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Hair bleaching - How to avoid damaged bleached hair

by Lotte Lindgren on Sep 08, 2022

Read through by Dorthe Kristensen

Hairdresser and former co-owner of the award-winning hairdressing chain Zoom by Zoom
With many years of experience in the hairdressing industry, Dorthe has advised many customers about hair and hair care. Dorthe has read through this blog entry to ensure high quality and professionalism. This blog post is professionally updated on May 7, 2024.

Table of contents

Welcome to our guide to bleaching your hair! If you're reading along here, you most likely have an interest in how bleaching affects your hair or how to best care for your bleached blonde hair. Luckily, you've landed in the right place, we take you through the most important things you need to know before and after your bleaching, so you can take the best possible care of your hair.

Bleaching the hair affects its strength and health. There will be a risk that the cuticle layer on the hair shaft will be left permanently open with repeated bleaching. So let's start by stating that bleaching your hair is not good for your hair. Even if you love your beautiful bleached hair, it is important that you take care of your hair as well as possible. Read along here where we review the typical mistakes when bleaching your hair, as well as which care routines you should pay extra attention to if you bleached your hair.

What is a bleaching of the hair?

When you bleach your hair, it is a chemical process that, by removing the pigment from the hair shaft, lightens the hair.

The bleaching process consists of:

An alkaline agent which helps to open the hair's cuticle layer, which is the protective layer in the hair shaft.

Subsequently, it is often used

An oxidizing agent, which penetrates the hair itself and dissolves the melamine. Melamine is the pigment that gives your hair its natural color.

The longer you leave the bleaching agent in the hair, the more pigment it will dissolve and thereby the hair will become lighter. In addition, it is also decisive which bleaching agent you use in relation to how many shades you want the hair lighter.

For example, a bleaching agent with the following beige concentration will give:

  • 6% beige - 2.3 shades lighter hair
  • 9% beige - 3-5 shades lighter hair
  • 12% beige - 5-7 shades lighter hair

Here, 12% beize will be the strongest treatment of these. It may therefore be a good idea to bleach the hair several times with the gentler 6% beize. Your hair will not necessarily become blonde after just one bleaching. Therefore, repeated bleaching may often be necessary to achieve exactly the shade or color you want.

How bleaching affects your hair

Bleaching affects the hair by helping to open the cuticle layer of the hair shaft so that the bleaching agent can have its effect. There is thus a risk of the cuticle layer being left permanently open and/or damaged. This can become critical for your hair, as strands with a damaged cuticle layer lose moisture more quickly. This makes the hair more fragile and breaks more easily. Unfortunately, we have probably all heard one or another horror story where the bleaching has failed and resulted in almost all the hair breaking off. Although fortunately it is quite rare that it happens, it is unfortunately the risk you run when you want to have your hair bleached. In any case, it is really important that you get the treatment done by a hairdresser you trust.

However, it doesn't have to go so wrong if you just keep track of your care routines after the treatment. Read on later, where we give our best advice for the aftercare of bleached hair.

How often can you bleach your hair?

If you have bleached hair, you will quickly discover that it leaves you with ingrown hairs after some time. Therefore, this hair color also requires regular treatment. This means that you usually plan a visit to your hairdresser, approx. with an interval of 6-8 weeks. It may be a good idea to stretch it as long as possible, as this way the hair gets a breather after the latest bleaching. It is important that you never bleach your hair immediately after bleaching. At least 1 week must pass before your hair is ready for another bleaching if absolutely necessary. A good piece of advice is to always consult with your hairdresser in relation to when your hair is ready for the next bleaching or how often bleaching should take place.

