Whether you’re coloring your hair yourself at home or using the services of a stylist, most hair lightening products contain some amount of bleach. And for good reason: bleach is still one of the simplest, fastest ways to remove pigment from your hair strands.
But changing up your hair color with bleach doesn’t come without a cost. Bleach is a harsh invader that breaks apart your hair proteins to remove color. After the bleach washes out, your hair strands are left lighter — and
Breakage, frizz, and dryness are just some of the side effects that you may experience after bleaching your hair. This article will give you tips to help restore your hair’s strength and softness after using bleach.
Part of the reason that bleached hair looks “fried” or frizzy is because the hair cuticle — the layer that locks in moisture — has been disrupted. While your hair cuticle rebuilds, you can use other products to seal your hair and help restore some gloss and shine.
1. Olive oil
A few drops of olive oil can go a long way to give your hair some life. Only use a couple drops at a time to apply olive oil with your fingertips, focusing on your ends.
2. Coconut oil
Coconut oil can also work to seal your hair and prevent protein loss. Rub some coconut oil together between your palms to warm it up before applying it to dry, frizzy spots as well as your ends.
3. Argan oil
Argan oil is rich in antioxidants, which can help protect your hair from further damage. Use a few drops after styling to seal in moisture and add shine to your hair.
4. Almond oil
Almond oil is saturated with proteins as well as vitamin E, which can bind to your hair and make your strands stronger. It may also fill in gaps in your hair strands that leave it prone to breakage after bleaching.
Apply a few drops to your hair each day before you head out the door, or use almond oil as an ingredient in a deep-conditioning mask.
5. Use sun protection
After bleaching, your hair is vulnerable to burning from heat styling and from the sun. Sunblock for your hair also protects your scalp, which may be irritated due to bleach exposure. You can use an SPF spray specifically designed for hair, or you can look for hair products that include an SPF.
6. DIY hair masks
Hair masks with moisturizing ingredients, like avocado, honey, and egg white, can restore softness and elasticity to your hair. You can apply hair masks whipped up with simple kitchen ingredients two or three times a week until your hair’s condition begins to improve.
7. Rice water rinse
Rinsing your hair with water you have used to boil rice may help make your hair strands stronger. Rice water contains inositol, which you can use to repair hair strands from the inside out.
- Prep the rice water by boiling rice and straining it out, then leave it in your fridge overnight.
- For best results, transfer a small amount to a container you can easily use in the shower.
- You can rinse your hair with rice water every day if your hair is extremely damaged.
8. Leave-in conditioner
Leave-in conditioner products available at almost any beauty supply store and supermarket can help revive bleach-damaged hair. Some leave-in conditioners are thick and you can apply them in the shower. Others are simple spray-on formulas you can put on your hair before you head out for the day.
Follow label directions carefully, and look for products that advertise moisturizing and keratin-building effects.
9. Avoid heat styling
Right after bleaching, your hair is especially dry and vulnerable to heat styling damage. Cut back on how often you blow-dry, curl, or straighten your hair with hot tools in the weeks after a bleach.
When you’re ready to reintroduce heat styling, keep it to a minimum — once or twice per week, max.
10. Be careful with chlorine
After bleach has compromised the strength of your hair strands, chlorine can compound the issue and make your hair even weaker. Chlorine can also give bleached hair a brassy blond, greenish hue, or carrot-orange tint.
Rinse your hair with cool water right before your slip into the pool or any other chlorinated water source. Rinse your hair again directly after spending time in chlorinated water. You might want to use a swim cap to protect your locks in the 2 weeks right after bleaching your hair.
11. Only comb hair when wet
Hair that has been bleached is more prone to snags and tangles. Use a wide-toothed comb or a wet brush with flexible bristles for best results.
12. Cut back on shampoos
When you bleach your hair, you also strip out natural oils from the hair follicle. While your hair follicle heals, cut back on how often you wash your hair. It takes some getting used to, but many people report that their hair reacts just fine to being washed once or twice per week.
13. Cool water washes
Hair that has been heat-damaged should not be washed in scalding hot water. Steam from your shower may open up your hair cuticle and cause further damage to your hair strands. When you wash your hair, make sure to keep the temperature down to a medium to lukewarm level. Cap off your wash with a spritz of cool water to seal in moisture.
14. Go for a trim
Trimming off split ends can help breathe new life into hair that has been damaged by bleach. Ask your hairdresser to trim off 2 to 3 inches — it might feel like a weight lifted off of your shoulders.
If bleach or other environmental factors have severely damaged your hair, you might need to go beyond simple lifestyle changes and home remedies.
Hair falling out
If bleach damage means your hair has started falling out, try out some proven methods for natural hair regrowth.
15. Scalp massage
A scalp massage
16. Rosemary oil
17. Onion juice
Onion juice has had promising results for hair regrowth in animal studies. Blend up some onions and apply the juice to your scalp, letting it soak in your scalp for up to 15 minutes. Rinse well before you shampoo as you normally would.
Bleach can irritate the skin on your scalp and cause redness, dry scalp, and flaking. Consider these DIY solutions to condition the skin on your head:
18. Peppermint oil
Peppermint oil can increase circulation to your scalp and help relieve itching. It has anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it a great DIY for treating flaky or inflamed scalp.
19. Aloe vera
Aloe vera can also be used to help heal the damaged and inflamed scalp. Its moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties can help heal damage to your hair as well as your scalp when you apply pure aloe vera topically.
20. Witch hazel
Witch hazel has powerful astringent properties, and can be used as an anti-inflammatory. Applying diluted witch hazel directly on your scalp (avoiding your hair if possible) can bring a tingling, healing sensation to your head and bring relief to damaged scalp.
If hair breakage is a continuous problem for you after bleaching your hair, consider one of these home remedies:
21. Ditch hair elastics
That tight ponytail may be putting additional stress on your hair at the root, making it more prone to breakage. Keep your hair down and loose whenever you can.
22. Let hair air dry whenever possible
Using a hairdryer or even a towel to speed up the drying process can add to the damage to your hair cuticle, which needs to work to restore proteins after bleaching.
Bleaching your hair frequently will result in more and more damage. Don’t bleach your hair more than once every 2 months or so. The American Academy of Dermatologists recommends giving your hair a break for 8 to 10 weeks between processing sessions.
When it’s time to touch up the bleach at your roots, apply it only to new growth and don’t re-bleach your entire head. Repeated bleaching of your entire head will result in hair breakage and hair loss.
In some cases, the only way to fix bleach-damaged hair is to seek help from a professional stylist. Give it a month to 6 weeks after bleaching and see if your hair starts to recover. After you’ve been patient with your hair, here are some signs that it’s time to book an appointment with a pro:
- difficulty brushing your hair
- hair loss and hair breakage
- hair that is tinged an unnatural or unwanted color
- hair that is heavy and unevenly textured
- hair that does not respond to your styling efforts like brushing, curling, or blow-drying
Hair damage from bleach is not uncommon, and there are natural remedies you can try to restore the strength and flexibility of your hair strands. The real cure might be a little patience, as it may take some time for your hair to start to regain its shape.
To get the most out of your bleached hair, stick to a daily hair hygiene routine that limits heat styling and incorporates a moisturizer and a sunscreen.
If your hair doesn’t start to regain its shape and stability within a month to 6 weeks, you may need to enlist the help of a professional hair stylist.