Can coloring my hair damage my scalp?

Hair coloring.
If you color your hair properly, the dye won't damage your scalp. See more pictures of personal hygiene practices.

For some people, changing hair color is like changing an outfit, while other people have a tried-and-true color they refresh every few months. The right hair color can be the perfect beauty accessory that plays up your complexion and polishes your look. But while hair color can be a great way to update your appearance, it requires you to cover your hair and scalp in chemicals. The result may look fabulous, but you may wonder if coloring your hair can damage your scalp.

As long as you follow the hair dye's instructions and you're not allergic to the dye, coloring your hair shouldn't damage your scalp. That being said, you're applying chemicals to your skin, so it's important to take the proper precautions.


Before you color your hair, conduct a patch test to ensure you won't have an allergic reaction to the dye. Simply place a dab of the hair dye behind your ear or just inside the crook of your arm and leave it there for two days. If you don't notice any skin irritation when you rinse off the dye, you're not allergic to it and can safely color your hair [source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration]. While this may seem like a long time to wait before coloring your hair, it's important -- allergic reactions to dyes can cause hair loss, burning, redness, itchy skin, facial swelling and breathing difficulty [source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration].

After you've conducted your patch test, take the following precautions to ensure no damage is done to your hair or scalp. First, never leave the hair dye on longer than needed -- the dye's instructions will specify an amount of time. Follow the directions carefully, and never mix multiple hair dye products. After you wash the dye from your hair, rinse your scalp thoroughly with water to ensure all the dye has been removed [source: WebMD].

If you're thinking about changing your hair color and want to learn more about safely dyeing your hair, check out the links on the following page.


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Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "Hair Dye and Hair Relaxers." (Accessed 10/1/09)
  • WebMD. "Hair Dye FAQ's." (Accessed 10/1/09)