Did you bleach your hair to become a stunning platinum blonde, but instead ended up with a mop of fried, straw-like hair? Don’t worry, girl! We’ve all been there. Bleach is brutal on your locks. Every time you bleach your hair, you inflict some degree of chemical damage on your locks. Hair bleach uses a combination of very harsh chemicals to remove pigment and lighten your hair.
The chemicals in hair bleach compromise the structure and integrity of your hair fiber. The more you bleach your hair, the more damage you inflict on your hair. Depending on the severity of the damage, bleaching your hair can make your hair dry, brittle, and more prone to breakage. If the bleach damage is severe, excessive hair breakage will follow, leading to hair thinning.
Why Does Bleach Damage Your Hair?
The chemicals in hair bleach alter your hair’s natural pH to lighten your hair. Your hair is slightly acidic in pH. This natural acidic pH closes your hair’s cuticles. Your hair’s cuticles are the outermost protective layer of your hair fiber. They are composed of scales that lie flat on top of one another, looking like shingles on a roof.
Closed hair cuticles promote strong, elastic, and healthy hair. When your hair’s cuticles are closed, they prevent moisture loss from your hair fiber. When your hair has adequate moisture, it becomes supple and elastic, reducing hair breakage. Closed hair cuticles also provide a protective coating over the core of your hair shaft, reinforcing and strengthening your hair fiber.
The chemicals in hair bleach force your hair cuticles open to lighten your hair, compromising and weakening the structure of your hair fiber. Once your hair cuticles are opened, moisture escapes out of your hair, making your hair dry and brittle. Open hair cuticles also expose the core of your hair fiber, making your hair more prone to breakage.
Frequent hair bleaching erodes your hair’s cuticle layer, leading to permanent and irreversible hair damage. Hair lightening is a harsh chemical process that permanently deteriorates the structure and integrity of your hair.
How Does Bleach Lighten Your Hair?
Bleaching uses a two-step process to lighten your hair. Hair bleach commonly consists of two chemical components: ammonia and hydrogen peroxide.
Ammonia is an alkaline agent that alters the pH of your hair to change your hair color. Your hair is acidic in pH. The acidic pH closes your hair’s cuticles, making them lie flat on top of one another, forming a sturdy, protective coating over the core of your hair fiber. The ammonia in hair bleach forces your hair cuticles open to allow the lightening agents to penetrate your hair fiber and remove pigment.
Once ammonia forces your hair cuticles open, hydrogen peroxide in the bleach penetrates inside your hair fiber, and into your hair’s cortex. Hydrogen peroxide is an oxidizing agent. Once inside your hair’s cortex, hydrogen peroxide will oxidize your hair’s pigment, converting them to water-soluble substances that wash away with water.
Hair bleach strips color pigments from your hair, decolorizing your hair. The degree of lightening achieved with hair bleach depends on the strength of hydrogen peroxide and the length of time the bleach is left on your hair. The higher the strength of the hydrogen peroxide, and the longer you leave the bleach on your hair, the more your hair will lighten.
Hair bleaching and lightening irreversibly and permanently damage your hair. While there is nothing you can do to make your hair the way it was before you bleached your hair, you can take steps to make your damaged bleached-blonde hair look and feel healthier. Adopting simple hair care practices into your routine can help make your damaged bleached hair more manageable.
How to Repair Damaged Bleached Hair
Bleach works in multiple ways to wreck your hair. The ammonia in hair bleach lifts your hair’s cuticles, weakening your hair fiber, and promoting moisture loss. Further, the hydrogen peroxide in hair bleach strips your hair of its natural lipid coating, making your hair coarse, brittle, and unmanageable.
Use the tips below to restore some health and life to your damaged bleached hair:
Shampoo Less Often
The sebaceous glands deep beneath your skin produce an oily-waxy substance called sebum. Sebum coats your hair shaft to protect your hair from the harsh external elements and reduce moisture loss. Your hair needs this protective lipid coating in sufficient quantities to lock in moisture and minimize cuticle damage.
Shampooing too frequently strips your hair of its protective lipid coating, making your hair dry and brittle. Bleached hair has sustained varying degrees of chemical damage, needing extra moisture to safeguard its integrity and minimize hair breakage. You must preserve and maintain your hair’s natural oils to keep your damaged bleached hair supple and hydrated.
To promote optimal moisture balance, reduce your shampooing frequency, or use shampoo alternatives to clean your bleached hair. Shampoo alternatives such as dry shampoo absorb excess oil and deodorize your hair and scalp, making your hair feel and look clean, without dehydrating your hair.
Reducing the number of times you shampoo your hair will restore your hair’s lipid barrier, promoting moisture retention, which leads to less hair breakage.
Use Deep Hair Conditioning Treatments
Bleach permanently and irreversibly damages your hair’s protective cuticle layer. The chemicals in hair bleach erode your hair’s cuticles, leaving cracks and holes on the surface of your hair shaft. These cracks and holes weaken your hair shaft and promote moisture loss, increasing hair breakage. To make your damaged bleached hair healthier and more resilient, use deep hair conditioning treatments frequently to add some life to your hair.
Deep conditioning hair treatments contain nourishing ingredients such as protein reconstructors and intensive moisturizers that work to temporarily repair your hair to make your hair stronger and more hydrated. The protein reconstructors bind to the surface of your hair shaft, filling in cracks and holes to build a more durable hair fiber. The intensive moisturizers in deep conditioners hydrate your hair, making your parched bleached locks more supple and less prone to breakage.
