How to Keep Bleached Hair Healthy

Let’s talk about how to keep bleached hair healthy!

Blondes seriously have more fun… or at least that’s what I usually tell everybody. I’m 26 and started bleaching my hair when I was 12.

Even though I always go back to the dark side every once in a while, I always end up with platinum blonde hair. I’m just happier with blonde hair. I feel like it brightens up my face.

This post is 2300 words long. If you don’t have time to read the entire thing now, pin it for later!

Do you want to know how to keep bleached hair healthy? Learn a few tips on how to keep your bleached hair in tip-top shape...

How Hair Lightener Works:

If you really want to learn how to keep bleached hair healthy, you should first learn how lightener works.

Bleach can take its toll on your hair very quickly. It basically works by penetrating the hair cortex and removing all color pigment.

  • The first component of hair lightener is an alkaline, which lifts up the “scales” of the hair cuticle to allow the next step to happen.
  • The alkaline is mixed with an oxidizing agent, which allows it to penetrate deep in the hair shaft to the area where color molecules hang out.
  • Once it’s in there, the bleach starts to lighten the pigment molecules by releasing oxygen molecules during the oxidation process. These oxygen molecules break up the chemical bonds of chromophores, the parts of molecules responsible for color. “The changed chromophore molecules either reflect no color or a color outside the visible spectrum. This absence of color is seen by our eyes as white.” (Wonderopolis)

Hair lightening goes through a series of phases. Remember the three primary colors that make every other color are blue, red and yellow.

First, bleach removes the blue molecules, which leaves the hair red. This process is very quick, so if you blink, you’ll miss it.

Next, the red molecules start to come out. This process takes a long time, and if you stop in the middle, you may end up with orange hair.

The last part of the process removes some of the yellow pigments, which results in a pale yellow. The natural color of keratin, which is the protein that hair is composed of, is yellow, so your hair will never not be some form of yellow.

If you want a more defined shade of blonde, you will have to use a toner, but that is a whole other article in itself. Did you love all that science talk? If so, you should check out this super cool article about how hair color works.

Bleach Damage:

The next thing you need to know about how to keep bleached hair healthy is to learn how it damages your hair.

Bleach doesn’t just strip the color molecules in your hair… it also strips the protein, vitamins, and moisture. It changes the structure and texture of your hair.

Remember how I said that it uses an alkaline solution to raise the cuticle? Well if you over-process your hair, the cuticle won’t lay back down, which leaves the hair dull and susceptible to more damage.

Remember that the cuticle’s purpose is to act as a barrier and protect what’s on the inside of the hair. If it becomes damaged, the inside will get damaged too.

So now, let’s talk about me for a sec. I want to tell you that I am the queen of damaged hair.

I can’t even count how many times I started with platinum blonde hair, colored my hair black, just to go back to blonde again, and back and forth.

The 2010-2011 Evolution of Hollee's Hair Color. Learn how to grow your hair faster, even if it is this damaged...
Within about a year and a half…

I realized after a while, that I am happiest when I have bleached hair. I bleached it one last time and told myself that I had to commit to it. It’s been blonde for about a year and a half now.

It looks healthy now, but believe me, it went through some tough times. At one point, I completely fried all of my bangs off.

You can tell in some of the pictures that they were pretty short. I used to wear a headband just to hold them down every day, so they didn’t stick up.

Now that I have made the mistake of over-processing my hair, I want you to learn from it. It’s not a good thing. Here are some super useful tips on how to keep bleached hair healthy.

How To Keep Bleached Hair Healthy:

Do you want to know how to keep bleached hair healthy? Learn a few tips on how to keep your bleached hair in tip-top shape...

1. Wait Longer In Between Touch-Ups.

Do you want to know how to keep bleached hair healthy? Let your hair grow. Learn some more tips on how to keep your bleached hair in tip-top shape...

It’s hard to keep bleached hair healthy if you are constantly damaging it.

I try to go as long as possible in between processes to give it time to heal. It sucks having huge brown roots, but I really want my hair to grow and get healthy.

When you have more outgrowth to work with, the less likely you are to overlap the bleach on already processed hair.

In today’s world, roots are actually pretty popular. I totally suggest doing balayage or ombre hair to buy more time in between processes.

2. Only Touch Up The Outgrowth

Do you want to know how to keep bleached hair healthy? Learn a few tips on how to keep your bleached hair in tip-top shape...

