Blondes have more…needs for repair.
Maybe you’re hiding those pesky grays behind blonde, or maybe your dark locks just aren’t accomplishing your Madonna hair fantasies. Whatever the case, most of us will, at some point, dabble in the world of bleach. Below, we break down what *exactly* happens to those strands as you bleach ‘em, as well as how to keep hair free of breakage and split ends as it goes from hazelnut to gorgeous golden.
The 101 on bleach
Not to get TOO science-y on you, but in order to talk about how bleach works, we have to talk about oxidizing agents — in this case, hydrogen peroxide, which makes its way into your hair and chemically modifies the natural skin pigment (aka melanin). The result? Teeny tiny gaps in the thickest layer of your hair known as the cortex, which controls your hair color. If you’ve bleached your hair once or just a few times, no biggie. But repeated bleaching increases your hair’s ability to absorb — but not retain — moisture (which, in science speak, is known as “porosity”), leading to damaged, dry hair that may feel porous and brittle.
6 game-changing tips and tricks to keep bleached hair looking healthy
1. Balance protein and moisture like a pro
Alternate between protein-rich shampoo/conditioner and moisture-rich shampoo/conditioner — both sulfate-free. This way, you’ll get all the nourishing benefits of a moisturizing formula (courtesy of natural oils such as coconut oil, sunflower oil, argan oil, or olive oil) without the weighed-down effect it can have if used too often. Protein-packed products with keratin, peptides, and antioxidants help in the strength, shine, and elasticity department.
2. Consider an at-home treatment
Sure, you can turn to a professional hairstylist for a protein and moisture hair treatment, but there are also a slew of at-home options for more convenient TLC — think leave-in conditioning hair masks, serums, and oils that, when applied to slightly damp hair 30-60 minutes pre-shampoo, help hydrate in order to repair any hair damage. Once per week is the way to go. For post-shower hydration, try a styler that contains Sodium PCA to help your hair retain moisture.
3. Extend the time between touch-ups
If you can wait 8-10 weeks between coloring appointments, GREAT. This way, you can avoid severe damage and dryness that comes from one-too-many bleach treatments too close together.
4. Make time for a trim
Removing those dry, damaged ends from your long tresses will not only work wonders on the look and feel of your hair, but also help better “seal” the ends and make it easier to comb through those tangles.
5. Style gently
If your bleached blonde hair is textured or tightly curly with some frizz, you have permission to begin combing when wet for optimal styling. For everyone else, we recommend waiting until your hair is dry to avoid further damage from breaks and stretches. Stick with a wide-tooth comb — and remember, less is more when it comes to your hair care routine. Comb less frequently, make your ponytail less tight, and lower the heat on the diffuser/blow dryer.
6. Wait before using purple shampoo or conditioner
At least two weeks post-bleaching, to be exact, since these products can alter the color of your hair, which is particularly porous and absorbent after lightening treatment.