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Bleaching your hair into a different color has become one of the most popular fashion trends among both men and women over the last two decades. And while it does make your hair look cool and snazzy, there are some serious downsides to bleaching hair as well.
That’s why those who opt for bleaching their hair take some preparatory steps first to ensure their hair is not affected by those side effects. If you’re planning to bleach your hair, but don’t know how to start due to lack of information, this article will provide you with all that you need to know to bleach your hair and look cool without suffering from any of the side effects.
Understanding Bleaching Your Hair
If you’re new to all this, let’s start with the basics. What is bleaching your hair? Simply put, it’s the process of changing the color of your hair into an entirely different one or a shade lighter or darker than your current hair color. The trend has been largely popularized by K-Pop stars in recent years, but hair bleaching has been around longer than that.
The first thing you need to understand about bleaching is the fact that it’s harmful to your hair. The process requires the use of harsh chemicals which damages the roots of your hair follicles, leading them to fall out or get frizzled. This is why hair specialists and salon experts have come up with different solutions to mitigate the effect of bleaching over the years.
The main function of hair bleach is to lighten your hair color to a lighter shade by removing the natural melanin of your hair strands. Once your hair loses its original tone, it becomes easy to apply any artificial hair color of your choice using hair dye. There are two types of bleaching agents for hair- one is called lightener while the other is known as powder bleach.
One interesting thing that experts have found out over the years is that the natural hair oil present in our hair is a good deterrent to the damage caused by bleaching hair.
Side Effects of Bleaching Your Hair
Even after knowing all this if you still decide to bleach your hair then you need to be very attentive to every step of the process, starting from the products you’ll be using, the expertise of the hairdresser, and the optimum duration for keeping your hair bleached.
As said before, bleaching hair comes with a bunch of side effects to the harsh nature of the chemicals used in the process. So before you commit to bleaching your hair, you should at least know some of the major side effects to make a better decision and minimize hair damage.
- Breakdown of Hair Protein: When you bleach your hair, it breaks down the natural protein bondage of your hair, which is responsible for keeping your hair attached to your scalp. The damage can range anywhere between 15-20%, which can be devastating for natural, healthy hair. If you already have weak hair, the damage will be far worse.
- Burning Sensation on Scalp: Hair bleach is a chemical component that is acidic in nature, which can result in scalp burning. This is a condition in which your scalp burns after the bleaching process. Scalp burning happens due to the presence of certain bleach which includes hydrogen peroxide, persulfates, and alkalizing agents. The only good news here is that scalp burn injuries are superficial and recoverable.
- Bleach poisoning: Aside from the harmful chemicals that cause scalp burning, hair bleaches also contain a bunch of other harmful chemicals including ethyl alcohol, ammonium persulfate, and hydrogen peroxide. All of these chemicals are highly harmful to your health and in the long run, can cause a bunch of health complications which include:
Low blood pressure
Burning sensation in the throat
Burning sensation and redness of the eyes
- Drop in Moisture Levels: When you bleach your hair, the moisture level in your hair drops leading to dry and frizzled hair. If you have curly hair the problem can get even worse. Recovering the lost moisture caused by hair bleaching can take a significant amount of time and causes serious hair loss.
- Discoloration of natural hair tone: When you bleach your hair repeatedly, it quickly discolors the natural tone of your hair. If you’re OK with it then it should be fine but if you want to make sure that your natural hair tone remains intact then you should be careful not to bleach too much.
- High-Maintenance: Health issues aside, another serious side effect of bleaching your hair is the high maintenance it requires. You can mitigate some of the side effects mentioned above, but not completely avoid them. And even that takes a lot of personal maintenance and trips to the beauty salon.
Now that you know all the major side effects, it’ll be easier for you to make a more informed decision about whether you want to bleach your hair or not.
What’s a Leave-in Conditioner?
In simple terms, a leave-in conditioner is a hair product that is used before the bleaching process to mitigate some of the damage and side effects caused by bleaching. The way it does so is by applying a protective barrier over your scalp, which mitigates the amount of harsh hair bleach chemicals that can potentially set on your hair.
Usually, a leave-in conditioner should be applied to your hair days, or sometimes even weeks before the bleaching process. They’re different from the regular conditioners you use after shampooing your hair and keep your hair extra hydrated since you won’t be able to wash it off until the bleaching process is done.
So what makes leave-in conditioners better than regular conditioners when it comes to preparation for bleaching? The ingredients of course! Leave-in conditioners generally contain coconut oil or milk, aloe vera, honey, avocado oil, shea butter, and jojoba oil, all of which are outstanding at moisturizing and maintaining your hair health.
Should You Use A Leave-In Conditioner Before Bleaching?
Yes, you definitely should! The ingredients of leave-in conditioners are what separates them from regular conditioners when it comes to protecting your hair. Leave-in conditioners contain large quantities of humectants and emollients that moisten your hair and leave it soft and smooth even when you don’t apply water to your hair.
This is important to note because if you wash out the leave-in conditioner before the bleaching process all the benefits of the leave-in conditioner will be lost and your hair and scalp will be vulnerable to all the side effects of the bleaching process.
Your hair health should also be a primary factor when considering whether to use leave-in conditioners for bleaching. If you have healthy and strong hair, bleaching your hair once or twice without using conditioners is viable as long as you don’t wet your hair before the process. If not, then you should definitely be using leave-in conditioners before hair bleaching for the best results.
How to Use Leave-in Conditioners Before Bleaching?
Now that you have a good understanding of the basics of hair bleaching and leave-in conditioners, it’s time for you to learn how to use leave-in conditioners in the best and most effective way to make your bleaching process go as smoothly as possible.
