It’s not just gentlemen who allegedly prefer blondes – the UK consumes more pale hair dye than any other shade, according to new research.
But when it comes to getting the perfect tone – from golden to platinum – the darker your natural hair colour, the more damage you could be doing. And – especially if you forget to patch test – you could even be risking permanent hair loss.
A survey by Mintel found that, in 2017, 42 per cent of people who dyed their hair opted to go blonde, with 18 per cent choosing platinum – the ultimate silver-toned icy shade.
Whilst the 29 per cent of the British population who are natural blondes may use dyes to enhance their colour, the 48 per cent majority who are natural brunettes, and particularly the 8 per cent born with black hair, should take care when undergoing a radical hair transformation.
What’s the difference between blonde hair dye and bleach?
There is often confusion over the fact that there are blonde hair dyes and then there is hair bleach – these are related but different products.
Blonde dye can lift hair by a one or two shades and tends to only be suitable for light shades of brown or dark blondes. It should only be used on natural virgin hair, not on top of hair that has already been bleached or coloured. Blonde hair dye tends to come as a liquid formula which – in home-use box dye kits – is applied via a nozzled bottle.
Whilst not exactly good for the hair, if used according to the directions and not applied too often, as long as the hair is otherwise well-cared for and in good condition, blonde hair dye should do nothing worse than potentially cause some hair breakage if the dyeing process dries it out.
Bleach, however, is a far stronger chemical which strips all pigments – natural hair colour and synthetic dyes – from the hair making it useful for transforming all hair colours. It can lift even dark hair by around four to five shades at a time, when applied all over or as highlights.
Hair bleach is a creamy-paste applied with a brush and made by mixing cream peroxide with powdered bleach which strips colour out but – unlike blonde dyes – does not add any colour in. The final shade of blonde is achieved by adding a toner product once the bleaching process has achieved a sufficiently light and even base.
When this is applied improperly – for example, for too long or too frequently – it has the potential to cause a number of issues. Due to it leaching moisture from the hair, making it drier and more brittle – changing its natural texture – as well as running the risk of Chemical Trauma hair loss. This happens when the chemicals burn the scalp, often causing permanent baldness in the affected areas.
There are products known as ‘high lift dyes’ which fall between these two categories, being both a blonde hair dye – depositing colour – and also containing a lower dose of bleach. Whilst gentler on the hair than pure bleach, it is still a powerful product which can harm the hair, especially if applied too often or for too long – and especially if the hair is not healthy to begin with.
Avoiding damaged hair
Before colouring the hair, especially when considering going blonde – or blonder – it is important to ensure the hair is in the best condition possible. The stronger and healthier the hair, the less prone is will be to damage from dyes and bleach.
Intensive strengthening and conditioning treatments can help here, as can the use of bonding products such as Olaplex and Innoluxe, both before and after colouring. Additionally, optimising the intake of hair-friendly vitamins and minerals can help to improve hair health from the inside. For those who wish to top-up further, highly-targeted food supplements to support healthy hair growth, such as Belgravia’s premium range of Hair Vitalics, can be beneficial.
Whether having hair dyed professionally or using home kits, it is critical that a patch test be properly carried out in advance. Allergic reactions to hair dye can occur even if the product has been successfully used without issue in the past so it is important never to skip this easily overlooked step. Health issues and hair loss can arise from having a bad reaction to hair dye, as many real life stories attest to.
Always follow the directions on any home-use dyes or bleaches, or tell the colourist if you experience any discomfort during the dyeing process at a salon. It is important to communicate any concerns to your hairdresser as soon as possible so that – if there is an issue – they can rinse the problematic solution from your hair immediately to help minimise damage.
Once the colour transformation is complete, care for the hair – which may look wonderful but is likely to be parched and weakened, especially when bleached – with protein-rich, hydrating products suitable for your hair type. Also try to minimise the amount of heat styling involved as this will only further weaken damaged hair.
Beauty companies understand the gap in the market for less harsh hair colourants and are trying to develop appropriate solutions. One such product is graphene hair dye which forms a coating around each hair, rather than changing the hairs themselves.
For now, anyone wanting to go blonde without damaging their hair or risking hair loss is advised to seek professional advice – at least visit a hairdresser for a consultation even if you decide to do it yourself at home – carry out a patch test first, and don’t neglect the preparation and aftercare needed to keep the hair in the best possible condition. If anything does go wrong and excessive hair fall, breakage or shedding occurs, visit a hair loss specialist – again, even if just for a complimentary consultation to put your mind at rest – and avoid using potentially harmful products or heated stylers such as hair straighteners until the hair is in better health.
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.