Forget Kendall Jenner’s auburn moment, the award for best hair transformation this season goes to Gigi Hadid and her platinum makeover. Shedding her trademark dirty blonde in favour of an icy white wash, Hadid unveiled the new look on the Burberry runway as fashion month came to a close.
Of course, she’s not the first celebrity to reach for the bleach. Take Anya Taylor-Joy, for example, whose Rapunzel-like locks make her the perfect ice queen. Even Oscar nominee Kristen Stewart is looking a little lighter these days. Perhaps blondes really do have more fun? But that doesn’t mean you can be totally carefree. In fact, when it comes to looking after bleached hair, there’s a lot you need to take into account.
“When you bleach your hair, you lift up the outer protective layer of each strand so the bleach can get in and pull the natural colour pigments out,” says master colourist and co-founder of Bleach London, Alexandra Brownsell. “After bleaching, your hair is a bit more fragile and needs some extra TLC. To keep your bleached hair healthy and looking its best, you have to follow ‘special care’ instructions.”
Below, Brownsell shares her top tips for taking care of bleached hair.
Wash with caution
Treat bleached hair like your favourite item of clothing. Wash at a lower temperature and handle carefully when you detangle. If you can, try to brush or comb hair before wetting it. Use a gentle shampoo and nourishing conditioner, and wash less often than you would unbleached hair – the more you wash it, the more you strip the natural oils and moisture (not to mention your toner!). I recommend once or twice a week depending on its texture.
Don’t mask, don’t get
Using a powerful hair treatment like our Reincarnation Mask once a week is one of the easiest ways to care for bleached hair. Its proteins penetrate individual hair shafts, helping reconnect weak and broken bonds on a cellular level, making hair smoother, stronger and shinier. If you’re going through a dry, frizzy spell, swap your conditioner for a hair mask for a few washes and see if it helps. If you have fine hair that gets oily quickly, use your normal nourishing conditioner, and add a weekly mask.
The name’s bond…
Peroxide (the stuff you mix bleach with) releases oxygen inside hair fibres, changing the colour but also weakening the bonds that hold it together. Bond builders, like our Alex-Plex treatment, get into the strand and fuse the bonds back together.
You are what you heat
Bleached hair doesn’t hold on to moisture as well as unbleached hair, so reducing how often you heat-style is really going to help too. If you want to try a new style out, limit the stress on your hair by:
- Turning down the heat (on your hair dryer or ceramic tools).
- Not re-styling the same section of hair more than once.
- Using a moisturising mask in your wash before styling, and the next time you wash your hair.
- Not using too much hairspray or other styling products that contain alcohol (which can dry the hair out).
Toner washes out fairly quickly and can often leave bleached hair looking brassy between dyes. Using a pigment depositing shampoo a few times a week helps neutralise unwanted yellow tones, and keeps your colour vibrant for longer. I’d recommend our Silver Shampoo and Conditioner (for an ash toned finish), or Pearlescent Shampoo and Conditioner (for a pearly hue). Our home toning kits are also a great way of saving on salon appointments.
Regular trims every six to eight weeks are really important to help keep bleached hair looking good. Split ends can travel further up the hair unless it’s snipped off with sharp scissors. (Blunt edges will only create more split ends than they take away, so put those kitchen scissors down!)
You can also try sleeping on a vegan silk pillowcase – it reduces the friction (your skin will thank you for it too), and can help reduce breakage. Also – and this is something people always forget – hair elastics can really cut into hair. When you tie your hair up, make sure you don’t wrap the band around too tight, and try to secure it in different places so you’re not putting too much pressure on the same place over and over. Swapping out your elastic hair bands for soft scrunchies or plastic clips is a useful – and cheap – bleached hair hack.
This story originally appeared in British Vogue.