The most frequent mistakes when bleaching hair

Number 1: You bleach your hair at home

This mistake is one of those you just mustn't make, as in NEVER NEVER! Bleaching hair is one of the most difficult hair coloring tasks and should not be attempted on your own if you have no experience. The process behind bleaching hair is so difficult in terms of achieving the desired result. Even for experienced hairdressers, it is a difficult exercise. That is why it is worth the money to go down to your local hairdresser, so that you are safe and in good hands. It can be tempting to try at home, but I promise you will regret it, as it will end up costing more money than going to the hairdresser. In addition, it is a VERY long process afterwards to get your hair back if it fails. If it goes wrong, it often goes really wrong, so it is often easiest to cut the hair off completely and get a page.

Number 2: Make sure your hairdresser knows the whole story

When you sit at the hairdresser and need to have your hair bleached, it is important that your hairdresser knows your entire history in relation to your hair. The hairdresser will often examine your hair first and ask you a lot of questions, where it is important to be honest. You get the best result by bleaching untreated hair. Especially if you have had your hair dyed before, it is important that you tell your hairdresser about this before the treatment. This is because you may risk that it is not possible to bleach previously colored hair . This can cause you to get streaks in your hair, which gets an unwanted pigment and certainly not the pigment you want!

If you want to go from dark to light hair, make sure to plan it with your hairdresser, so that together you can make the best plan for your hair. It will often require several treatments, where the breaks in between are important so that your hair can recover a little between treatments.

Number 3: Make sure your hair is in top shape before bleaching

When you need to bleach your hair, it is important that your hair is in top shape in order to best undergo the treatment. The hair care before bleaching is therefore very decisive for a good result or not. Here it can be good to use a mask with a lot of moisture and protein in the weeks leading up to bleaching the hair. This can be, for example, with the Grow and Glow hair mask , which contains hydrolysed wheat protein, vitamins and avocado oil.

It may also be a good idea to skip the shampoo in the days before bleaching, as a freshly washed scalp can often be more vulnerable to bleaching.

Number 4: If your tips are already light

Here you must avoid bleaching them again! Doing this increases the chance that the cuticle layer will remain permanently open. Then you suddenly find yourself in a hair crisis where the tips will be completely destroyed. Then you've come a long way.

Gentle products for the hair

Natural Hair Bleaching: Methods to Lighten Your Hair

In the past, hydrogen peroxide was used to bleach hair, but over time it was found that it completely destroyed the structure of the hair and could, in the worst case, fall out completely. When looking for bleaching agents, you can easily come across products that claim to be hydrogen peroxide-free, but you have to be careful. Even if they are free of hydrogen peroxide or ammoin, these substances are simply replaced with another hard-wearing oxidant/beige.

For that reason, interest in natural hair bleaching has grown greatly over the past decades. It has become popular, especially among pregnant women, to reduce exposure to dangerous chemicals

But if you dream of the beautiful blonde hair, then natural bleaching cannot help you all the way to dreamland. Natural bleaching will often just be a lightening of your hair, perhaps 1-2 shades lighter than current. If you want your hair completely blonde, you often have to use the traditional bleaching of your hair.

We have collected some methods for natural hair lightening here.

Lighten your hair with cinnamon

We all know the smell of cinnamon, but did you know that it actually has a number of amazing properties? Cinnamon is an appetite suppressant, anti-bacterial and it can also give your blonde hair an extra clear light colour.

When you lighten your hair with cinnamon, you must use approximately one dl of cinnamon. You can advantageously buy it from a spice shop, as it can otherwise be an expensive pleasure. Then you slowly add water to the cinnamon until it becomes a paste with a soft dough-like structure. Afterwards, you rub the paste into freshly washed or towel-dried hair. Now put the hair up in a shower cap or hair towel and let it work for about 5 hours, after which you wash it out.

Lighten your hair with lemon juice, salt and sun

The lemon juice is activated by the heat and rays of the sun. At the same time, the salt helps to open the cuticle layer of the hair and in this way the lemon juice can penetrate more easily and have its effect.

The procedure is actually to use 1 to 2 lemons, depending on how much hair you have, as well as 1 tablespoon of fine salt for each lemon. Squeeze the juice out of the lemons and mix it well with the salt to form a mass. Then thin it out a little with water or possibly chamomile tea (which also has a brightening effect in itself).

