So you’ve finally decided to go platinum blonde, ash grey, or some delicious pastel color, but got skittish, realizing the road from here to your hair goal involves rounds of bleach? No need to fret. Bleach is not the enemy, if you accept what’s in store for you, and know how to care for it. So for the bleach virgin, and even the veteran in need of a quick refresher, here is HairMNL’s definitive guide to navigating the bleach.
A refresher on hair color chemistry
Our definitive guide wouldn’t be worth its salt if we didn’t first attempt to explain the science behind bleaching hair. Bleach helps to remove pigments in your hair through a chemical process called oxidation. It does this by opening up your hairs outer cuticle layer, to expose and remove your natural pigment. It’s important to understand this, because the part of the hair that’s been chemically treated with bleach will remain open this way all throughout. On to the guide!
#1. Prepare mentally and accept that being blonde is high maintenance
Now that you know a bit about the science behind bleaching, it’s essential that you prepare mentally for it. The process can take a while and the after care is generally considered high maintenance. But nothing worth doing is easy, at least not in the world of style.
#2 Expect to be seated for hours
An average round of bleach takes 1.5 hours and depending on the levels of lightness you intend to scale. (level 1 being the darkest shade and Level 10 being the lightest blonde) expect to be in that chair for hours. Sometimes you may even need to come back for a second session. No hair is alike, so your stylist should gauge your length of time on the style you want to achieve, hair length, and hair quality.
Quick fact: It is widely believed only 2% of the world are natural blondes, the rest are known as bottle blondes. So feel no shame in wanting to go several levels higher.
#3 Share your entire hair history
Time to confess everything… but only about your hair. Before going to your stylist write a list of previous treatments, chemical processes, daily hair care routines and skin issues you’ve had relating to your scalp and hair. It is essential for your stylist to know your complete background.
If you’ve had a perm or a rebond, it is unlikely your stylist will bleach your hair as these chemical processes combined will seriously damage it. Be open to your stylists advice and together work your way to your hair goal.
#4 Your hair’s texture won’t be the same
When your cuticle layer is open, hair strands will tend to fray, making it feel rougher and prone to tangling. It will also lose its natural shine. There are many ways to work around this, but it does involve treatments and after care.
Quick fact: In her career, Marilyn Monroe, a natural redhead, bleached her hair blonde every three weeks and in between dye jobs used baby powder (today’s dry shampoo) on her roots so she didn’t have to wash out the color so often
#5 Bleaching down to your roots is likely to be uncomfortable
Some people take well to bleach, while others don’t. Often described as a crawling itchy sensation on the scalp, somehow people have managed to work through the discomfort. That said, if you’re not up for it, there are many ombre and balayage styles out there that don’t require color up to the roots.
Quick Fact: Balayage is a French word that means 'to sweep' or 'to paint', describing a hand painting technique that allows for the hair to have a soft graduated color. Ombré means “shade” or “shadow” casting a dramatic two-toned effect on the hair from dark to light.
#6 Bleach smells
Yeah, actually it stinks. Some say it gets better half an hour when the product is already working in your hair, but generally there will be a chemical scent hanging around you while you’re bleaching. If it helps, bring scented oils you like and dab a drop or two on a tissue or kerchief to help mask the smell.
#7. After rinsing, don’t panic
After bleaching, especially on the first round, your hair will look brassy or yellowish. Don’t worry that isn’t your final hair color. Bleaching is only meant to lighten hair and not color it. Even ash tone and platinum blondes need blue or purple tones to neutralize the yellow tinge.
Quick Fact: Bleached hair can have chemical reactions to salt water and chlorine. Consider your lifestyle before opting to go blonde.
#8. Seriously consider getting a bond builder
Choose a salon that offers bond builders as an add-on to your bleach, your hair will thank you for it. Bond builders like Olaplex and L’Oréal Smart Bond strengthen your hair on a molecular level, helping to bringing back the shine and smoothness of your hair.
#9 Porosity, Color Fading and Brassy Tones
Porosity is your hairs ability to hold moisture and pigment. After a chemical treatment like bleach, your hair becomes more porous, making colors fade easily, except the yellow tinge that’s natural to all hair. Some colors last longer, red for one can last up to a few weeks, but others like ash and grey tones leave your hair fairly quickly. Getting a sulfate free shampoo is a must. Sulfates are strong cleaning agents that can wash away your color effectively.
Quick Fact: The same idea behind color blocking inspired the series of pigmented shampoos and conditioners out in today’s market. By looking at the color wheel you can see which colors neutralize the other. Purples and blues for example neutralize orange and yellow, making shampoos containing these colors a must for platinum blondes and ash grey hair.
#10 Aftercare: Purple Collection and the new Evo Fabuloso are your best friend
There is a lot you can do with bleached hair. Colors, treatments and some heat styling too (depending on the state of your hair). But to enjoy it at its best requires a change in your routine. Sulfate free shampoos, silver conditioners, masks and regular treatments are most likely to be a regular feature in your lifestyle. For more on after care visit our Purple Toning Collection to start planning your after-care routine.
For silver shampoo and conditioners that effectively neutralize brassy tones in your hair, we love L’oréal Professionnel Silver toned Shampoo and Conditioner. Ideal for platinum blondes and ash colored hair that seek out hydration and vibrant color.
Another option is to get semi-permanent hair color. You can color your hair with the new Evo Fabuloso, that offers a take home after care color exactly the same shade as the color you had them applied, extending the life of your hair color.
Bleaching has been part of our cosmetic creations since the turn of the 20th century, and with it, an entire generation of bottle blondes are exploring the world of color now within reach. Although the choice to use bleach on your hair shouldn’t be taken lightly, know that with the proper understanding, preparedness and acceptance, bleaching can be a truly transformative experience.
Want to get your hair bleached? Visit us at HairMNL Studio, Brixton St., Brgy. Kapitolyo, Pasigh City, and have our professional stylists work with you to get your dream hair. Book an appointment by calling 0908 897-7364 (Smart), 0917 790-4455 (Globe) or 02-978-1788 (landline).