Here's What Actually Happens To Your Hair After Bleaching

Posted by in Hair

Hair loss after bleaching, why do we never talk about it?

They say go lighter in the summer and go darker in the winter and it’s all fun and games until summer rolls around and the struggle to find a good hairdresser to entrust with the unpredictable bleaching process begins.

Bleaching, whether with someone you trust or picking out of the thousands of Yelp reviews, is risky business. Especially at the start of summer when your hair is already due to burnout and dry out more. So we ask the real question: what actually goes on when we bleach our hair and why does it look amazingly voluminous but starts falling apart the next day?

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The structure of hair

You see, hair has a funny structure: while smooth and straight, it is also porous and layered.

“Think of bleached hair as being a little bit like a sponge - it’s very porous. But while it soaks up water quickly and easily, it loses it just as rapidly,” explains Natalie Carr, trichologist at the Philip Kingsley Clinic.

The fact that it is porous means that when we use alkaline agents (bleach, most commonly made from hydrogen peroxide + ammonia), it opens up the hair cuticles to penetrate the keratin beneath the structure and get rid of the melanin (colour protein).

How bleaching works

“Alkaline agents, which are lighteners, cause the hair to swell,” says Kiera Doyle, Matrix SoColour education manager. “This is due to the cuticles of hair rising while the bleach penetrates the strands.”

Opening up the cuticles like this and letting them swell is what make finer hair fuller at first. The problem begins when the cuticle refuses to close. Meaning that, without using products that encourage the cuticle to close, the hair will lose moisture very quickly and dry out, leading to frizzy and brittle hair prone to breakage.

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Bleach London, Reincarnation Mask, £6.00

This is an inevitable process but the way to prevent some inevitable damage is to disclose everything your hair has been through in the past 5 years and use Olaplex, or any other form of colour protection when possible, and always finish with a hair mask!

What the hairdressers say

“If a girl was bleached to platinum and then went brown, she has four inches of platinum on her ends with brown over it,” explains Aura Friedman, hair stylist. “It’s going to lift up quickly, but it’s more likely to break off, because that hair has already been bleached and is weak, I would immediately tell that client that I won’t do the job -- the reason being that I don’t know what colour it’s been bleached to and don’t want to risk it!”

Additionally, top hair stylists recommend taking greater care with the products you use on your hair and how often you use them.

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Rene Furterer, Okara Light Activating Shampoo For Highlighted & Bleached Hair, £21.00

However, finding the right products for your hair type after bleaching can be tough so try taking our quiz to get a personalised match!