Today we’re talking all about how to care for blonde hair.
How do you keep it healthy in the process of going blonder and styling it?
You can Google how to take care of blonde hair and get the same 10 tips in 10 different articles.
No, like let’s talk about it.
I want to talk about what actually happens to your hair when you lighten it, and how you can correct all of those individual things, and give you all my tips and tricks along the way.
And I hope this is super helpful.
That being said, let’s talk some blonde hair care.
First, let’s talk about what happens when you lighten your hair.
I think it’s nice to talk through the process, because we hardly ever think about it, but also, it does cause specific areas of concern.
Table of Contents
How to Care For Blonde Hair
Let’s zoom in on one little hair strand, and talk about what happens when you bleach it.
First your hair has an outer armor that’s called the cuticle. It’s lots of little shingles that lay over each other.
And for a chemical to do anything to your hair color, it actually has to get through the cuticle and into your cortex, which is where things like your hair’s protein and fat, and color are held.
So in order to do that, the very first thing that happens is that the cuticle layer is raised. So instead of being flat shingles, they open up, and then little bleach can come through to do its work.
Once the bleach is inside the hair, it’s going to start working on the melanin in your hair.
And everybody’s hair is made up of two different kinds of melanin. You have Pheomelanin, which is in charge of dark brown and black, and eumelanin which is in charge of red and yellow.
And everybody has some mixture of the two.
Bleach is gonna work first on pheomelanin, so if you have much darker hair, it has to get through that before it can get to anything else.
Next it starts to work on eumelanin, which are the orange and red colors.
Once you’ve reached your desired level, then the bleach is typically washed out.
It’s one of the reasons why it’s good to have a professional doing this, because they can keep an eye on when it needs to come off for the sake of your hair, and the color you’re going for.
And then another product should be applied over top, whether it’s a deep conditioner, or a gloss, or a toner, it helps to seal the cuticle back down to enhance the health of the hair as much as possible.
But another thing that also happens while the bleach is in your hair is that it does typically break down some of the fats in your hair, and it does also break down some of the proteins.
I wanted to bring up the mix of eumelanin and pheomelanin because I wanted to kind of hit on the different lightening stages your hair goes through.
Depending on your goals, your hair might be going on a very short journey, or a very long journey.
And I think it’s important to acknowledge what that is so that you have a better idea of how much you need to adjust your routine to then take care of it.
If you are someone that has five or six level in hair color, moving to a nine or 10 is not a huge difference to go from your natural color to a really light color.
But if you was starting with dark, dark brown or even black hair and trying to go to 9-10 level of blonde, there’s a whole lot more that has to happen.
And when you’re making those extra jumps in levels, you’re getting more and more of those side effects of lipid loss, cuticle erosion, and the loss of keratin.
And if you’re reading watching this before you’re getting your hair colored, it’s not a bad idea to think about where are your goals in all of this? And how much are you willing to change your routine to really care for your hair to accommodate those goals?
Because if you’re a level one and you want to be a level 10, it’s gonna take some changes.
And you should probably expect that your hair is not gonna be super long and elastic, and shiny naturally. And if you’re gonna get any of that shine and healthy look, it’s gonna come from some work.
But also, if you’re a sandy brown, blonde’s pretty easy for you.
And of course, light blonde is not the only option. If you have dark brown hair and you just want to go a few shades lighter, that’s also an option and you would also experience less damage from that if you were to do that.
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Wearing Bleached Hair
Let’s also talk about what happens to your hair as you wear it after bleaching it because that’s a thing too.
So, after your cuticle has been lifted and put back down, it looks a little worn. It’s not its happiest. And because it’s then a little bit more worn and a little bit more textured, it can grab onto things like product or pollution in the air, or dirt, any number of things, and then become a lot more dingy.
So if you’ve noticed that you get your hair colored blonde and then it starts looking a little darker over time, that could be why.
Additionally we have all the fun stuff that’s in our water contributing to hair color as well. It could help to make it brassy or even orange. It can cause more buildup and decrease shine. So, there’s like a detoxing process that has to happen in order to keep your hair pretty, pretty blonde.
Because your cuticle has been roughed up and then you have porous hair, that means that you’re also gonna be dealing with a little bit more frizz and tangling.
Finally because of lipid and protein loss your hair will most likely break a little bit more easily, and so we want to take that into account as well.
So those are all the side effects that can happen from lightening or bleaching your hair.
Anytime you do a chemical process on your hair, it does mean you’re going to adjust your hair care routine.
