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How to Care for Bleached Hair Immediately Following an Appointment

I never realized how healthy my hair actually was…until I added bleached peek-a-boo highlights. And just like that, I became the girl who needed to learn how to care for bleached hair.

There’s really not that much bleach in my hair. As I mentioned, it’s a panel of peek-a-boo highlights. But yet, it really made a damaging difference—especially during those first two to three post-color washes. There are times when I feel overwhelmed with all the hair products overflowing from the tubs on my bathroom floor—but after this experience, I realized I needed them now more than ever. My once-simple hair routine (which had indeed been growing over time) had suddenly evolved into an eight-step process (and we’re only talking the washing aspect—not styling).

I do realize I’m fortunate to receive hair products from brands for review, making it monumentally easier to take care of my hair than it is for many others. And given that, I think it’s really important for people to understand the magnitude of having chemically-treated hair. Had I not had these products at my fingertips, my hair would still be suffering dramatically.

While I’ve been fortunate to find what works for me, everyone’s hair is different, and an arsenal of hair care isn’t accessible for everyone. So, I reached out to Paul Wintner, Global Education Manager of Alterna Haircare. As an expert when it comes to post-color care, I figured he’d be an excellent resource on how to care for bleached hair health. Keep reading for his (and my) recommended products, and his necessary steps.

How to Care for Bleached Hair After an Appointment

Step 1: Apply a moisturizing, bond repair shampoo.

“After lightening hair, the cuticle layer of the hair is usually damaged and doesn’t fully close,” Wintner explains. “To ensure hair stays strong and to help to reduce breakage, the first three washes, you want to use any shampoo that is moisturizing and offers bond repair.”

Wintner recommends Alterna CAVIAR Anti-Aging Restructuring Bond Repair line. “It’s formulated with the CAVIAR Bond Enforcing Technology that seeks out cracks and fissures in the hair,” he says. “It helps seal down the cuticle to offer a 99% reduction in breakage and split ends.”

I’ve been going back and forth between Neutrogena’s Healthy Scalp Hydro Boost With Hyaluronic Acid and Olaplex’s No. 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo.

Step 2: Apply a bond repair mask.

“If you want to add an extra boost of moisture and bond repair, alternate each wash with a bond repair mask,” Wintner suggests. “If hair is really damaged, add one to three pumps of a bond repair serum.”

Wintner recommends Alterna’s Restructuring Bond Repair Masque and Restructuring Bond Repair 3-1 Sealing Serum. “Add the serum into the masque or conditioner to offer a 99% reduction in breakage that will last up to 10 washes,” he says.

I’ve been going back and forth between Olaplex No. 8 Bond Intense Moisture Mask (a deeply hydrating 4-in-1 reparative mask that treats damaged hair) and Bella Spirit by Chaz Dean Restorative Re-Moist Hair Mask (fortifies and restores lackluster hair by way of a four-tea complex and herbal botanical waters and amino acids).

Step 3: Apply a leave-in treatment.

“Once out of the shower, use either a good heat protection spray for normal to fine hair, or a leave-in conditioner with heat protection for thicker to coarse hair types,” Wintner says.

I’ve been using DesignMe’s 18-in-1 (yes, you read that correctly) FAB.ME leave-in treatment, which detangles, controls porosity, conditions, enhances shine, smoothes split ends, protects color from fading, protects hair from heat and environmental damage, and much, much more. It’s pretty much all you need when maneuvering how to care for bleached hair.

Step 4: Apply a glossy finish.

“Once hair is dry, apply one pump to help seal the hair and offer a boost of shine,” Wintner says. He recommends Alterna’s Restructuring Bond Repair 3-in-1 Sealing Serum.

I’ve been using The Beauty Spy’s Moremo Hair Essence Delightful Oil (it contains the brand’s signature Nutrition Oil Complex made of olive oil, camellia oil, argan oil, almond oil, macadamia nut oil, and avocado oil—which help lock in moisture and decrease frizz).

Step 5: Apply a prewash treatment.

“If hair still feels like it needs repair, apply a leave-in serum to dry strands for at least eight hours while you sleep, or during the day with hair up in a ponytail or bun,” Wintner advises. “After the eight hours, wash, condition and style the hair using the same products listed above.”

Wintner recommends Alterna’s Restructuring Bond Repair Leave-In Overnight Serum, calling it “a great prewash treatment that helps condition and reduce breakage and split ends up to 99%.”

I’ve been using Fable & Mane HoliRoots Hair Oil—a scalp treatment (which extends down to the ends) with strengthening ashwagandha that’s massaged into dry hair and scalp before shampooing. While you can apply minutes before rinsing, it’s advised to wear it overnight for extra nourishment.

Step 6: Be gentle.

“To help reduce breakage while brushing the hair, only brush hair in the shower once a conditioner or masque is in the hair,” Wintner says. “And again once out of the shower after a leave-in styler has been applied to the hair. This will allow for a better glide with the brush and less of a chance of breaking the hair while detangling.”  

When it comes to bleached hair, there are so many variations! Click HERE to read about the shade’s skunk trend that’s taking over TikTok.

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