A Surprising Way to Stop Scalp Irritation Caused by Hair Dye

It is most likely sitting in your purse...

It never fails. Every time I color my hair, I end up with a miserably itchy scalp that flakes a few days after treatment. You might think I'm crazy to put myself through this torture every six weeks or so (unless you're the same way), but I just can't stand to have glistening silver roots. And if you're wondering why I haven't tried other brands to correct the problem. Trust me, I have. No matter how natural or gentle a brand claims to be, my scalp gets irritated.

So when I explained my situation to pro hairstylist David John at the Serge Normant at John Frieda Salon in Los Angeles, he had a simple, but surprising, solution: Sweet'N Low. Yes, as in the artificial sweetener.

He just added a few packets of the sweet stuff to the hair dye, before application, then let it sit in my hair to develop. It was just one extra little step that felt like a complete miracle to me. My scalp didn't itch, the color still looked beautiful post-rinse and I didn't see any change in my scalp a few days later.

Of course, I had to find out the science behind this discovery so I asked cosmetic chemist Kelly Dobos to explain. She says, "Cream of tartar, AKA potassium bitartrate, is one of the ingredients in Sweet'N Low. It has a low pH buffer, while saccharin [another main ingredient in it] also has an acidic pH. Because of these properties, it is believed that the addition of artificial sweeteners helps neutralize some of the ammonia used in hair color and mitigate irritation."

Really? I couldn't believe someone hadn't suggested this to me before, after all these years of coloring and complaining. Either way, I had to share my newfound knowledge. If you get an irritated scalp when you dye your hair, you might as well suggest this solution to your colorist to see if it works. I'm completely sold on it and think it's worth a try before you commit yourself to a dye-free lifestyle.

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