Because you have these new side effects that you’re dealing with. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some positive side effects is that your hair is gonna hold a style better. You have more dimension. Probably a hair color that you like a little bit more than your natural color.
Lots of good things, but we also adjust our routines to make sure that it looks healthy and is healthy in the process.
How to Take Care
The first thing that you want to add into your routine is a way to get protein back into your hair. Like I said, this whole process is gonna break down the keratin in your hair, and you want to give it back.
This is not something that you have to do every single day, every single time you interact with your hair. Too much protein can actually make your hair brittle.
But I do like to have a treatment that I do once every two weeks, once every week, depending on how fragile the hair is, to help replenish any protein that was lost.
Additionally, because your cuticle layer may be very open at this point, that also means that things like proteins and lipids can just seep back out of the hair. So we’re kind of like pushing it all back in as it’s trying to get out.
One product that I love for this is the Olaplex No.3 treatment. I’ve had really great luck with that. it’s one that I feel really comfortable recommending.
So, you’re adding protein back into your hair. Next thing you need to add back into your hair are the oils that you lost because those are gonna contribute to shine, and elasticity. Just general healthy looking hair has a lot of oils in it.
This is one where it’s definitely gonna depend on your hair type. If it’s a little bit more fine and maybe it was naturally more straight and shiny before you lightened your hair, you will still really benefit from oils but you don’t have to go a whole lot into it to really receive those benefits.
If your hair is a little thicker, a little curlier, it can really absorb a lot of oils, and it will love it.
My actual favorite thing for replacing lipids in your hair is coconut oil.
You buy it from the grocery store, bring it home, pop it in your hair. Sleep with it overnight, wash it out in the morning. I would recommend a double shampoo. You’ve got that oil coating on the outside so it’s gonna keep your hair all nice and hydrated, and beautiful. You just gotta get the residue off so that it’s not weighing your hair down.
And the reason that I like coconut oil is that it actually penetrates through the cuticle and into the cortex, which means it gets to stay in there and do good things.
But you’ve gotta also utilize other hair oils that are maybe leave-in treatments or things like that that you can just put on your hair whenever you wash it, maybe even daily on dry hair.
There’s a ton of options out there. All I would say about that is turn the bottle over and make sure that there aren’t silicones listed. We’re gonna talk about that in a second, but if we’re really talking about adding lipids back into the hair, I would really love for you to have a step in your routine that does that without the silicone step.
Another great way to add lipids back into your hair is just with a deep conditioning mask. You want one that’s meant for moisturizing, because that’s what it’s doing. It’s putting moisture back in.
A big favorite of mine is the Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair!
Those are two big things that you can do to fix protein loss and lipid loss.
I think another good adjustment to make is to make sure that your hair routine is focused around moisturizing. So for me, that means that I focus on having a moisturizing conditioner that I use in my shower every single time I wash my hair.
And I use a leave-in conditioner every single time I wash my hair. Because that way we’re putting more and more moisture on.
Now, my deep conditioning treatments like coconut oil or Don’t Despair, Repair, that’s once every 10 days to two weeks for me, just depending on how my hair is feeling. I typically just assess how my hair is doing on a day-to-day basis and make adjustments accordingly.
And then as far as shampoo goes, that one’s gonna depend on you. I would never go for full on volumizing super cleansing shampoo for every single wash. But I do go a little bit less moisturizing for the shampoo just because I really have to get my scalp clean. And that’s why I like to focus on micellar water shampoos, because they get rid of a lot of gunk and they clean well without being overly stripping.
A leave-in conditioner that I really love is the Living Proof Restore leave-in treatment. That one has done amazing things to my hair over the years. My hair was in such good shape.
One of the things I love about Living Proof products is that they do a lot of research and development. The price tag is higher for them but you’re paying for all the work that went into it. They didn’t just copy and paste the same formula with a few drops of an oil and sell it to you for a whole lot of money. They go through, they do the research, they create their own molecules, and then they give you a product that actually works really well.
Keeping Color Look Nice
Next let’s talk about keeping your color looking nice. Because there’s two things that can happen with blonde color.
It can get dingy and it can get brassy. And neither one of those are ideal.
So brassy is the easy one to address. It’s when your hair gets yellow or orange. You don’t want that. That can happen for a few reasons. But I think one of the first things you can always do is use a purple product. Cancels out the yellow, helps to make your hair look brighter, like you just got it colored.
One of the things that I really love are these IGK drops.