When you do bleach your hair, only apply the bleach to the roots. In fact, you should make sure that the bleach is about 1/8th inch from the line of demarcation (bleach expands when it processes).

The more you apply bleach to the same area, the more damaged it gets. Believe me, you can easily damage your hair to the point of no return.. and when that happens, the only thing you can do is wait for it to grow out or break off.

If you are just applying bleach to the new virgin hair, it will be fine.

3. Use Lower Peroxide

Do you want to know how to keep bleached hair healthy? Use low volume developer. Learn some more tips on how to keep your bleached hair in tip-top shape...

If you want to keep bleached hair healthy, it’s a good idea to stick with lower level peroxide. There are different levels of peroxide. 10V, 20V, 30V or 40V are the most common.

The higher the level, the faster it works and more lift you will get, but it’s also more damaging. Bleached hair really only needs 20V to process (unless you are trying to bleach black colored hair, then you will probably need 40V).

If you are just bleaching your roots, 20V should be perfect. Since your outgrowth is close to your scalp, the bleach will process quickly from the body heat your scalp emits.

It will take longer to process than 30 or 40V, but healthy hair is more of a priority than speed.

4. Healthy Color Refresher Between Bleached Hair Processes

Do you want to know how to keep bleached hair healthy? Learn a few tips on how to keep your bleached hair in tip-top shape...

No matter what you do, bleached hair tends to turn yellow over time. It has to do with a build-up of minerals and other stuff that goes into your hair.

Luckily for you, there are ways to freshen it up without doing much damage. If you really want to learn how to keep bleached hair healthy, you’ll have to try some of these.

Purple Shampoo:

The first thing you can try is purple shampoo, which is formulated for blonde hair.

Purple and yellow are on opposite sides of the color wheel, which means they are complementary colors, which means they neutralize each other. This shampoo is meant to keep blonde hair looking fresh.

However, keep in mind that it’s not going to take your hair from orange to white. It’s not something that processes your hair or makes it lighter.

It just adds a tiny bit of purple pigment to neutralize the yellow. If you are looking for a good purple shampoo, I totally recommend Blndn Brighten You.

This is a newer purple shampoo I found and I really like it. It’s a little pricey, but it will last you a long time (you only need to use a little bit at a time).

It’s sulfate and paraben free and doesn’t dry out your hair (which is important when trying to keep bleached hair healthy).

Toner:

The second thing you can do in between processes is to tone your hair.

Hair toner is similar to purple shampoo, but a bit stronger. If your hair starts looking really yellow or dull, a toner will freshen it right up.

The shade of toner you should use depends on what type of blonde hair you want. You can use anything from platinum to ash to neutral beige to strawberry blonde. I like platinum blonde so I use a purple based platinum toner.

Just a friendly reminder: every time you tone your hair, you add pigment to your hair. In other words, the more you tone it, the darker your hair will get.

If you don’t have access to professional products, Sally Beauty Supply sells some pretty legit toners. Wella (which is one of the top brands that sells to the general public) makes a good toner that I would recommend.

Wella T18 Lightest Ash Blonde Toner
RELATED: How To Use a Hair Toner For Brassiness

Soap Cap:

The final thing you can do is probably the best way to freshen up your hair but also the most damaging. If you do it right, it shouldn’t do too much damage. It’s called a soap cap or color balancer.

I probably do this about once every two months. A color balancer is when you mix bleach, 5V developer and clarifying shampoo. Apply it to your whole head, and let it sit for just a few minutes.

Since you are using a low peroxide, and only processing it for a short time, it won’t be too damaging. However,  I always, always, ALWAYS re-condition as soon as I am done though.

Which brings me to my next point…

5. Use a Deep Conditioner

Do you want to know how to keep bleached hair healthy? Learn a few tips on how to keep your bleached hair in tip-top shape...

I am constantly reconditioning my hair in between processes. You should do it at least once a week.

If you haven’t heard of Olaplex yet, you really should. It is formulated for bleached hair and is the only product on the market proven to rebuild the broken protein bonds in your hair.

You can now buy it at Sephora.
In between Olaplex treatments, I really like  Joico Kpak Reconstructor.

