5 surprising things that happen to your hair when you bleach it

Spring has sprung, and many of us are deciding on the perfect spring hairstyle. I’ve often been tempted to bleach my hair, but I’ve always ended up dissuaded by the logistics of maintaining my roots and making sure my hair stays healthy. But if the chore of touching up your roots every few weeks doesn’t cramp your style, maybe you haven’t checked “bleaching” off your options list just yet. It’s an awesome look, but before you do anything to your body it’s nice to know exactly what’ll happen — so let’s talk about five things that happen to your hair when you bleach it.

For those who are blessed with the gift of styling their own hair, cutting and dying it at home is a great, economical option. The same isn’t true for bleaching, which we recommend should be done professionally. According to Philip Kingsley Salon, it’s potentially the most damaging coloring method because the agent fully penetrates the hairs’ outer cuticle. When it comes to having hydrogen peroxide and ammonia that close to your cuticles, it seems wise to let a professional do the job.

Here are five things that happen when the aforementioned professional bleaches your hair.

1. The texture of your hair changes.

The chemicals in bleach can permanently alter the texture of your hair, especially if you bleach frequently. Most commonly, fine hair becomes thicker, rougher, and drier — but everyone’s bodies respond differently, so it’s also possible for your hair to become straight, curly, frizzy, or insanely brittle. Bleaching also makes your hair more prone to breakage and those pesky split ends.

2. The strands of your hair swell.

Have you ever noticed that recently bleached hair appears voluminous? You weren’t imagining things — the alkaline agents used as agents cause the strands of hair to swell.

3. The melanin is removed.

After the cuticles expand, the bleaching agent dissolves your hair’s melanin (aka natural pigments). In order to achieve the desired bleached hue, the agent has to stay in your hair for a certain period of time — so it has enough time to break down the natural fatty acids on the hair shaft, which weakens the strand. This is permanent damage that can’t be reversed, and that’s why it’s so important to not over bleach your hair or use low-quality products.

4. There’s a “bird’s nest type of effect.”

Uh, I don’t like the sound of this one. Hair specialist Robert Dorin explained to The Huffington Post that, because bleach makes your hair dry and brittle, it’s “more susceptible to tangling together, causing a bird’s nest type of effect.” If you have a sensitive scalp and cringe at the idea of detangling your hair every day, bleaching may not be the best route for you.

5. UV rays and other environmental factors add to the damage.

Bleached hair is a beloved summer look, but soaking in the sun intensifies the damage that bleach has already caused your hair. It’s not just the sun, though — other environmental elements can further the damage:

“UV rays, humidity, wind, etc. all damage hair in the sense that they suck moisture out of strands, leaving hair frayed, dry and brittle. These elements escalate dryness by continually stripping hair of its natural moisture and nourishment, said Dorin. “Your hair can very much be compared to a sponge — whatever chemicals you put into it will absorb to only dry out and become ruined.

So, bleaching isn’t the healthiest practice for your hair — that’s not exactly breaking news and, at the end of the day, it’s your hair, your body, and your call.

If you do decide to bleach, there are measures you can take to reduce the damage. There’s no shortage of products that promise to restore health to bleached hair, but experts recommend using those containing ceramides, which are fatty acids that are similar to those destroyed during the bleaching process.

Regardless of the hairstyle you choose for the spring, summer, or beyond, we just know that you’ll look fabulous.

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