They’re just like purple pigment drops that you can put in any product, and it becomes a toning product. You don’t have to have a purple shampoo. You can have your shampoo that you put a couple drops in and now it’s a purple shampoo. Or your conditioner that you put a couple drops in and now it’s a purple conditioner. It makes it easier because then you can decide when and how you want to use it.
But then a couple other things that we don’t talk about a lot that can really help enhance the look of your blonde is first of all, filtering your shower head. It is key.
Because a lot of the reasons that blonde starts to look bad is because of the water that’s going on it. So if you filter the water, blonde looks better.
Filters don’t have to be expensive. You can buy a shower head that has a filter in it, or you can add on a filter. I very much recommend it. It can also help just the general health of your hair, depending on how gunky the water is in your area.
Another thing that I really recommend is detoxing your hair.
By that I mean you’re gonna use something every two weeks max that really helps to pull all the extra gunk off of your hair. I use a clarifying shampoo that I super love. It’s by Malibu C, and it’s good.
Because it gets my hair really, really clean, but it doesn’t leave it feeling like a broom. Because I’ve definitely used clarifying shampoos in the past that make it feel just so stripped. And for all the reasons we’ve already talked about, you don’t want that.
Again, every two weeks max, but it does pull off those extra tones. Especially what I’ve noticed is it really helps with those weird orange tones that purple shampoos are not gonna fix for you. It really helps to get everything looking nice and feeling nice.
Because the other thing is that if you have lots and lots of buildup, all those great things that you’re putting on your hair can’t fully get into your hair. You want to make sure that you’re cleaning all the little nooks and crannies, and getting it all clean, so that then all your moisturizing products can work, and your blonde can live its best life.
And then finally, frizz and tangles.
You always want to start treating frizz and tangles by making your hair healthier from the inside out.
There are a whole lot of products on the market that are meant to help enhance shine and make your hair looks as healthy as possible. And one way that they do that is by adding just a shiny coating on the outside.
And an ingredient that is typical in that is silicone. Specifically dimethiconol, but there are a lot of other. The function of one of these products is to smooth over the outside. It fills in the little ridges of the cuticles so that everything is smoother. That creates a really shiny beautiful appearance and it means that you won’t have as much frizz or as many tangles.
The thing is that it does seal the hair. So, on the good side, it can seal in all those things that you just put in. So if you’ve moisturizing, shampooed, conditioned, maybe you did a deep mask, maybe you did a leave-in treatment, seal it in!
Keep all the bad stuff out, that’s the goal.
The opposite side of that is that if it stays on there, nothing else is getting in. And that’s why some people have problems with silicones.
First, use it at the end of your routine. If there is like a shine enhancing oil that you like to use, or a shine enhancing serum that has silicone in it, be my guest, just use it at the end of your routine so that you can seal in all the good stuff that you did, and not before you put the good stuff on top of it.
Second, be aware of how many of your products have silicone right up there at the top. Because if it’s all of them, maybe not the best. But if it’s just a couple, then your shampoo should be able to take care of that.
It’s like mascara, how mascara coats your lashes and makes them look great. But then you take it off at the end of the day. Basically the same thing. You want to take it off with your shampoo. And then you can put it on later
and enhance the look of things.
So that’s why something like a clarifying shampoo can be a really good option, or a detoxing treatment. Because that way if there is anything left behind at the end of those two weeks, you get rid of it and you’re good to go.
But I also really like it, because you know what? It gives your hair a ton of shine.I have some silicone products on my hair and it looks lustrous.
So if you know that it’s gonna give you a nice pretty coating, and it will help seal things in, and then you make sure to wash it out, you’re good to go. It will really help you with your blonde routine.
We’ve covered a lot. If you want just one more round of extra credit to help take care of your hair, I’m gonna say, be gentle with it.
Things like having a satin pillowcase. Switch over to a detangling brush that’s meant to be gentle on your hair, like The Wet Brush, or a Tangle Teezer, of the detangling brush from Kristin Ess. All will help because then it’s not tugging on your hair so much.
Your hair breaks more easily now, so we want to be more gentle with it.
On that same vein, put in a leave-in conditioner or a detangler before you brush through your hair to keep it from breaking.
And another way to help prevent breakage is to change your hairstyle up. Don’t leave it in the same ponytail every single day because that friction is going to wear at the hairs around the ponytail, and you’ll end up with a fun little line of breakage right there.
There you go, those are my blonde hair care tips and tricks. I hope that helps you in your blonde hair care journey.
Samantha is a hairstylist with over 12 years of color and stylist experience. She enjoys using her knowledge to create what her clients really want when they sit down in her chair. Her passion is creating unique looks that her clients feel great in.