Does Bleach Damage Your Hair? 5 Top Tips To Prevent Damage.

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FACTS: If you want to lighten your natural hair color, you’ll need to lighten your hair with bleach.

But we’ve all heard the horror stories—bleach is bad for your hair, it causes breakage and split ends, and no matter what type of hair you have, it will leave you with a dry, brittle mane. Yikes!

But is this really true? Can bleach damage your hair, or can it be used safely to achieve unique and sassy looks that turn heads?

Let’s find out!

Is bleach bad for your hair?

TLDR; Yes, bleach can damage your hair.

If you use too much bleach on your hair, the results can be very damaging!

If not applied correctly for your hair type, bleach can cause dryness (sometimes extreme), breakage, split ends, discoloration, and even loss of pigment.

That being said, it doesn’t mean you CAN’T bleach your hair. There are certain precautions you can take to avoid frazzling your hair for good. 

What is hair bleach? 

Hair bleach is essentially a compound that removes color from hair, allowing the natural pigment to shine through in its full glory.

It’s typically made up of hydrogen peroxide and ammonium hydroxide, both of which work together to break down the bonds that hold natural color pigments in place.

The result is lighter, brighter bleached hair that’s a cool look in itself or the perfect blank canvas for a lighter hair color.

If you want to rock shades like platinum blonde, ash blonde, white hair, silver and most light colored pastels, you’ll need to bleach your hair.

How does bleach work?

To understand what bleach does to your hair, it’s important to understand the science behind it.

Bleach works by opening up the cuticle layer of your hair and lightening the color of its pigment cells in the cortex of each strand.

This process is known as oxidation, and while it may sound scary, some level of oxidation is necessary for any major hair coloring process.

In other words, yes—bleach does cause some level of damage to your hair, but so do most other coloring processes (like highlights).

The key difference is that when done correctly and with a professional-grade product, bleaching should not cause any more damage than other coloring processes.

does bleach damage your hair - what does bleach do infographic: Alkaline hydrogen peroxide causes the hair cuticles to lift and open.Bleach travels under the cuticle to the hair cortex where it oxidises the melanin and causes it to lose color.

Watch and learn: What Bleaching Does To Your Hair Up Close

Here’s a great video that shows you what a double process bleach does to the hair and shows you step-by-step how hair color is completely lifted and then a new color is reapplied!

The pros and cons of bleaching your hair

Bleaching has its pros and cons. On one hand, it produces beautiful results if done correctly.

You’ll have access to an array of vibrant colors that would otherwise be impossible to achieve naturally.

However, bleach also causes your hair strands to become more porous, which means they are more prone to damage from heat styling tools and other harsh chemicals found in most styling products. 

This can lead to split ends, dryness, flyaways and breakage over time if not taken care of properly.

Bleached hair also tends to fade quickly when exposed to direct sunlight or chlorine-filled swimming pools — so don’t forget about protective measures like using color-safe shampoos and conditioners! 

Why does bleach damage your hair?

When you bleach your hair, you are essentially lifting the pigment from the strand and replacing it with something else.

This process strips away any natural oils or proteins that keep your hair healthy and strong.

As a result, many people who have bleached their hair notice that their hair is dryer, more brittle and prone to breakage after the process. 

As well as stripping away natural oils and proteins, bleach can also cause an increase in porosity in the strands of your hair.

Hair porosity refers to how easily liquids are able to pass through the structure of each strand of hair.

In normal hair, this porosity usually falls somewhere between low and medium – but when you apply bleach to your strands, this porosity increases significantly because the internal structure has been damaged by the chemical reaction that takes place during bleaching.

Increased porosity means that moisture will evaporate out of each strand much more quickly than before.

So even if you use moisturizing products on a regular basis after bleaching, you may still find yourself dealing with extra dryness and breakage since the cuticles won’t be able to hold onto moisture or hair dye as well as they once did. 

Is bleaching your hair safe?

Yes, technically bleaching your hair is totally safe – provided you take the right precautions and care.

