Is your worry for hair damage stopping you from colouring your hair? Bleaching need not be a damaging process if done right. While going a shade lighter does take a toll on your strands, taking proper precautions can help you minimize hair damage.
Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix says, “Ayurvedic hair care techniques like Abhyanga, Pralepa, Pichu etc. can be a cushion to help you fall back on as you let chemical trends treat your tresses.”
Scroll down to know all about the bleaching process, pros and cons and how to bleach your hair safely.
- What Is Hair Bleaching?
- Is It Safe To Bleach Your Hair?
- How To Prepare Your Hair Before Bleaching?
- What Are The Different Ways Of Bleaching Hair?
- How To Bleach Your Hair At Home - A Step By Step Guide
- How Often Can You Bleach Your Hair?
- What To Do Right After Bleaching Hair?
- How Long Should You Wait To Wash Hair After A Bleach?
- Pros & Cons Of Bleaching Your Hair
What Is Hair Bleaching?
Bleaching involves the use of a chemical hair dye to lighten your natural hair colour. A hair bleach includes an alkaline agent that opens up the upper cuticle layer of your hair strand. This allows the key ingredient, hydrogen peroxide, an oxidative agent, to enter the cortex of your hair and break down the melanin .
Since the melanin lends your hair its natural colour, once dissolved, your hair turns a reddish or yellowish tone. You can leave the bleach as long as it takes to achieve the shade you desire. Bleaching would be a mandate, if you decide to colour your hair a lighter tone.
During the 1960s, hair colouring had become such a popular trend that the US government stopped asking people their hair colour on their passports as it only made the process more confusing.
Is It Safe To Bleach Your Hair?
Bleaching is a chemical procedure, and it does have an impact on the health of your hair. The process of bleaching raises your hair’s outer cuticle layer to allow the oxidative agent to penetrate the hair strand. A raised cuticle can make your hair appear frizzy and damaged.
If bleaching is done frequently, your hair can become porous and lose its elasticity. A raised cuticle also allows excessive loss of moisture from the hair strand, making your hair prone to external damage.
It is important to follow the safety instructions mentioned on the package. Pay special attention to the time duration, as leaving the hair bleach longer than required can cause unwanted damage to your tresses. Prepare your hair before bleaching it and follow a good hair care routine to restore health and shine to your coloured locks.
Vedix Tip: Chemical procedures such as bleaching may aggravate the Vata Dosha on your scalp causing dryness, split ends, dandruff and hair fall. Fight these hair problems with Ayurvedic hair masks made from Japa, Amlaki, Methika, Neem and Hibiscus. These herbs calm the Vata Dosha and prevent Vata related hair conditions.
How To Prepare Your Hair Before Bleaching?
Prepping your hair before you bleach is important, as it limits the damage inflicted on your precious strands. Hair that has previously gone through chemical procedures may require some extra care. Also, if you have naturally wavy or curly hair or your hair texture is thin, it would be good to consult a hair professional before you bleach.
1. Restore Your Hair’s Health
Your hair goes through a lot when you bleach. To minimize damage to your strands, ensure your hair is strong and healthy. Prep your hair for a month or more if needed. Bleach-damaged hair will only worsen and can lead to split ends, breakage and hair fall.
Consult your Ayurvedic doctor to determine your hair type and plan a hair care routine that strengthens your hair from its roots. Dry hair is often more affected by bleach as the process causes loss of essentials oils from your hair strands. Ayurvedic herbs such as Brahmi, Amla, Bhringraj, Triphala, prevent hair breakage and promote new hair growth.
Hibiscus, aloe vera and honey, keep your hair moisturized and limit the escape of moisture during bleaching. Applying these herbs for at least a month before you bleach can help your hair strands endure the effects of bleach better.
2. Stay Away From Styling Tools
Limit the use of heat tools for a good 2 weeks before you decide to bleach. Heat tools strip your hair of essential oils and moisture and make them susceptible to damage. Using styling tools while you prep your hair for bleaching will merely counter the nourishing effects of your hair care routine.