When I am at home, doing chores, I’ll put it in my hair, put a plastic bag or cling-wrap around it, and leave it. Sometimes, I will even sleep with it in my hair. Deep conditioners penetrate further into the hair shaft to help repair the damage, rather than just coating it.

6. Be Gentle

Do you want to know how to keep bleached hair healthy? Be gentle to your hair. Learn some more tips on how to keep your bleached hair in tip-top shape...

The strength of your hair has been compromised by the bleach. You need to be extra gentle when dealing with your hair, otherwise, you will break it.

Don’t ever rip a brush through your hair. Especially when your hair is wet, you should use a wide tooth comb to gently comb through it. Start combing through the tips and slowly work your way up.

7. Minimize Heat Damage

Do you want to know how to keep bleached hair healthy? Learn a few tips on how to keep your bleached hair in tip-top shape...

Heat damage, like that caused by a blow-dryer, curling iron or flat-iron, wreaks havoc on everyone’s hair, but especially bleached hair.

Like I just said, your hair is not as strong as virgin hair…. and since your cuticle is exposing the innards of your hair, you have to be very careful to not damage it more.

If you absolutely must style your hair, always make sure to use a heat protecting spray. Heat protectants are formulated to coat the hair and protect it from the damage.

If you can, try to keep hot tools for special occasions. If you are just bumming around home, who cares what your hair looks like?

Or maybe let your hair air dry (I like to just blow dry my roots for volume and let the rest dry). Just try to minimize it as much as possible.

8. Alternate Hair Styles

Do you want to know how to keep bleached hair healthy? Alternate hairstyles. Learn some more tips on how to keep your bleached hair in tip-top shape...

If you wear your hair in the exact same ponytail every day, on the exact same place on your head, the rubber band will start to cause breakage. And since your hair is already weak, you should try to alternate where you place your ponytail every day.

Low side ponytails are in style right now, so maybe alternate between that and high, medium and low ponytails. Also be aware that wearing braids, especially tight ones, in the same place every day will do the same thing.

9. Replenish Protein and Moisture

Do you want to know how to keep bleached hair healthy? Replenish moisture and protein. Learn some more tips on how to keep your bleached hair in tip-top shape...

If you want to really know how to keep bleached hair healthy, know that you are going to need some good products.

You will need hair products that help put protein and moisture back into your hair. I recommend a high protein shampoo/conditioner system like Joico Kpak.

After a few weeks of using just protein shampoo/conditioner, I would start to alternate it with a moisturizing duo.

A really good leave-in conditioner for bleached hair is the It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-in Plus Keratin. It is expensive, but it will really help your hair. It deposits keratin right into your hair, which is needed for healthy hair.

10. Trim Your Split Ends

Do you want to know how to keep bleached hair healthy? Learn a few tips on how to keep your bleached hair in tip-top shape...

This is important because if you don’t trim the split ends, you are gonna end up with major breakage. I would recommend trimming a little bit after each bleach job.

11. Let Your Natural Oils Go

Do you want to know how to keep bleached hair healthy? Let your natural oils go. Learn some more tips on how to keep your bleached hair in tip-top shape...

The last thing you should know about how to keep your hair healthy is to take advantage of your natural oils.

Your scalp produces natural oil, as you may already know, which is good for hair that has been damaged by bleach. It’s like the body’s natural conditioner. You definitely shouldn’t wash your hair every day in the state it’s in.

I usually just use conditioner when I am in the shower to freshen up my hair. Hair that has been lightened is really porous like a sponge. It will absorb the oil really quick, therefore there is no need to shampoo often.

Just judge it by when your hair starts getting greasy and then you can wash it. I seriously wash my hair like once a week.

This is because shampoo strips your natural oils really bad. Just remember that the oils are good, and if you don’t need to wash your hair, don’t do it.

Now you know exactly how to keep bleached hair healthy! Good Luck!


Your Turn:  Did you enjoy this post? I’ll love you forever if you share it with your friends on your favorite social media website!

