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Healthy Hair

Published on 16th January 2005

So you bleached the hell out of your hair and want to know how to stop it from looking completely fried?

Avoiding Damage
Firstly you’ll need to stop doing whatever it is to your hair that is making it look dry. Heat styling and chemical processes are the main causes of damage.

It probably won’t come as a shock to you to read that bleaching damages hair. It’s a necessary evil for anyone who hasn’t got naturally pale blond or white hair who wants unnatural coloured hair. Most people can bleach their hair at least once without noticing too much damage. Here are a few tips for bleaching your hair with minimal damage:

* Don’t overlap When you’re touching up your roots don’t allow the bleach to overlap onto the already bleached hair. Apply it to the natural hair only. * Mix your bleach according to the instructions Using too much powder in your bleach mix or not mixing it properly can cause the hair to be severely damaged, often to the point of breaking * Use the correct strength When you choose your peroxide use the lowest volume peroxide you can get away with. If you’re already blond you’ll only need a 10 or 20 volume peroxide in your bleach. It’s better to lift the colour slowly as there’s less chance of over processing your hair. * Use a toner If you’re trying to go white or silver you don’t need to bleach your hair to straw. Bleach it to a pale blond and then use a toner to take out the yellowness in your hair. You’ll end up with a nice white. Although you’ll probably need to touch it up every so often it’s better for your hair than bleaching it until there’s no pigment left. Special Effects and Directions white toners are good or if you need something stronger you can buy permanent whites at beauty supply shops. * Do a strand test Do a strand test and time it carefully so you have an idea of how long the bleach will need to stay on your hair. When you apply it to your hair check it every 5-10 minutes so that it does not get over processed. * Don’t apply it all at once Remember that the centimetre of hair closest to your head bleaches faster because of the heat from your scalp. If your regrowth is longer than 1 cm or you’re doing a full application don’t apply bleach to the hair closest to your head until the rest of the hair is at the orange stage.

Blow Drying
Try not to blow dry your hair every day as it can dry your hair out. Avoid over drying it (stop when it’s slightly damp) and use it on a cooler temperature. Use a heat protection cream like L’Oreal Hot Straight to maintain the condition.

Chemical Straightening/Perming
This can be as damaging, if not more so, as bleaching the hair. If your hair is chemically straightened avoid other chemical processes such as bleaching as more harsh processes are likely to cause a lot of breakage.

Covering Up Damage

There are a few tricks for covering up the damage that you’ve caused to your hair and a few temporary fixes. Once your hair is damaged you can’t ever really fix it. You’ll just have to grow out the damaged hair and be good to the new hair that grows in.

Protein Conditioners – a temporary fix
These work by temporarily filling in the damage on the hair making it feel smoother and fuller. I’ve found the results last about a week. My current favourite is Ion Hair Reconstructor. It’s applied to damp shampooed hair and is left on for 15 minutes. It’s pretty hard to rinse out but leaves my hair feeling in pre-bleached condition. Until my hair is washed again after using it, it sometimes feels a bit hard so I use some normal conditioner directly after the Ion to soften it up. Jheri Redding also makes a very good protein pack but it’s pretty hard to find. For more product reviews have a look at the intensive conditioner product review page.

Every Day Conditioners
Using a conditioner each time you wash your hair is essential if you don’t want further damage. Conditioner makes your hair more silky and so it’s less likely to snag and get tatty. Also if your hair looks and feels silky it will seem less damaged. The conditioners that are best for making your hair look shiny are usually the ones that contain silicone. Some people say silicone is bad for your hair but if you use a good non-conditioning shampoo (or a clarifying shampoo is better) you won’t get a build up of silicone which can make your hair lank and heavy. Have a look on the ingredients list. Generally anything ending in “cone” is silicone based. I find that Pantene’s Smooth & Sleek conditioner is really good for keeping my hair from getting knotted (and it’s pretty long) and leaves it shiny too. Conditioners for coloured hair are ideal as they leave the hair feeling really moisturised.

Extra Shine
Have you tried a silicon shine serum? It can be used on wet or dry hair (I prefer putting it on wet hair as it spreads better) and then dry as normal. It makes the hair look extra shiny and also helps protect it if you’re using straightening irons. I found it in the Afro hair section of my local beauty supply shop but a product such as Frizz Ease serum should have a similar effect. Don’t use it on your roots as it tends to clump together and make your hair look greasy. It’s also good to use a tiny bit on any fly-aways which is great if you’ve broken a lot of hair by bleaching.

Get a Good Trim
Trim the ends off your damaged hair as often as possible. Split ends are a dead giveaway for damaged hair so snip them off as soon as they occur. A nice sharp cut always gives the impression of healthy hair.

Keep it Coloured
If your hair is damaged it’s going to look even worse when your hair colour starts fading out. Keep it freshly dyed to avoid this. You may want to use a darker colour which will give the appearance of shiny hair.

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