Hair Dyeing

Written by Kristina Collins, M.D., FAAD

Hair color is interesting because there is such a large amount of color variation and also because of the way it often changes over time. Overall, our hair color comes from something called melanin and increased amounts of melanin leads to darker hair colors. Our hair color may change due to hormonal fluctuations and often gets darker as we age. As we move into our more senior years our bodies make less melanin and our hair becomes gray.

Lots of people like to modify the color of their hair to reflect their personal style. It’s important to remember that any chemical modifications to the hair can lead to increased dryness and breakage. Certain hair color processes, like bleaching, are especially damaging to the hair.

In general, we recommend sticking to professional salon services for bleaching or highlighting the hair or there could be disastrous results! If you do want to experiment with hair color at home, it is best to stick to colors a few shades away from your natural color, or you can try a gloss, which won’t change your hair color much but can provide enhanced shine.

  • Make sure to protect the skin near the hairline with petroleum jelly like Vaseline when dyeing hair at home, and if you are just touching up the roots don’t pull color all the way to the ends.
  • Super colorful, bright hues like pink or blue can be fun to try but keep in mind you will usually need to bleach the hair first in order to get those colors to shine, so you may want to get a professional on board to help you.
  • It can be tempting to try to lighten the hair naturally, but keep in mind that most methods of lightening, even if “natural,” are drying to the hair. Spritzing on lemon juice is one of the most popular methods, but this is not a great idea. The lemon juice is acidic and can actually burn the hair, and even worse, the lemon juice that comes into contact with your skin can cause a serious rash when exposed to the sun. So, it’s probably best to save the lemon juice for your sparkling water and leave it off your hair.
    • Apple cider vinegar can be used on the hair as a gentle and natural lightening solution but results will likely not be super noticeable.
    • One more natural solution? You can spritz on a handmade concoction of water mixed with salt and crushed vitamin C. This can enhance the natural lightening that occurs when hair is exposed to the sun. But beware — any of these DIY techniques can lead to a brassy or orangey hue and can leave strands dehydrated.