We’ve all heard how bad bleaching can be for our hair.
And it’s true – because bleach lifts the color from your locks by oxidizing the pigment from them, it actually raises the hair shaft, leaving hair more porous. Repeated bleaching can leave the shaft permanently raised, so your tresses wind up dry, brittle and broken.
It can basically leave your hair looking like straw.
That definitely sounds like reason enough to avoid bleach – but the fact is, if you want to go with a lighter shade for your hair or are planning to dye your hair a vibrant shade like pink, purple or blue, bleach is a necessity.
But when you decide to bleach, you have to do it the right way – and that means going to a professional. Bleaching your hair at home is a really bad idea, especially if it’s your first time. But going to a professional colorist that you trust doesn’t mean that you won’t wind up with fried hair.
The key is prepping your hair for the treatment and caring for it properly afterward so your bleached locks look as smooth and healthy as possible.
Prep Your Hair
Getting your hair ready for the beating that it’s going to take from bleaching is crucial if you want to limit damage. Three or four days before your appointment, treat your hair with a deep conditioning mask. By pumping your hair full of moisture before it’s bleached, you’ll make it more elastic so it’s less likely to break during the process. Choose a rich, deep conditioner like the Moroccanoil Intense Hydrating Mask and let it sit on your locks for 15 to 20 minutes to fully penetrate for serious hydration.
When you’re bleaching your hair to go to a lighter shade, patience is key. If your locks are black or dark brown, you can’t go platinum blonde in a single process or you’ll wind up frying your tresses. Depending on how dark your hair is to start with it, it can take more than five sessions to get it as light as you’d like. Don’t get frustrated – you’ll be much happier with the finished result if you take your time.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but once you’ve bleached your hair, don’t wait until your roots are super long to get touched up. It might seem like you’ll be doing less damage that way, but if you have it done every five or six weeks when your roots are only a half inch or less long, the colorist won’t have to use a super strong bleach because the heat from your scalp right at the roots helps lift the color. That means a lower percentage of bleach can get the job done, which will do less damage to your hair.
Find a Regular Colorist
Once you find a colorist that you trust, keep going to the same one. She’ll know precisely what she’s done to your locks, so she’ll use the same pattern to apply the bleach each time she does it. That way, you’ll avoid overlapping the bleach, which is usually what causes the most damage.
Condition, Condition, Condition
Once your hair is bleached, it’s going to require serious hydration to keep it looking smooth and shiny. Use a moisturizing shampoo like Quantum Moisturizing Shampoo for Permed and Color-Treated Hair to keep your locks from getting dried out while you’re cleaning them – and always follow up your washing with a conditioner. The Nexxus KerapHix Restorative Strengthening Conditioner is a great option for bleached hair. For added moisture, apply a leave-in conditioner like the CHI Iconic Color Protector System 3 Leave-In Treatment Masque, and don’t forget a weekly deep conditioning treatment to really soothe and repair your locks.
To keep bleached locks in good shape, treat as gently as possible. That means letting your hair air dry or turning off the blow dryer when your hair is mostly dry so you don’t dry out your tresses. Don’t use a synthetic bristle brush on your locks either – they can cause hair to snap. Opt for a natural bristle brush or even a wide-tooth comb so you don’t snag your locks. When you’re styling, think about including a smoothing serum like the L’Oreal Smooth Intense Anti-Frizz Serum to help smooth the cuticle for a sleek, shiny look.