I am one of those people who loves changing their hair. I’ve dyed my hair every color from black to pink to blonde, let it grow well past my shoulders, and chopped it all off into a pixie cut without a second thought. While playing around with different hairstyles is fun, it can also cause serious damage to your locks. A few years ago, I decided I HAD to have pink ends on my hair, but more than that, I wanted pink on blonde. Problem was, my hair was dark brown and even black in some parts as I’d dyed it just a few months prior. To skip the reading and watch my video on repairing bleached hair, click here! I decided to go for it and went to a salon called Dramatics in the Flatiron district of NYC, near my job at the time. I had made my appointment a few weeks prior, and they told me to make sure I had plenty of time to spare since it would be a long process. They weren’t kidding. After testing my hair, they decided it was safe to bleach it out and after about two (could’ve been three) processes, my hair was finally light enough to proceed. After my hair was the right blonde shade, they dyed the ends a hot pink and deep conditioned the crap out of my hair.
I loved the results, my hair color was exactly what I’d wanted, though I had to sacrifice quite a bit of length to achieve it. They styled my hair and sent me on my way, but it wasn’t until I washed it myself for the first time that I noticed just how much damage had been done. My hair literally felt like straw, and while it should come as no surprise considering how much they had to bleach my hair to get it to the color I wanted, it’s something quite different when you realize, ‘crap now I’ve got to take care of this fringe myself!” Straight off I went to Youtube. I spent hours watching videos on repairing damaged hair and the best products to use on bleached hair. I came away with a lot of great information, but the one piece of advice that served me most and which I came to find true myself was this – nothing will repair your hair fully, but time. It’s true, there are certain things you can do to help your hair not incur any more damage, but as for the strands which have already been fried well, they’re going to stay fried until you chop them off. There’s really no way around it, once your hair gets damaged to a certain point, the most you can do is make sure it doesn’t get worse. That being said, I am glad I followed the advice of the Youtube videos I watched as they not only helped me nurse my hair back to health, but helped me get an even healthier head of hair once the bleach/damaged parts were all gone.
These are the things I did to get my hair from terribly damaged to luscious once more!
1. Use minimal heat!
This was probably the hardest on the list. My hair is usually curly, but after the bleaching, I’d be lucky if I could get a wave out of it. But it wasn’t straight either. It was, for lack of a better word, crispy. Hard, puffy and unruly. So air drying it was not an easy feat. The only way my hair looked good was if I used a blow dryer on it (or in some cases, braided it, so learning some new hair styles involving braids is worth looking into!) and every time I so much as combed it, tons and tons of hair fell out. Still, I didn’t want to go out looking like the frazzled end of a broom every day so while I did use a blow dryer on my hair, I tried to do it as little as possible and also made sure to use heat protectant when I did. The flatiron though was OUT of the question. I found that if I tried to use it, my hair would just fall out in troves, so I decided I would just put my beloved Sedu away for a few months. I got some great dry shampoo (Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak Dry Shampoo) and tried not to wash it as often which meant not drying it as often. That brings me to number 2…
2. Keep Hair Washing to a Minimum
This may sound gross but trust me, it will make a big difference. If you’re not one of the people who already subscribes to the “no-poo” method of hair care, then washing your hair less after it’s been bleached/seriously damaged will make a world of difference. Using shampoo strips your hair of it’s natural oils, something you will desperately need to make it healthy again. After I’d undergone my bleach/dye process, my hair felt so horrible after the first shampoo, and soon after researching what to do to repair my hair, I found out why. Which brings us to our next point on the list…
3. Use a Sulfate Free Shampoo
If you don’t follow any of my other advice, follow this step. Using a sulfate free shampoo really helped my hair so much, and allowed me to wash it without the fear of damaging it further. I swear by SheaMoisture Raw Shea Moisture Retention Shampoo and their conditioners as well. I would recommend this even for people with healthy hair! It makes such a difference in the shine and overall health of your hair. It does take some getting used to, as it doesn’t produce a deep lather like normal shampoos, but once you see the results, you’ll be too addicted to go back. I know I was.
4. Use a Protein Treatment
Using some sort of protein infused product can be a crucial to restoring your hair’s health. I used Bed Head’s Dumb Blonde conditioner and it helped me loads. Keep in mind, you shouldn’t use this in your hair every time you wash, and when you do your hair will feel a bit harder so a deep conditioner or hair mask will be in order. Speaking of deep conditioners…
5. Get a Good Deep Treatment
Not using sulfates in your hair is just part of the process, but adding vitamins and oils to your hair will also help along the way. Deep conditioners and hair treatments can help you do just that. I used another one of SheaMoisture’s products, this time their Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Mask. Although I wasn’t washing my hair as often, I made sure to use this every time I did. It helps keep your hair as manageable as possible as it grows out and gets back into a healthy state.
6. Don’t Dye Your Hair!
This should go without saying but, I’ve seen a lot of friends dye their damaged hair a darker color in order to make it appear healthier. While it’s true that having darker hair will make it look somewhat healthier, the reality is you’re only damaging it more and you could run the risk of losing a lot of hair (or even eek, getting a bald spot!). As tempting as this “quick fix” seems, please trust me and don’t dye your hair until at least a few months have passed.
7. Use Natural Oils
I still use coconut oil in my hair today and it was a great addition to my hair care regiment. It added a lot of shine and bounce back into my hair and helped replace some of the natural oils missing in my bleached strands, especially after a wash.
8. Trim Your Hair Often
As I said from the onset, there is nothing that will bring your hair back 100% but time and trimming your hair is a crucial part of this. Not only will it help you gradually get rid of the damaged parts, it will encourage more hair growth (healthy new hair!).
9. Be Patient!
Whether your damage stems from bleaching like me, or using too much heat, it will take a lot of time before your hair is one hundred percent healthy again. The good thing is, it IS possible! With some patience, a few great products and a few trims, your hair will be back to normal in no time!
Products I used
Shampoo: SheaMoisture Raw Shea Moisture Retention Shampoo
Deep Conditioner: Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Mask
Dry Shampoo: Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak Dry Shampoo
Protein Treatment: TiGi – Bed Head Dumb Blonde Reconstructor
Redken Extreme Anti Snap Leave in Treatment
Sexy Hair Soy Tri-Wheat leave in conditioner