Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Bleaching Your Hair

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For a first timer, bleaching your hair is a big deal. We’ve all heard the horror stories and the possible of hair damage, breakage, or fried ends can stop someone from ever trying it.  On the other hand, lightening your hair can open up an entire universe of possibility.  Once you decide to take the plunge, you might wonder how you went so long without bleaching your hair!

If you want to avoid an emergency buzz cut, equip yourself with the facts before bleaching your hair. Semi-permanent hair color offers natural hues that fade over time, and permanent hair dyes mix the decoloration and coloring process. Bleach, however, simply oxidizes the hair, meaning it exists solely to strip the color from your hair. It’s a potentially valuable tool in your hair styling arsenal, but it’s also a powerful chemical that requires plenty of know-how to use it correctly.

How does hair bleach work?

Bleach is a chemical that removes the natural pigment from your hair strands.  It comes in a powder form, and you have several different options of liquid developers to mix into it to alter the strength and make it work.  While frying the hair is avoidable, bleach will alter the state of your hair.  The first time you bleach your hair, it’s gonna change in texture and in color because you are literally stripping the pigment from it.  Don’t expect your hair to bounce back to normal an hour after the bleach comes comes off—but if you have taken care to bleach your hair properly, you can prevent damage and keep it looking healthy.

Bleaching removes hair color through the process of oxidation.  Bleaching products disrupt the hair’s cuticle layer to make it more permeable, which allows hydrogen peroxide — a key component of hair bleach — to penetrate the shaft. Hydrogen peroxide oxidizes the hair’s pigment, stripping away the melanin and, as a result, its color.  A single bleaching can lighten your hair by as many as eight shades.  Use a home hair-bleaching kit or turn to your stylist for a professional application. Depending on how light you want your hair, the process takes 30 to 45 minutes.  Oftentimes, color is added after the bleaching process.

Does heat really help bleach work faster?

Bleach naturally heats up as the chemicals activate, which can cause discomfort when the formula is sitting on your scalp. But bleach can be more effective and even work faster when heat is applied to it.  That’s why some salons may place a plastic cap over hair while bleaching and apply low heat from a blow drier to ensure it is lightened evenly.

But here’s something you may not have known:  Because the roots are the closest to the head, they have more heat than the rest of the hair shaft.  So the roots are more likely to process more efficiently than the rest of the hair because of the heat that’s being emitted from your scalp.  Just make a note of this when coloring at home.  If you do your own hair and the roots come out lighter, it’s because there’s a natural heat coming from your scalp that’s making the chemical work more efficiently.  When coloring, use a weaker formula on the roots of the hair to ensure the lightened shade comes out evenly.

What strength of developer is right for my hair?

Considers 20 to be too mild for any vivid results and 40 to be riskier in terms of damaging the hair on the first try.  If you’re bleaching at home, you can repeat the process up to two or three times with a mild developer, such as 30 volume.  When it comes to choosing the right type of powder hair bleach (it’s different from what you use on your clothes!), it’s easy. They’re all pretty much the same.

Side effects

Bleaching often leaves hair drier, more fragile and less elastic than it was previously.  Its effects make your hair more prone to breakage and less manageable.  Because the bleaching process raises the cuticles, your hair may tangle more easily. If you leave bleach on for too long, your hair may turn white.  Or bleached hair may take on a yellow tint, as the stripping process exposes the hue of the hair protein keratin, which features a naturally yellow color.  Darker hair colors often take on a red tint as keratin shines through.

How can I prevent my hair from being “fried”?

Fry’ is a strong word, but regardless, you are manipulating the quality of the hair by putting bleach on it. Aside from choosing a mild developer, another precautionary measure one can take before the big day is not washing the hair.  A few days worth of natural oil built up on your scalp can help to avoid irritation during bleaching.  The ammonia content can cause the scalp to itch during the bleaching process but that doesn’t mean your hair is getting cooked.  Hair can be bleached about 2 times over before the texture gets especially rough.

Is it better to bleach at the salon?

While home bleaching couldn’t be easier, the risk of an uneven shade or excessive damage increases when you DIY.  It’s important to seek out a hair stylist when it comes to bleaching because you don’t want to do it yourself, flub it, and have to go to work the next day looking like a jerk, or not feeling 100% confident that you look your best because you didn’t see a professional.  Most colorists will do a free consultation, and it’s worth talking about it with them because chemicals are a scary thing. If you seek out a colorist, trust them and allow them to take enough time to do the right amount of work.  Once you bleach you can’t go back, so lighten with caution to avoid major mistakes.

How do I care for bleached hair?

