Bleaching your hair doesn’t just strip the color from it. It also breaks down fatty acids on the hair shaft, leaving your hair dry and fragile. The damage done to your hair is permanent, but there are steps you can take to make your hair more manageable and promote new, healthy hair growth. Nourish bleach damaged hair by giving it extra moisture and protein right after you bleach it. Then, nurture it in the long term and avoid anything that can cause more damage to rebuild healthy locks.
EditCaring for Your Hair
Skip the shampoo for the first 24-48 hours after bleaching. Bleaching severely dries out your hair, so don’t strip any more natural oils away by shampooing. Try to hold off washing with shampoo as long as you can. You can still rinse and condition your hair.
The cuticle of your hair becomes very swollen and fragile right after bleaching. This may give you the appearance of more body, but shampooing can further damage your vulnerable locks.
Apply an intensive hair treatment instead of conditioner every other wash. Apply a hair oil or cream mask to dry hair before you get in the shower. Let it sit for 3-5 minutes, then rinse and shampoo your hair.
Try making your own hot oil treatment with olive, coconut, or avocado oil to add deep-penetrating moisture to the hair shaft.
You can also wrap your head in a towel and let the oil stay on your hair while you sleep. Rinse it out in the morning in the shower and then shampoo and style as usual.
If you find oil-based products too heavy, try a cream-based hair mask from your stylist or local drug store.
Use a leave-in conditioner every day to add moisture to your hair. Boost the power of your regular conditioner by applying a leave-in conditioner after you shower. Use the conditioner to help style your hair and keep frizz under control.
A leave-in conditioner will be especially helpful for taming your locks in extremely hot or cold weather.
Use an at-home protein mask to nourish your hair on a budget. An at-home protein mask is a great way to deep condition your hair without spending money at a salon. You can typically find these at your local drug store, or you can purchase them online.
Look for products that contain the hair-healthy protein keratin.
Make your own protein mask at home by mixing together 1 egg and a large spoonful of plain yogurt. Add an extra spoonful (or 2) of yogurt if you have longer than shoulder-length hair. Leave the mask on for 30 minutes, then rinse your hair with cold water, to avoid cooking the egg in your hair.
Apply your protein mask every night for the first week after bleaching if your hair is especially brittle.
Be gentle with your hair, especially when it’s wet. Your hair is especially vulnerable to breakage when it’s wet, so always wait to brush or comb it until it’s completely dry. Be gentle when towel-drying your hair, too. Use a soft, microfiber towel to gently blot your hair dry, since rubbing or squeezing your hair can cause it to break.
If you don’t have a soft towel, try drying your hair with an old T-shirt instead!
Cut off as much of the damaged ends as possible. Ask your stylist to trim off your split ends. If you hair is breaking off in the middle, try getting your haircut in a style that seamlessly incorporates the length of the broken-off pieces.
Split ends are when the end of the hair shaft divided into multiple, smaller hairs. This can travel all the way down your to your scalp, resulting in damaged, frizzy hair. Cutting the ends prevents the damage from moving down the shaft.
If you don’t want to do a drastic cut right away, have your stylist cut off about and then get your hair trimmed every month or so, taking off more and more of the damaged bits every time.
Have a protein treatment done at a salon if it’s within your means. Protein will help make your hair stronger and less likely to break off. The most intensive protein treatments are applied at professional salons. Talk to your hairstylist about what type would be best for your hair. The sooner you have the treatment done, the more breakage and damage you can prevent.
Most hair salons have different strength treatments and formulas for various purposes. Even after your first intensive treatment, you can continue to get protein and/or moisture treatments every few months to keep your hair healthy. Discuss the perfect plan with your hair stylist.
Take hair-strengthening vitamins to encourage healthy new growth. Omega 3-rich fish oil capsules can help transform your hair from the inside out. Try taking the supplement for about 6 months to see if you see an improvement in your new hair growth.
For a vegan alternative, try a flaxseed oil supplement.
EditProtecting Your Hair from Further Damage
Shampoo your hair 1-2 times a week. Shampoo strips your hair of natural oils that keep it healthy. Since bleached hair naturally has less oil, you should wash it less. Aim to shampoo your hair once per week if possible.
If shampooing once per week is not enough, try slowly cutting down to about 2-3 times per week instead. You can also try using dry shampoo in between your shampoo days, to help keep your hair clean and fresh.
Avoid shampoos containing sulfates, which will further dry out your hair.
Try using a cleansing conditioner instead of shampoo to gently clean and nourish your hair. Ask your hairstylist for a recommendation. You can switch over entirely to a cleansing conditioner or use a sulfate-free shampoo and cleansing conditioner interchangeably.
Protect your hair from the sun. Bleached hair is particularly vulnerable to UV light, and it can even lead to sunburns on your scalp if you aren’t prepared. If you plan on being outside for more than an hour, bring a hat or parasol along.
For even more protection, spray your hair with a sunscreen oil spray made with natural like coconut oil and shea butter.
Avoid chemicals like chlorine. If you go swimming with bleached hair, keep your head above water or wear a swim cap to protect your hair from the chlorine. Since bleached hair is more vulnerable to damage, you need to be wary of keeping any chemicals in your hair for too long.
Rinse your hair thoroughly after swimming to get any chlorine out as soon as possible.
If you plan to shampoo your hair after it’s been exposed to chlorine, use a chlorine-removing shampoo. Ask your stylist for a suggestion, or browse the options at your local drug store. A clarifying shampoo will also remove chlorine from your hair.
Avoid using heat to treat or style your hair. Experiment with low-maintenance styling options. Let your hair air dry when it’s wet, and embrace your hair’s natural texture so you don’t have to use a curling iron or straightener.
Bleached hair is already brittle, and adding heat will make it more prone to breakage.
If you must occasionally use heat for styling, spray your hair with a heat protectant and keep your styling tool on the lowest heat setting.
Keep your hairstyle simple. Avoid excessive combing or styling that pulls, bends, and breaks hairs. Let your hair recover by leaving it free as much as possible. Don’t put tight hair ties, clips, or bobby pins in your hair.
If you must put your hair up with a hair tie, try using a gentle, no-crease hair tie. Hair ties that leave creases in your hair when you wear them can cause your hair to break.
Bleach new regrowth very gently. Speak to your stylist about creating a look for your hair that is more gentle on your hair. Try a look that doesn’t require dragging the bleach through to the ends of your hair every time. Ask about making your roots a darker color than the ends, so you won’t need to bleach your new hair growth as intensely.
If you have to bleach your hair again, you can help prepare and protect your hair by sleeping with coconut oil in your hair the day before the treatment.
Bleaching can burn your skin when done incorrectly, so see a professional to bleach your head.
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