Hair Chatter

Paint with All the Colors of the Wind

Imagine what that would be like – to paint with all the colors of the wind! What does it really mean, and how would you do that? This phrase comes from the insightful song Pocahantas sings to John Smith in Disney’s movie ‘Pocahantas’, where she invites him to see that there are more ways to look at the world than just his own view. She further challenges him to consider, “if you walk the footsteps of a stranger, you’ll learn things you never knew you never knew.”

Isn’t that true for most of us? We only know what we know, and sometimes we are aware of what we don’t know. But by definition, it’s hard to know what we don’t know we don’t even know. These are our blind-spots. That’s why travel and exposure to different people, customs and situations expands our universe, as long as we are open to the broadening experience. We all know the typical tourist who goes to another country and only eats or does what is already familiar to them, thereby missing the magic of having a new adventure in life. Ironically, this is one positive contribution that television makes, which is providing a platform for telling a range of stories and sharing experiences with people that we would not likely have the chance to encounter in real life.

So it is for how people sometimes react to those with hair loss. The unfamiliar territory makes them say ignorant or cruel things or make narrow-minded comments that may hurt or embarrass. The reality is, they are clueless, and only reacting based on their limited life experience so far. Their comments say more about them than you.

And then you, the person with hair loss, is the one who is left to respond in one of several ways – lashing back in shame or anger, seething in silence, or perhaps reacting with more understanding, more of a broad perspective of kindness and caring than your accuser. So being in this situation, one you never asked for, gives you a chance to become more compassionate, more gentle, more civil or witty than you otherwise would. And isn’t this what our life journey is all about? To become more of who we could be through the encounters and experiences we have along the way, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Speaking of colors, did you know that a frequent reason for hair loss is caused by using chemical based hair colorings, particularly those with ammonia? Aside from the nasty acrid smell during application, ammonia is known to weaken your hair, leading to brittleness and breakage and in some cases to hair loss. Other potential side effects of using chemical hair dye treatments include burning, rawness, itchy or red skin on your scalp, breathing impairment and swelling of the face. Not pretty, and any of these symptoms should be attended to, primarily by stopping use of the offending dye treatment.

Since application of this type of coloring is usually required every 6-8 weeks, you get a build-up of residual ammonia in your hair over time that leads to the negative effects just mentioned. Fortunately this is one situation we can do something about. Here is a three-step plan to reverse hair loss caused by most hair dye products.

When you shop for hair color or have your stylist apply treatments for you, make sure to use non-ammonia based coloring. This is now widely available, and is usually indicated on the box with the words ‘ammonia free’ and labeled ‘semi-permanent’. Instead of ammonia, this type of coloring tends to use hydrogen peroxide, which is less damaging than ammonia although it requires more frequent application. The color in this type tends to last about 28 washes, or around a month.

You will also find products that contain no ammonia or hydrogen peroxide. These tend to be used for touch-ups over roots or on gray areas around the hairline. They are labeled ‘temporary’ and may only last up to 6 washes.

This approach suggests you first switch from ammonia-based coloring to peroxide or other natural ingredient coloring, then fill in between times with the touch up products. Not only will this extend the time between full-head colorings to nearly 3 months, but over time you will reduce the toxic amount of ammonia in your hair which should also reduce hair loss. This is assuming this is the reason you are losing hair. If serious hair loss continues after trying this regime, you should to check for other causes or seek medical advice.

Thirdly, switch to a brush that pulls less on your weakened tresses. Sounds simple, but a brush with more space between bristles will pull less and thus break less, especially on hair that has been well-conditioned after a wash.

Perhaps you learned something you didn’t know you didn’t know, which is part of why we visit blogs like Hair Why not further treat yourself and have a listen to this beautiful tune and imagine what it might really be like to ‘paint with all the colors of the wind’?

Paint with All the Colors of the Wind from Disney’s movie ‘Pocahantas’, also sung by Vanessa Williams. (

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