There are all kinds of cool ways to color your hair these days. With the wilder colors now being more mainstream in hair trends, getting it right is important.
That’s especially true if you need to bleach your hair first to get it right. Or if you simply want to bleach your hair for a lighter look.
They say blondes have more fun, but there’s no doubt you’ll be miserable with your hair if you rush things and do it wrong. Then you’ll have a head of wiry straw that feels brittle, breaks off, and makes you cry when you look in the mirror.
Bleaching should never be rushed, and you should never bleach your hair before it is ready to receive this treatment. How long should you wait between bleaching hair? That depends on your hair’s current health. Most definitely, you should wait a minimum of one week. Ideally, you’ll wait 3 weeks to a month after you bleach your hair the first time. This will spare your hair the drama of coping with this harsh chemical process.
How Long Should You Wait to Bleach your Hair Again?
According to hair professionals, you should wait for a month before you go and bleach it again when your hair is already on the extreme end of damage. Healthy hair can be bleached again after one week or 10 days, though it should be primed with proper moisture and care first.
You really need to give your hair the chance to recuperate from the bleaching process. Severely damaged hair that isn’t given time to heal will break off and become so brittle, you’ll want to shave it all off and wear a wig. Nothing wrong with wigs, of course, but why cause such trauma to your tresses?
Healthy hair can be bleached again sooner, but you’ve still got to pamper it to the fullest, so it doesn’t take a hit the next time around.
Along with bleaching, consider any other hair treatments you’ve done recently. That means straightening and perms. If you’ve done these, it can affect the condition of your hair.
That doesn’t mean your hair isn’t healthy, but if you just straightened it chemically, you’ll want to give it a minimum of 2 weeks before you go back and bleach it again.
Even if you’re going to your stylist, he or she will likely refuse to see you until a few weeks out to ensure there’s no harm done to your hair.
You can even see if your hair is elastic enough to handle it. Just tug it a little in a very gentle way. I like to try this trick to see if I need to do more deep conditioning.
If you see your hair break off with ease or not return to its natural state when you release the strand, it’s best to wait for the bleaching a bit longer to avoid causing more damage.
Why do you have to wait before bleaching your hair again?
Bleaching takes a delicate hand, but it is a harsh treatment. As such, this is why the experts always tell us never to bleach too often. You should wait at least 3 weeks, so your hair cuticle has plenty of time to heal up. It will also close and lay flat again, something you definitely want.
Being impatient will cost you. You’ll have overprocessed hair everyone can see a mile away, plus you’ll see it breaking off when you brush it, tie it up, or run your fingers through it. Believe me, it’s not a look you want.
You want to be realistic too. You can’t go platinum blonde from dark hair in one go. You will need to get it to a mid-toned orange. Once there, you have to take extra good care of it with conditioning and pampering before you get bleaching again.
When you see it turn light yellow, you can add toner, and it will take you the rest of the way. The steps involved here are many, and they should never be taken lightly. This is why it’s best to go to a colorist when you want to make a big change like this.
If you rush it or cut steps out to cheat the system, you’ll only cheat yourself and wind up with hair so bad it will make you cry.
I know bleaching your hair seems cool, but if you don’t think about the color you’re starting with (natural or otherwise), you will have a color you hate and likely a texture that resembles hay.
This is even truer at home because you have so many concentrations of hydrogen peroxide that will lift pigments to a certain point. Leaving it on longer won’t help either, as it will just ruin your hair and give you more to correct.
How bleaching works and why it can cause damage to your hair
It’s probably best if I briefly explain how bleaching works and why it can harm your hair when not done properly. The melanin in your hair shaft is what pigments your hair. This is why you look at your hair and see the color that it is.
With bleaching, your hair’s melanin is broken down from oxidation. When the melanin loses its color, it turns a pale yellow color. And no, you can’t use the kind of bleach that you use to clean your home. The bleach for hair is a specific formulation that, while potent, has been tested for safety on hair.
It’s still important to be careful with this harsh formula, but it’s imperative you know that you cannot use Clorox or any other bleach made for cleaning on your skin or hair.
The bleach kits made for hair are mixed with hydrogen peroxide to make an alkaline mixture. This mixture lifts up the cuticle layers and changes your hair’s pH balance.
From there, the lightener goes under the cuticle and cements into the hair’s cortex.
Then the melanin is broken down, so there is no color. Browns and blacks are the first to go, then comes red, followed by yellow.
Bleach applied to your hair then will keep on lightening and lightening and lightening until you wash it out of there.
While you can do this at home, it really is much better, especially the first time, to have a professional do it for you.
They know what they’re doing and can tell when your hair has changed to the right shade. A novice bleacher likely won’t know until it’s too late.