Do you know any other great tips on how to keep bleached hair happy and healthy? Have you tried any of these tips? I’d love to read your feedback in the comments section below…

53 thoughts on “How to Keep Bleached Hair Healthy”

  1. Hi I bleach my dark brown hair and the colour result is golden blonde so now I wana know can I use a light ash blonde to cool down brazzy colours in hair or can I just buy purple shampoo don’t wana damage my hair further

    Reply
  2. i have resonantly bleached the crap out of my hair going from black to almost white (the ends of my hair have turned strawberry blonde). if found your article on google while i was looking for good shampoos/conditioners for my hair because it is fried and frizzy as hell!!! i really need to baby my hair for a while and was very thankfull for your blog. i have been using nexus leave in conditioner but it hasnt seemed to help all that well, iv been wanting to try the bed head dumb blonde products but its really really expensive. thanks to your article i have decided to use baking soda and water for shampoo and bed head conditioner to save some money. i also have secretly been wanting to skip out on shampoo also because it makes my hair feel like the bottom of a broom when i rise it out but i never thought about actually doing it or using an alternative.. im a clean freak so ill use the baking soda alternative but if it doesnt go as planned i do have back up shampoo. i also am thinking about buying a bed head leave in conditioner since the nexus doesnt seem to be work all that well. let me know if you have any further suggestions and thank you for your blog =) soon my hair will be thanking you too lol

    Reply
  3. I go back & fourth between blonde & dark leave both for a year or 8 months then change. I’ve decided that I want blonde so I went blonde my cousin is a hair stylist so I bought the bleach she does. I died it & half went blonde half went orange so I tried dying it 2 more times & each time it goes a lil more. But this last time I was brushing threw & some was coming out!! I don’t know what to do. I need help.

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  4. Hi Hollee, I am just about to bleach my hair, by myself, because it’s too expensive at the salons here. My hair is medium brown colour, shoulderblade-length. Just a few questions before I start – Should I start at the roots, or mid-length – I am 44, so have a few grey/white hairs mixed in the re-growth, (especially at my temples). Also, is it ok to comb the bleach through during the processing time? Thank you. Cheers, Sue.

    Reply
  5. It’s better and easier for your hair if you don’t wait as long as possible when all over blonde. You scalp will only heat up the first 1/2 inch or so of the strand. Waitin longer can cause bands and may make you have to leave the bleach on longer.

    Reply
  6. hello there.. i loved the info i found it extreemly helpful.. anyways my question.. humm where to get started.. okay first my hair is long.. really really long.. like down half my butt long. i have always done red on my hair sence i was 16.. i am now 26 and my bf wanted to see what it would look like to go back to my natral dark brown shaid.. so i did.. this was 6 months ago… i of cource wanted my red back so i baught a bleach kit from the store made for dark hair.. i only got one box because i just did streeks down it to lighten it up and give it texture befor going back to red.. not compleatly lighting it only trying to give the red a fighting chance againced showing in the brown. he came home from work after i applyed it and what was suppost to be a quick car ride to drop him off turned to be a 3 hour one.. the bleach didnt satrate all of my hair just in little streeks it also dryed on my hair.. when i washed it out it didnt even get close to blond but turned a orangy brown which is fine because im going over it with red ..hopefully.. after i rinsed and conditioned i noticed it was courced dryer then it has ever been and seamed really brittle… my hair is all diff shades of orange right now annd not the kind i would be able to pull off ether.. im doing an over night deep condition as i type and plan on a milk egg and olive oil mask tomorrow… but my question is if i can one how long do i wait to do the red.. trust me it looks bad right now.. i dont wanna leave my house. and with 2 kids i have to… and how bad can i damige it by not waiting the recomended 3 weeks on the box.. it looks horrible.. please help me..

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  7. Thank you so much for this wonderful information..It really has given me some courage..Don’t laugh now,but I was an entertainer many years ago,(abouot 50,I said don’t laugh),but as the years went buy I have remained blonde most of the time..You have aolready guessed my age no doubt..I had Chemo a year ago and lost all of my hair..when it came in , it was pretty much 80/20 white with grey..I colored my hair as I always have since the 70s and it came out a beautiuf Light Ah Blonde thanks to ION…I used a 1o vol peroxide…but in two or three weeks it has faded ato white for the most part and I thought maybe just adding a capeful of a toner 2 shades darker than it is now (maybe on the gold side and not the ash to my shampoo would work…no perioxide with it…Does that sound sane?:?People tell me I look great and hope to live to be 85 and when I do it will still be with dyed hair and makeup…Thank you for all that you and all the other beauticians do…

    Reply
  8. Hi. I need help! I’m the opposite of you. I have snow white hair and I want it to be a 9N blonde. I just did a root touch-up with Age Beautiful 9N permanent dye. There is banding (1/4-1/2″) where the new growth overlapped the previously colored hair. I know, I know — I find it IMPOSSIBLE to just get the hair color on the new growth ONLY! My question is…how can I touch up the roots and not get the banding?? I love the color. I leave it on the roots for 45 mins., add a bit of water to the remaining color and then put on the rest of my hair for another 5 mins. Looks good except for the darn banding! Any suggestions?

