Whether coloring your hair yourself or going to a salon, you absolutely must bleach your hair if you want to dye it a lighter color. Bleaching agents do cause hair damage, even when professionally applied. Professionals, however, know what bleaching agent to use, how best to use it and how to minimize the damage.
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What's Your Damage?
To remove the natural pigment in your hair, the bleach must fully penetrate the hair shaft. It does this by lifting the scales on the outer cuticle of the shaft. The lifting of this protective coating subjects the hair to a continuous loss of moisture, leaving it dry and brittle. Bleach-damaged hair is more easily damaged by other chemicals such as perm solutions and chemical straighteners. Bleach-weakened hair is also more likely to be damaged by blow dryers, flat irons and other heated styling tools. Bleaching agents can cause an allergic reaction and damage the skin and eyes if used improperly.
Prepare your hair for bleaching by applying a deep conditioning treatment before shampooing. Use this treatment three days before you bleach, three days after and then once a week. Condition your hair every time you wash it and use hair care products designed to help minimize damage. Restorative and moisturizing products are good choices, as are those specifically for color-treated hair. Smoothing products will also help to remoisturize your hair and slow evaporation. Be gentle with bleached hair as you style and brush it, and turn off the hair dryer as soon as your hair feels dry.