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.

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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. great page thank you for the info ok my hair now is a ash blonde i am naturally a dark brown hair chick but i wanna keep my hair health as ever i am trying to reach to platinum blonde but i down want to damage it while doing so i did the process of color removing my hair and got it to the lightest color possible and then after i did that i added a toner and i got to the lightest blonde but before i got to platinum blonde without a problem an now i need help because i don’t know what else to do and what is also a great product for my hair to stay healthy as well i also been using a shampoo and conditioner hair lightener and it been helping out but i want platinum blonde and long healthy hair its up to my shoulders hope to hear from you

    Reply
  2. Hi there, I wonder if u can help me….

    2 months ago, i got my hairdresser to bleach my dark brown hair from my eyes to the tips of my hair to create an ombre look…

    After a week of brassy bleached hair from my eyes down, i then home-box-dyed my hair a very light ash blonde all over, including my dark brown tops of my hair…

    I was really pleased with the result after using Pro Voke: Touch of Silver twice a week lightening shampoo and conditioner (purple shampoo). My bleached parts of my hair turned a dark blonde with light ash highlights, and my dark brown parts turned a medium brown…

    I now really wanna change all my hair colour to light ash brown, I know it might be difficult coz i have 2 different colours in my hair!

    Would you be able to give me some advice on how to achieve this? xx <3

    Love Alex 😀

    Reply
  3. Hi. Great information on your site! Wanted to ask a quick question about toner. I have reddish brown hair with grey (naturally frizzy and curly) I like my hair blonde (a level 9N I think), so my stylist gets my roots lightened and colour deposits at the same time. once in a while they throw a toner on for toning down brassiness. My question is: is toner healthy for your hair? I was told a clear toner always good to throw on after my hair service. Reason I ask is because last few times I had the formaldehyde-free keratin smoothers done, they seemed to not work very well at all and my hair now is fragile and looks like doll hair. Will toner help? I have used everybkind of sulfate cree shampoo/conditioners too….

    Reply
    • Toners are basically just color… they work by depositing pigments to cancel out unwanted tones… they shouldn’t damage your hair too much… it’s probably being damaged from the lightener. Clear toner doesn’t really make too much sense, but some color lines have a clear shine you can do after a color service and most of them actually protein treat the hair and should do minimal damage. Hope it helps 🙂

      Reply
  4. Great article. Have you ever noticed that your bleached hair is slower to dry? I just bleached my hair recently and it takes FOREVER to dry, even with a blow dryer. It doesn’t really seem like it’s in bad condition or anything but I’m kind of concerned. What do you think?

    Reply
    • Really? My bleached streaks dry the fastest cuz its there so over processed.. my natural brown (underneath and inbetween the streaks) take forever! So funny we hve the opposite !

      Reply
  5. Do you have any suggestions for how to best deal with hair that is very blonde? I’m naturally dark blonde/light brown, but have been a bleach and tone for about 4 years. I moved to a new city a year ago and went to a colorist who was listed in Allure magazine as being the best – she overlapped and over processed my hair. A TON of it fell out in the salon and 8 months later it’s started to break off. My new colorist (who costs a fortune) seems better, but my hair still looks so thin and damaged. I want blonde hair still but don’t know if I should give up the bleach/tone? Is it possible to switch to highlights after all the bleach? I really want to grow my hair long, but after all the trauma it’s been through, don’t know if that’s possible.

