Editorial Note: Following a redesign of the website in 2015, the Hair Zone mentioned in this article now works differently. You can search for hair related side effects in the Drugs A-Z section. Side effects can be reported using the main “Report a Side Effect” function.
RxISK.org, the first free independent website for researching and reporting prescription drug side effects, has just added a Hair Zone to both highlight and to collect more data on the links between prescription drugs and our hair.
“CSI fans know that the most accurate way to identify the drugs a person takes is to analyze hair samples,” says Dr. David Healy, RxISK.org CEO. “Hair accumulates drugs when people take them and laboratory hair sample tests are legally and scientifically recognized as admissible evidence in courts around the world. Long before drug effects on hair are widely known, hair stylists are likely to be the earliest observers. Truth be told, your hairdresser could tell you a lot about you and the drugs you take.”
Dr. Dee Mangin, RxISK.org’s Chief Medical Officer explains, “it makes sense that this accumulation has effects on the hair itself. In the sixties women and their hair stylists were the first to identify changes in hair consistency caused by the use of oral contraceptives: it was discovered that oral contraceptives caused women’s hair to thin – both during use and after. But it’s not just The Pill – a lot of commonly used drugs cause hair side effects including blood pressure medications, cholesterol drugs, and antidepressants. Some of the most commonly used drugs in Britain and North America have thinning effects on hair. But its not just hair thinning – drugs can really cause problems with the way hair treatments like colours, extensions and waves ‘take’.”
Kaye Briden, owner of Yazu Hair Lounge in New Zealand, has over 30 years experience in the industry. She says “over the years, hair stylists have come to learn that antidepressants can cause hair to dry out and thin to the point that it won’t take extensions; chemotherapy causes hair to fall out and grow back a different color; and when a color doesn’t take in a person’s hair it is likely because of some medication he or she is taking. But up until now there has been no way to highlight or share this knowledge.”
Dr. Dee Mangin, says, “men, women and their stylists know more about the effect of drugs on hair than anyone else. These effects can be devastating, but because there is no current way to share this information the link to treatment is often not made by patients and their doctors. Until we pool the collective wisdom men and women and their hairdressers have, and make it accessible, it will not be useful. This is what the RxISK Hair Zone is all about.”
Kaye Briden agrees “hair stylists are in the best position to understand what is happening to the hair and why, and to help clients with these effects. There is for example a yellowing of hair that’s due to hormonal changes or treatment. We will often know from your hair that you are pregnant before you do.”
Not all effects are negative says Mangin. “A famous drug discovery in recent years, Latisse, was revealed when women noticed an involuntary thickening and elongation of their eyelashes while using an eye-drop.”
The RxISK Hair Zone has been designed so people can look up and report specifically the effects of drugs on hair and the use of hair products and treatments.
RxISK.org allows users to enter the name of a prescription drug and see the side effects that have been reported to the FDA since 2004, as well as to RxISK, for more than 35,000 drug names from 103 countries. The data is presented in tables, tag clouds, heat maps, and interactive graphs, showing what’s happening with other people taking the same drug around the world.
Users can then select the effect(s) they are experiencing and click on Report a Drug Side Effect to complete a report. They get a personalized RxISK Report linking their symptoms and meds, which they can take to their doctor or pharmacist to facilitate a better treatment conversation. This will also add their anonymized experience to the RxISK database so that others can benefit from this information.
RxISK.org is owned and operated by Data Based Medicine Americas Ltd. (DBM), based in Toronto, Canada. DBM’s founders have international reputations in early drug-side-effect detection and risk mitigation, pharmacovigilance, and patient-centered care. Although drug side effects are known to be a leading cause of death and disability, less than 5% of serious drug side effects are reported. DBM’s mission is to capture this missing data directly from patients through RxISK’s free drug side effect reporting tool and use this data to help make medicines safer for all of us.
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Thank you for this post.
I think it’s very important to us to get information about prescription drugs.
I’m a hairdresser and had an experience with a client who had a lumpectomy about 5 weeks ago. I put on her usual formula, which is an ash and her roots came out very warm. In the past, the color would turn out beautiful and I had no problems. I’m wondering if any of the drugs or anesthetic she had during surgery could affect the hair color? Also, she’s not having chemotherapy or radiation but treating it with huge doses of different supplements. Could the supplements also affect the coloring process? Any info on this would be much appreciated.
