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Hair Shaving, Dying and Damage

Q: This winter I shaved my long hair in order for it to grow back stronger and healthy. And as it started growing back I could tell it was better. As soon as it reached below my ears I decided to dye it black. I've dyed my hair several times before with no problems. It's been around 2-3weeks since I dyed it and I've noticed that my scalp is irritated and is sometimes red. It doesn't itch or anything though.
 
Also, whenever I run my hands through my hair a bit aggressively as I've always done, several hairs may fall off. I noticed that some of the hairs were short. So I thought my hair was splitting, but there's a small white part on the end of each hair. I'm not sure if this is because I dyed it, or if I'm overreacting.
 
One last thing, whenever I touch my scalp I can feel tons of short hairs beneath my longer hair. I don't remember my hair being like this. Then again it was almost 6 months ago since I shaved it. Please, help. Is my hair damaged? And if so, what should I do to get it back the way it was?

 
A: This is an interesting question. The redness and irritation (even without accompanying itch or pain) does indicate that your scalp may be sensitive to the hair dye you’ve used. The “white part” on the end of each hair COULD be split ends (a sign of damage). I would recommend you have weekly deep-conditioning or hot oil treatments to help strengthen and moisturize the hair.
 
      The second stylist should also have been careful to pre-test the hair before doing anything to it, to prevent the damage you received. I cannot stress enough to my readers that before ANY salon chemical service (even if you’ve had it before) you should have a strand test AND patch test to make sure the hair will respond appropriately and that the chemicals won’t cause a reaction with your skin. These are the first things most stylists are taught in cosmetology schools because the emphasis is on safety. I don’t know that it is stressed as much in salons because these tests are often time consuming and for a salon business, time is money.
 
      As far as the “short hairs” are concerned, you need to try to get a closer look at them (or better still, visit a salon and have a professional give you an assessment). If there is signs of breakage on the ends of the short hairs, then that is another indicator of damage (and the conditioning will help), but it may also be simply a matter of a larger proportion of the follicles having ‘synchronized’ and entered the shedding phase at the same time and therefore began growing new hairs which you are noticing now. The length of these short hairs will also be telling, since the hair of the scalp tends to grow an average of ½ inch per month, three weeks’ worth of growth would mean that if the hairs broke off having been damaged by the dying process, they would only be around one-quarter-to-three-eighths inches in length after 2-3 weeks. If these shorter hairs are longer than that, and especially if the short hairs are dyed, it would indicate that the short hairs are not related to the hair dying endeavor.
 
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