Just How Bad Is Coloring Your Hair?

Photographed by Natalia Mantini.
Who could forget the aspiring YouTuber whose curling iron tutorial went viral after the too-hot tool broke off a huge chunk of her hair. Sure, it was hilarious and got her a slot on Ellen, but the millions of views also help to prove that we all know that heat damage is very real — even if the young vlogger learned a little too late.
Heat damage is the reason many of us stow our flat irons and blow-dryers whenever possible, if only to spare our strands the split ends that can happen with even the slightest bit of overuse. Personally, it's one of the reasons why I chose to go natural, because like many men and women, my hair had suffered severe breakage after being sizzled into shape for years.
These days, the heat styling horror stories are a dime a dozen, but it turns out, there is another culprit that could be just as bad, and maybe even worse: hair color. Estimates on just how many of us color our hair are spotty, but data suggests it's going up dramatically, year by year. One stat says it was around a third of adult Americas back in 2005, while many studies say it's risen to 70% of us today — with some smaller samplings show that number could be even higher.
With a new hair color trend dropping with every internet page refresh — Think: rose gold, hygge, and mermaid hair — and bond-building products that promise to save your hair from damage becoming commonplace, it's certainly tempting to change your hue with your mood. But if you're suffering from thinning, breaking, shedding, or lackluster hair and have no hope for the future, cheer up, buttercup. A haircut might be your solution, but it can be a last resort if you take precaution and reverse your habits ahead of time.
Read on to diagnose your damage and learn how to make your color habit far more sustainable for the health of your hair.