It would be great if you and this lady could report what you have noticed here. This will involve the woman finding out what the anesthetics she had were. Anesthetic drugs can cause a huge range of problems days or weeks later that few people ever link back to the anesthetic – if only because people naturally focus on the operation rather than the drugs. Its only when we have more people reporting what happens them after anesthetics that we will be able to answer your question.
Until then, while we may not know the cause, you and your client are the people best placed to decide whether what you are seeing is in fact happening – and the next question is why is it happening.
I am a client who is naturally blond. My professional colorist uses now oligo but previously joico products and for a years I’ve been going ash blond. A month before my last hair appointment I had my gallbladder removed and an adrenalectomy. I don’t know what anesthesia was used but my roots came out orange reddish pinkish Orange. I am 39 and have been getting my hair colored lighter blond since I was 19 and my hair never pulls warm… Never. I am devastated even after bleaching and toning it is better but I still have pink new growth. I paid almost $300 and I hate my hair and I don’t even want to be seen in public which is impossible because I have my own business and I have to be at work every day. This shit is real and I have not been able to find anything but this as to why it might have happened
I am a hair extensions specialist and I have a client who’s hair extensions keep slipping out, I never have this problem and the tape is extremely good ..
I found out she is on heavy medication do you think that could be the cause as Iv thought of everything
According to some hairdressers I know, antidepressants in their opinion cause hair extensions not to take
There are so many people on anti depressants these days. Do SSRI’s and Bezo’s have the same effects on hair? What about people on taking tramadol?
I’ve been on Tysabri treatments for almost 2 years r/t MS. I’m having problems…something is causing my hair to be not receptive to hair coloring. My hair has become thinner, too..no one really notices, but I can tell. Could it be the drug?
I am on Pregnisone and my hair has become baby fine, is it the drug causing this, can I have my hair coloured ? Thanks Jackie
yes, it will wreck your hair. i have to take a large dose of prednisone every day, because i have a respiratory disease. it will grow hair on your face, legs, arms, and even your back. but the hair on your head will start to fall out more and more. sorry, but it’s the way it worked for me. also, your face will swell after a while, like the way jerry lewis face got all puffy before he died; it’s just one of the side effects. prednisone will screw you up after a while but if you need it for your health, you need it, and it’s better than not having medicine to help your health. the hair? well, there’s no answer except to adjust your outlook, or and either wear a wig or a hat, or just like i said, go on and live your life and think of other things, because it’s just hair/ there are little kids with cancer, and lose all their hair when they are still little kids. so, we have to reset our own minds sometimes, although sometimes it’s difficult. be well, and maybe your experience will be different than mine is. i’m just sharing mine. God bless you and keep laughing or learn how to laugh and you’ll be fine.
I need some help. i am a mixed Afro canadian half white and half nlack. I worked at a salon and we use professional line color sync. I’ve used redken color perfect all professional lines. I have been on antidepressants for yrs. I eft on a level 7 on my hair for less then 5 min and it turned black. I decided to do it again and weakened the formula the next time and left it for 2 min it was to the shade I wanted. whether I use permanent hair color or semi it’s grabs really really fast. is the medication doing this to my hair? IT’S CONFUSED!
Sue- matrix color Sync always comes out two shades darker. ?
I started off with honey blonde hair with a little red (I later did some color experimentation). I have been growing my hair out and trying to get it to a uniform color. My hair is growing in colors from medium brown to black (no yellow or red tones). I’m taking epilepsy meds, gabapentin, anti-anxiety meds, and narcotic pain meds and I am wondering if they could be altering my hair color or if it just doesn’t know what color it wants to be lol.
If someone is taking Adderall would it affect the way hair color processes at the scalp or even throughout the hair shaft? Thank you
Can vivance affect color not taking effect on hair?
How long do you have to wait to re color your hair, after taking meds?
I am on quite a few meds and supplements….my hair stays really dark about halfway down my head and down to my ends. The upper part of my hair and my roots. Really embarrassing! Even used a stripper with same result….
Have been taking low dose Lyrica for one year and recently all my blonde highlights washed out in the bath, turning the water blue. Could the Lyrica have caused this or possibly my shampoo or conditioner (argon oil).
