6 Tips to Keep Your Bleached Hair Looking Sassy, Not Brassy

I’ll never forget the moment my hairdresser unfurled my extremely attractive (read: fortune teller-esque) head towel to unveil a full head of almost white, blonde hair. Here’s some context: I am a Chinese-American female who, prior to 2017, had a full head of long, pitch black hair. Yet in just a few snips, and 7 hours spent confined to a salon chair, I was transformed into an insta baddie. But not even two weeks after my Princess Diaries makeover, my platinum tresses quickly turned a wonky brass. While there are definitely people who rock a chemically-induced carrot top I am not one of those individuals.

So, to that end, here are some tips for anyone new to or interested in the world of hair-bleaching to maintain that elusive, cool undertone.


1. Avoid hot water like the plague

I get it. College is stressful, and sometimes it feels like the only way to relax is a nice, hot shower. But that five to thirty minutes spent under that shower head can open up your hair cuticles and subsequently fade your hair color. Thankfully, you don’t need to completely expunge hot water from your cleansing routine to improve the longevity of your color treatment.

Personally, I’ve found that just rinsing my hair with lukewarm water (or cold water, if you can stomach it) makes a huge difference for maintaining its color and sheen.


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2. Invest in a good purple shampoo, conditioner, and deep conditioner

Bleaching your hair is like committing to a long-term relationship; you need to put in time (and sometimes, copious amounts of money) to make it work.

Purple shampoo is a miracle product with purple pigments that will help preserve the cool undertones of your hair--think of it as a salon touch-up in a bottle. Since I had pitch-black hair with warm undertones prior to my first bleach job, my hair tends to turn yellow and brassy when left untreated. That’s why hairdressers ‘tone’ color-treated hair.

Why purple? Well, on the color wheel, a diagram used in color theory based on reds, yellows and blues, yellow and purple are directly opposite of each other. What that means (coming from someone who has no understanding of the arts whatsoever) is that the two cancel each other out. So, the purple pigments in purple shampoo essentially function to cancel out any signs of yellow tones that may pop up a few weeks after your salon treatment.

I swear by Redken's Color Extend Bondage Color Depositing Purple Shampoo and Conditioner (I wholeheartedly wish this article was sponsored by Redken, but either way these products are bomb). The Ulta website recommends leaving the shampoo in your hair for three to fie minutes before rinsing it out, but I’ve found that leaving the product in for too long and turn your hair very purple toned (which was not the look I was going for). A quick rubbing in of the product and a rinse tend to get the job done for me.

When my hair feels extra dry, I follow my conditioner with  the All Soft Heavy Cream Super Treatment also by Redken.

These aren’t cheap products--but they are definitely worth the investment. One way to make them last longer is by using a basic (cheaper) sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner every other wash. One of my favorites is L'Oréal's Everpure Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner, partially because of its super agreeable price tag ($3.29 without tax).


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3. Washing: Less is more

After bleaching my hair, and transitioning into my first year of college, I’ve found that bleached hair can go a few extra days without a wash without getting nasty.

And if the time-saving component isn’t reason enough for you to skip your nightly rinse, remember that water is Public Menace No. 1 when it comes to color-treated hair, so it’s best to wash your hair only when it’s absolutely necessary.


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4. Swim good

Anyone else remember Frank Ocean’s iconic green hair? If you take a quick dip in a chlorinated pool without prepping your bleached ‘do, chances are you’ll come out with a similar shade (although, green is definitely his color).

But don’t despair! Your mermaiding days are so not over. Some ways to fight off the green as well as the extensive damage chlorine does on bleached hair--according to the experts--include slathering your hair in conditioner and keeping it safe and tucked away in a swim cap before entering the pool. Remember also to rinse well after!



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5. Konmari your heat styling products

Although I have yet to binge-watch tidying expert Marie Kondo’s new series on Netflix, I’ve heard enough YouTubers mention the KonMari method to know that Kondo recommends donating or at least parting ways with anything that doesn’t bring you joy.

Now is the time to do that with your heat styling products. Bleaching already damages your hair, and high heat does an even worse number on color-treated hair. But if and when you need to style those locks, remember to coat your hair in heat protectant to minimize the damage as much as possible.


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6. Don't stress

At the end of the day, it’s okay if you don’t do everything perfectly! Taking care of your hair should feel like an act of self-care, rather than a tedious responsibility. Good luck to all my bleach blondes and aspiring bleach blondes out there!


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