Lightening or bleaching your hair, takes a heavy toll, especially when you have curly hair. But there are ways of doing it to minimise the damage, and I think my hair is proof of this.
I’ve been colouring my curly hair for years now, and over the last couple of years, I went blonder and blonder, until I’ve eventually gone pink!
So when this question came through on my YouTube Q&A series, I knew I’d have quite a few answers.
“Any specific tips for curly hair care pre and post bleaching?”
I have more tips in my post here on what you should know before you bleach your hair, but specifically for curly hair, here’s my advice:
Click here if you can’t see the video above.
1. Don’t wash your hair
For at least two days before going to the salon, keep your hair out of the shower or basin. For most curly girls this is easiest bit of advice – and I bet you can even go longer that two days!
But what you’re doing when you don’t wash your hair is you’re building up a nice layer of natural protection on your scalp from your hair oils.
Having colour applied directly to your scalp can be quite damaging and can be a little bit painful too. So having your natural hair oil protect your scalp is the way to go.
Don’t worry about going in with really dirty hair; it’s better than going in with clean hair – particularly for bleach.
2. Brush out those curls
You know how I never tell you to brush your curls? Well, in this case, it’s going to be much more comfortable for you to do it yourself than having someone in the salon do it. Because they will have to before they apply colour or bleach.
If you haven’t been to that salon before, take in some photos to show them what your curls really look like before it’s all brushed out. This will give them an idea of styling your hair at the end of your appointment.
I recommend using a Tangle Teezer or similar brush to smooth out your curls and remove any knots and tangles before you go in This makes it a lot easier (and quicker) for your hairdresser to section and colour your hair, and I know it’s a lot less painful to brush out your own curls than to have an apprentice do it for you.
3. Choose your appointment date carefully
This is probably TMI, but I would avoid going to the salon at the start of your period.
Like many women, I have increased sensitivity to pain on these days, and while I normally don’t feel anything having my hair bleached, a couple of times I have found it really uncomfortable on these days.
It’s not a reason to cancel your appointment, but it’s just worth mentioning to your hair dresser that you are a little bit more sensitive to pain at the moment and they’ll take more care watching the process and checking that your colour is going smoothly.
4. Always use Plex or Bond products
Make sure you choose a salon that uses one of these new bond-repairing products when they colour your hair.
Look for names like Olaplex, Matrix Bond, Cureplex and other similar products. Here’s my post on how Plex products work and also my video interview with Schwarzkopf’s National Technical Educator Grant Withnell, who explains it really well too.
I’m not too picky on the brand – personally I like Olaplex and Matrix Bond, but one of these is crucial to protecting your curls.
The salon should mix Step One in with your colour that’s applied to your hair, Step Two is a 10-minute mask, applied either at the basin or you can go back to the chair for it. And you should purchase some Step Three to take home, which is designed to help nourish your curls.
I couldn’t be blonde and have curly hair without plex products.
5.Get a purple shampoo and conditioner to tone your hair at home
Post-bleaching, your hairdresser will probably tone your hair in the salon, but this won’t last the whole time to your next appointment.
To get rid of any yellow or brassy tones, use a purple shampoo or conditioner at home. Blue and purple are on the ‘cooler’ side of the colour spectrum, so they counteract the yellows that come through the longer you’re away from the salon chair.
These coloured shampoos and conditioners really help colour correct your hair and keep it looking vibrant, bright and shiny.
Here are some that I recommend:
6. Don’t try to go completely blonde in one appointment
Going slow will really help keep your curls looking the way they should. And the health of your hair and scalp is the most important thing. Asking to go from a dark colour to platinum in one sitting will end badly.
Not only will it probably cause bleach burn on your scalp and dry your hair, it’ll take so long you’ll be looking at a very expensive appointment.
And because your hair will definitely take damage from such extensive contact with the peroxide, future treatments won’t go so well either.
As my colourist says, he can do anything as long as the hair is healthy. And so that should be your motivation when going blonde.
I hope these tips for how to treat your curls before and after colouring, and also what to expect help. If you have any questions about any of this, let me know in the comments below.
Now tell me, have you gone blonde with your curls? And what have you noticed has been the difference?
PS. You can find more curly hair tips here & in my curly hair ebook.