What’s more fun than a cascading rainbow of hair color? For me, that answer is: not much! I absolutely adore fashion hair colors, from rose gold metallics to magical mermaid blues. Unless you’re a natural blonde, however, these colors take some serious processing to achieve—and it isn’t a one shot deal. Keeping vibrantly colored hair requires getting your roots processed regularly, in addition to the dye upkeep on the rest of your mane.
As someone with naturally black hair whose locks are processed to a light blonde for coloring, I’ve had to learn a lot about damage repair. Over-processed hair, which is hair that has been bleached too frequently, takes all the fun out of those vibrant colors. So, how can you figure out if your hair has been processed too much and, if it is, how can you fix it? Read on to find out.
How do you know if your hair is over-processed?
The two easiest ways to know if your hair has been over-processed are by the look and feel of it. What does over processed hair look like? The most common signs include dullness, fragile ends, and breakage.
Even if your hair still looks shiny and without breakage, you may notice it doesn’t feel like it did before bleaching. Over-processed hair may feel coarse, rough, gnarled, or matted.
In addition to look and feel, you can sense damage when you style your hair. Specifically, you may be taken aback by its behavior. Hair that’s easily curled with a diffuser may be straight, previously soft hair may get stuck on flat irons instead of gliding smoothly, and your hair might absorb significantly more product than it did before.
Can you fix over-processed hair?
It isn’t possible to return it exactly to its previous state. That said, thankfully you can mitigate the great majority of damage your hair undergoes through processing, and you can get it looking and feeling as good as it did before. People are generally shocked that my hair undergoes so many levels of lightening, with the amount of shine, bounce, and curl that it has.
How long does it take for over-processed hair to get back to normal?
If you’re on a quest to fix your over-processed hair, little is more important than patience. It’s sort of like how it takes just a moment to break a glass on the floor, but a good while longer to clean up all the tiny shards and pieces. The good news is that once you get it to a place where it looks and feels healthy again, it’s pretty simple to keep it there. Plan on sticking to a routine with steps for care every few days for about a month before your hair resembles its previously healthy state.
My Routine For Over Processed Hair
The following regimen guided my hair along the journey from drab to fab, and it’s what I stick with.
When it comes to washing over-processed hair, Pureology Strength Cure Shampoo works wonders on color-treated strands. I’ve been using it for over a decade, and though I’ve tried other products, none set the tone as well for bringing my hair back to life. I suggest it for every wash until your hair is healthier, then for at least half your washes indefinitely. For conditioning, Pureology Strength Cure Conditioner is the natural follow up. It does everything from repair split ends to prevent breakage.
Every second or third wash, swap the Strength Cure Conditioner for a deep conditioning treatment like Pureology Strength Cure Superfood Treatment Mask. This formula will help repair and strengthen damaged, color-treated hair. Once your hair feels healthier, back off the deep conditioning to every two weeks, then monthly.
The most important leave-in product for damaged hair for anyone who heat styles is a heat protectant. I prefer Pureology’s Color Fanatic Multi-Tasking Leave-In Spray because in addition to preventing heat damage, it adds shine and helps detangle. If you have curlier hair, Mizani Thermastrength Strength Serum is a great option.
Saving the best for last, protein treatments are what I credit more than anything else for my hair’s overall wellness. If you have naturally curly or wavy hair, this is the best way to reverse the straightening that occurs with processing. For any and all textures, it deposits back the protein your hair lost in processing more than any other type of product can.. I recommend using a protein-infused mask during the week before and after every salon visit.
There may be no “fixing” over-processed bleached hair, but it’s easier than you might have thought to return your hair to looking and feeling as healthy as it did before processing. Cheers to your color adventures!
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