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How to Repair Bleach Damaged Hair

As vivid hair colors are becoming more popular, many of us have experimented with bleaching our hair. However, bleaching causes significant damage to our hair. Sometimes, this damage can be quite severe, leading to dry, brittle strands, split ends, and a noticeable loss of natural luster and strength.

The process of repairing bleach-damaged hair varies depending on the extent and nature of the damage. It requires a consistent and proper hair care routine with specific treatments according to the needs of individual hair.

If you want to repair your damaged hair after bleaching, it’s important first to understand the causes of bleach damage and identify the specific types of damage to your hair.

What Causes Bleach Damage Hair?

tips to recover bleach damaged hair

When you understand the way bleach works on the hair, it gives you an excellent understanding of how and why it damages your hair. It will make your decision-making regarding repairing the damaged hair easier.

Bleaching hair is the best way of lightening hair quickly and effectively. Bleach coupled with peroxide opens the cuticles and strips the pigments within the cuticle.

When we use bleach on hair it causes significant damage to hair cuticle layers and cortex. The damage depends on the type of bleach, the volume of developer that the bleach is coupled with, and application time.

The developer helps to open the hair’s cuticle so that the bleach can penetrate the hair shaft. The volume percentages of developer like 10%, 20%, 30%, or 40%, indicate the strength.

A higher volume developer opens the cuticle more widely. This extensive lifting can damage the outer hair cuticle. The duration for which bleach is left on the hair also impacts the level of damage. Longer exposure can lead to more significant damage.

The primary purpose of bleach is to lighten hair by removing melanin, the natural pigment that gives hair its color. Bleach oxidizes melanin, which not only lightens the color but also weakens the hair structure.

Bleaching also alters the protein structure of hair, which results in permanent changes in hair texture. It makes the hair highly porous hair which can further damage the hair.

The chemicals in bleach can strip natural oils from the hair, leading to dryness and brittleness. Dry hair is more susceptible to damage and breakage.

The extent of damage also depends on the initial condition of the hair. To minimize damage, it’s important to follow proper bleaching procedures, use lower volumes of developer when possible, and apply restorative treatments to maintain hair health.

Signs of Bleach-Damaged Hair

Knowing the signs of bleach-damaged hair helps in identifying and addressing hair damage early, preventing further deterioration. Here are some signs of bleach damage:

  1. Feel your hair, especially the ends. Bleach-damaged hair often feels rough, dry, and straw-like. Compare the texture to your hair’s condition before bleaching.
  2. Notice if there are more hairs than usual on your brush, pillow, or in the shower drain. Fragile hair that breaks easily is a common sign of bleach damage.
  3. Hold small sections of your hair up to the light and look closely at the ends. Split ends, which may appear frayed or branched, are a clear indicator of damage.
  4. Gently stretch a wet strand of hair. If it doesn’t return to its original length or breaks easily, it indicates a loss of elasticity due to bleach damage.
  5. After washing your hair, notice if it becomes more tangled or forms knots easily. This could be due to the roughened texture of damaged hair.
  6. Look at your hair in natural light. If it appears dull and lacks its usual shine, this could be a result of the cuticle damage caused by bleaching.
  7. Run your fingers through your hair. If it feels unusually frizzy or difficult to manage, this might be due to damaged hair cuticles.
  8. Drop a strand of clean, dry hair into a bowl of water. If it sinks quickly, it’s highly porous, which can be a sign of bleach damage.
  9. Pay attention to any scalp irritation like redness, itching, or flaking. While this doesn’t directly test the hair, scalp health can be an indicator of the effects of bleaching agents.

Now, note down the signs. Depending on the damage caused by bleaching, your hair may display one or two signs, or in cases of severe damage, it may exhibit all. Once you have identified the signs of damage, begin the repair process.

How To Recover Hair From Bleach Damage?

If you are trying to repair your hair from bleach damage, it’s essential to be very kind to your hair. The first thing you will have to ensure is preventing further damage.

Slightly damaged hair can be repaired by maintaining some hair care routines. In case of a higher level of damage, you may have to opt for professional hair care treatments.

For more involved and intense care routines for bleach-damaged hair, combining treatments with everyday practices can be highly effective.

Here are some tips to prevent further damage and repair your hair after it is damaged by bleach:

1. Nourish Your Hair

Bleached hair is often extremely dry and brittle. To combat this, it’s essential to use deep conditioning treatments.

Create a custom hair mask suited to your hair’s specific needs. Ingredients like avocado, banana, honey, and yogurt can be mixed with natural oils (e.g., argan, coconut, or jojoba oil) and butters (e.g., shea or cocoa butter). and applied as a mask.

Apply a deep conditioning mask at least once a week, leaving it on for a specified amount of time (usually 20-30 minutes) before rinsing.

2. Protect Your Hair from Natural Bleaching

UV rays and chlorine water bleaches out the melanin from hair so exposing your hair to direct sunlight and pool water can further damage your hair.

Wear a hat or use hair products with UV protection when you’re out in the sun or a swimming cap or apply a leave-in conditioner before swimming in the pool to protect your hair.

