Singer Gwen Stefani has been in the press for all the wrong reasons this week after her hair-stylist revealed that he colours her hair every week. Given that the No Doubt singer has been sporting the peroxide blonde look since forever, might it be that hair loss from over-bleaching is lurking around the corner?
While some tabloid websites were quick to come to the conclusion that Stefani might be bald by the time she marries fellow The Voice USA judge Blake Shelton (a wedding is rumoured within a year), a look at the story suggests that there’s no reason for alarm bells just yet.
Healthy platinum blonde
The story of Stefani’s hair lightening regime was broken by E! Online, who quoted her hairstylist, Danilo, who has apparently made it his life’s work to keep the singer a “healthy platinum blonde”.
When asked why she doesn’t go bald because of all the bleaching, the hairstylist replies that, “We haven’t used bleach since 2004.” Instead, he says he has developed a, “High-lift formula that achieves the same effect but saves the quality of her hair.”
Danilo goes on to reveal that he looked to Scandinavia – famous for blonde hair – for inspiration, and has spent years developing his own techniques for making hair lighter. If his technique works – and pictures of Stefani’s hair suggest he’s onto something – then it is something that would doubtless be snapped up if he were to commercialise it.
He could, of course, be using the latest ‘hero product’ Olaplex which many hair professionals are hailing ‘miraculous’ as it strengthens chemically weakened hair, allowing it to still be coloured. It can also be applied during the bleaching process.
When people want to lighten their hair, the most frequently-taken route is to use a chemical solution that will break down the melanin in the hair shaft. Melanin is what gives our eyes, skin and hair their unique colour.
While some stylists – like Danilo – claim to know safe ways of lightening hair (at a price!) often involving sulphur treatments, many typically adopt more traditional methods: things like hydrogen peroxide or ammonia. Repeated use of the former in particular can lead to weakened hair and can result in breakage – literally hair snapping in two along the shaft. The result is frizzy strands and split-ends which give the appearance of damaged and thinning hair – although hair lost in this way is not an actual hair loss condition.
Hair loss from over-dyeing
There are several recognised hair loss conditions, however, that can be caused by over-bleaching. One is Traction Alopecia, a condition more commonly associated with “tight” hairstyles such as braids or cornrows which place excessive tension on the scalp. The No Doubt frontwoman does appear to be showing signs of thinning around her temples, however, whilst this is a likely case of Traction Alopecia, it is more feasible that this is the result of her hairstyling preferences. Stefani is rarely seen without a high ponytail – either her own or using hair extensions to create the look – or taut braids, all of which can cause this type of hairloss.
Chemical trauma hair loss is another possibility from over-dyeing, as is Chronic Telogen Effluvium, also known as Diffuse Thinning. This is seen as a general shedding of the hair from all-over the scalp. Once identified, these conditions can be treated by experts with a bespoke hair loss treatment course; at Belgravia these are generally built around topical applications of recommended high strength minoxidil formulations from the range offered at our in-clinic pharmacies.
Stories of extreme damage and injuries to the scalp that have arisen as a result of over-dyeing are legion, which is why hair loss experts recommend extreme caution when bleaching hair, especially at home. While hair lost as a result of over-bleaching is usually only temporary, it can take many years for hair to regain its vitality if the colour of the hair has been manipulated for a prolonged period – something that celebrities including Keira Knightley, Lady Gaga and Gabrielle Union have discovered to their peril.
If excessive shedding or signs of thinning are a concern, a visit to a hair loss expert is always a good idea. There are multiple hair loss conditions, some temporary and some permanent, each needing a skilled hand to identify and help put right, and misdiagnoses made at home are common.
If you’re a serial bleacher and everything seems to be going just fine, don’t get too complacent. Hair has a rather cruel way of catching up with years of abuse – meaning that it might be wise to ease off on the chemicals… or have a quiet word with Danilo.
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.