Does Dying Your Hair Damage It Forever? Here's What The Experts Have To Say

As someone who started highlighting her hair in the fifth grade, and has since tried out multiple hair colors, from platinum blonde to the blackest black, I've often wondered if dying your hair damages it forever, or if I'd be able to completely restore my hair's health, even with continuously coloring it. Needless to say, the question is a loaded one, and the answer depends on quite a few different variables.

To break down this question and others surrounding the topic of keeping color-treated hair healthy, I enlisted the help of a few celebrity colorists that you're more than likely familiar with. Here, George Papanikolas, Jennifer Yepez, Jonathan Colombini, and Kellon Deryck all set the record straight on whether or not coloring your hair damages it forever and provide some tips you should know about maintaining healthy, color-treated hair.

Does coloring or bleaching your hair damage it forever?

In short, the general consensus amongst the celebrity colorists that I consulted with is that, yes, dying and bleaching your hair permanently alters the integrity of your hair. However, if you make sure to get your hair done by an experienced colorist, then the damage should be minimal.

"Once you lighten the hair, the texture is changed forever. However, how drastic that change is will depend on how well your stylist knows how to care for colored hair," says Kellon Deryck, a L’Oréal Paris consulting hair colorist & expert who slays the manes of celebs like Cardi B and Blac Chyna. "Color damage is a permanent downfall of coloring hair, but it can be avoided by using the proper techniques"

Jonathan Colombini, a L'Oreal Paris celebrity hairstylist & colorist whose stylist chair has seen the likes of Kylie and Kendall Jenner, says that the elasticity of your hair is always reduced "to some degree" when you color your hair. And, of course, the color you choose to dye it effects the amount of damage done. "Bleaching your hair is going to damage it faster than coloring, so be sure to always follow with at-home care," he explains.

On that note, Jennifer Yepez, a Kérastase celebrity hairstylist whose client roster contains the likes of Bella Hadid, Winnie Harlow, Hailey Baldwin, and Emily Ratajkowski, also suggests getting your hands on at-home treatment to care for your hair post-color appointment. "If you go to a colorist that knows what they are doing and takes steps to properly care for your hair, your hair should not be damaged beyond repair," she says. "If you feel like your hair is damaged from color, you can do several treatments. The best at-home treatment is Kérastase Fusio-Dose Homelab. The kit comes with four treatments that you can do throughout the month."

Prior to sitting down in the salon chair with your trusted colorist, you should know the general rule of thumb for coloring hair to avoid damage. According to George Papanikolas, Matrix celebrity stylist to stars like Fergie, Jenna Dewan, and Madonna, "the universal rule for keeping hair in optimum condition when going lighter is to stay within two shades of your natural base color when coloring (otherwise it can get brassy) and four shades when highlighting (otherwise it can be harsh on the hair/skin and get damaged)."

Can you ever restore your hair to be as healthy as your virgin hair was pre-color? What about pre-bleaching?

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Papanikolas says the only guaranteed way to restore your hair's health back to its pre-colored state is to cut off the previously colored, bleached, or damaged hair and grow it back. "Then, it will be healthy, virgin hair again, even after bleaching," he says. "The new hair [that is] untouched by chemicals will be virgin."

Luckily, if you want to continue coloring your hair, there are still ways to maintain healthy color-treated hair that is almost as healthy as the pre-treated, virgin hair you once knew.

So, how can you restore at least some of your hair's health?

While you can't technically ever get your hair back to how healthy it was pre-color appointment, unless you grow it out and start fresh, the experts here agree that the two most promising ways to preserve the integrity of color-treated hair moving forward are by seeing a professional stylist and by using quality products at home following your color appointment.

Yepez asserts that seeing a reputable colorist is of the utmost importance, rather than trying to cut corners and do something drastic yourself. "Don’t try and save money and not get what you want or have your hair damaged," she says. "You will always spend more money trying to fix your hair! Also, be sure you do treatments and have a good shampoo, conditioner, and mask regimen at home.

What is the best post-dye job routine to follow to make sure your hair stays as healthy as possible?

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In short, after you color, it's best to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate — and protect your hair against heat.

"Deep conditioning is an absolute must — the longer the conditioner sits, the better," shares Deryck. "Don't perform any other color job or apply any perms or relaxers for at least a few weeks to avoid over-processing (aka frying) your hair. Try to stay away from heat as much as you can, [as] your hair struggles to retain moisture after being colored (especially after it's lightened), so excessive blow drying or flat ironing will only dry the hair out more."

Deryck also recommends wrapping your hair or sleeping with a silk pillowcase, which helps drastically decrease the chance of breakage.

The takeaway? While you can't technically reverse the damaging effects of coloring or bleaching your hair, you can take very important steps to maintain the integrity of color-treated hair to ensure a shiny, strong, healthy mane.