At-home hair color is not as easy as the box makes it look. We’ve seen women have to cut their hair to remove it from the plastic cap, allergic reactions galore, and now this: an attempt to get “unicorn hair” that went terribly wrong.
Kirsty Weston, a 29-year-old British woman, had hopes of turning her dark brown locks into shades of pastel to mimic the “unicorn” look that took over Instagram earlier this year, but instead, ended up in serious peril.
According to DailyMail, Weston claims she applied high-strength powder bleach mixed with peroxide according to the instructions on the box, but just before she was about to rinse it out after 15 minutes, she experienced a burning sensation and severe pain on her head. The next day, her face began to majorly swell.
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The devastating result was severe full thickness chemical burns that left her bald on much of her head, which required a skin graft from her right thigh to repair the damage. And after six operations and a three-week stay in the hospital, doctors told Weston her hair will never grow back in the areas where it was burned because there are no follicles in the skin that was grafted over the wounds. See the photos of Weston’s traumatic experience here, here and here. (Warning: they are graphic.)
“I wanted unicorn hair, where you lighten it and then dye over the top with lots of different pastel colors,” Weston told DailyMail. “I never thought it would end up completely destroying my hair and changing my life like this. It’s caused a lot of pain and I’ve completely lost my self-confidence.”
Monroe, NC, dermatologist Gilly Munavalli, MD, says, “It appears that Ms. Weston used a caustic chemical dye or likely a chlorine-containing bleach product on her scalp in efforts to change her hair color. The immediate pain and burning speaks against an allergic reaction and the swelling of the face isn’t uncommon when the scalp experiences some kind of trauma. She appears to have suffered from a chemical burn, which was initially managed as an infection. The debrided areas appeared to be full thickness and included the dermis of the skin, including the hair follicles. A full thickness skin graft was necessary to allow her scalp to heal.
The resulting dermal scarring wiped out the hair follicles permanently, and the only hope for partial hair restoration would involve transplantation from the unaffected hair on the scalp or another part of the body. I’m sure she had no idea what she was using when she applied it on her scalp. So many of these OTC and internet hair products are unregulated, even in the USA.”
Let this be a lesson learned, which is also the reason Weston shared her story: Taking your hair color from dark to light can involve many steps and different formulas that could potentially be harmful if not used properly. Yes it will be more costly, but it’s definitely a treatment that’s best left to the pros.
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