Platinum, golden, strawberry or honey… there’s something endlessly appealing about light locks that keeps us reaching for the bleach bottle, season after season. But at what cost?
Unfortunately, just like any chemical treatment, bleaching your hair comes with consequences. Dryness and split ends are par for the course – and that’s just for starters. But will that stop us from lightening our locks? Of course not.
Still, it pays to do your research so you can learn how to mitigate damage caused by bleaching. Because – here's the good news, bleach baby – with a little TLC and the right products, you definitely can.
To discover how the lightening process works from go to whoa, read on. In this article, we explain how the bleaching process damages your hair. And the ways you can minimise its effects – while keeping your beloved colourist on speed dial.
How Does Bleach Work?
So, how exactly does your colourist magic your mid-brown locks into those delicious caramels, golds and milky tones? Through a process of oxidation achieved with a bleaching agent or combination of agents – the most common being hydrogen peroxide and ammonia.
Bleaching first raises the hair cuticle, then these oxidants penetrate the hair cortex to strip melanin (or pigment) from your strands. Which is great for achieving your desired colour, but – as any (faux) fair maiden will know – definitely takes its toll on your strands.
"When you lighten hair, it’s weakening its internal bonds that keep the hair healthy,” says Nell McDonald, Head Colourist at Togninis in Brisbane. “It becomes more porous and prone to damage. Lightening the hair essentially opens up the hair cuticle, breaking down its strong internal structure, causing breakage and split ends.”
And the more often you (or your colourist) reach for the bleach bottle, the more damaged your strands will be. Eeek!
How Do You Get Damaged Hair from Bleach?
Some of the signs of bleach damage are immediately apparent, while others creep up over time – especially if you’re dying your hair on the reg. Even immediately after bleaching, you might notice your hair is much drier than usual. Other side effects of bleaching include loss of elasticity (due to broken hair bonds), increased breakage and dull, brittle strands that are more prone to split ends.
What about longer-term effects? Repeated bleaching weakens locks and can permanently raise the hair cuticle – allowing precious moisture to leach from your strands. As a result, your once-silky, hydrated mane could be replaced with dry, frizzy hair – and your damaged, breakage-prone locks might also take longer to grow. But don’t despair, there are steps you can take to colour safely!
How to Repair Bleach Damaged Hair
Now for the good news (we’re pretty sure you’ll need some by now!). If you’re suffering from straw-like strands, bond-building products exist – and they work like a dream to reverse much of the damage caused by bleaching. Hurrah!
These powerhouse haircare products use different active ingredients to help repair the hair bonds broken during bleaching and chemical treatments. While most zone in on disulphide bonds, we’ve taken things two steps further. Not only does our microemulsion formula penetrates better than the competition, our holistic approach to repair tackles 3 structural hair bonds. Disulphide, ionic (salt) AND hydrogen. Because we never do things by halves.
Using unique 3D Bond Building technology, our Coco & Eve Pre-Shampoo Bond Building Treatment repairs broken bonds while protecting existing bonds for 7 times stronger hair* – with a whopping 85% reduction in breakage. Don't go blonde without it!
Other Ways to Minimise the Damage
However, you shouldn’t rely on a bond builder alone (as amazing as they are) – you should also take extra measures in your bleached hair care routine. This means choosing the right products, limiting heat styling and scheduling regular trims.
According to McDonald, you should select shampoos and conditioners rich in moisture and proteins to soften strands, improve manageability and help repair the broken “chain”. And don’t even think about skipping the heat protectant when using hot tools.
“Also do your best to minimise the heat styling you do,” she adds “whether it’s only air drying the hair first if you then need to straighten or use a curling wand, rather than blow-drying it first.”
Regular salon visits are also a must. “Regular trims not only ensure your lightened hair looks healthier and styled, but more importantly, stop the split ends from working their way up the hair shaft and causing more breakage.”
Much damage can also be avoided if you work with a skilled colourist and lighten your hair gradually. If your hair is thoroughly assessed first and protective products are used while colouring, you'll dramatically reduce the side effects of bleaching. And if not? It’s bond builders to the rescue 😊.
Ready to give your damaged strands the TLC they need? Shop our Pre-Shampoo Bond Builder here!
*Based on clinical study with 20 women with bleached hair.
Written By: Pip Jarvis
Edited by: Iris