Chemicals used in hair dyes that have been linked to cases of hair loss could soon be weeded out thanks to the pioneering work of scientists in the US.
PhD student Tova Williams and a team of researchers at the North Carolina State University have created what is being hailed as the largest publicly available chemical database of hair dye substances which they have opened up to anyone interested in the field of hair colourants.
Dyes which cause allergic reactions
The structure and properties of more than 300 substances that have been used in current and past commercial hair dyes are classified and grouped in the University’s database, with detailed information on those which are most likely to cause allergic reactions, increase cancer risk and cause other health-related problems. The goal is to create a new generation of hair colour products, they say, that are safer for consumers, stylists and the environment.
Not all colourants are created equal – nor is everyone’s scalp and tolerability the same, which explains some of the isolated but alarming cases when people’s reactions to certain chemical formulas are claimed to have been almost fatal.
The wrong combination of potentially problematic dyes and sensitive scalps – coupled in some instances with poor application processes – can spell disaster. Indeed, chemical trauma brought on by hair dyes is not uncommon, and this can cause hair loss when the follicles become sufficiently damaged.
Permanent hair loss from chemical treatments
In extreme cases, when the chemicals – including those used to perm or relax the hair – cause severe burns to the scalp or enough damage to destroy the follicles, a condition known as cicatricial alopecia can ensue. This means that even a personalised hair loss treatment course is futile given the follicles can no longer be stimulated.
In these instances the resulting baldness tends to be permanent, though occasionally a specialised surgeon may be able to resolve it if a hair transplant procedure is deemed suitable. Suitability is decided strictly on a case-by-case basis and involves considering a number of factors, including the extent of any damage to the scalp and amount of usable donor hair.
Most of the time, the kind of hair loss caused by chemical trauma can be less difficult to deal with, especially when it is caught early on and the damaging processes that lead to the issue are not repeated. Belgravia experts have found that topically-applied high-strength minoxidil from the available formulations at each of the hair loss clinics’ in-house pharmacies can be effective. These are applied once or twice a day, as directed by each client’s dedicated treatment advisor, to the affected areas for localised stimulation.
Licensed by the UK’s MHRA and approved by the US’s FDA for use on the genetic conditions male and female pattern baldness, minoxidil is a vasodilator which opens up the potassium channels to better facilitate hair growth. Whilst only recognised by these medical regulatory boards for these specific uses on hereditary hairloss, the drug is widely understood to have a larger scope of application. Indeed, Belgravia’s experts have used appropriate solutions to significant effect when treating other hair loss conditions.
Data and dyes
The new database created by the team in North Carolina is expected to be given more of a boost when the scientists start matching their findings up with the thousands of dyes that have been made available to them via the state’s Max B, Weaver Dye Library, which was donated by the Eastman Chemical Company.
Anything that can be done to reduce the potential danger of people dying their hair is naturally to be celebrated, especially with the prevalence of dye-related hair breakage cases. This happens when chemically-treated hair or hair that is too frequently exposed to high temperatures due to heat-styling, has the moisture and nutrients leached from it by the dye or it becomes dried out. Especially common when hair is bleached, or in cases where over-use of hair straighteners can actually cause the hair to ‘melt’, the hair snaps along the shaft, making it look frizzy and thin.
The best course of action when hair breakage of this type happens is usually to trim the ends, lay off the bleach and/or colourants and give the hair and scalp lots of TLC. Keeping the hair clean without stripping it of good oils, and regularly nourishing it with intensive conditioning treatments designed to strengthen the hair is certainly a wise way to proceed if you colour your hair. Many people are discovering bond re-building products, such as Olaplex, are particularly useful for malnourished or mistreated hair.
Ensuring optimum hair-friendly nutrition can also be beneficial, with targeted supplements for healthy hair growth, such as Belgravia’s Hair Vitalics for Men or Hair Vitalics for Women. These contain a unique blend of key vitamins, minerals, amino acids and botanical extracts known to facilitate the normal functioning of the hair growth cycle, provided in optimum doses to ensure the hair is as strong and vibrant as possible.
If you are unsure whether your thinning hair is down to breakage or an actual hair loss condition, the best thing to do is get professional advice in order to put your mind at rest. A consultation with a hair loss specialist, whether in person or online, will offer a diagnosis as well as advice on the best hair loss treatments for your particular condition, level and pattern of shedding, where necessary.
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.