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Bleach Damaged Hair: How To Reset Your Routine After A Bad Dye Job

photo of bleach damaged hair

Bad hair color happens to everyone at least once in their life. Whether you attempted pastel pink ombre at home or just ended up with a blonde hair color entirely different than the one you envisioned, we have serious empathy for the hot mess that is now your hair.

Luckily, the journey doesn’t have to end with bleach damaged hair. We tapped Hannah Nishimoto, Shu Uemura artist and brand ambassador, who explained the best ways to avoid damage in the first place and what to do if your hair is feeling the effects of bleach.

Ready to find out more about what causes bleach damage and how to fix it? Read on.

Good hair day by @johnnyramirez.

What is bleach damaged hair?

Think of hair like a very delicate fabric. Once you damage it, it’s largely that way until you cut it off or new hair grows in. Coloring your hair and chemically altering it are fun and exciting things to do, but those chemicals can leave your hair feeling weak, dry, or straw-like when used improperly. This is why it’s so crucial to let a professional handle any major hair transformations: Their years of training enable them to achieve your dream color while causing the least damage possible.

If you’re interested in a light blonde, fantasy hair color trend, or pastel shade, understand that your stylist will have to pre-lighten your hair first if you have naturally dark strands. Over the course of several salon appointments, he or she lifts your natural color to create a blank canvas for your dazzling new shade.

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How can you tell if you have bleach damaged hair?

Nishimoto is very clear on this one: From the split ends to the hair breakage, you’ll know pretty much immediately if you have bleached damaged hair.

“You can tell when your hair is damaged from bleach when it becomes extremely porous. When air dried, the texture becomes incredibly crisp. We don't want that! The hair starts to feel coarse and looks dull and lifeless. If hair is over-bleached, the cuticle will not lay flat again.”

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Can bleach damaged hair be repaired?

Unfortunately, once your strands are damaged, the only way to truly repair them is to start fresh—and by that, we mean you need to get a haircut. While damage can’t technically be repaired, the look and feel of damaged strands is absolutely reversible. With the help of a professional, you can get your hair back on track and looking beautiful.

Good hair day by @harry_andreou_hair.

What is the best product for damaged bleached hair?

If you’re dealing with bleach damaged hair, TLC is a must—which means you’ll need to amp up your hair care routine. Nishimoto recommends using salon quality products that specifically target dry and damaged strands.

“What you do at home plays a huge part in hair care and hair restoration...Shu Uemura Art Of Hair's Ultimate Reset Shampoo and Conditioner system is a game changer,” Nishimoto says. “With its Japanese-sourced rice extract, it performs deep repair from roots to tips, repairing damaged hair to bring it back to its healthiest state.”

We also recommend adding a weekly hair mask like Shu Uemura Art Of Hair Ultimate Reset Restorative Hair Mask to your routine. This intensive hair treatment fortifies the hair fiber from the roots to the tips, promoting stronger, softer tresses.

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What helps dry, frizzy, damaged hair?

Dry, frayed ends aren’t the only thing you should look for with bleach damaged hair. If you have super dry and damaged strands, you’ll also notice more frizz than usual. If you’re trying to tame frizz and keep your strands nourished, opt for a hair oil like Redken All Soft Argan-6 Multi-Care Hair Oil. This formula for dry and brittle hair is enriched with omega-6 to provide deep conditioning, lasting softness and shine for hair.

As nice as a hot shower feels after a long day, the water temperature you’re using can actually cause even more frizz. Scorching hot water can also strip more moisture from your strands, and that’s the last thing you want! When you’re rinsing your hair, be sure to keep the water at a lukewarm temperature. Or, for best results, end your shower with a cold rinse. This helps seal the hair cuticles and make them appear smoother and shinier.

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How can you avoid bleach damage in the future?

It may seem counterintuitive, but Nishimoto says regular haircuts are a key part of maintaining healthy hair. A trim before a hair color service can rid your mane of any split ends, weakened strands, and previously over-processed sections.

“I always tell my guests to first make sure they are cutting their hair frequently. When you cut your hair frequently you are more likely to prevent overlapping of damage from previously processed ends,” the artist explains.

When it’s eventually time for you to head back to the salon for a color touch-up, Nishimoto recommends vetting your stylist via social media and review sites. A trained artist knows that overlapping sections of chemical lightener can result in the very damage you’re trying to avoid in the first place.

“The biggest, most unfortunate mistake I see with my guests when they sit in my chair, is a previous colorist overlapping damaged lightened hair. It's crucial to be mindful of how much regrowth they have and how to stay away from applying bleach to hair that has undergone a bleach application already.”

Keep Nishimoto’s tips in mind the next time you’re debating a color service. Believe us: Your hair will thank you!

Interested in customized in-salon treatments for damaged hair? Use our salon locator to book an appointment with a stylist near you.

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