Pour the mass into the hair and distribute it well to all the locks. You can also put it in a spray bottle, but it is important that all the salt is dissolved here. Finally, you sit out in the sun, where the lemon and salt will now be activated. Feel free to sit until the hair is completely dry. Then wash your hair and remember to use conditioner afterwards, this is very important in relation to closing the hair strands again.

Lighten your hair with chamomile

We all know the kamilia tea when we are under the covers with a cold. But in fact, it is a bit of a miracle cure, which can also help to give the hair a lighter and more golden colour. It is especially good for restoring lifeless blonde hair to its glow. However, it is also one of the natural bleaching methods that gives the slightest lightening of the hair.

To get started, make a good strong batch of chamomile tea, if you make anything between 2 cups to a liter you should be well covered. Feel free to use 5 tea leaves and let the tea leaves steep for approximately 15 minutes, then you are sure that the tea is extra strong. Now you have 2 options, either you can simply pour the chamomile tea into freshly washed hair (once it has reached a comfortable temperature.) and leave overnight. Or you can choose to mix it together with the juice of 2-3 lemons and spray it into dry hair, after which you sit out in the sun again and let your hair dry. The last method requires you to wash your hair again with conditioner.

8 of our best tips to avoid damaged hair after bleaching

When you bleach your hair, there is no doubt that you damage it. Therefore, the aftercare of the hair is very important in terms of repairing and strengthening it afterwards. Especially if you are going through a course of bleaching, it is important that your aftercare is optimal, so that you ensure as strong hair as possible.

Skip washing your hair once in a while

Do you shower every day? Then you have to get used to skipping a few hair washes. Not only is your hair affected by the harsh treatment, your scalp can feel it too. That's why it's about giving your scalp a rest after your bleaching so that it recovers. You can do this by skipping the hair wash and when you finally wash your hair, give it a lot of moisture. By skipping a hair wash, the scalp gets the opportunity to produce its natural oils, which should help supply the hair with the necessary moisture.

In addition, it is good advice to wash your hair in as cold water as you can stand, as cold water dries out the hair much less than, for example, warm water.

Use a shampoo suitable for blonde hair

After bleaching, it is important that you get a shampoo that adds a lot of moisture to the hair and possibly a hair mask with some restorative proteins. However, it is especially important that you use a silver shampoo or shampoo targeted at blonde hair. When blonde and bleached hair is exposed to various substances, products and heat tools, it can have a tendency to take on a reddish or yellowish tinge. Silver shampoo contains a lot of purple pigment, which, if you observe the drying time, reduces the yellowish color that can occur in the hair. Read our guide to silver shampoo here .

NOTE: You should not use silver shampoo every time, as it is drying for the hair. It is therefore one of the last things you want to subject your bleached hair to. Here it is important that you use a moisturizing shampoo to alternate between.

Use an intensive hair treatment with plenty of moisture and keratin

This advice is probably one of the most important to remember when you bleach your hair. Your blonde, bleached hair needs a lot of moisture and restorative ingredients such as keratin and microproteins. It may be a good idea to use a hair conditioner often after the treatment, we recommend every other hair wash. However, this is very individual in relation to whether your hair tends to clump together with too much moisture. The hair treatment helps to give the hair the necessary moisture and care, which means that the hair strands do not break so easily. It is important that after you have used the hair treatment, you finish with conditioner, as it helps to close the hair shaft again and thereby bind the moisture and care in the hair.

A small tip can be to leave the hair treatment in your hair for a longer period of time, for example you can watch a film, read a book while your hair gets care and moisture.

Comb your hair through gently

A blonde, bleached hair is more porous than untreated hair. It may therefore be a good idea to find a good routine for combing your hair, possibly also find a gentle hair brush. Here we can really recommend the Curved Paddle Brush , which with a combination of boar hair and nylon spikes gently combs through the hair.

