How to Minimize Damage to Your Hair from Bleaching

What is Bleaching?

Bleaching is an oxidation process that lifts the original hair color to lighten the color of your hair. With this process, bleaching chemicals penetrate the cuticle and degrade existing hair pigments, thus removing original color from the strands. The oxidation process breaks down the pigment that sits in the cortex, turning your hair white or colorless. In general, bleaching kits contain bleach in a powder form and a cream developer with hydrogen peroxide that must be mixed with bleach to activate it.

The outer hair cuticle need to be lifted to allow penetration of bleaching solution into the hair shaft where it removes the pigments already present in your hair. During the bleaching process, the hair color changes gradually and depending on your natural color, may go through many stages of brown, red, orange, and yellow before reaching white blonde shade.

Possible Damage to Hair from Bleach

Unfortunately, bleaching agents don’t only affect color molecules in your hair. The bleaching process also weakens protein bonds, making the hair brittle and more fragile than normal. The hair’s natural keratin is weakened, resulting in structural damage to the hair.

Bleaching strips your hair of its natural oils that keep it protected and moisturized. Bleaching chemicals can weaken the cuticle scales, leaving the inner core of hair exposed and prone to moisture loss, which also leaves your hair feeling dry and scratchy.

Bleaching is a harsh process which can leave your hair overly dry, brittle, frizzy, inelastic, susceptible to tangling, and more prone to breakage, static, and split ends than previously.

How to Minimize Risks of Damaging Your Hair

If you have been thinking about bleaching your hair, it is always better to consult a professional, especially if your hair is on the darker side. After the initial transformation, you can try to save money by touching up your roots at home.

However, if you bleach your hair at home, be aware that bleaching is a risky and time-consuming process that requires the use of proper techniques and the right tools to avoid long-term damage.  Here are a few helpful tips before you start.

  1. Avoid drugstore brands as they can cause more damage and instead opt for professional-quality products available in salons or reputable beauty shops. Quality bleaching products also contain nourishing ingredients and conditioning agents in their formulation.
  2. It is advisable to use the lowest volume that should be effective in removing your original color but is still gentle for your scalp and hair. Use no more than 20 volume developer for light brown and dark blonde hair, while medium dark and deep red hair need 30 volume developer to be effective. If you want to go from dark hair to white blonde, you need a more intensive bleaching treatment and professional help.
  3. After selecting the right volume of developer, you need to properly adjust the time to get the desired blonde shade. Keeping the bleach in your hair too long will fry the hair. If your hair is not completely lightened during the recommended time, rinse the chemicals out and reapply the bleach a few days later.
  4. When bleaching dark hair, you should gradually lighten it before reaching blonde. A resting period of at least a week between bleaching sessions will give your hair some time to recover from the damage. Deep conditioning treatments work well between bleaching applications.
  5. If your hair has recently been permed or chemically straightened, bleaching can lead to excessive hair damage. It is advisable to wait at least two weeks for your hair to heal before putting it through the bleaching process.
  6. Don’t wash your hair a day or two before the bleaching application. The protective coating of your natural oils will prevent scalp irritation and protect your hair from over-drying. Paint your roots close, but don’t apply the mixture directly onto the scalp to avoid chemical burn.
  7. Make sure you do a deep conditioning treatment one or two weeks before your bleaching session. Building up moisture in the hair before bleaching will minimize damage and help preserve the integrity of your hair.
  8. Coconut oil pre-highlight treatment will protect your scalp and hair from burns and damage caused by bleach. Cover your hair with coconut oil and leave it overnight or at least an hour before proceeding to bleaching. Apply the bleach with oil still in your hair.
  9. Rinse off the bleach solution completely from your hair. Any chemicals remaining on your hair can cause scalp burns and further damage to the hair.
  10. Use protein fillers to balance out porosity and to spread color more evenly.
  11. For managing newly grown hair, apply the bleach only to the new growth and avoid putting the formulation on hair that’s already blonde to avoid damaging it.

Importance of Using Olaplex

The best way to protect your hair from the damaging effects of chemicals in the bleach is to use OLAPLEX. Olaplex is an additive that works to minimize damage and repair the hair during the coloring service. Olaplex No1 Bond Multiplier added to your lightener/bleach allows the hair to be lifted higher without the usual damage. Olaplex reconstructs the previously broken bonds and protects your hair from further damage, enabling you to grow longer, healthy hair.

A range of different bond protectors has appeared on the market recently with the purpose to protect the hair and prevent breakage throughout coloring, lightening, and texturizing treatments.

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at


DISCLAIMER: The content within only presents an overview based upon research for educational purposes and does not replace professional medical advice and consultations with health care and hair care professionals.

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