How to care for bleached hair

…And how I nursed my blonde hair back to health,

after half of it was melted off by bleach! 😱

I haven’t always had bleached hair – my natural hair colour is auburn (reddish-brown) but I’ve been blonde for about seven years now. When I was young I had ringlets, which turned more curly and frizzy over the years, and the hair along my hairline can become very dry. So I usually always curl my hair to tame it, and that mixture of bleach and heat styling can certainly take its toll!

My natural hair colour

Then came my nightmare experience at a hair salon in London several years ago, which resulted in 10 inches of my hair melting and snapping off due to the stylist leaving the bleach on for too long. It was a horrible experience, as you can imagine! And it took a long time, and a lot of money spent on products and treatments, to grow my hair back, and to get it to a healthy state again.

But my hair has come a long way since then, and hopefully through my mistakes, your hair can thrive!

My hair went from this….
To this 😭

Since that time, I’ve learnt a lot about keeping my bleached hair healthy, so I can stay blonde long-term. I’ve tried a wide array of brands, products and treatments, and I hope that through my trial and error, the following recommendations will be useful for keeping your blonde hair in great shape.

I’ve written these simple tips out in bullet point style, so they’re easy to follow and scroll through.

So, let’s get to it!

How to keep your blonde hair healthy long-term

Ensure you go to a reputable hair salon. My hair salon in Vancouver is Brush Salon, which has been voted Vancouver’s best hair salon two years in a row. I really recommend them to anyone living locally!

Always use a heat protector when heat styling, whether drying, straightening or curling your hair. My favourite to use is Kérastase Discipline Keratine Thermique. I’ve used this for a few years now, and it both smoothes frizz and prevents further damage against heat.

Try to limit the amount of heat you apply to your hair. I usually let my hair air-dry these days, so that the only heat comes from my curling wand. When I do use a hair dryer, I love the Dyson Supersonic, as it doesn’t subject your hair to extreme heat. I also leave my hair au naturel some days (aka frizzy!!) such as when working from home, to give it a break from any styling – and to save me some time!

Use high quality hair care products, as recommended by your hair salon to suit your specific hair type or issue, and rotate these products so your hair receives a wide array of nutrients. My go-to brands include Kérastase, Olaplex, Oribe, and L’Oreal Professionnel.

I actually leave my shampoo in for longer than the conditioner, and use this time to wash my body. I then rinse the shampoo out, apply conditioner, and brush my hair with the conditioner in, before rinsing out. I’ve found this helps to reduce knots and frizz.

A big tip, mostly just to save effort, and to keep your hair colour lasting longer, is that you don’t need to wash your hair every day. I can’t believe I used to do this – it feels so time-consuming now! Washing your hair 2-3 times per week is perfect, or even less if your hair can last longer. If you’re used to washing your hair daily, then start with every other day, and then you can move to every three days.

Smooth on a hair mask once a week or every other week, such as Kérastase Blond Absolu Masque Ultra-Violet, or Resistance Masque Force Architecte. These provide an extra level of nourishment than regular conditioner.

Book in for a hair treatment every few months, such as after you’ve just had your hair bleached. I really like the Kerastase Fusio Dose Treatment, as you can see immediate results.

Alternate the amount of bleach you have applied at each salon visit. I typically book in for: half head highlights, half head highlights, and then full head highlights, so that I only get full highlights every third time. For a long time I had balayage, which is another great method for limiting the amount of bleach you need to use. You can also ask your hair stylist about bleach-free hair lightening techniques, such as high-lifting, to see if they’d suggest any for your hair type.

I would also recommend sleeping with a silk pillowcase! I have this one from Amazon, and I find that it not only helps to prevent breakage, but also helps my hair to stay in the same style, for example if I have curled it the day before.

How to keep brassiness at bay

Ask your hair stylist to apply a toner after you have your hair bleached.

To help your blonde hair retain its colour, don’t wash it for three days after you first have it bleached.

Use purple shampoo and conditioner once per week to neutralize yellow tones. Any more than once per week, and my hair temporarily tints purple-grey, so you may need to test how often suits you best. I love Kérastase Blond Absolu Bain Lumière Shampoo and Blond Absolu Cicaflash Conditioner. As well as Oribe Bright Blonde Shampoo and Conditioner For Beautiful Colour.

Consider fitting a shower filter to your shower head. This will help to soften and purify hard, chlorine-filled water, which can turn your hair brassy. (This is really common in Vancouver, where I live!). You can find these on Amazon, such as this one or this one.

How to save your hair from bleaching disasters

Hopefully you never experience such a horrible experience as I once did – and you certainly won’t at Brush Salon! But if you do need to salvage your hair, then here are the steps I took:

Speak to your hair stylist, so they can put a road to recovery plan together for you. My hair stylists at Brush Salon are Erin and Heather, and they both specialize in blonde hair.

Get a trim. Although the last thing you probably want to do right now is to cut even more hair off, it’s a good idea to snip any split ends and tidy up the lengths. This will give you a neat base to start regrowing your hair from, especially because hair that’s been damaged by bleach will be left ‘chewy’, weak, and uneven.

Consider adding some lowlights to your over-bleached hair, to build it rather than further stripping it. (These are great for adding more dimension to your hair too!)

Book in for a deep conditioning treatment. I recommend Olaplex or Kérastase Fusio Dose in-salon for this.

Work your way through the Kérastase ranges. Kérastase hair care products are really high quality, and were a lifesaver for my damaged hair. They offer different ranges to suit different levels of damage, which makes it easy to work your way through. You might want to use products from the same range for a couple of months, and then switch to the next range so as to mix up the formulas being applied to your hair.

Start with their Résistance Extentioniste collection (the green bottles), which is designed to rebuild and restore over-processed hair. Then move onto their Résistance Architecte range (the blue bottles), which also reconstructs damaged hair. Next you can move onto their Genesis range (the pink bottles), which fortifies hair prone to breakage. Repeat this cycle if your hair needs more TLC.

As you can tell, all three of these product collections are designed to salvage damaged hair and boost its health, but you can think of them as having different levels of strength.

Take supplements to help with hair regrowth, such as Omega-3 and Biotin. Brush Salon sell these cute Sugar Bear Hair gummy vitamins too!

My hair now!

I hope these bleached hair tips help!! Leave a comment below if you have any questions, or if you want to share your own blonde hair care routine. ❤️

If you live in Vancouver, you can book an appointment at Brush Salon here, and if you live further out in Canada or the US, then you can still order high quality hair care products and tools directly through their website.

…Ready for when we can travel again, you might enjoy my blog post on how to feel your best on vacation!

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