Additionally, a hair expert will be able to help you make the change you want to see while minimizing the damage from the process. After you get out of that chair though, it will be up to you to care for your hair with nourishing treatments.
Bleaching damage or oxidative damage is something you don’t want. Your hair will look awful and feel awful too. But coconut oil, something I’ve written about before, is a great way to help protect and nourish your hair before, during, and after the bleaching process.
I recommend colorists for bleaching because it is all about getting the formula precise. These folks have been doing this for years and have studied how to perfect the process. In each of your bleaching sessions, you can only safely go three tones lighter. So, you need to get ready to take it in stages.
A stylist will know just how to do this right, making sure you don’t look ridiculous until your next bleaching session. You, however, don’t have that same knowledge and may very well wind up with a color that will make you pull a hat down onto your head until all this blows over.
How to take care of your hair between bleaching
Whether you get it done professionally or go the DIY route, you need to care for your hair between bleaching sessions. It will keep your hair healthy and make the end result that California beach babe look that you were hoping for. These next tips will help you protect your hair.
■ Be careful when choosing your hair products
One thing you likely don’t realize with bleaching is that the bonds that were lost in this process aren’t recreated. That means you’ve got the cuticles and cortex falling by the wayside, and your hair has no support.
So for that first week after bleaching especially, do NOT use shampoo. Only use your conditioner.
After a week is up, grab a sulfate-free shampoo and make it part of your life. Your conditioner should also be free of sulfates because, let’s face it… sulfates suck!
Choosing a hydrating shampoo will cleanse your hair while keeping the natural oils intact so your hair and scalp stay healthy.
Be as gentle as possible when in the shower. Scrubbing too hard can upset that matrix up there and lead to breakage.
So can using a rough towel. Even just patting your hair dry with a towel is a bad idea. Instead, take an old soft cotton t-shirt and pat your hair with that.
Oh, and don’t forget to keep the water lukewarm. Too hot, and you’ll further dry things out. Don’t use a clarifying shampoo that will make things drier too. Try natural and organic products instead since they can be a gentler choice.
■ Deep condition your hair
If you’re married, you know commitment. Or hopefully, you do. Bleaching is the same. You have to make the time for it and put aside money for your treatments. You can’t just one-and-done bleaching. It doesn’t work that way.
Sure, you can do it at home. There are tons of products you can buy to make it happen, but you can’t skimp on the care products.
You need to love your hair with the deep conditioners to infuse it with the ingredients it needs. These ingredients go deeper to help replenish the cuticles and leave hair looking and feeling better.
I know I always say this, but Olaplex No. 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner is a favorite of mine. It really helps heal hair and is color-safe. You’ll have shinier, healthier hair when you use it, plus it helps fix those split ends and keeps frizz away.
■ Skip heat styling and use a heat protectant
The last thing your hair needs right now is more stuff to dry it out and damage it. Heat styling tools will just damage your hair further, so try new ways to style. Think wrapping your hair into a bun so it will get a natural curl, putting it in braids, or some other funky-fresh style that doesn’t dial up the heat.
Accessories and hats are great, too, as they’ll do something with your hair without heating it up. Your hair can’t handle the heat right now, so don’t even try. If you want it to look beautiful and healthy, heed this advice!
Want to avoid lots of trouble? Use coconut oil in your hair first. I mentioned it earlier, I’ve mentioned it in other posts, and I’m telling you right now, don’t fool around with bleach at home without using it.
Even if you wait a bit to bleach your hair, don’t forget that when you do heat style it again, you need to coat it with heat protection.
A thermal heat protectant is a great investment because it will keep your hair from frying when curling or straightening.
Make sure you put your hair in sections and work through it slowly. This way, you make sure each strand is covered with protection.
And if you love swimming or being in the sun, protect your hair too. Especially after bleaching, you do not want chlorine in your hair.
Put on a swim cap or keep your hair covered so splashing children don’t ruin your style. Even if you stay out of the pool, guard it against the sun. They make sun protection products for hair, too, so use them like they’re going out of style.
To be a bleached blonde, it takes a lot of work before you get to that fun part. Follow the steps before it, especially when it comes to hair health, and don’t try to take shortcuts to get the color you want. You’ll get there in time, and you’ll be glad that you went slow because your hair will be much healthier!
You should bleach your hair again only after waiting a sufficient amount of time. If your hair was already on the damaged side, waiting a month is best.
But if your hair is healthy, you can wait about a week to 10 days. Ideally, the longer you wait, the better it will be.
However, if you care for your hair and baby it every step of the way, you’ll be able to bleach it as you want to. Don’t skip steps or rush it though.
You’ll only wind up regretting it. Take the before, during, and after-care of bleaching your hair seriously and you’ll soon be enjoying your new lighter and brighter look!