    Reply
    • I was just reading this for product ideas and noticed your comment. I’ve had white blonde hair on and off for the past 4 years and you would never realise from its condition how often I bleach it (which is a lot). Personally I bleach my hair at home using freeze bleach which has a silver toning agent built in to prevent your hair ending up yellow and since I started using that I dont even need to tone it afterwards, I use 30vol (I have dark brown hair naturally) and leave it on for approx 45 mins but if your hair is naturally lighter I would recommend sticking with 20vol as it causes less damage and should only take around 30 mins. The best aftercare products I have found so far are a decent purple shampoo (I would recommend schwarzkopf bonacure or fudge as they work best at maintaining your tone) which you can use daily as normal or if you feel like an extra boost leave it on for a few minutes (helpful if you are beginning to notice a yellow tinge). For conditioner look for a moisturising conditioner with keratin (personally I use l’oreal elvive full restore 5 repairing conditioner) and leave on for around 2 minutes after shampooing as this will help replenish and lost moisture and close the hair cuticle. Another good conditioner for bleached hair if you’re willing to spend a bit more is TIGI Bed Head Dumb Blonde which is specifically designed to provide deep moisture and repair on bleached hair. A good heat protection is always good especially when paired with a decent hair oil which will coat each strand providing further protection. The best oil I’ve found so far is morrocan oil (their shampoo and conditioner is also amazing for over processed hair… but its expensive) which is generally around £30 for 100ml, if this is too much for your budget there are cheaper versions available which will do the job however they often take longer for you to notice a difference. I would reccomend wella professional reflections oil as your best alternative, its available at salon services for around £16 for 100ml or a decent argan oil (beware there are many copies on the market which are watered down with other oils so don’t risk anything under £10) . There are much cheaper versions available from any drug store but they are generally weaker so only use these if your desperate! Oil should be applied under heat protection before blow drying and I would let it sit for a few minutes to allow your hair to absorb the moisture. I find using these leaves my hair super soft and managable. You can also add a small amount of the oil to your bleach mixture before applying as well as smoothing some over dry hair as this prevents your hair being overly dried out during the bleaching process. Only straighten your hair if you need to and allow to air dry if your not leaving the house. When straightening do so in layers as this will stop you repeatedly going over the same bit too many times. If you feel your hair needs a good boost you can make your own hair mask by mixing your conditioner with a small amount of oil, apply to towel dry hair and leave it on for as long as you can stand before rinsing thoroughly! I hope this helps because its certainly been an absoloute lifesaver for me… before this my hair wouldnt grow and I had to cut it really short multiple times and now its at my collarbone and growing steadily. I could never get rid of my blonde now and im just glad I found a way to keep it super healthy! If you have any questions feel free to send me a message on facebook as I am constantly trying and reviewing new products and I have a lot of experience with the many fun aspects of blonde hair! http://www.facebook.com/kirstynnnx

      Reply
    • COco, One time, many years ago, I had a perm on very heavily bleached hair. From about 24 inches, I was able to salvage a this 5 inches but a beauty school instructor, He used Aphogee Treatment for Damaged Hair. Wash the hair. Towel dry. Add the chemical liberally and work through with fingers. THen, pile the hair LOOSLEY. I put a big plastic claw or two and try to get air flow underneath the pile. NO cap. Under the dryer until it is dry.l It will be hard as plexiglass. DO NOT DO NOT DO NOT touch it at all. If you do, it will break like cheap glass at this stage. Get under the shower and wet it down., letting the movement of the water remove the excess material. Once that is gone, moisturize with companion products, esp with Keratin. What this does is deposit a polymer of some sort into the shaft and cuticle and close it up for a smooth hair shaft. I have been bleaching my hair myself since 1954, including prebleaching and foiling with 4 different colors (my really beautiful hair time). Various toners, Super blue lighteners etc. Now, I am 74 and have to deposit onto grey…but, that is another issue. Grey hair is more delicate. I have had 3 episodes with perms that destroyed my hair, 2 at salons and 1 at home. Aphogee always saved my hair. I swear by the products since 1966.

      Reply
    • Hi! I have been platinum since 2009 and I have been through the wringer as far as damage goes.I FINALLY got the nerve to start doing my own roots and toning my hair to save all that money and my hair is healthier than before. One MAJOR thing that has helped my hair to get strength and length is ROUX Porosity Control Shampoo and Conditioner. When we are blonde( like the article states) our hair becomes more open, and POROUS so this porosity shampoo really boosted my hair volume and helped to close up the hair strands. I have to use the porosity products especially in the summer months because high humidity really opens up my hair and it starts to get fragile and break. This has literally SAVED my hair. I went from above the shoulder length hair to a year later it is below y shoulders just slightly. Another pair of products that have helped the strength is ROUX Repairing shampoo and conditioner. This stuff is cheap( at about 8.00 a bottle where I live) and it works better than any other salon brand I ave tried.Give it a shot for a few months and you will see a difference.

      Reply
  6. I’ve been bleaching my hair since October of 2012.. I’ve bleached it times before, but I’d always switch back to brown.. However, like you, I love my hair blonde. I’m the happiest at that state. The blonder the better. I just had bleached my hair again yesterday, and it’s really dry. Lol. I seriously need to get back to deep conditioning it once or twice a week again!! Ahh. So much work to being a blonde lol.

    Reply

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