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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:

lightening-and-bleaching-hair

  • 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?

    Elle

    Elle is the editor and creative director of the YouTube channel and blog, Quest for the Perfect Curl at www.questfortheperfectcurl.com. Her channel focuses on natural hair, beauty, and fitness. She loves products that smell like dessert, yoga, and glitter. Follow her @qftpc.

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    7 Comments on "Five Serious Things to Consider Before Bleaching Natural Hair"

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    BronxChildOfDiaspora
    I recently colored my hair with Shea Moisture’s product line using Light Blonde. I have dark brown hair but wanted to lighten it a golden brown. I’ve been a naturalist since August 2016 so this was the first time I’ve put chemicals my hair. I only use REAL natural products like Bragg apple cider vinegar as a rinse to clarify and MicMas Remix scalp treatment as a hot oil treatment, conditioner and leave in to moisturize. As expected, my hair was a little dry after coloring and their sample conditioner they included didn’t moisturize my hair as good as the… Read more »
    Niya

    What’s your porosity like? And how often do you treat your hair? What do you use? lol I’m natural and my hair grows but I want to bleach it copper and I’m nervous because I’m the lazy type of natural girl

    Thanks a lot natural friend ?

    aiahmed
    i’m a 4c natural and i recently bleached my hair from black to white, in one sitting. not advisable! Ideally you’re supposed to gradually lift the colour over days or even weeks but i was impatient. luckily it hasn’t done any damage except my hair can get very dry and conditioning and moisturising is vital. also, i have short hair i recently did the big chop so i had very little hair to bleach which probably explains how i got my hair so light in one sitting and with no breakage- there wasn’t much to break. For naturals, if you… Read more »
    Cee Behr
    I have been bleaching and colouring my natural hair for over 5 years and I agree with most of this article. Yes it is a long process which can lead to damage if you aren’t careful. A couple of things I would like to add though. ONLY bleach your hair yourself if you a) know what you are doing, b) have the time, patience and tools to do it right, c) are willing to chop or shave off your hair if it all goes wrong. You need to know how long it will take to lift the colour from your… Read more »
    Aisha
    Excellent article. I especially agree with being realistic about your routine. I have bleached my hair successfully in the past, but I won’t do it right now because I just don’t feel like dealing with the maintenance. Bleaching is a chemical process that requires as much if not more care than a relaxer-you MUST be diligent. I would also suggest first time bleachers to start with a few highlights and gradually add more over time. See how your hair responds before jumping all the way in. The best part about bleaching to me is being able to experiment with various… Read more »
    Miss.

    I’m sending prayers up for your mane elle….nothing wrong with experimenting though and I hope you are enjoying your new color.

    I personally wouldn’t bleach or dye until I knew how to take care of my hair very well but unfortunately I’m not there yet. I’m still trying to figure things out.

    Truth Hurts

    I would never dye/bleach my hair, it seems every natural who makes videos eventually dye their hair only to regret it. The next thing u know they are covering up the dye with black dye or cutting out the dye…it’s just not worth it.

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