Bleaching and Highlighting Your Hair
This is true — bleaching agents are hard on your strands. They can make your hair dry, brittle, frizzy-looking and prone to breakage. However, by taking the proper steps, you can keep your hair healthy, hydrated and looking its best if you do decide to go lighter.
In fact, bleaching even has some advantages: the process plumps your individual hair shafts, often making your hair appear thicker and fuller. Furthermore, if you are light-skinned and have thinning hair, bleaching can disguise the contrast between your hair and patches of bare scalp.
How Bleaching Works
Bleach strips the pigment from your hair shaft through the process of oxidation. It is impossible to make your hair a lighter shade without the help of a bleaching (or oxidising) agent.
Hydrogen peroxide and ammonia are the most commonly used bleaching agents. They are often mixed together, because when used separately, they are unstable and very slow in lightening the hair. Do not be fooled by manufacturers who use ‘peroxide-free’ labels as a way to promote their products as ‘hair-friendly’. Although these mixtures do not contain peroxide, they will contain another oxidising agent, which can be just as damaging to your strands.
Why Does Bleaching Damage Your Hair?
Bleaching raises your hair’s outer cuticle to allow the bleaching agent to fully penetrate.
Repeated bleaching can permanently raise your cuticle, which allows rapid and continuous loss of moisture from your strands.
Damage from bleaching includes:
Hair that is prone to breakage
Hair that is prone to split ends
Bleached hair is also more porous, and therefore more vulnerable to other chemical and non-chemical hazards. These include everything from heat-styling with blow-dryers and tongs, to the effects of sun, rain and wind.
While all bleaching agents have a damaging effect on your hair’s protein structure, this is intensified each time the process is undertaken. In other words, the more often you bleach or highlight your hair, the more damaged it will be.
If you are suffering from damaged hair, our clinics based in London and New York specialise in hair and scalp treatments.
How Can You Protect Your Hair If You Bleach It?
Use a pre-shampoo conditioning treatment
A pre-shampoo conditioning treatment will plump your hair with moisture, making it more elastic and less likely to snap. A good pre-shampoo conditioner, such as our hero product Elasticizer, will also add shine, manageability and bounce. We recommend using a pre-shampoo conditioning treatment three days before and three days after bleaching or highlighting, and then weekly thereafter.
Apply a heat-protectant when styling
After bleaching, your hair’s cuticle (outer layer) will be raised, making your hair more vulnerable to moisture evaporation. This is a particular hazard during heat styling. Heat-protectant sprays and serums, such as our Perfecting Spray, will help shield your hair from moisture evaporation under blow-dryers, irons and tongs.
Use a daily shield
Wear a lightweight, protective spray or serum throughout the day. These products (like our Daily Damage Defence leave-in conditioner) will help keep your strands hydrated, shiny and shielded from environmental damage such as pollution, air conditioning, central heating, wind and UV rays. They will also help seal your cuticles, minimising moisture evaporation from your strands.
Invest in a good conditioner
Bleaching raises your hair’s cuticles, causing strands to interlock and tangle easily. Use a conditioner after every shampoo to flatten the cuticle, seal in moisture, reduce knots, and add shine.
+ Brush gently
To help prevent breakage, gently detangle bleached hair, starting from the ends and gradually working up to your roots. Do not pull too hard, or your hair will snap.