A good routine is to save the hair when it is dry. Here you have to start from the ends and work your way up through the hair. You must never save the hair with a hairbrush when it is wet. Your hair is very fragile after bleaching and only becomes extra fragile when the hair is wet.

Find a good moisturizing hair oil or leave-in product

You need a good leave-in hair oil or product if you have blonde bleached hair. You can give your hair a little extra love by finding a leave-in product that can both provide your hair with moisture and care, but at the same time also protect it from environmental influences.

We can recommend two products, our Hair Elixir , which is a hair oil with lots of moisture and care that gives a delicious shine and anti-frizz effect. If you are a bit more into a more restorative leave-in product, then our Repair and Care hair serum is something for you. It cares for the hair from the inside with Inca-Inchi oil, argan oil and wheat protein. In addition, it is also heat-protective and vegan.

Turn down the heat and styling

Many people use heat tools such as blow dryers, straighteners and curling irons in everyday life. No hair has good hair, especially not bleached hair which is more porous. By using heating tools, we make the hair hot in order to be able to style it in the desired way. But when the heat in the hair exceeds 215 degrees, the hair's protein keratin begins to melt. It will obviously not be good for the hair. Therefore, we recommend that you do not use heating tools that exceed 185 degrees heat.

With bleached hair, it is much more porous and therefore you need to go much further in heat before your hair is not damaged, try to limit yourself to 150 degrees if you finally have to use heat tools. Finally, it is also VERY important that you use a heat protection product in your hair before using the heat tools. In this way, your hair is best protected against the heat.

However, there may also be an idea in finding methods to style your hair without the use of heat. Here, it's just a search away on Youtube before you have endless inspiration for different ways to get curls or hairstyles.

Split ends: Trim them

After bleaching, some of the hair may be included and lead to split ends. It is important to have your split ends cut regularly, as otherwise it can affect the rest of the hair, where it can either split or break. If you notice split ends, it may therefore be a good idea to pay a short visit to your hairdresser.

Take care of your hair when it is wet

The hair is extra fragile when it is wet, especially if it is already fragile, it is important to pay extra attention. If you have to save your hair while it is wet, it is important to use a wide-toothed comb to ensure as gentle detangling as possible.

Use vitamins for hair

The hair needs care, both external and internal care. External care is often talked about a lot, while internal care is often neglected. Nevertheless, it is almost as important, as it is important that the hair follicles produce as good hair strands as possible in order to maintain normal hair. Especially when you bleach your hair, it may be a good idea to supplement with a dietary supplement for the hair with biotin and zinc, which help to maintain normal hair. Here we can highly recommend our hair vitamins, which contain a lot of ingredients that have supporting functions to maintain normal hair.

Frequently asked questions about bleaching the hair

How long does hair bleaching last?

Hair bleaching treatments typically last between 3-6 weeks before the results start to fade. This time frame can vary depending on the type of bleach used as well as the overall health and condition of your hair. In general, the lighter you choose a bleaching process, the faster it will start to fade. If you use a more permanent solution such as toner or highlights, you may find that the results last longer. In addition, regular washing and styling can also cause hair bleaching treatments to fade faster. To maintain long-lasting results from a hair bleaching treatment, it is important to use good quality products specifically designed for colored hair.

Can you lose hair by bleaching your hair?

Bleaching your hair can cause hair loss under certain circumstances. Firstly, the bleaching process itself can be very damaging to the hair strands as it requires harsh chemicals that strip the natural oils and pigments from the hair. This leads to dry and damaged hair that is more prone to breakage. In addition, if too much bleach is used or used incorrectly, it can burn or seriously damage your scalp, leading to irritation and temporary hair loss. If you want to bleach your hair, it is best to go to a professional stylist who can apply the bleach correctly while being careful not to cause further damage. To minimize potential damage, you should also use a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner after bleaching.