3. Condition Frequently
Opt for deep conditioners to restore moisture in your hair. Your hair needs to be well hydrated before you bleach, to prevent it from becoming too dry. Start deep conditioning your hair about 2 to 3 weeks before your bleaching day. Homemade hydrating hair masks made from avocados, honey, banana, coconut oil/milk, hibiscus, aloe vera, or papaya are also a great option.
4. Oil Your Hair
Oil forms a protective layer over your hair cuticle and prevents moisture loss. This helps your hair to stay hydrated and nourished limiting hair damage during the bleaching process. The use of coconut oil, sesame oil and almond oil to battle Dosha induced dryness and hair damage is mentioned in Ayurvedic literature.
You can add herbs like Amla, Hibiscus, curry leaves, Triphala, Bhringraj and Brahmi to further enhance the goodness of these nourishing oils. Apply the oil all over your scalp and the length of your hair the night before you bleach and don’t wash it off. The oil will give protection to your hair without hampering the bleaching procedure.
5. Do A Patch Test
Not all skins tolerate chemical procedures. Hence, doing a patch test  is mandatory. Apply a small amount of bleach at the back of your ear to check if your skin is sensitive to it. Wait for 2 days and immediately consult a doctor in case of rashes or burns. Opt for a mild bleach if you have sensitive skin or choose a natural bleaching agent.
What Are The Different Ways Of Bleaching Hair?
When you decide to go blonde from brunette, bleaching is your only option. But if you are looking to add some colour to your hair, there are less harsh techniques that don’t require a complete bleach.
A. Professional Bleaching Techniques
1. All Over Bleach
In this procedure, bleach is applied all over your hair strands to strip your natural hair colour and make it 6 to 7 tones lighter. This is the only technique if you want to re-colour your hair a lighter shade or simply lighten your natural hair colour. All over bleach uses ammonia or a similar alkaline agent that makes your hair porous, allowing the oxidative agent to penetrate your hair shaft.
The oxidative agent, usually hydrogen peroxide, dissolves the pigment melanin and lightens your natural colour. All over bleach is quite damaging for your hair, so apply it only on healthy, strong hair that can tolerate the effects of the bleach.
The Balayage technique is considered much less damaging than a complete bleach. It creates a beautiful light and shade effect on your hair that looks way more natural than a full bleach. Instead of using foils and heat, in Balayage the bleach is hand painted on your strands, causing comparatively less damage to your strands.
Highlights are another way to create a dramatic look without doing a complete bleach. Hair damage depends on the intensity of the bleach or how light you wish to go. A mild tone change is less likely to cause intensive damage to your tresses.
4. Super-Lightening Colour Dye
Super-lightening dyes or high lift dyes are a new and preferred alternative to bleaching. They use a strong lifting agent to lighten your hair colour and replace it with your preferred shade. Considered less harsh than traditional bleaches, these hair colours get the job done in just one step.
B. Natural Bleaching Techniques
If bleaching seems too harsh, opt for these natural techniques to dye your hair a lighter shade. The below mentioned ingredients are relatively safe on hair and are not known to cause any serious hair damage.
1. Lemon Juice
Lemon juice has citric acid, which makes it a natural bleaching agent.
To bleach hair, add lemon juice to your hair conditioner or hair oil and apply through the length of your hair. Wash off after an hour. You may need to apply it a couple of times to achieve desired results.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar’s acidic properties help to lighten your hair without causing hair damage. Bleaching with apple cider vinegar is quite safe as it does not alter the hair’s natural pH balance.
Mix apple cider vinegar with equal amounts of water and apply all over your hair. Leave for 15 to 20 mins to get naturally bleached hair. Repeat the process if needed.
