I had thick, strong, always oily brown (and sometimes black) hair for the first 23 years of my life. A little over a year ago, bored with my brunette and craving a bit of Blondie-esque rock n’ roll in my life, I bleached my hair blonde.
Bleaching completely changes everything that was once true about your hair. My once silky hair turned to straw, became brittle and breakable when brushed, and wouldn’t get oily until three days after a wash. I had to completely relearn how to care for my hair.
I have no clue how to care for natural blonde hair. I don’t even know how to care for hair that’s simply dyed blonde. But, I’ve definitely learned how to care for completely bleached blonde hair and how to make it even (kinda sorta) feel as soft as it once was.
Before You Go In For A Bleach Session
On the morning before my third bleach session ever, I realized I hadn’t washed my hair for four days (I am gross, btw). Embarrassed about this, I hopped in the shower about 30 minutes before my appointment and shampooed my hair.
Big mistake. Huge.
As soon as the bleach touched my scalp, it burned way more than normal. After about ten minutes, I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore. I asked my stylist what was going on, and she asked “Did you just wash it?” I told her yes; her eyes just got big and she said, “Oh… yeah, don’t wash it before you come in again. Just leave it greasy.”
Turns out, the natural oils on your head are the only thing protecting your scalp from the bleach, so the more grease and oil on there, the better. It’s also not a good idea to brush your hair from the roots before you go in—brushing too hard can make the blood go to your scalp, making it even more sensitive just before the bleach is applied.
If you’re like me and find your hair way dry and hardly ever oily before your session, I’d definitely recommend putting on some extra oil. I’ve heard coconut is the best, but since I always have a bunch of argan oil on hand (and since it’s so popular/easy to find at drugstores these days), I usually put a bunch of that on before I head over to the salon.
Tone. Tone. Tone.
The actual bleaching of hair is just one step toward being a platinum babe. From the moment you walk out of the salon until your next visit, it’s the toning that keeps you staying blonde and not developing some yellow-straw Lisa Simpson hair.
First of all, you’re going to need some violet toning shampoo. I mean, I should be saying you GET to use violet toning shampoo, because really, this is one of the most fun products in existence. Toning shampoo is a vivid purple goo that looks and feels exactly like alien blood, which is something I am always interested in lathering atop my head. There’s a bunch of different toning shampoos you can use, but I am a dedicated devotee to the BedHead Dumb Blonde line, including their Purple Toning Shampoo.
Un-fun note: Only use this amazing potion once a week. Once a week, it will counteract all the yellows coming into your susceptible blonde hair due to pollution, smoke, etc.; any more than that and your hair will take on a violet hue. Which, hey, is also pretty awesome, so if you’re into that, MORE POWER TO YA, but if you want to be a true blonde, be careful and only use it once per week.
And in case that isn’t quite enough toning for all your yellows—or you are like me, a complete product junkie who collects blonde hair products like Beanie Babies—you can get a violet toning spray to use in-betweens washes/whenever you’re feeling a little brassy.
OK. So we went to the salon without our scalps going up in flames. We’ve got the brassy yellows banished from our hairs. The only thing left is keeping your new straw head feeling like actual human hair, and keeping it strong enough to withhold getting brushed without breaking off.
So, first, you should only be washing your hair three times a week. At most. More than that, you’ll be stripping so much much-needed oil from your scalp, messing and pulling with it so often your hair will be worse off. Believe me—just invest in a dry shampoo you love and stretch out the time between those washes. Also, dry shampoo is awesome.
Like I said earlier, once wash a week should be devoted to toning shampoo. The other two washes should be focused on moisturizing and softening up your hair. Maybe because I am totally still not okay with the texture of my blonde hair, I use one wash a week to do a hair mask. I know a lot of blondes don’t do it this often—they’ll do a mask every other week or once a month—but hey, there’s no harm in masking too often (besides, I guess, just using too much product which is generally more pricey than shampoo). Please note this post is in no way sponsored by BedHead, but seriously, I have yet to find a better product for my fragile hair than the Resurrection Treatment Mask. I slather a good portion onto my wet hair, leave in for five to 10 minutes while I do my other shower business and then rinse out to reveal completely revitalized hair. Miracles.
That just leaves us with one hair washing a week to use, you know, actual shampoo and conditioner. The main things to really keep in mind when looking for a newly blonde shampoo are 1) make sure the product says somewhere on some label “For Color Treated Hair;” 2) look for a mention of “moisturizing” and “strengthening;” and 3) bonus points if there is “Blonde” somewhere in the name. Right now, I’m loving John Frieda’s Lustrous Touch Strengthening Shampoo and Conditioners for filling these three qualifications.
We’re almost done—just a few more tips on keeping your hair strong between washes! As soon as I get out of the shower, I put in a leave-in product and let it air dry. I’m not sure what people are even using besides It’s a 10’s Miracle Leave-In Product at this point, because I, like much of the world, have become completely hooked on this stuff.
Before I go to bed, I’ll usually throw something else on my strands to work in overnight, like a little bit of hair butter (really try The Body Shop’s Rainforest Moisture Hair Butter) or just some drops of Hask Argan Oil treatments, which you can pick up from Walgreens on the go.
There you go, you newly blonde lovelies. Hopefully with these tips, you’ll be basking in beautiful blonde-hair perfection soon.
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