and he just had to sit and take it. That memory will forever be embedded in my mind as an example of the pain people will go through to change the color or texture of their hair. 

“Beauty is pain.” For some reason, my young self determined that beauty would never be pain for me. I was going to embrace my natural beauty as much as I could, fighting a lifelong fight against societal demands that I be this thin, that blonde, or have this much makeup on. 

When I began experimenting with hair color for fun in my twenties, I aimed for colors close to my natural shade, reds and coppers. Thus, when the time came to write this article, I had to turn to friends and experts for help on what to do about hair dye burning scalp and making hair fall out.

Table of Contents: 

  • Why Does Hair Dye Burn the Scalp and Cause Hair Loss?
  • 5 Efficient Ways to Prevent Hair Dye Damage to Scalp and Hair
  • Be Picky with Your Salon
  • Express Yourself
  • Patch It
  • Embrace the Oil
  • Don’t Do It!
  • Embrace the Oily Life
  • Best Products on the Market to Help with Damage from Hair Dye

Why Does Hair Dye Burn the Scalp and Cause Hair Loss?

The truth is I did a ton of research early on after reading the Malcolm X book. I have long been fascinated with the side effects of harsh chemicals versus the health benefits of going all-natural. And finding the balance in between. I was raised by several aunts on both sides of my family, and I have three sisters and a dozen female cousins. They have all had their fair share of scalp burns and hair loss tragedies. 

hair loss, brush, hair fall

What is the root cause of these tragedies?

Chemical burns. During the dying process, the stylist coats your hair in harsh chemicals that contain additives and then wraps your hair in foil and leaves your head under a dryer for a long time. This process will force the color to absorb into your hair. But with too much chemical, too sensitive hair or scalp, or too long under the foil and dryer, you could get burned and your hair could get damaged. 

Fortunately, there are ways to avoid this awful scenario and save both your scalp and your hair. 

5 Efficient Ways to Prevent Hair Dye Damage to Scalp and Hair

Be Picky with Your Salon

Make sure that whichever salon you go to does not have a running history of damaging the clientele. It is a wonderful thing with today’s technology that we can now read reviews and comments in real-time. Heed them. If you see complaints about burned scalps and hair falling out, look elsewhere.

Express Yourself

Many women I have talked to get white coat syndrome with their hairstylist. They are afraid to speak up. My grandmother even allowed a woman to tattoo on her eyebrows in a shape she did not want! Speak up. Express your concerns to your stylist so that she will be more aware of the amount of chemicals and the time under the dryer. 

Patch It

In some cases, the chemical and the dryer are not the problem. You are! Yes, you may have an allergic reaction to one of the ingredients in the dye. If you suspect this might be the case, or even just to be careful, you can ask your colorist for a patch test, where they can treat a small patch of your skin with the dye for thirty minutes to an hour to see how you react. 

Embrace the Oil

My favorite way to prep my hair and scalp before a treatment is to apply my favorite hair oil to my scalp and hair. This process acts as a protective agent against harsh chemicals both on your skin and your hair follicles, while still allowing the color or bleach to set in. 

Don’t Do It!

Finally, one great way to avoid any damage at all is to simply go au naturel. Crazy, I know. But hey, more and more women are embracing their gray and white hair. Younger women are dying their hair gray and white. And if enough of us adopt the devil may care attitude about beauty standards, it might catch on. 

Embrace the Oily Life

There is much to be said about essential oils and pure oils. From olive oil for the diet to coconut oil for the skin, and from lavender oil to calm you down to citrus oil to wake you up, oils are a truly magical addition to any beauty or self-care shelf. 

lavender essential oil, wow essential oils, buywow

The best reason to begin investing in a range of oils is they serve multiple purposes. Start with the most beneficial to your health, which is usually the most accessible, and then build out from there. 

Best Products on the Market to Help with Damage from Hair Dye

To help you on your journey to keep your hair and scalp healthy, follow the link below for a line of hair care collections. 

Hair Care Collections

At this link, you will find a range of products to browse and choose from. You do not have to pick just one! You can invest in a new shampoo and conditioner combo to treat damaged hair, a new hair oil to prevent future damage, and even a shampoo and body wash combo!

Click the links above and take your time reading ingredients lists and the benefits of each. You are sure to fall in love with many of the offerings onsite.

Shanna Mendez

Shanna Mathews Mendez is a freelance writer and blogger on topics related to self-care, naturopathy, female empowerment, and motherhood. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and children, where she enjoys traveling, being active outdoors, and studying herbalism and plant-based remedies in her free time. Drawing on her graduate degree in comparative literature and her own life experiences, she is currently writing her first book. She can be found online at her website

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