How to Rehydrate Your Hair After Bleaching

Going light when you have naturally dark hair is high impact, and not just in regards to your new look. Your locks take a serious hit anytime you use bleach. Even if you’re only going a few shades lighter. Bleaching your hair leaves the cuticles of your strands compromised and weak, resulting in a dry, rough texture. But that doesn’t mean you dark-haired-beauties can’t go blonde. It just means that your bleached hair needs a little extra TLC. Ahead we’ve got all the tips, tricks, and treatments to keep your color bright and your hair a little more hydrated and less damaged.

What does bleach do to your hair?

During the bleaching process, alkaline agents, which are lighteners, cause your hair to swell and open the cuticles. Once the cuticles expand, the alkaline agents penetrate the hair’s cortex and dissolve the natural pigments, known as melanin. To be able to tackle the dark pigments, bleach has to break down the natural fatty acids on your hair shafts, leaving your hair brittle. The cuticle keeps expanding until it’s so open that nothing holds it together. Finally, the cortex becomes exposed, split ends appear, and bam - damage that can make your hair look unhealthy.

How to Rehydrate Your Hair After Bleaching

The following tips, tricks, and hair care treatments can help you start to repair your damaged hair.

Wash your hair less often

In the first three weeks after your bleach treatment, your hair is weak and more susceptible to breakage (and this is especially the case for wet hair). Using shampoo strips the cuticle of even more of the natural oils you need for hair growth and health. Wash your hair every three to four days, and use a shower cap on the non-wash days. You can stretch out washes as long as possible by incorporating a dry shampoo into your hair care routine.

Condition more

Washing your hair less often doesn’t mean giving up your hair care routine entirely. Bleaching your strands leaves them very dry so it’s important to switch out your shampoo with hydrating conditioners and deep conditioner. This helps to fill in the extra porosity of your hair with moisture, rebuilding strength, and shine. Stock up on hair moisturizer products to help quench thirsty locks.

Davines hair masks replenish hair

Photo by Karli Moceri

Use a hair mask

If you have bleached hair, you must slather on a repairing hair mask once a week. Drench your strands (concentrating on your ends) in a hydrating mask while you Netflix and chill. Or try one of these ultra-moisturizing DIY hair masks for damaged hair.

  • DIY Coconut Oil Hair Mask
    Heat two tablespoons of coconut oil and apply it to your hair, damp or dry. Wrap it in a microfiber towel or old t-shirt and wear it overnight. In the morning, rinse out the mask with your preferred shampoo and let it dry. If you don’t want to sleep in this mask, we recommend keeping it on for at least seven hours. 
  • DIY Olive Oil and Honey Hair Mask
    Use three tablespoons of olive oil and one tablespoon of honey and whisk them together until smooth. If it’s still sticky, add more olive oil to the mix. Wash your hair with shampoo and let it completely dry before dividing it into sections and applying the mixture. Leave it in for about 30 minutes and rinse it out with warm water, following with your normal hair wash routine.
  • DIY Yogurt Hair Mask
    Mix one cup of yogurt with a tablespoon of olive oil to add shine and sleekness to damaged strands. Apply the mixture to your hair for 10 minutes and rinse with warm water. 
  • DIY Brown Sugar and Coconut Oil Hair Mask
    Combine two tablespoons of brown sugar and one tablespoon of coconut oil. Work the mixture into the hair after shampooing, focusing on the scalp. Rinse and continue with your favorite conditioner.
  • DIY Avocado and Olive Oil Hair Mask
    Use half of an avocado and a half cup of olive oil. Mash together in a bowl with a fork and apply the paste to your split ends. This one is best when left on for about 30 minutes.

Blonde ponytail Davines how to

Styled by Mélanie Guille

Dry your hair gently after washing

If your hair is especially at risk for breakage, this part is essential. Ditch your cotton bath towel for a softer option like a microfiber hair towel or an old t-shirt. These options soak up excess water without roughing up the cuticle and causing breakage. Make sure to gently squeeze or scrunch your hair, rather than rubbing it dry, and be gentle with combing.