How harmful is hair colouring?
Bleaching hair is harmful due to the strong chemicals like ammonia and hydrogen peroxide, which break down the hair's natural pigment and damage the cuticle, the outer layer of the hair. This leads to dry, brittle hair, loss of shine and elasticity and increased porosity. Repeated bleaching can worsen the damage and lead to long-term problems like hair loss.

What is the difference between colouring and bleaching hair?

Hair colouring and hair bleaching are two different processes used to change the colour of hair, but they differ in their approach and mode of action:

  • Hair colouring: Hair colouring involves adding colour pigment to the hair to change or enhance its colour. This can be done using permanent, semi-permanent or temporary hair colouring products. Colouring can darken, lighten or change the hair colour without removing the natural pigment.
  • Hair bleaching: Hair bleaching involves removing the natural colour pigment from the hair using chemicals like ammonia and hydrogen peroxide. This process breaks down the hair's natural colour and makes it lighter or even completely blonde. Bleaching is necessary if you want to achieve lighter shades or to remove existing colour before applying a new colour.

In short, while colouring adds colour to the hair, bleaching removes the natural pigment to achieve a lighter colour. Both processes involve the use of chemicals, but bleaching is usually more damaging and requires more care to maintain the health and appearance of the hair.

How long does a bleach last?

The longevity of bleaching depends on several factors, including the natural colour of the hair, the quality of the bleaching process and the subsequent care. Generally speaking, a bleach colour can last from several weeks to several months, but this can vary significantly. If the bleaching is done correctly and the hair is properly cared for afterwards, the result can last for several months. However, natural hair growth and exposure to sunlight and other environmental factors can gradually affect the colour and cause some smearing or change in tone over time.

Furthermore, repeated bleaching to achieve lighter shades can also affect durability, as repeated chemical processes can degrade the quality of the hair and make it more susceptible to damage.

To prolong the longevity of a bleach colour, it is recommended to use gentle hair care products, avoid frequent hair washing, limit exposure to hot styling tools and protect hair from the sun with hair care products that contain UV protection.

Product recommendations for bleaching hair

Bleaching your hair requires a lot of moisture and care from your hair products, so it's essential that you choose the right products to avoid your hair breaking or becoming further damaged. Here are our top product recommendations

Get a complete conditioning and moisturising hair care kit

It's not enough to just change the shampoo in your attempt to care for your hair after bleaching, it requires more comprehensive care that you can easily get with our Healthy Hair Kit. It consists of a shampoo, conditioner and hair mask that provides maximum moisture, conditioning and strength to your hair. The kit contains a wide range of ingredients such as Aloe Vera, Inca Inchi Oil, Macadamia Oil, Jojoba Oil and Shea Butter, Sorbitol, Sodium Hyaluronate (hyaluronic acid) which all have amazing conditioning properties. In addition, it also contains hydrolysed wheat protein that works to rebuild and reduce damaged hair. The set also helps to reduce split ends and is of course colour protective. They're also sulphate and silicone free, so it's as gentle as possible on the hair.

An important tip is to use the shampoo twice and then use the hair mask for about 10 minutes before applying conditioner.

Heat protection with UV protection

A definite must have in your hair care routine when you have bleached your hair is to get a heat protection spray with UV protection. Heat and UV rays can be harsh on the hair and help to dry it out even more, which can lead to breakage. We highly recommend our Style and Shine Heat Protection Spray, which is heat-protective up to 220 degrees, UV protective and silicone-free. It also contains moisturising ingredients, so your hair stays moisturised even when exposed to heat.

Hair serum with heat protection

Our Repair and Care hair serum is great for conditioning and moisturising hair with its high content of fast-absorbing Inca Inchi Oil. It also contains hydrolysed wheat protein to help reduce damaged hair. It protects the hair and is also heat protective.

Microfibre hair towel

Hair is most fragile when it's wet. That's why it's a good idea to get a good microfibre hair towel that can ensure gentle and quick drying of the hair. We highly recommend our microfibre hair towel, which is teddy bear soft and super water absorbent. It sits well on the head and does not fall off easily. A sure winner with our customers.

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