    Reply
  9. hey i bleached my hair but stupidly missed patches. i’ve gone over it with a light golden blonde dye but the patches are still noticable. will it be ok to just bleach the bits i missed?

    Reply
  10. I’m a guy with fairly long hair, and I bleached & toner’d it as white as possible recently, but it seems so lifeless and frizzy. It used to always have nice natural curls, but now it’s just frizzy. I feel like I look like Doc Brown. Someone recommended a try Wen conditioner, so I bought some, but after one use I stopped because it looked like maybe it was putting yellow back into my hair (although maybe it was my imagination). The salon ladies gave me the Paul Mitchell platinum blonde products. Should I stick with those, or should I use the Wen? Am I imagining things, about it making my hair more yellow?

    Reply
    • P.S. .. Don’t go by that picture in answering my question. It’s yellow in that picture because I had only bleached it at that point, I hadn’t yet used the toner. It is much more white now.

      Reply
    • It is possible that the wen is making your hair more yellow. Yellow is the color of keratin, the protein your hair is made of, so maybe that is a good thing. What I would probably do is use the platinum blonde shampoo to tone it down, and maybe alternate between the two. Hope it helps 🙂

      Reply
  11. I’m with Jennifer, your article is concise and so so full of great advice, one of the best I have read on bleaching! You rock! My hair’s been through 2 bleachings with 20 vol thus far and I will be taking to heart your advice, thanks Hollee! 😀

    Reply
  12. Thank you for your advice. I have been bleaching my hair for 2 years now and I’ve always been concerned how much damage I’m doing. Your advice has really helped me see the difference a few additional treatments can make to keep it healthy 🙂

    Reply
  13. Hi, thanks for a great article! I gradually went from black to blonde but couldn’t go all the way to platinum like I wanted because only the top half of my hair is strong enough – the lower half (my hairs last my shoulders) is damaged from dying it so often for ten years, but now the blonde dye has made it sooo stretchy and brittle I’m terrified its going to all snap off, I don’t wash it daily, I only use a wide tooth comb and I have purple toned John Freida shampoo and conditioner, what do you recommend I use to help fix the stretchy weak brittle hair?? Also I dyed it about two weeks ago, if I dyed it darker when my roots come through would that help the condition do you think? I’m scared to use blonde again! It’s taken me forever to grow my hair this long and I don’t want it chin length!!! Thanks 🙂

    Reply
  14. I just wanted to thank you for all the good information you posted about bleached hair. The way you broke it down really helped me understand the process. Everything you said made so much sense. I. Will be useing your advice with confidence. Thanks again,
    Jennifer

    Reply
  15. I just bleached my hair out Saturday, They cut the top of my head down to about 2 1/2 inches because of damage, but I was able to keep the rest of my hair. however, I’m taking Prenatal Vitamins just to make it grow! I have an appointment for them to wash it Thursday and do the deep conditioning mask. Do you have any tips to make it grow fast? and i’ve been wearing a fedora hat since saturday because of the grease and mullet look haha. and how long should i wait to style it? The top 2 1/2 inches will look AMAZING if I can tease it, but i dont want to break it.

    Reply
    • I’ve heard mixed things about prenatal vitamins… Some people argue that it is the hormones from pregnancy that make your hair grow.. Not the actual vitamins… I would take “hair, skin and nail” vitamins with biotin in them, that are formulated to promote hair growth. I think you should wait a little bit before styling your hair to let it get stronger. Usually hair is really brittle right after bleaching it, but it will get stronger! Invest in some good deep conditioner with keratin in it, along with gentle shampoo (sulfate-free) and good regular conditioner.. Preferably with keratin in it. When your hair starts to feel better, you can style it but try to keep it as minimal as possible. I would only use heat when you absolutely need to. I would stimulate your scalp with massaging and scientific brushing and try to cut down on anything that would cause breakage! Hope it helps! Good luck!

      Reply

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