Hair Breakage from Bleach - Why it happens and What to do

Written by : Lauren Gilmore; in :
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Hair Breakage from Bleach

Why does my hair keep breaking from bleach?

This is the most common question I get asked as a Hairstylist.

Most types of coloring do actually damage the hair to some extent, the color molecules sit in the cortex of the hair and they work by breaking down the bonds that are inside the cortex.

Bleaching hair actually requires a lot of science, skill and aftercare in order to leave the hair looking and feeling healthy after.

How does bleach work?

Let’s start by looking at how bleach actually works on the hair.

Bleach is alkaline based which will lift the cuticle allowing the molecules to enter, the molecules enter the cortex and then swell the hair.

Once this has happened, then the oxidative agents will begin to dissolve the hairs natural pigment.

The longer the bleach is left on the more the pigments will be dissolved, as stylists we look for the hair to lift though red, red/orange, orange, orange/yellow, yellow, and pale yellow, this tells us when the color is ready.

On the flip side of this we need to look at what the bleach does to the hairs internal structure.

Changes to the hair’s porosity.

Porosity refers to the hairs ability to absorb and retain moisture, it means that the hair’s cuticle is raised rather than closed.

Porosity also plays a huge part in how long your color will last, the same as with the moisture, the color will absorb quickly but will also rinse out quickly, like a sponge!

You can check this by taking a strand of hair and running your fingers from the tips to the roots, it feels rough it means your hair is porous.

Porous hair:

  • Can feel rough and dry.
  • Can look matte.
  • It may not hold its style.

Porous hair can be caused by any color service including bleaching, this is due to the cuticle lifting during the color process.

There are numerous things we can do to improve the hair's porosity:

  • Do a light cold rinse, this will help to close the cuticle.
  • Use a professional conditioner, these are acid based and are designed to close the cuticle.
  • Use a moisturising hair care range, as this is what the hair is lacking.

The Milkshake Moisture Plus Whipped Cream is a really great product to help improve the hair's porosity. It is a leaf in foam that helps to improve softness, manageability and balances the hair moisture levels.

Changes to the hair’s elasticity.

Hair elasticity refers to the general health of the internal structure of the hair, you can check this by damping down a strand of your hair and stretching it slightly.

  • If it stretches and returns to normal it means the hair is in good condition.
  • If it stretches and stays fairly stretched it means, there may be some damage.
  • If it stretches and breaks it means the hair is damaged.

Bleaching WILL damage your hair, there is no if’s or buts!

Hair with poor elasticity will:

  • Not hold a style.
  • Look brittle, weak and fine.
  • Look lacklustre.

When bleaching, the bonds that hold the internal structure together are broken so that the color can be removed.

Although some of these bonds come back together, some do not result in poor elasticity.

We can help to prevent poor elasticity by using a bond builder with the color – most salons now offer these, so ask during your consultation.

Bond builders are designed to repair the hair from the inside out, they do this by rebuilding and repairing broken bonds.

Examples of bond builders are:

  • Olaplex
  • Wellaplex

    Using these alongside the after care will really help to improve the hairs elasticity.

    As well as this there are some great aftercare ranges that will help to repair damage caused by bleach.

What do repairing products contain?

I want you to think about the food that you eat when you are training to build muscle? This may sound weird, but it relates...

We eat protein, so eggs, chicken, rice etc...

Protein is the key ingredient in repairing products, it is there to build the hair back up.

My favourite range is the Kerastase Resistance Range, I love this range because it has a product for every level of damage.

Volumifique – For fine, brittle hair.

Extensionist – Repairs split ends and breakage.

Architecte – For damaged hair.

Therapiste – For very damaged hair.

I would 100% recommend the Architecte range, I have used this on and off for years and I regularly recommend it to clients.

You see real results with this product and it really makes your hair feel healthier and stronger.

Yes, bleach does damage the hair! However if we really focus on improving the hair's porosity and elasticity we can help to keep the hair looking and feeling healthy.

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