Just How Bad Is Coloring Your Hair? – Refinery29

First, it’s important to understand the difference between a heat-damaged strand and a color-damaged one.

You know you’re color damaged when…
Hair that still has its curl or wave pattern intact, but frizzes down the mid-shaft, is color-damaged, says Shirley Gordon, a Clairol color expert. Over-processed hair, which is usually blond or going through a color correction, has really weak ends, lacks elasticity, and can even shed more than normal. “Hair dyes have several chemicals that alter the hair shaft,” Dr. Neil Sadick of Sadick Dermatology adds. “Ammonia, by elevating the hair pH, lifts the cuticle up to let the dye molecules in.” Why is that bad? “Under normal conditions, the cuticle isn’t supposed to be lifted,” he explains, “The longer it’s lifted, the more damage it sustains.”

Or is it heat damage?
On the other side of the spectrum, You’re dealing with heat damaged hair when strands are stringy and straight. “Hair strands are made of protein, and excess heat not only breaks down this protein and irreversibly changes it, but also removes water and moisture from the hair shaft,” says Dr. Sadick.

For the record, it’s heat damaged hair (not colored) that can cause you to lose your curl pattern completely. “Unfortunately, once heat damages hair, the existing hairs are hard to repair and return to their original state as proteins are altered irreversibly,” Dr. Sadick notes. “Like boiling an egg, you can’t reverse the process. Also, curlier hair is more fragile as every curling point along the strand is a potential point of breakage.” Both Gordon and Dr. Sadick agree that you’d have to get a big chop to get your curls back to their virgin state.

Moral of the story? Hair that’s become stringy and straighter is likely heat damaged. Hair that’s become frizzier is likely color damaged. Although there are exceptions and combinations of damage, understanding the difference will help you lay off the right culprit until your hair recovers.

So what do you do now? Keep clicking to find out…