What Bleach Does to Hair
First, let’s look at how bleach actually affects hair (I did some research on this one). When bleach comes into contact with the hair shaft, it causes causes the protective cuticle scales to lift and separate, allowing the chemical to enter the cortex and remove pigment. The longer you leave bleach on your hair, the more your cuticle is lifted, and the more pigment is removed. This causes hair to become more porous, and the cuticle is no longer able to do its job and lock moisture in. That’s why hair becomes so dry and brittle after using bleach. Curly hair is already more porous (and dryer) than straight hair, so the process is even more damaging to curly locks, and it’s irreversible. But it looks good!
Hair is composed mostly of protein, and when you put bleach on your hair, it breaks down the proteins to remove pigment. So it is ESSENTIAL to try and replace the lost protein in order to regain hair strength and prevent breakage. Personally, my favorite protein treatment is
Palmer’s Coconut Oil Formula Deep Conditioning Protein Pack. I used this 1-2 times per month, in addition to my hot oil treatments, which I’ll discuss in a minute. I use this product because 1) I trust the Palmer’s brand, 2) it’s affordable, and 3) my hair loves coconut oil. It only costs $2-$3 a pack, and with the amount of hair I have, I use two at a time. There are a ton of other protein treatments out there, ranging from ApHogee reconstructive treatment for severely damaged hair (I haven’t tried this yet, but I hear good things about it, with the exception of the smell), to all-natural egg or avocado mixtures (there are many, many recipes on the web). The point is, put protein back in your hair – regularly!
We’ve already discussed how bleached hair is unable to retain moisture because of the lifted cuticle, so we’ve got to lend our hair a hand. The only true moisturizer is water, which curly hair tries to grab from the air (hello frizz), but we can help it by coating our strands with a nutrient-rich, natural oil that strengthens hair and helps prevent water from escaping. My hands-down favorite hot oil treatment is done with coconut oil. Its small molecular structure allows the fatty acids and vitamins to penetrate the hair shaft so your hair can absorb all the goodness (can you tell I’ve been studying this?). My second favorite oil to use is extra virgin olive oil; it’s just as good on your hair as it is in your body.