Apply mild heat to your deep conditioning treatments to make them more effective. Wear a shower cap to trap your head’s natural heat, or apply heat from a blow dryer on your hair to make your deep conditioning treatment more effective. Heat opens up your hair’s cuticles, allowing the nourishing ingredients in your deep conditioner to penetrate deep inside your hair to reconstruct your hair from the inside out.
Install a Shower Filter
Your regular, unfiltered shower water is filled with chemicals and impurities that harm your hair’s health. Unfiltered tap water is loaded with chlorine, a chemical disinfectant added to municipal water to disinfect the water and make it safe for human consumption. Chlorine is a harsh chemical that strips your hair of its protective coating, making your hair brittle and more susceptible to breakage.
Other than chlorine, unfiltered shower water also contains hard minerals that disrupt your hair’s natural physiology. Your hair is naturally acidic in pH. Your hair’s naturally acidic pH strengthens your hair and minimizes moisture loss. The hard minerals in your unfiltered shower water are alkaline in pH, disrupting your hair’s natural acid mantle.
Alkaline shower water raises your hair’s cuticles, weakening the core of your hair fiber, and promoting moisture loss. Bleach compromises the structural integrity of your hair, making your hair more vulnerable to damage from hard water. Hard, alkaline shower water weakens your hair fiber, making your bleached hair break off more easily.
To protect your bleached hair from the effects of hard, chlorinated shower water, install a shower filter in your bathroom. A shower filter is a compact water purification unit you fix in your bathroom to remove chemicals and impurities from your shower water. A shower filter reduces chlorine and hard minerals in your shower water, producing shower water that is kinder and gentler on your fragile bleached hair.
Apply Leave-In Hair Conditioner
Bleaching undermines the integrity of the protective layer of your hair shaft. Repetitive hair bleaching wears away your hair’s cuticles, leaving the core of your hair fiber exposed to the harsh external elements. Hair cuticle erosion results in dehydrated, brittle hair that breaks off easily, leading to hair thinning.
To reinforce the structure of your hair fiber, apply a leave-in conditioner on your hair. Leave-in conditioners are conditioning agents you leave on your hair to strengthen and protect your locks. These conditioning agents provide an extra layer of defensive coating over the surface of your hair shaft, reinforcing the structure of your hair fiber.
This extra layer of protection helps bolster the structure and integrity of your hair fiber, making your hair stronger and more durable. An additional protective coating over your hair shaft strengthens your hair, enhances moisture retention, and minimizes hair breakage. Use a good-quality leave-in conditioner after every hair wash to add a protective sheath over your hair.
Bleach is among the harshest chemical hair treatments. Hair bleaching considerably weakens and damages your hair, making your bleached blonde hair very fragile. Your weakened, fragile hair is less able to withstand the damaging effects of hot hair styling tools. Hot styling tools zap the moisture out of your hair, making your bleached hair drier and more prone to breakage.
To improve the health of your bleached hair, minimize the use of hot styling tools, and opt for heat-free hairstyles instead. Heat-free hair styling can give you pretty hairdos without dehydrating or frying your hair. If you must heat-style your hair for a special occasion, use a heat protectant product on your hair to shield your brittle hair against further damage.
Acid Hair Rinsing
Your hair has a naturally acidic pH. An acidic pH promotes hair health as it closes your hair’s cuticles, making them lie flat and smooth on top of one another. Closed hair cuticles provide a protective sheath over your hair shaft, shielding your hair fiber against harmful elements. Closed cuticles also minimize moisture loss out of your hair, making your hair more elastic to reduce hair breakage.
Hair bleach uses ammonia to strip color and lighten your hair. Ammonia is alkaline in pH. This alkalinity forces your hair cuticles open to allow the hydrogen peroxide to penetrate inside your hair and remove your hair’s existing pigment. An alkaline pH disrupts your hair’s natural physiology and deteriorates the health of your hair.
Every time you bleach your hair, your cuticles are opened, promoting moisture loss and hair breakage. This is why your hair is coarse, bone-dry, and brittle after every hair bleaching session. To minimize hair dryness and breakage, you must restore your hair’s natural acidic pH after bleaching your hair to close your hair’s cuticles.
To restore your hair’s natural acidity, perform an acid hair rinse to restore your hair’s natural pH. An acid hair rinse contains a diluted solution of natural acids mixed with water. You can use lemon juice or apple cider vinegar for your acid hair rinse. Mix one part acid to three parts water to make your own acid hair rinse. After shampooing and conditioning your hair, pour the mild acidic solution over your hair. Comb the solution through your hair and let it remain in your hair for a few minutes.
Rinse off the acid solution using the coldest water you can bear. The acid solution and cold water rinse close your hair’s cuticles, locking in moisture and strengthening your hair fibers to minimize hair breakage. Perform an acid hair rinse every time you bleach your hair to restore your hair’s natural acidic pH and close your hair’s cuticles.
Many girls want to become blonde bombshells, but hair lightening is a very destructive chemical process that inflicts severe damage on your hair, causing hair breakage and hair thinning. You can become a bleached blonde bombshell and still keep most of your hair if you incorporate smart hair care practices into your routine. Adopting the hair care tips mentioned here can help you minimize hair breakage and make your damaged, bleached blonde hair look and feel healthier.