Some beauticians and salon experts advocate for the application of leave-in conditioners the night before the bleaching process. But unless your hair is naturally strong and in good health, this is usually a bad idea. Depending on the health of your hair, the conditioner should be applied at least 3-4 days beforehand so that hair color lifts properly. You should apply leave-in conditioners to your hair through the following steps:
- Wash your hair properly first then dry it with a towel.
- Leave-in conditioners can either come in spray form or liquid form. Once your hair is dried, spray the conditioner evenly across your hair by holding out the strands. If you’re going for a liquid leave-in conditioner, then take some on the palm of your hands, rub them together, and evenly apply them on your tresses.
- Start spraying or rubbing the conditioner from the tip of your hair strands and gradually work your way upwards.
- While applying the leave-in conditioner, make sure to leave the scalp area alone as you want that part to be dry.
- Naturally oily hair is actually the best platform for hair bleaching as the natural oil produced by the skin is the best when it comes to protecting your hair health. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use leave-in conditioners if you have naturally oily hair, every extra bit of moisture and nutrients help.
Advantages of Using Leave-in Conditioners Before Bleaching
You can always opt to bleach your hair without using leave-in conditioners, but the advantages it brings to the table are too good to ignore. Here are some good reasons why using leave-in conditioners before bleaching is advantageous:
- Adding extra moisture: it’s a given that you won’t be cleaning your hair with water for at least a few days, or even longer, before the bleaching process. If you live in a bustling city with a lot of traffic and pollution, this can be disastrous since your hair isn’t getting its daily dose of moisture. Applying leave-in conditioners will take care of this problem for you.
- Helps untangle messy hair: to be honest, people with straight hair usually have it easy when it comes to hair styling. But for those with frizzled or curly hair, bleaching can be a daunting aspect, especially when considering you can’t wash your hair to untangle it. For people with curly or fuzzy hair types, leave-in conditioners solve this problem easily, allowing them to bleach their hair.
- Protection against environmental damage: leave-in conditioners are no slackers when providing protection against environmental damage. They’re made with the fact that you won’t be washing your hair for a couple of days. As such they provide generous protection against environmental damage to your hair.
- Helps maintain your regular hairstyle: with the precondition of not being able to wet your hair for at least a couple of days, you might be fearing that you’ll look like a mess at work or classes. Put that fear aside because leave-in conditioners contain enough moisture and emollients to let you style your hair until the hair-bleaching day arrives.
- Heat protection: if you live in a warm and humid geographical location, then not washing your hair can lead to heat damage. Leave-in conditioners are formulated to prevent this damage, so unless you’re living in a very hot desert your hair will have ample protection from the heat damage.
- Nourishes and restores hair health: if you have poor-quality hair and still want to opt for hair bleaching, using leave-in conditioners a few days beforehand will improve your hair by nourishing and restoring its health in a fairly satisfactory manner. But don’t expect wonders or miracles, because that’s definitely not happening.
- Promotes hair growth: if you’re planning to bleach your hair on a regular basis (ideally with a two-week gap) then regular use of leave-in hair conditioners can promote a moderate level of hair growth to balance out the hair loss effects of hair bleaching.
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Steps You Should Take Before Bleaching Your Hair
Before making the big decision to dye your entire hair, you should take a few steps to do a small patch test on whether your hair is suitable for bleaching or not. This test will also help your beautician or hair stylist determine just how much damage your hair can take without serious consequences before jumping into the project. Here’s how you do a patch test before bleaching your hair:
- Wash and dry your hair first.
- Take a small dab of leave-in conditioner in your hands and apply it to a handful of hair on one side starting from the bottom till the mid-length of your hair.
- Take some bleaching powder and mix it with a hair developer at a ratio of 1:2.
- Apply it to the patch of hair you applied the conditioner on and leave it for 20-30 minutes.
- After waiting for the said period of time watch how the bleach affected your conditioned hair and take a couple of snaps with your phone.
- Send it to your beautician or hair stylist and they will take the rest from there.
Alternatives to Leave-in conditioners before Bleaching
If you’re already used to a particular brand of hair conditioner and don’t want to create a side effect by using leave-in conditioner with different ingredients, then fortunately for you there are some pretty nifty alternatives for leave-in conditioners to prepare your hair for bleaching! These include:
- Coconut oil: Considered the best natural hair conditioner by most beauty and hair experts around the world, coconut oil is filled with nourishing vitamins and minerals that can be used to keep dry hair healthy and nourished for extended periods of time.
- Aloe Vera: The base ingredient of more than half the beauty products available today, aloe vera extract is also a very suitable replacement for leave-in conditioners.
- Argon Oil: This rare but highly sought-after oil is second only to coconut oil when it comes to keeping your hair moisturized and nourished for extended periods of time.
Yes, you definitely should as it will soften and smoothen the hair for the bleaching process.
You can, but it’s highly discouraged. Without the protection offered by a leave-in conditioner, your hair health will definitely suffer.
Yes, you can, and you should if you don’t plan on using a leave-in conditioner before bleaching your hair.
No, you can’t. Regular conditioners don’t have the long-lasting effects of a leave-in conditioner which means you’ll have to wet your hair before the bleaching process which is a bad idea.
Bleaching your hair is a personal fashion statement that is completely your choice to make. But before deciding to look hip and stylish you should definitely understand the basics and how it might affect your hair health in the future. Hopefully, with this article, you’ve learned all you need to know about hair bleaching and the important role leave-in conditioners play in it.
- Always leave your hair dry before bleaching.
- Leave-in conditioners help prep your hair for bleaching without leaving your hair feeling stuck and dry.
- Not prepping your hair before bleaching can cause long-term damage to your hair.
- If you don’t want to use a leave-in conditioner, there are other alternatives.
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