Repair Brittle, Bleached Hair With These 7 Expert-Backed Tips

For one, swap your harsh hair elastics for gentler, satin ones.

Ask any hairstylist if you should ever bleach your hair at home and you’ll likely get a mix of worried, and even angry, responses. However, many people have decided to take matters into their not-entirely-capable hands and go platinum blonde in the comfort of their homes. Even if results look ok, odds are your hair doesn’t feel healthy. Instead, it probably feels brittle, dry, and it may look uneven or brassy.

If you’re looking to repair bleached hair from your boxed dye nightmares, we asked four professionals to give us some tips. From the products you should buy to the actions you should take, here’s how to get your healthy hair back.

1. Take a break from the bleach.

“If you have dry, damaged hair, I recommend taking a break from all color and just using treatments to repair and hydrate,” says Rita Hazan, a New York-based celebrity hairstylist who’s worked with people such as Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, and Jessica Simpson.

Bleach works by chemically stripping color from your hair, and when it comes to box dye, manufacturers base their formulas on “average hair” rather than your specific hair type. This means that the at-home hair dye you’ve chosen could dissolve a little pigment or absolutely obliterate your hair. The only thing worse than using harmful products on your hair once is layering harmful products. Do as Hazan says and, “take a break so your hair doesn’t break.” 

2. Step away from the heat.

Bleached hair is porous hair, which can make it easier to style and maintain shape using heat. However, while that change in elasticity may be great, it also means the hair has a harder time maintaining moisture. To avoid extra-crispy locks, lay off the hot tools as much as humanly possible.

If you absolutely must heat-style your hair, make sure it’s treated appropriately. Olivia Smalley, a Florida-based celebrity hairstylist who has worked with Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, points to the Joico Defy Damage line. “I recommend this for those of us who need a little extra when it comes to full protection from chemical damage, heat styling, UV, or environmental aggressors,” she says. Additionally, bond-building products, such as No. 7 Olaplex Bonding Oil, will work to repair damaged hair.

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No. 7 Olaplex Bonding Oil

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3. Trim off dead ends.

Ona Díaz-Santin, owner of 5 Salon & Spa in New Jersey, stresses the importance of fresh tips. “You may need a trim down of all the dead ends and damaged hair you’ve acquired from using the wrong box dye,” she says. A simple trim will do wonders for the look and feel of hair whose cuticle and cortex cells have been broken by improper bleaching. “I always recommend getting your hair into a healthy state before dipping it into color chemicals again,” Díaz-Santin adds.

4. De-brassify with a toning conditioner.

It’s the stuff of nightmares: You’ve bleached your hair, but instead of coming out the other side like Gwen Stefani in all her “Don’t Speak” glory, you’re orange all over. Brassy hair happens when undesired warm pigments of yellow and red show up in lightened hair—that’s when toning conditioners come in to color-correct. “If you went for that bleach blonde look, EVO Fabuloso toning conditioners will help your blonde hair look less brassy and more classy,” says California-based senior hairstylist, Lisa Satorn.

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EVO Fabuloso Intensifying Conditioner

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5. Repair with masks.

Take your conditioning one step further with a reparative mask to reverse damage. Díaz-Santin relies on the Briogeo Don’t Despair Repair Deep Conditioning Mask and Virtue Restorative Treatment Mask to keep hair hydrated, conditioned, and healthy.  

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Briogeo Don't Despair, Repair Deep Conditioning Mask

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6. Remember to be gentle.

Your lightened hair is fragile and precious, so treat it as such. Swap your harsh elastics for softer scrunchies, trade cotton pillowcases with ones made of silk, and remember to brush your hair gently. It sounds simple, but remember that the bleaching process breaks down hair’s integrity and leaves it prone to breakage.

7. When in doubt, talk to your hairstylist.

“I do not recommend bleaching [your hair] at home—things such as breakage, chemical burns, or straight-up orange hair might happen,” says Satorn. If you have (and if you’re reading this probably applies to you), loop your hairstylist along your repair journey to make sure you’re taking the best actions toward getting your healthy hair back.