Yes, every time I’m on the birth control pill, regardless of the name brand, my hair color takes super rapidly. In fact, by the time I have applied it, it’s already time to rinse it out! It’s frustrating. I don’t purchase a box in a grocery store either. I do it the way professionals do…maybe if I drop from 30 lift to 10? Should I mix lighter colors? Wait til the last (4th) week of pills? Dye hair during sugar pill or ferrous sulfate pill week? I’m on LoEstrin Fe. ANY SUGGESTIONS?
It seems as though every time I get on birth control, regardless of the name brand, my hair color processes EXTREMELY rapidly. By the time I’ve applied it, it’s time to rinse it out! I don’t buy a box on a grocery shelf either. I dye the way professionals do. I’m on LoEstrin Fe. Should I drop from 30 lift to 20 or 10? Should I mix lighter colors? Should I wait to dye when I’m on my 4th week of the pill? (Placebo or ferrous sulfate pill week)?? ANY SUGGESTIONS??
I have tapered off Diazepam and for 6 wks, along with not sleeping more than 2-4 hrs, having other physical and peculiar side effects of the taper, my hair went through (and is still going through) craziness. First the soap would not rinse out (my stylist has experienced all of this with me), then my hair got dry as straw, would take 2 hrs to style because it was so dry and the color did not take on much of the roots –within 48 hrs, my roots were grey. Then 4 wks later, it became overly soft and lay flat except for the days it was incredibly wavy. Totally different than my style or the way it was intended. My hair has always been shiny, beautiful and holds the style well–full and thick. I am still experiencing the flat and soft side effects and hoping, now that my sleep is beginning to get better, that the problem rights itself. It has been nearly 7 1/2 weeks since I’ve stopped the medication. **sigh**
I’m so glad I’m not the only one suffering side affects from medication I take to stay alive! I’ve had to change tablets after being on them a few years, my body must get sick of them and causes more problems. Painfully head and bones, memory loss, double vision, confused brain etc I give up..another years sigh
Hi there am on 50 mgs of sertraline and I have been trying to get my hair highlighted and it’s not taking could these be the reason cause I have been put on these just over two weeks ago and my hairs not as healthy looking as it should and am taking vitamins also thanks
Can blood pressure meds and a appetite suppressant make hair dye not take
I’ve noticed in hindsight, I seem to be having a skin reaction to my hair color this past couple years. It’s been so gradual and random I couldn’t pinpoint it as it wasn’t really affecting my scalp much, but my chest arms neck (especially behind ears around hairline), nape but now crown and ears as well ugh!!! Itchy red inflamed ears. I had a couple scabs on top of my head finally healing. I didn’t have this before I started taking Adderall years ago, but seems to get worse now each time I color. I used Loreal Preference before Olia and had minor symptom then as well so I don’t think it’s specifically the Olia. I rinse really well, but still think there is remnant product left behind. Is it possible it’s reacting with the salts built up in my skin/oils? It’s making me itch terrible. I’ve started taking vitamins, probiotics and algae supplements because I know this med can wreak havock on nutrients being absorbed properly affecting hair and skin, which it has. The medication has become counterproductive. This is beyond distracting. Colored hair yesterday btw. Going to wash it and hope that it helps.
I don’t know what to do though. I’m super grayyy. I’m not ready to go Grammy yet. I’m 47 🙁 I don’t want to take this medication, but it helps me not to be so scattered and unorganized. But right now I just want to throw it away. Is this a interaction a possibility, anyone??
I have been taking first Venlafaxine then Duloxetine for about 2/3 years. When i went for a perm recently my scalp was so tender and the results of my perm had been very disappointing. Could it be as a result of the anti depressants? Off them now thanks to cbd oil 😁😁😁
I have been on Singular for my headaches for a long time now. My hair is now all dry and looks damaged, even though I take near perfect care of it. (ie no heat, satin pillow case, air dry with a T-shirt instead of rough towel, frequent coconut oil masks, experimented with many hair products but non seem to work.) I dont know why my hair is so dry and gross looking. Everyone says it’s related to Elinest that I take but my hair has been like this since before I started birth control.
I had a client come in for color . I used the same formula. The hair color was very brassy. Two weeks ago she started using rosuvastatin . That was the only thing different .