Hair that has been bleached has very specific haircare needs. Whenever the hair is lightened with a bleach, the hair’s natural melanin pigments are stripped, along with much of the hair’s moisture. In severe cases, the cuticle layer of the hair is also stripped away, resulting in hair that is virtually impossible to repair with conditioners and other products.
Before spending money on haircare products, first assess the damage of the hair. Hair that has been bleached properly will still feel smooth to the touch. If the hair feels dry and brittle, then it has been slightly over-processed. If the hair has been extremely over-processed, you will notice plenty of dryness and frizz accompanied by breakage. When hair that has been over-bleached is wet, it will easily stretch, (much like a rubber band) when it it combed. If this happens, then the hair is beyond repair.
If your bleached hair is only slightly or moderately damaged, it will require a combination of three things: moisture, oil, and protein. Replenishing the hair’s moisture will make the hair softer and will make it easier to style. Hair that is dehydrated has one very definite characteristic- resistance to thermal styling tools. If your bleached hair is hard to curl or hard to straighten with a flat iron, then it could probably use moisture. This is accomplished by using a hydrating shampoo and conditioner three times per week.
Bleaching the hair also strips away the oils from the hair and scalp. These oils are what give hair its shine. In order to replenish the oil which has been stripped away by bleach, simply cut down on the frequency of washing. The sebaceous glands located in the scalp produce oil on a continual basis, and frequent washing washes away these valuable oils.
Finally, bleached hair needs a deep conditioner which contains protein. This will strengthen the hair and reduce breakage, and it will also make the hair more manageable and easier to style. A deep conditioning treatment or protein reconstructor treatment should be performed on bleached hair no more than once per week. Hair can only hold a certain amount of protein, so using a deep conditioner more than once per week won’t result in healthier hair, it will only result in wasted money, since the excess protein will be washed right down the drain.
As long as the hair is properly maintained by the regular replenishment of oil, moisture, and protein, bleaching (performed by a skilled professional, of course) will not be terribly damaging to the hair.