Are you considering bleaching your natural hair? Or are you researching to prepare yourself for the maintenance? Well you have come to the right place! I bleached my own natural hair over 3 times in one year, at home. Yet, I have been able to keep my natural kinks and curls and my hair is still healthy! So yeah, I am experienced in ALL the things not to do once you have bleached your hair, and how to maintain its health.
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Please note, I am not a professional hair colorist or even a hairstylist. The below points are based on my research and personal experiences. If you want to bleach your hair, I would suggest going to a professional that is familiar with your hair type.
What happens when you bleach your natural hair?
Bleach lifts up your hair’s cuticles, and removes the natural hair colour from your strands. This breaks down the protein bonds in your hair, and results in your hair colour to lift to a lighter colour. This process cannot be undone because you have basically dissolved the melanin from your hair.
Dyeing your hair is different from bleaching, this is because when you dye your hair you are depositing colour into your strands, not stripping it. However, dye also has its damaging effects if not done or maintained correctly.
Listen to your natural hair.
Prior to bleaching your hair, it is very important to know the health of your hair, and be familiar with it.
However your hair changes, embrace it. Don’t avoid it! Your hair may not be as strong as prior to bleaching it, and that can be managed! One thing that damages your natural hair beyond repair, is denying that your hair has changed. Your hair won’t be as strong and shiny, so you have to accommodate it by changing products, techniques and being more in tune with your natural hair.
Keep up with protein/moisture balance.
Bleached natural hair is usually dryer than usual. It can be brittle and lacklustre. To keep your bleached natural hair healthy you will need to be on top of your deep conditioning treatments and hair masks.
I always recommend using treatments that have both moisturising ingredients and protein. This may be because I’m a lazy natural. But I also feel that it is easier to keep the protein/moisture balanced if the products you are using have both properties! My favourite deep conditioners are the Shea Moisture Superfruit Hair Masque and the Noughty To The Rescue Intense Moisture Treatment, both have protein and moisturising ingredients. The best part is that it is affordable.
Add treatments to your routine.
If you are a lazy natural like me, the idea of adding an extra step to your hair routine just seems like torture. However, if you think taking care of your natural hair is long, bleached natural hair is a whole other level, honey. This is why I highly suggest adding hot oil treatments to your bleached natural hair routine to keep it healthy. I usually do a hot oil treatment 1x every month or two. I just use a concoction of my favourite hair oils, which are almond oil, olive oil and castor oil.
Hot oil treatments help make your hair feel smoother, shinier and just overall more healthy.
Another hair staple of mine is the Olaplex N.3 treatment. This treatment is absolutely amazing at ‘resetting’ your hair. It acts like a protein treatment, however it is not. This treatment literally makes my hair feel like how it did, before I bleached my hair.
Health over length.
Sis, if your ends are frayed, dry and just have lots of single strand knots… It is time to let it go. When you choose to bleach your hair, you are already compromising on being able to effectively maintain your hair’s length.
Bleached natural hair is just more prone to issues that makes it more difficult to maintain length. However, it is still possible to grow your natural hair whilst it is bleached if you take the time to dust your ends consistently.
Check your porosity.
When I mention hair typing on this blog, I ALWAYS am referring to your hair’s porosity and density. When you know your hair’s porosity, you know what products work and do not work for your hair. This is especially important for bleached natural hair, because making sure your hair is moisturised is key to keeping your bleached natural hair healthy.
Every time I bleach my hair, I check my porosity BEFORE and AFTER. This is so I am aware of how damaged my hair has become after I have processed it.
Take breaks between touch-ups.
It is always good to be realistic with how much your hair can be lifted the first time it is processed. Hence why I encourage you to speak to a professional, so that they can let you know how long you can go before either getting a touch up or lifting your hair lighter.
Use gentler shampoos.
When I say sulfates are the enemies of bleached natural hair. They really are! I tend to find that shampoos with harsh ingredients such as silicones and sulphates, mess up the tone of my hair. It makes my hair look orangey, dry and just meh!
The best shampoo that I have found for my bleached natural hair is the Shea Moisture Black Castor Oil Strengthen and Restore Shampoo. This shampoo is sulfate-free, its suds up and makes your hair super clean. It also has apple cider vinegar, which makes your hair shiny because this ingredient helps to seal your hair cuticles.