How to Care for Bleached Hair
To bleach or not to bleach?!
Bleaching your hair is a great way to switch up your look, and if you want to experiment with any colour that’s lighter than your natural shade, you’ll need to use it! From cool platinum blondes to striking non-natural colours; from ombre to dip-dye, bleach gives us the chance to transform our tresses and try out new colour trends!
The only problem? It can be one of the most damaging treatments out there. To stop your hair from becoming dry, frizzy and uncontrollable – and to prevent it from breaking every time you take a comb to it – you’ll need to do a bit of maintenance work.
How Does Bleaching Work?
Ever wondered what’s actually going on, chemically we mean, when your stylist bleaches your hair? Let us explain.
When you apply bleach, the strands of your hair swell (that’s why fine hair always appears thicker after it’s been treated). This allows the bleach to properly penetrate the hair shaft.
Bleaching removes colour from your hair through a process of oxidation. Bleaching agents dissolve natural pigments in the hair; the longer you leave the bleach on, the more colourless your hair will eventually look. Sometimes bleached hair will appear yellowish, and that’s because keratin (the protein that hair is made of) has a pale yellow tinge. To get rid of this, you’ll need to apply a toner after bleaching.
Hydrogen peroxide and ammonia are the most commonly used bleaching agents; they’re often mixed together, to speed up and stabilise the lightening process.
Top Tips for Keeping Your (Bleached) Hair Healthy
When done properly, bleach can be used to lighten any hair type. Essentially, all hair is healthy enough to be bleached, but you do need to be honest with your stylist about past treatments – it’s important that they know your hair history before treating it with a bleaching agent.
And once your hair has been lightened, keep these things in mind:
1: Don’t Rush the Process
One of the most commonly asked questions around lightening hair is ‘can I go from brunette to blonde in one sitting?’ Now, it all depends on how dark your hair is to start with and how light you’d like to go, but typically the answer is no. A drastic colour change like this usually takes time. Talk to your stylist beforehand to discuss the shade you’d like to end up with; they’ll be able to manage your expectations and go through the process with you. Brunettes can become platinum blondes – just not immediately. It’s also worth remembering that lighter blonde tones are harder to maintain; expect more regular salon visits, especially if your hair is naturally on the darker side.
2: Leave it to the Professionals
Bleaching hair is a science and an art; it’s one of those techniques that has dozens of variables – with potentially variable results. As such, it’s best not to use DIY kits to lighten your hair. For one thing, you’re more likely to overlap the bleach during application, which will lead to breakage. For the best results, you should book an appointment with your stylist. This is especially important if you’ve never bleached your hair before, though it’s recommended that you leave it to the professionals for touch-ups too. Seriously, it’s the easiest way to prevent damage.
3: Wash Your Hair Less
It’s unlikely that anyone needs to wash their hair every day; when bleached is involved, the sentiment couldn’t ring truer. Over-washing your hair strips it of those all-important natural oils that keep it moisturised; since bleached hair can become dry, it’s worth doing all you can do to keep it hydrated. Use a dry shampoo to soak up excess oils in-between washes, and switch out your regular shampoo for a milder formula instead; a paraben and sulfate-free protein shampoo is your best bet.
4: Keep it Conditioned
Bleached hair can lose moisture more quickly because it’s more porous. And since bleaching raises the hair cuticles, bleached strands can knot and tangle more easily. It goes without saying that every shampoo ought to be followed by a conditioner – this will smooth the cuticles and lock in moisture – but incorporating moisturising, protein-rich treatments into your hair care routine will also really help. Whether you indulge with an in-salon treatment or apply them at home, a good hair mask or oil will give brittle, bleached hair a much-needed moisture boost. This will make your hair more manageable when styling too, and add shine and bounce to lacklustre locks.
5: Style with Care
Because it’s already more vulnerable to damage, you’ve got to be extra careful when styling bleached hair. Avoid using heated styling tools too much, and always spritz on a heat protectant spray when you do; if you can air dry your hair, do it. Don’t tug at the hair when you’re brushing it, and comb through wet hair gently. And now that your hair’s bleached, you need to call time on your ponytail habit. Wearing a ponytail too tightly or in bed can cause breakage around the hairline and weaken the section of the hair that’s secured with an elastic. Soft hair elastics (that are usually made from fabric) are a better option when you’re in need of an updo in-between washes.
6: Banish Brassiness
It’s a known fact that bleached hair can become brassy; keep that dreaded yellowish tinge at bay in-between salon visits by using a tone-correcting shampoo. Just remember; purple shampoo can tint your hair or change the colour of your blonde if it’s used too often, or too soon after you’ve had it bleached.
7: Protect Your Hair from Pollutants
Our hair is exposed to a plethora of harmful external pollutants every day, and unfortunately that’s especially bad news for bleach blondes. Protect your hair from the sun’s rays by spritzing on a UV protection spray – especially during the summer months. And when swimming, be wary of chlorinated water; it can give blonde colours a greenish tinge. Wear a swimming cap or cover the hair with conditioner before diving in (just wash your hair thoroughly afterwards).
8: Get the Chop!
Whether you’ve got an ultra-short pixie cut or Rapunzel-length locks, you’ll need to visit the salon more often if your hair is bleached – it’s just more high-maintenance. So, if you’re the sort who only sees their stylist once every 6 months, consider how manageable a lighter style is going to be for you. You’ll need to book a root touch-up every 6-10 weeks, depending on the cut and your natural colour. And if you’ve got split ends, you’ll need to lose some length if you want to salvage the hair – especially if you’ve just had it treated with a bleaching agent. Regular trims will help you to keep on top of any damage at the tips, and prevent any future breakage.