“Dear Team Krya, My hair is severely damaged from frequent colouring. I now have to do a “hair spa” treatment nearly every week because otherwise my hair is very dull, dry and breaks easily. Is there any remedy you can suggest for this?, NR, Mumbai
It is apparent that India loves experimenting with hair. The Indian hair colour market is growing by nearly 25% every year and is now close to 3000 crores in size. Hair texture alteration treatments are a hot new trend in India and Cysteine based hair straightening, which is often sold as purely natural and an “organic” treatment is a “hot” hair care trend.
Interestingly several industry reports also highlight the growing demand for hair loss and baldness reversal solutions. It is estimated that balding has now begun appearing 10 years earlier than it used to with a drastic rise in teenage and young adult hair fall problems. The hair restoration industry is now worth over Rs.800 crores in India with a year on year growth of 25% !
The irony of these 2 research reports is not lost on me, as I receive a staggering number of increasingly desperate emails and calls from consumers who confess to colouring or altering their hair and are now looking for a solution to repair the damage.
This leads me to the 2 questions that I am asked by these consumers: Why do these treatments damage hair? And what can I do about it?
Hair colour damage step 1 : cuticle damage
The cuticle of the hair is a very carefully thought through structure that protects the inner core of your hair from damage. Just like the bark of a tree, it provides an outer coating and the health of the cuticle determines the gloss, shine and smoothness of hair.
Hair colours attack the inner core of the hair, and the cuticle is the first barrier to the entry of hair colour into your hair. To penetrate the hair shaft, the hair colour alters the pH of hair from its natural acidic state to an alkaline level. At this alkaline level, the cuticle is forcefully lifted up exposing the inner sections of hair, and the hair colour penetrates through into the hair shaft.
Hair colour damage step 2: removing your current hair colour
Once the hair cuticle has been lifted, the hair colour has to alter the natural colour of your hair. However, the new colour cannot be added onto the existing colour. So the pre-step to changing colour is to remove the existing colour of hair. This is where peroxide and other bleaching agents in hair dyes and hair colours come in.
Peroxide breaks down the hair’s natural colour pigment and bleaches hair – so ironically in adding colour to your hair, you are first graying it before colouring it. Bleaching agents like peroxide are extremely drying and damaging to hair. With the protective cuticle now being lifted up and your hair’s natural colour being broken down, your hair’s texture will now be unhealthy, dry and straw like.
At this stage the colour is applied to your hair and there is a waiting period as the colour penetrates the hair shaft. During this entire time, because of the altered pH of your hair, the cuticle remains in a lifted state – the longer the cuticle is in this state, the weaker it becomes, and the higher the damage is.
What happens with repeated hair colouring?
As you continue to colour your hair repeatedly, the hair texture becomes worse as the cuticle is repeatedly lifted, forcefully held up , natural colour pigments are bleached and then hair colour is injected. After a point of damage, your hair will no longer be able to absorb any colour. So when you go to your salon to colour your hair, your hair stylist will tell you that your hair is now too damaged to be coloured!
Hair colours are semi permanent, but the damage done to your hair is pretty much permanent.
Part 1 on this post on chemical damage speaks about the hazards behind colouring your hair. Part 2, which goes up tomorrow, will tackle hair smoothening and “deep conditioning” services like the very popular “Cysteine treatment” and how these damage your hair.
The Krya Hair Damage Repair system:
The Krya Hair Damage Repair System consists of an Oil, a Hair Wash and a Hair Mask for chemically damaged hair, of which the Hair Oil pre-launches today.
Severely chemically treated hair becomes extremely porous because of multiple injuries to the hair cuticle. When tested in water, this kind of hair will absorb water and sink to the bottom as its porosity allows water to invade the hair. In this state, hair is vulnerable to the many chemicals that are applied on it and will absorb all of them increasing damage. Colours also permanently damage the hair shaft as they lift the cuticular structure and inject chemicals like PPD inside the hair shaft to ensure the hair colour stays longer without getting washed out. (The lack of this kind of chemical in natural hair colours is why they wash out much faster from your hair compared to your salon brand of hair colour).
Chemically damaged hair also contains a layer of toxins on the scalp as this kind of hair is regularly coated with synthetic conditioners and treatments to artificially smoothen it and “condition” it externally.
Because of the permanent nature of the damage wrought by chemical treatments, we have to ensure that the existing hair is conditioned and boosted with moisture so that it is more manageable and new growth is stimulated with better nourishment being given to new hair growth to ensure the hair is stronger. The regenerative capacity of hair of course depends upon the body’s state of health and the food being eaten.
Our Hair oil for severely damaged hair uses a whole host of powerful herbs. Some of them like Liquorice and Bhringaraj (Eclipta alba) work on the cuticular structure and provide moisture and nourishment to smoothen and condition hair. Others like parsley , marigold and thyme contain anti oxidants that stimulate collagen production to promote the growth of stronger hair. Flaxseed’s fatty acids and anti oxidants remove dead cells and toxins from the scalp, and lemongrass balances sebum production ensuring the scalp produces the right amount of oil for the hair.