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How To Keep Bleached (Or Damaged!) Hair Healthy

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

If you’re a victim of hair breakage due to bleaching, I know your pain. I have experienced that same sigh of frustration you let out when you find another section of your hair thinning out from the process of going lighter. But what can we do? There are so many tips on the internet, but it can be hard to know where to splurge your money or when to risk another hair DIY (that will most likely end in disaster).

Having been bleaching my hair for over five years now, I have seen it all. My hair has come off in chunks because I tried to dye my own roots. I’ve slept with saran wrap on my head to hold extra strength moisturizer on my hair because of that hair falling out fiasco. It was only until these past two years that I found the best products, tips, and tricks to actually give my hair life again. No more dry, dull, or breaking off over here! Now, just a reminder that one doesn’t need to have bleach damage for these things to work – all I will mention can help anyone who wants to add a little more life back into their hair. Say goodbye to bad hair days and frustrated cries, and get ready to feel like you’re in a Pantene commercial (side note – NEVER use Pantene, they have terrible ingredients).

Oils, oils, oils!

If you have naturally oily hair, this can seem daunting. But using oils will not make your hair oily, per say. Your hair needs oils, which is why you should not stray away from them. Oils protect and nourish your hair, and can even act as a heat protectant. The first time I saw a real change in my hair was when I starting lathering my hair with Jojoba oil before I showered and let it sit for 30-60 minutes. Then just go about your normal routine and the extra oil will have washed out, leaving only nourishment.

Another way to use them is to invest in an expensive daily oil that you can use for shine, detangling, and hair breakage repair. You use a very small (less than your fingerprint) amount and run it through your hair, focusing on the bottom half for those annoying split ends.

There’s no limit with oils. There are so many different kinds and they all are aimed for a specific goal – damage control, heat protectant, length – you name it! Oils, I can credit, helped save my hair the most, and genuinely gave it the life I missed it having pre-bleach.

My favorite pre-treatment (it’s cheap!) – https://www.amazon.com/Solutions-Organic-Moisturizing-Multi-Purpose-4-Ounce/dp/B0019LTGOU/ref=sr_1_7?crid=1H5MBM3LZQ2T7&keywords=jojoba+oil&qid=1666820838&qu=eyJxc2MiOiI0LjM2IiwicXNhIjoiNC4zNSIsInFzcCI6IjQuMjQifQ%3D%3D&s=beauty&sprefix=jojoba%2Cbeauty%2C97&sr=1-7

My favorite everyday oil – https://www.ulta.com/p/keratin-healing-oil-hair-treatment-xlsImpprod10112070

apple Cider vinegar

If your goal is shine and strength, look no more. Apple cider vinegar is famous for helping with dietary habits and skincare, but did you know it is even more multi-purposeful than you thought?

In between shampoo and conditioner, pour some apple cider vinegar on your scalp and let it run down to the ends. Leave it in for 3-4 minutes and rinse thoroughly, conditioning afterwards. After using, I noticed a luster that I can’t attest to anything else in my routine.

My favorite – https://www.amazon.com/Bragg-Organic-Vinegar-Cleanser-Promotes/dp/B01CSX4N9K/ref=sr_1_3_mod_primary_new?crid=33KS5LS8S4ZX9&keywords=apple+cider+vinegar&qid=1666821398&qu=eyJxc2MiOiI1LjEzIiwicXNhIjoiNC42NiIsInFzcCI6IjQuNjAifQ%3D%3D&sbo=RZvfv%2F%2FHxDF%2BO5021pAnSA%3D%3D&sprefix=apple+cider+%2Caps%2C85&sr=8-3

It’s all about moisture, baby!

The number one issue I have when bleaching is how frail and dry my hair got, regardless of the amount of conditioner I used. Investing in a good leave in treatment to heal weak strands is when I saw true growth in my hair (that did not grow fast for years prior). Deep conditioning and really focusing in on the issue at hand – how bleach weakens the hair pores – is when the big differences are truly seen.