3. Baking Soda
Baking soda is very effective when it comes to bleaching hair naturally at home. Its abrasive properties help strip your hair of its natural colour. However, this is still quite mild when compared to hair bleaches.
Mix baking soda with water to form a thick paste and apply all over your hair. Leave for 20 minutes and wash off. Make sure to condition your hair to avoid dryness.
4. Cinnamon and Honey
This herbal concoction can help you achieve lighter hair tones and nourish your hair at the same time. Honey is a natural lightening agent with emollient properties that prevent loss of moisture from the hair shaft. Cinnamon further enhances the bleaching process and gives you more natural looking lighter tones.
Apply cinnamon powder and honey and leave it on for 30 minutes before you wash off. You will need to repeat the process a few times to get your desired tone.
5. Vitamin C Tablets
Using Vitamin C tablets to bleach hair is considered quite effective, especially if you are trying to tone down previously coloured hair. Vitamin C is a non-abrasive oxidizing agent that naturally lightens hair without causing damage.
Mix about 10 to 12 Vitamin C tablets in water to form a thick paste and massage all over your hair. Leave it on for about 20 minutes and rinse off for naturally bleached hair.
How To Bleach Your Hair At Home - A Step By Step Guide
Bleaching is a chemical process that can severely damage your hair if not done the right way. Following a few easy steps will help you bleach your hair safely, and give you the desired tone.
What Will You Need
- A bleaching kit that includes:
1. Bleach powder
2. Developer (Vol. 20, 30 or 40)
- A tinting brush to apply the bleach
- A plastic wrap or a shower cap
- An old T-shirt
- Hair clips
The entire process may take up to 1 hour or more, depending on the length and volume of your hair.
Step 1: Prepare Your Hair
Before you bleach, read the instructions carefully for a safe bleaching process. Wear an old t-shirt and gloves before you start the process. Keep some towels handy to avoid stains. To get the best results, make sure you don’t wash your hair 2-3 days before bleaching.
Step 2: Mix The Bleach Powder And Developer
Mix your bleach powder and developer as per the instructions in the manual. Make sure there are no lumps. Use a 20 Vol or 30 Vol developer if you have dark-coloured hair and wish to strip down to a light blonde shade.
Step 3: Section Your Hair
Part your hair into small sections using hair clips. This will help to keep the crown section secure and let you work freely with the back of your hair. This will also ensure that you apply the bleach evenly.
Step 4: Apply The Bleach
Start with the tips of your hair sections and gradually move to the mid-lengths and then the other sections. Use the dyeing brush and apply as close to the roots as possible to ensure even application. Avoid applying bleach on your scalp as that may irritate your skin.
Step 5: Cover Your Hair
Make sure to cover your head with a shower cap or plastic wrap and let the bleach sit till the required time mentioned on your kit. Make sure that you leave the bleach on for around 20 minutes before applying it to the roots.
Step 6: Wash Your Hair
Wash off using the shampoo and conditioner included in the kit. Rinse your hair thoroughly to clean away any product residue. A cool shower is recommended to seal your cuticle.
Step 7: Dry Your Hair
You can either let your hair air dry or use a towel to pat dry your hair. However, avoid blow dryers, which may leave your hair feeling dry.
You may need to apply the bleach a couple of times if your hair is very dark. It is advised to wait a week or two before reapplying bleach to prevent hair damage.
How Often Can You Bleach Your Hair?
Bleaching is a harsh process and must not be done too frequently. Give your hair a minimum time of a month or two before fixing your next bleaching appointment. Frequent application of bleach can make you hair porous, dry, full of split ends and prone to breakage. Four to six weeks is the minimum recovery period that your hair needs after any chemical procedure.
What To Do Right After Bleaching Hair?
Once you rinse off the bleach, deep condition your hair with a hair conditioner that has a low pH content. This will help lock in the colour and also seal your cuticle layer preventing moisture loss. Follow the below-mentioned precautions that will help the effects of the bleach to last longer.