Keep brassiness at bay

An essential for anyone with blonde hair (and key tool of every hairdresser), switch out your regular shampoo with a purple-tinted shampoo every other week. This will take out any brassiness— brassiness refers to the unwanted warm tones that show up in bleached hair.

Add a hair oil into the mix

As both a pre and post-shower treatment, a nourishing hair oil helps hydrate and protect roughed-up cuticles from the bleaching process. Plus, it will make your hair shiny and keep frizz under control. Again, bleach tends to leave hair very dry, so the high content of fatty acids in products like argan oil will deeply condition frizzy hair.

Skip the heat styling

If you’re using hot tools on bleached hair, you're exposing dry, vulnerable strands to even more damage. Letting your hair air-dry is the best way to go, but if you absolutely have to blow-dry your hair or use other hot tools for styling, using a protecting blowdry primer for hair before you do is a must.

See your stylist for a hair gloss treatment

Your hair stylist will usually follow your initial bleaching session with a hair gloss treatment to seal and protect your color, as well as add loads of shine. A hair gloss works by smoothing out rough cuticles and filling in any holes in the hair shaft. If your strands are looking dry and lifeless, a gloss treatment can bring your color back to life.

Use a keratin sealer

Keratin is a hair protein that seals the cuticles, resulting in shinier hair. Keratin also strengthens hair fibers preventing split ends. If you have hair damage from going blonde, start regularly using a keratin sealer.

Davines keratin sealer

Lifestyle Tips for Rehydrating Your Hair After Bleaching

You can also add hydration back into your strands by making a few simple lifestyle tweaks:

Drink more water

The answer to most beauty woes is usually to drink more water. Make sure you’re drinking enough water to hydrate your body from the inside out. So how much fluid does the average, healthy adult living in a temperate climate need? Experts say that adequate daily water intake is about 15.5 cups for men and about 11.5 cups or women.

Adjust your diet

What you eat directly affects the health of your hair. For healthy, hydrated strands, nothing beats salmon in the beauty department. It’s full of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin B12, and iron, to nourish your scalp and make those strands shine. Blueberries and kale are also musts for healthy hair, thanks to the antioxidants and vitamin B7.

Use cooler water when you wash your hair

Hot water can strip the moisture from your hair, so keep it lukewarm when you wash.

Finish with a blast of cold water when rinsing out your conditioner. This seals your hair’s cuticles and the pores in your scalp, locking in moisture, and adding a boost of shine.

Protect your strands from the sun

Just like every other part of your body, your hair needs protection from the sun’s powerful (and drying) rays. Wear a hat if you plan to spend time in the sun and look for hair products that contain SPF to protect your hair and scalp from the sun’s damaging UV rays. 

Protect hair from chlorine

Once bleach has compromised the integrity of your strands, chlorine will only weaken them further with every dip you take. Chlorine can also give bleached hair a greenish hue. 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.

Sleep on silk

It's important to protect your fragile dry strands while you sleep. A silk pillowcase is much gentler on hair than cotton pillowcases or hair scarves. Hair glides against silk while it clings to cotton, preventing further damage on your hair follicles. This creates friction, leading to breakage. Plus, cotton sucks the moisture out of your hair leading to more dryness.

Get frequent trims

The more you can keep those tresses in check by trimming off the damage, the less likely they are to become dry and brittle. Regular trims keep your hair healthy and strong.

Opt for balayage instead of all-over hair color

Balayage highlights are a lot gentler on your strands than all-over hair color (and a lot easier to maintain). If your hair is dry ask your stylist for balayage highlights instead of going fully blonde.

Whether you’ve just gone blonde and need a new hair care routine, or are just looking to hydrate overly-bleached strands, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know about how to hydrate your hair after bleaching.

by Jaclyn LaBadia, featured contributor

Cover photo credits: Color by Melanie Guille
Photographed by Saty and Pratha

Cut by Aliza Esmail

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