For those who have not lightened their hair, using this next tip may give your hair too much moisture, but to those that have been the victims of wanting Daenerys Targaryen’s beautiful locks, pay attention. Using products for curly haired people is the ultimate hack. Curly hair needs more moisture than straight hair because it’s harder for the natural oils the hair produces to travel down to the ends, meaning they need to add more with products. So, when your concern is about dry, brittle hair, take a look at the curly section – it may work wonders!

The best (and I mean BEST leave-in I’ve ever tried) – https://www.ulta.com/p/healing-colorcare-trauma-treatment-xlsImpprod10112008

A great, cheaper alternative – https://www.ulta.com/p/coconut-hibiscus-curl-enhancing-smoothie-xlsImpprod6390361?sku=2271857

say no to heat

It’s an age old tale told to us by our hairdressers, but it’s true. I used to curl or straighten my hair everyday without heat protectant. I know, ghastly!!! Nevertheless, there is a reason they tell us to use it sparingly. Heat on already color processed hair is like baking cookies that are already burnt – you will get nothing good from this. Yes, your hair may look more voluminous this way, but it won’t when you have about five strands to work with.

No, you don’t need to cut it out altogether. I still partake in the occasional frying of my hair, but when I do, I use my heat protectant oils beforehand (wink, wink), and only do it so often when the occasion really calls for it. There are many ways to curl your hair now that don’t involve heat, which I will link below. Your natural hair is beautiful! And even if you aren’t happy with how it looks, think in the long run and know that keeping heat on it will make the problem never truly go away.

Heatless curling tool – https://www.amazon.com/Heatless-Curling-Headband-Scrunchie-Sleeping/dp/B094XZT3SY/ref=sr_1_5?crid=WT4CNCOR172T&keywords=heatless+curling&qid=1666822941&qu=eyJxc2MiOiI2Ljg3IiwicXNhIjoiNi41NCIsInFzcCI6IjYuMDEifQ%3D%3D&sprefix=heatless+curling%2Caps%2C94&sr=8-5

Heat protectant – https://www.ulta.com/p/44-iron-guard-thermal-protection-spray-xlsImpprod4730015

know what you’re buying

Any hair company can make a fancy commercial with a model with hair extensions and call it magic in a bottle. Don’t listen to them. Take the time to really research the ingredients they put in their products. Parabens? We don’t talk to her! Alcohol and fragrances? No ma’am. A lot of the most popular, cheaper options contain little hair demons that will erase any of the other work you’re putting in to save it, so be vigilant.

The worst of the worst are as follows

  • Pantene – silicon and sulfate
  • TRESemme – plastics
  • Dove – silicons, parabens, and sulfates
  • Garnier Fructose – fragrances
  • Aussi – silicon

Healthy and safe alternatives

  • Schwarzkopf 
  • Ouai
  • Amika
  • Living Proof
  • Paul Mitchell
  • Bumble and Bumble

The dreadful, infamous, magical Dyson airwrap

Look, $600 is ridiculous. I respect that. However, as much as I tried to hate it, the Dyson Air-wrap is my most prized possession. I had the dupe, the Revlon round blow drying brush, and it didn’t hold a candle to how the Dyson makes my hair look and feel. Now, it does not hold a curl nearly as much as it should for the price, but that’s not what I even use it for. The round brush attachment on damp hair gives me a perfect blowout look for days. My hair doesn’t get tangled as easily anymore, it makes my hair seem light yet voluminous, and it looks softer that it did before bleaching. Yes, it’ll cost half of your college tuition, but at least you will have the best hair in the room! And that’s a win in my book.

Trust me – https://www.ulta.com/p/special-edition-airwrap-multi-styler-complete-long-in-vinca-blue-rose-pimprod2034744

A day is ruined if my hair looks bad, but thankfully, those days do not come nearly as often anymore. I can’t promise on my life that these will transform your hair overnight, but out of all the years searching and trying, I feel confident that, regardless of hair health, these tips will help in some way, shape or form. Go feel beautiful, everyone!

Audrey Kelly

C of C '25

I am inspired by all things fashion and beauty! Thrifting is my favorite hobby, especially if I'm listening to Taylor Swift while doing it. My main goal is to spread body and self positivity for all genders through writing and fashion as much as possible.