It’s important to moisturize after you bleach your hair because you’re removing a lot of the surface oil that your scalp produces by opening up the hair cuticle and doing the work to remove the natural pigment, the hair is changing.  It usually takes a week or two for the hair to go back to having it’s natural softer elasticity.  Steering clear of heat styling is another way to keep bleached hair looking and feeling soft and healthy.  Other habits, like over washing, can dry  out hair, which is why Roxie recommends shampooing with a non-detergent shampoo no more than twice a week.  When you bleach your hair, you’re removing the natural oils, and you want to give your hair and scalp an opportunity to re-up on the oil you took out.

Here are some bleached hair care tips for maintaining your new look.

1. Use targeted treatments.
Bleaching hair is a chemical process that removes natural pigments from your hair fibres. Bleach occasionally and your hair should soon recover its natural vitality. Successive bleaching, however, can damage those precious fibres and follicles, leaving your hair looking dull. To combat this, use targeted bleached hair care treatments to protect your hair as much as possible, to boost and enhance your pigments, and to hydrate the fibres of your hair overall. We recommend using a suphate-free shampoo and keratin-rich products to restructure the fibres of your hair.

2: Use intensive treatments every now and then.
Have you noticed that your bleached hair is not quite as supple as it once was? Dryness is another consequence of those bleaching chemicals we were talking about earlier. Your hair loses moisture, and dry hair means brittle hair, split ends and more! But, don’t be alarmed; you can prevent your hair from drying out by providing extra nourishment with some intensive treatments and the targeted treatments mentioned above. For example, it’s a wise move to use an overnight hair mask once a week or at least twice a month. You might also consider a deep conditioner or a leave-in conditioner once a week; it’s all about prevention.

3: Protect your hair from external aggressors.
We can’t live in a little blonde bubble. No, really, we can’t. The sun, salty seawater, chlorinated swimming pools, pollution, styling tools – your hair has to face many harmful external factors on a daily basis, which are particularly bad news for bleached blondes. We can take precautions though; avoid the sun if you can and stay in the shade – supermodels do. If you can’t resist soaking up the sun, wear a hat or scarf to fend off harmful rays. If headgear is not your style then use a specialist UV spray or hair sun cream. Rinse your hair with bottled or tap water before jumping into a pool or the sea and shower straight after to remove any excess salt or chlorine. And lay off those electrical styling tools for a while; if you must use straighteners or tongs, protect your hair first with a thermo-active heat protection spray.

4: Wash your hair a little less.
Contrary to popular belief, washing your hair two to three times a week is plenty. Over-washing your hair, however gently you do it, will sweep away a few of those key nutrients and essential oils that help to keep your hair healthy. So, why not wear a shower cap when showering and give dry shampoo a go? Dry shampoo might sound strange, but more and more women, and men, are finding it a very handy way of taking care of their hair in between washes. If you are one of those people who can’t go a day without washing their hair, then use the mildest shampoo you can find.

5: Neutralise the ‘bad’ pigments.
Don’t you hate that brassy, yellowish tone that can turn ‘Oh Wow!’ into ‘Oh Dear!’ It’s a pitfall of bleaching hair that can be avoided if you know how. The key is to neutralise those undesirable yellow pigments by occasionally using a ‘blue’ or ‘purple’ shampoo. Once every four or five washes should do the trick and if you decide to colour your hair after bleaching,

6: Be gentle with your hair.
After bleaching, your hair needs some ‘TLC’, so be gentle and detangle your hair when it is still wet using a flat brush, as opposed to drying it roughly with a towel. And leave your hair to air dry whenever possible; it’s time to decommission the dryer for the summer.

7. Remember your oils.
For thousands of years, women in warmer climates have used natural oils to keep their hair looking healthy and glossy. Argan oil, olive oil and coconut oil are all specially formulated hair oils that are fantastic for taking care of dry hair, helping to repair and restructure hair fibres with their essential formulations. Apply them like a serum in the evening to the tips of your hair and maybe even indulge yourself with an oil bath once a month to lock in all that moisture. Your hair will look super shiny and feel silky smooth, and your skin will enjoy the treat too.

8: Visit your hairdresser more frequently.
Maybe you go to your hairdresser regularly anyway. But, if you’re one of those women who leaves it as long as possible – you’re not alone; most of us do – then think again. Good bleached hair care requires constant maintenance, especially if you’ve picked a shade that’s a long way from your base colour, so visit your hairdresser every four to six weeks for touch-ups and keep those split ends under control!  Please book your appointment online to come see us at Hair By Phonatip.

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