Bleaching is hard on your hair strands. There is really no way around it. Yet, tons of women and men visit the salon regularly (us included) to lighten up our hair despite knowing this very fact. And, if you have ever had your hair lightened, you likely can attest to seeing your hair strands becoming weaker and brittle. With proper maintenance following a bleaching appointment, you can restore your hair and make your locks look and feel softer. Here is your guide on how to soften damaged bleached hair.
Why Bleach Makes Your Hair Brittle
Bleach is a potent chemical compound that breaks down the color in your hair shaft. It removes the color or pigmentation in your hair strands by a process called oxidation. Typically, you need a chemical compound that is an oxidizer like hydrogen peroxide plus ammonia to help “lift” your natural color. To penetrate the hair shaft, the ammonia serves to open up the cuticle (the protective outer layer of your hair strand) to reveal the cortex, which is where the melanin or color lies. Part of the bleaching process also involves breaking down the fatty acids in your hair, making your hair more vulnerable to damage, like from your environment and hot hair styling methods.
The longer you leave the bleach on, the lighter your hair will be. And, as you may imagine, the more porous and open the cuticle becomes as well. If you leave the bleach on long enough, it will leave your hair completely white.
Anyone who has bleached their hair will know that a lighter color is not the only hair change you exit the salon with - you also leave with damaged, brittle, and at times lifeless hair. The cuticle plays a big role in your hair strength, texture, and overall structure. When the cuticle is chemically damaged, it can also change your elasticity, making your hair more stringy and likely to break off.
The Formula For Treating Bleached Hair
Repairing bleached hair requires a multifaceted approach.
Firstly, you will likely need to change some of your hair habits to accommodate for your damaged locks:
- Avoid brushing your hair when wet, as the change in elasticity can make it more likely to break off.
- Minimize how often you expose your hair to harsh environmental conditions like sun, rain, and cold.
- Limit the times you use hot styling tools, such as blow dryers, straighteners, and curling irons. When you do use a hot styling tool, you need to make sure to use a heat protectant spray on your hair.
- Pick styles that will not further stress your hair, like tight ponytails or buns. Too much tension on your hair can increase breakage and make it far weaker.
Secondly, you need to give your hair the right balance of proteins and conditioning agents to help with the healing process. Restructuring agents that contain essential amino acids and proteins like keratin will help repair the cuticle, making it less porous and give it more strength. Using a product like the NIA FIX Instant Bond and Cuticle Restructuring System will help you reverse the effects of the bleaching products without the loss of your color. NIA FIX is a highly effective reparative formulation because it contains the following healing agents:
- Proline - An essential amino acid that helps promote collagen production, which ultimately strengthens the hair.
- Keratin - The main protein or building block of your hair.
- Lysine - Naturally found in the hair root, which gives it shape and volume.
- Aloe Barbadenis - Deeply moisturizes and conditions the hair and scalp, which is extremely important after a bleaching process. Bleach can strip your scalp and hair of its natural moisture, so you need an intense moisturizer to counter these effects.
- L-Arginine - An amino acid that plays an important role in protein synthesis.
- Maleic Acid - Helps to reconnect the broken disulfide sulfur bonds in the hair, which ultimately decreases the porosity of the hair shaft.
- Polisilicone 15 - Works like sunblock to prevent UVB radiation from damaging the hair and scalp.
Thirdly, you will want to make sure the products you are using are meant to help repair your damaged tresses. This is especially true for your everyday products like your shampoo and conditioner (or every-other-day as you likely want to cut back on how frequently you wash your hair). Products like the NIA Restructuring Shampoo and Conditioner help repair, protect, and seal your hair without changing your hair color. Alternatively, if your scalp is irritated or damaged in the bleaching process, you may benefit from the RADIA Purifying Shampoo and Conditioner, which is meant to treat and calm dry, irritated scalps.
How You Can Minimize The Damage From Bleach At Your Next Appointment
We all know that bleach damages our hair. Yet, nearly all of us still seek out lightning color services regularly. You now know the steps you can take to repair your damaged hair after your appointment. But how can you minimize the negative consequences of hair bleaching and keep your tresses as smooth and soft as possible? The tips are really the same!
Make sure you always shampoo and condition your hair with products that continually work to repair your hair in between appointments. Hydration is vital. Thus, you will want to make sure you do not overly wash your hair so that your hair and scalp can be moistened by their natural oils. Another tip is to spread out your hair coloring appointments so that your hair has more time to recover in-between bleaching sessions. Finally, you will want to minimize practices that can further damage your hair, like using blow dryers regularly.
By using the right products and implementing the correct practices, you can soften and revitalize damaged bleached hair.