Dos And Don’ts After Bleaching
1. Switch To A Natural Hair Care Routine
Bleaching leaves your hair more prone to damage from external factors. Switch to a natural hair care routine that includes nourishing Ayurvedic herbs that will help to restore health to your hair. Wash your hair with Reetha and Shikakai and condition with Hibiscus or aloe vera. Top it up with a soothing hair massage with coconut or sesame oil and add Amla, Bhringraj and Brahmi to it for best results.
2. Deep Conditioning
Hair that is bleached lacks essential moisture, which makes it susceptible to breakage. Applying a chemical-free deep conditioning mask will help restore the moisture and strengthen the hair shaft. You can also make one at home by blending avocado, banana, honey and aloe vera for optimum hydration.
3. Use A Swim Cap
Wear a swim cap before you take a plunge. Chlorine in swimming pools can wear off your bleach quickly and even dry out your hair. You can also apply coconut oil before going into the pool. The oil protects your hair and prevents moisture loss with exposure to chlorine.
4. Ayurvedic Head Massage
A good Ayurvedic head massage or Shiro Abhyanga with herbal hair oils can bring back your hair’s lost health and bounce in no time. Shiro Abhyanga enhances blood circulation to your scalp and promotes hair growth.
Your hair follicles receive more oxygen and nutrients with the increase of blood supply to the hair roots. The sebaceous glands that hydrate and nourish your hair are stimulated, preventing hair breakage due to moisture loss.
1. Don’t Use Harsh Shampoos And Conditioners
Hair becomes vulnerable after the bleaching process. Hence, it is better to avoid commonly available shampoos and conditioners that are laden with harsh chemicals such as sulfates, parabens, thickeners, mineral oils, artificial fragrances and colours.
These can wreck severe damage to your already damage-prone hair. Opt for shampoos and conditioners that are specially designed for colour treated hair or simply switch to natural products.
2. Don’t Use Styling Tools And Chemical Products
Styling or heat tools must be avoided for at least two to three weeks after you have bleached your hair. They strip your hair of moisture and risk frying hair that is already dry in texture.
3. Don’t Step Out In The Sun Without A Cover
If you want your bleach to last longer, protect your hair from the harsh rays of the sun. Bleached hair is prone to thermal damage . Upgrade your style with a trendy hat or a hair wrap to prevent hair damage from the sun.
How Long Should You Wait To Wash Hair After A Bleach?
Once you have rinsed the bleach off your hair, avoid washing your hair for two to three days to allow the bleach to settle in. Frequent hair washes will tone down the effect of your bleach and make your efforts go in vain. Wash your hair only with colour protectant shampoos to enhance your bleach’s longevity.
Pros & Cons Of Bleaching Your Hair
Every chemical procedure has its highs and lows. Read the advantages and disadvantages of bleaching your hair carefully before you decide on it.
1. Bleaching is the easiest procedure to lift your hair colour if you want to go for a lighter shade.
2. If you have thin hair, a bleach makes your hair appear more voluminous.
3. Dramatic looks with bold colours can be easily achieved through the process of bleaching.
1. Hair damage is unavoidable with bleaching. The alkaline agent raises your cuticle layer allowing moisture loss which leaves your hair dry and dull. Bleaches are harsh chemical agents that weaken your hair shaft and can cause it to break easily. Leaving the bleach for a longer time can fry your hair shaft and even cause skin irritation.
2. A bleach lasts for about 6 weeks, after which you need to redo the process to maintain your hair colour. Frequent retouching  can cause severe and irreversible damage to your strands.
The Last Word
Bleaching your hair to upgrade your style definitely feels good. But like many other chemical procedures, it can result in hair damage. Boost your hair with the goodness of natural Ayurvedic herbs and oils to minimize damage to your tresses before you bleach. After the bleach, continue the Ayurvedic hair care routine as per your Prakriti or body constitution to restore health to your colour treated hair.Know Your Dosha Now
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