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From washing to blow-drying to coloring, we devote a lot of our waking hours towards primping and preening our hair. Ever wonder how much time you spend styling your hair throughout the course of a year? According to a survey by beauty product retailer Fabriah.com, a woman spends an average of 10 days per year styling her hair! With all the styling we do to our hair, it is important to ask the question “How does styling affect the health of my hair?” Although coloring and other styling techniques seem to improve the aesthetic appeal of our hair, unfortunately over-styling can actually damage your hair and potentially lead to hair loss.

Many of the products we put in our hair for coloring or bleaching can dry out the hair or irritate the scalp. Excessive use of these products can be so irritating to the follicle and scalp that it can actually lead to hair loss! Using chemicals to straighten or curl can also be very damaging, as it dries out the hair leaving it brittle and prone to breakage. There have also been reports of scalp burns from the chemicals in perms and processing, which can lead to dramatic and sudden hair loss. Although this is often the result of improper color application or overly aggressive processing, it is important to have your hair done by a trained professional in order to minimize the risk of damaging your hair. Also, ask your stylist about the different product options they offer, and which options are most follicle friendly (we recommend always using ammonia-free or low-ammonia hair dyes and never bleach your hair!).

Unfortunately, it is not just the products we use that can cause damage to our hair. Many of the techniques we use to style our hair can also cause damage and hair loss. Extreme heat from the constant use of a flat iron or blow dryer can dry out the hair and lead to breakage. Ponytails, braids, extensions, and weaves put a lot of stress on the roots of the follicle and over time can lead to traction alopecia, a form of hair loss that is often times permanent.

This does not mean we should immediately stop styling our hair! The key is to use the right products, a professional stylist, and practice moderation with your styling techniques. Make sure you work with your stylist to select the most follicle friendly hair dyes. Ask them about the risks associated with using any product or styling technique. Lastly, if you are ever concerned about a product or hair styling technique causing hair loss, speak with a hair loss specialist that can guide you through best practices for styling your hair. Medi Tresse embodies your local Boston area hair loss specialist team.

Posted by Lacey Sellati, RN, PA-C