Bleaching hair has always been something that I never mess with. I did it once with Loreal Chunking in high school, and all of the bleached pieces turned into a hot mess. They were snapping and breaking all over the place. But, I also had a relaxer then and I’ve seen several naturals bleach their hair beautifully and with great results. When I did mine, some of my curlfriends on my Facebook commented like, “You’re going to make me grab the bleach!” And to that, I’m like NO! Don’t bleach your hair just because you saw someone else do it and their hair didn’t fall out. We all have different hair and bleaching is no joke. It’s a lengthy process that can potentially burn your scalp or skin, and often makes your eyes water. But if you really want to take the plunge, first consider the following:
Your Porosity: There’s no doubt that bleaching makes your hair more porous. You’re stripping the melanin out of your hair and basically leaving your shaft “bare.” This sounds scary even as I type it! So if your hair is already fairly porous, you may want to reconsider because making it more porous can result in moisture loss and difficulty retaining moisture.
Your Hair Texture: Coarse hair can often take more processing than finer hair, whether it’s color, relaxing, or heat. Coarse hair is thicker, meaning that it will take more processing to break the hair down to the point of splitting or snapping off. Fine hair, on the other hand, often needs much more gentle care, even with handling and mechanical damage. When I bleached my hair, I used 30 developer, but a lot of people go straight for 40 strength. Don’t do it! You may have to leave the bleach on longer, but I really think that 40 is too strong if you’re trying to keep your hair healthy. If you have fine hair, you may want to go to a professional so they can monitor your hair closely, or skip the bleach altogether. If you want to test the waters, you can use a 20 developer on your hair to color it a bit lighter, and see how it reacts – if your hair already doesn’t like that, bleach will probably piss your hair off.
Current Health State of Your Hair: There are some people who do everything to their hair – constant heat, lots of manipulation, etc. If you already do these things or consistently process your hair (like coloring it a lot with lighter shades or even dyeing it black because it’s very hard to lift black dye), it’s important to see how your hair is behaving before you reach for the bleach powder. If you already have breakage or a lot of split ends, bleaching will only make it worse.
Your Hair Goals: If your current main hair goal is growing your hair out long or length retention, don’t even risk it by bleaching, period. After I bleached my hair, I was having a bad hair day (I didn’t like my gel), but I was so paranoid that my ends were scraggly that I freaked and cut off two inches of hair. After I did it, I was like…”Wait. Why did I just do that? The ends weren’t even split!” Bleach will make you freak over the smallest hair snafus, seriously! But I was trying to grow my hair back after I got it cut last year, so this year, I’m cool. If you don’t want to do more than light trims, back away from the bleach.
Your Current Routine: Are you one of those naturals who’s lazy AF when it comes to your hair? Hands off, let it ride approach? If so, bleaching most likely isn’t for you. Bleached hair needs deep conditioning and protein treatments way more often than virgin hair. You’ll also need to pay attention to your protein/moisture balance and make sure you’re consistently moisturizing your hair. Say goodbye to an entire week without moisturizing to keep your twist out fresh. You may also need to change your routine and products to go with the bleach – for instance, using a reconstructing treatment like Olaplex or a purple shampoo or conditioner to keep your color from looking brassy. More products, more money. If you don’t want to deal with it, don’t bleach.
Of course, theses are just a few things to consider before you decide to bleach, or even do a light color on your hair. I will say though, it’s not for the light hearted and I wouldn’t do it on a whim!
What do you consider before heavy coloring or bleaching your hair?