Hair Dye Cause Cancer?

As a girl who dyes my hair every two or three months, I’ve always known that the dye is slightly damaging to my hair but I never thought it was too harmful. Yet recently I’ve heard that hair dye could cause cancer, which would seem plausible considering the harsh chemicals in the product, but is it true?


A question like this though is very broad but the American Cancer Society explains the possible link between cancer and hair dye. The main hair dye that would be a concern would be permanent dye because it causes lasting chemical changes in the hair shaft. This is the most popular of the hair dyes since it lasts the longest. You can be exposed to hair dyes if you dye your hair but the ones with the most exposure are hairdressers. Some studies have fed lab animals large amounts of the dyes over a long period time. These studies fond that the chemicals in the hair dyes, specifically certain aromatic amines, caused cancer in the animals. Yet they did not find a link between the dyes application to skin and cancer. When studying people, multiple observational studies focus on the risk of bladder cancer, breast cancer, and leukemia. The majority of studies who focused on hairdressers or other people exposed to dyes at work, reported a fairly consistent higher risk of bladder cancer. Yet they found no increase risk for those who only are exposed if they dye their hair.

Although the studies so far have not found a very strong relationship between hair dye and cancer, more research needs to be done to determine if hair dye might increase your risk for cancer after long term use. As of right now though there does not seem to be enough evidence to alter your hair dye usage.


6 thoughts on “Hair Dye Cause Cancer?

  1. Kaylani Chang

    This is definitely relevant to alot girls because dying hair is so common. I know that I get my hair done every couple months and I’m always concerned as to what the dye could be damaging besides my hair. This article states that hair dye used in the 70’s was shown to cause cancer, but whether hair dye today does as well is still unclear.

  2. Asia Grant

    I found it a little peculiar that the associated cancer to hair dye wasn’t something along the lines of skin cancer, but instead bladder cancer. I question the connection between the two since ingestion would most likely need to happen for something to be connected to contracting bladder cancer; so maybe there is a outstanding or hidden variable that is linking the lifestyle of the type of people who frequently are exposed to hair dye and bladder cancer. I think the breast cancer speaks for itself as well, since most people who are dying their hair tend to be women. I feel like the argument would be stronger if it went into more depth about the people that were found to have cancer.

    Also, if the hair dye was actually the reason for the cancer, it would be interesting to look up if different types or strengths of hair dye have stronger or weaker affects. I know in the hair dying process there are different levels of developer(the things that removes the your original hair color) that vary in strength. Maybe the stronger developer puts you at more risk than one of the weaker ones? Maybe that would be something you would be interested in looking in to.

  3. Taylor Mason-little Post author

    Hopefully the post helps Patrick and there should be more studies going on in the future to look further into this and look at other possible harmful effects from the chemicals.

  4. Taylor Mason-little Post author

    Alison I have not heard about those gloves but that seems to be at least a step in the right direction for working to avoid the risk of cancer. And my fault I accidentally left out the part where the study also tested the animals by putting the dye directly on their skin and it did soak into the bloodstream; but that is how they found no strong link between skin application and risk of cancer.

  5. Alison B Mamtsis

    My aunt has always told me not to dye my hair because putting chemicals directly onto your skin, and into your follicles, cannot be healthy. She is a hair dresser, and she says that years ago hair dying used to be taken very lightly, but now with all of these new studies out about the chemicals in the dyes that they are extra cautious when it comes to protection. They’re spending more money on thicker gloves that cover more skin, make sure to wash their hands thoroughly between each session, and dispose of their gloves and extra dye safely. I think that the study you found seems a little iffy due to the fact that they fed the animals the dye instead of applying it to their skin, because ingesting chemicals and contact with them are completely different. However, I do believe that years from now once there is enough information that more concrete answers will come.

  6. Patrick Mansfield

    I found your post especially interesting, due to the fact that I can relate to it. I don’t die my hair (I’m a guy) but my mom, who’s well over the hill in her age, does it at least once a week. She’s very insecure about her “gray roots”, so she’s constantly using nasty chemicals that smell up the house. I saw a recent study on the same concept of these dyes causing cancer, and I immediately told her about it. While she didn’t pay much attention, I think showing her your post might help.

Leave a Reply