Bleaching your hair can be a great way to make a dramatic change, but it’s important to know what you’re doing to make sure it’s done safely.

Most stylists will take safety precautions such as testing for color strength before bleaching and moisturizing treatments to reduce breakage.

A great tip is to look for at-home lightening kits that are specifically designed for your hair type and include instructions on how to use them correctly.

If you only want to lift your hair 1 or 2 levels, or remove some unwanted hair dye or brassy tones, you can also try a bleach bath.

This is a technique that dilutes the bleach by adding shampoo so it’s kinder and more gentle on your hair.

With the right steps, bleaching your hair can get you the look you want without any of the potential risks!

How to protect your hair from bleach damage – 5 top tips.

The key to using bleach without damaging your hair is understanding its limitations and taking the right steps to protect it and minimize any damage.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind before bleaching your hair: 

#1 Start with a strand test

Before using any product on your hair, it’s always wise to do a strand test first.

This will help you assess whether or not the product will have any negative reactions or unexpected results.

Take a small section of hair from an inconspicuous area (like behind the ear) and apply the product according to the instructions provided; this will give you an idea of how your hair will react after undergoing the process. 

#2 Don’t overdo it 

The goal here is not to apply one large amount across the entire head of hair – that would be too much bleach and could cause serious damage!

Instead, use small amounts in thin layers and gradually build up until desired lightness is achieved. This way, you won’t have to worry about over-processing or damaging your tresses too severely. 

#3 Deep condition your hair like crazy

After each application of bleach, make sure you follow up with deep conditioning treatments that restore moisture back into the strands and prevent dryness and breakage from occurring.

Coconut oil or olive oil is great for this purpose since it penetrates deeply into the follicles and helps repair any damage caused by bleaching chemicals.

Just make sure not to use too much as it can weigh down fine hair and make it look greasy.

#4 Choose the right products

When shopping for products specifically designed for colour-treated hair, try looking for sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners and products made for bleached hair.

They’re formulated with gentle ingredients so they won’t strip away moisture or color from the strands yet still leave them feeling clean and refreshed.

You should also consider investing in heat protectant sprays so that heat styling tools don’t fry off all that hard-earned color!

Just remember that finding quality products doesn’t always mean spending more – there are plenty of affordable options out there that work just as well as their pricier counterparts! 

#5 Ask a professional for advice

If you feel uncomfortable with any aspect of bleaching your own hair at home, pay a visit to your local salon and speak to a professional colorist.

They will be able to provide additional tips for achieving desired looks without causing lasting damage. 

How to care for bleached hair.

To keep your bleached hair healthy and vibrant looking for as long as possible, it’ll need a little extra TLC.

Start by investing in quality shampoo and conditioner specifically designed for colored or bleached hair. These will help prevent fading while nourishing fragile strands with essential moisture balance they need.

Heat styling should also be kept at a minimum since excessive heat can cause serious damage; use protective sprays before AND after your heat style your hair or use anything like flat irons or straighteners.

And make sure you get regular trims every few months — this will help keep split ends at bay while keeping your locks looking their best!  

Parting words

So yeah, bleaching your hair has its risks — but with proper care and maintenance you can minimize the damage need to get the hair color you want.

Investing in quality products specifically designed for colored or bleached hair will ensure that your mane stays healthy while preserving the vibrancy of the dye job for as long as possible.

So go ahead – bleach away without fear! With these tips in mind you’ll be able to rock any shade you choose with confidence.

This article was written by:

  • Nicola Freeman, Creative Director & Content Lead
    Creative Director & Content Lead

    With over two decades of passionate hair dyeing experience, I've experimented with nearly every shade imaginable. My journey began long before blogging; as an award-winning copywriter in London and New York, I shaped narratives for iconic brands. However, when friends sought advice during lockdown for at-home hair dyeing, I realized my true calling. Beyond being your hair color expert, I'm a mom of two girls, wife to artist Tony, and an avid soccer player!