3. Limit Aggressive Styling

Minimize the use of heat-styling tools like straighteners, curling irons, and blow dryers. If you must use them, apply a heat protectant beforehand.

You should avoid coloring or bleaching your hair again until your hair becomes healthier as the chemicals will make your hair condition worse.

4. Wash and Dry Your Hair Properly

Do not neglect the proper washing and drying technique for hair. Some people especially in winter, use hot water from a geyser for rinsing hair which opens up the hair cuticle and continues to lose moisture.

Using a hair dryer can make your hair more frizzy so use a microfiber towel and gently make your hair dry with it.

Olaplex Treatment: Olaplex is a professional hair treatment that repairs disulfide bonds broken during the bleaching process. It can be done in a salon or at home using Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector. The treatment reconnects broken bonds, making hair stronger, healthier, and less prone to breakage.

5. Protein Treatment

Hair is made up of protein, and bleaching can deplete this vital component. Protein treatments help to rebuild and strengthen hair strands.

Products containing keratin or other proteins can help repair some of the damage caused by bleaching. Be careful not to overdo it, as too much protein can make hair brittle.

A keratin treatment fills in the porosity of your hair, as overly porous hair can cause tangles, frizziness, and breakage. This treatment not only makes hair more resilient but also smoother and shinier.

6. Use Gentle Hair Care Products

Switch to sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners. These products are gentler on damaged hair and won’t strip away natural oils.Balanced Diet and Hydration: A healthy diet rich in vitamins and proteins, along with staying hydrated, can improve the overall health of your hair.

For more involved and intense treatments for bleach-damaged hair, consider the following options. These treatments are more intensive and may require professional assistance or specialized products:

7. Bonding Treatment

Bonding treatments protect and restore the integrity of hair during and after bleaching. It works by strengthening the hair fiber from the inside, reducing breakage, and improving overall appearance.

You can choose Olaplex to repair the disulfide bonds broken during the bleaching process. It can be done in a salon or at home using Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector.

8. Hot Oil Treatments

Using natural oils like coconut, olive, or almond oil can deeply condition the hair. Warm the oil slightly, apply it to your hair, cover it with a shower cap, and leave it on for an extended period or overnight before washing out.

9. Trim Your Hair

If bleaching caused split ends to your hair, regular trims can prevent the splits from traveling up the hair shaft. This doesn’t have to be a significant length; even a light dusting of the ends can be beneficial.

Mostly your bleach-damaged hair can be repaired. However, sometimes the damage is beyond repair. If your hair has jellified, I mean turned into elastic like jelly – there’s no return from there. The best thing you can do is sacrifice some hair with a trim.

10. Gentle Hair Handling

Avoid tight hairstyles and handle your hair gently, especially when wet. Use a wide-tooth comb to detangle and minimize breakage.

Use silk or satin pillowcases to reduce friction while sleeping, which can prevent breakage and frizz.

If the damage is extensive and you want to add length and volume while your hair is recovering, consider protective hair extensions.

11. Eat a Balanced Diet

Healthy hair starts from within. Ensure you’re eating a balanced diet rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals.

Foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids, biotin, and vitamin E are particularly beneficial for hair health.

These tips combine both home care and professional treatments, offering a comprehensive approach to repairing and maintaining the health of bleach-damaged hair.

If your hair is severely damaged, it might be best to assess your hair condition with a professional. They can provide treatments like Olaplex that help to rebuild the hair’s bonds

Professional Tips To Repair Bleached Hair

washing bleach damaged hair

Firstly and foremost, it’s likely the best idea to get the advice of a professional to help you with the best prescription of products for your hair and the degree of damage. The prescription can be anything from a good hydrating shampoo and conditioner that is right for your hair type, to a hair mask, protein spray, and leave-in conditioner.

  • When we use bleach, coupled with either 1.5% or 3% Hydrogen Peroxide (5 vol or 10 vol developer) as semi activator we can achieve lovely sun-kissed highlights with very minimal damage. Damage that we can easily manage with salon shampoo and conditioner and retain the integrity of the hair.
  • When we use bleach, coupled with 20 vol peroxide (6%) in foils throughout the hair, often we need a salon shampoo and hydrating mask to return the integrity of the hair to a healthy state.
  • When we use 30 vol developer (9%) in hair, whether in foils or on the scalp, the damage is usually extensive and requires a good salon shampoo, a mask, protein spray, and leave-in conditioner to return the hair to a natural healthy state. This will also take time at least 2-4 weeks.

The lighter the hair is, the more porous and brittle it becomes, and the more help it needs to become healthy again!

Hairdressers are specifically trained to assess the damage that bleach may cause and how best to achieve the desired results with the integrity of the hair maintained. Sometimes hairdressers will take up to 3 services to get to the desired results to ensure the integrity of the hair while completing the service that the client wishes.

When this is the case, it is to maintain the integrity of the hair whilst achieving the client’s hair goal. There is no point in achieving the desired color, but the hair is gummy after bleaching!

It is a very fine balance between achieving the desired color, managing the integrity of the hair, and ensuring the damage is manageable and able to be rectified to lovely healthy locks again.

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