Hair Coloring and Breakage

Hairdresser coloring hair
Q: I seem to have more hair breakage since I color my hair. I get it colored in a salon and would expect that they do it professionally without damaging may hair. Why is my hair breaking?
A: Any artificial hair-color will damage your hair to some extent. This is because of the fact that chemicals are used to “force” open the hair cuticles, (or the outside “wall” of the hair structure), to enter the inside of the hair. Here, the artificial color particles then attach to the inner cortex of the hair, meaning that your hair is ultimately rendered a different color.
For minimum damage, you should use semi-permanent color or color shampoos. These do not contain ammonium, which is the biggest culprit in damaging hair when hair is colored. Keep in mind that these semi-permanent hair colors will not work on gray or especially stubborn hair. Stubborn hair washes artificial color out easily.
The abovementioned is only relevant to hair colors such as black, brown, red, copper etc. The rule of thumb is that the darker color your choose, the less structural damage it will do to the hair. This is because darker colors need less ammonium to lighten the natural hair color. Less ammonium = less damage. You won’t be able to color a natural brunette to a blonde with semi-permanent color though.
If you’re having highlights done, damage to a certain extent is guaranteed. Highlights are done with bleach, which basically strips and annihilates your hair’s natural pigment. The lighter you go, the more pigment is stripped and the more damage is done to your hair.
Professional salons obviously know how to minimize damage done to hair as much as possible, and to what color level your hair can be lightened or darkened without damaging the hair to such an extent that it doesn’t look healthy anymore. The fact is that colored hair will always need more moisturizing products and maintenance than non-colored hair.
You can ask your hairdresser about professional ranges of bleaches that do less damage to hair than cheaper bleach products. You can also use products with macadamia oil in it to strengthen your hair, so that it withstands chemical damage much better.
See also:
How to recognize hair breakage
The difference between broken hair and new growth
Hair breakage in fall and winter