How to prep your hair for bleach

[This is not a sponsored post. The products are gifted press samples.]

Did I mention I’m a natural blonde now? Oh, you got the memo… OK then. I’ll shut up about it now.

Actually, I mentioned it for a reason (for once), because as a first-time bleach user I was terrified by the idea of lathering my hair in chemicals. Is it going to fall out? Will it turn orange and patchy? I’ll have to shave it off and start again… were among the thoughts I had as I caked the blue solution onto my head and sat with fear and dread as the life was slowly sapped out of my locks.

Before I even got going, however, I did the worst (and best) thing you can do – I went online and read all the horror stories out there, like that was going to make me feel better. Spoiler: It didn’t. But what it did do was prepare me for what was to come, and made me really prep and nourish my hair before I got going so I knew it was in the best condition possible. And, honestly, it did the world of good, because now it feels as soft, if not softer than before.

Prep Hair For Bleach | Carry On... Connor

Obviously, hydration is everything, and I wanted to share some of the products I turned to that really worked wonders and got my hair ready for bleach. Honestly, it’s not rocket science, but it’s so important that you put in the effort beforehand to reap the benefits afterwards.

Build your hair’s strength with Keratin

Keratin is the key structural protein that makes up hair fibres and helps protect them from various kinds of damage, including heat, chemical, pollution, etc. Drying or styling your hair with heated appliances will slowly begin to break down the keratin in hair, leaving it dry and brittle.

Applying bleached to damaged hair is a recipe for disaster – not only will it make the condition of your hair 10 times worse, but it could also have disastrous effects on the colour achieved, as the pigmentation may become uneven. See – I did read all those horror stories.

Anyway, keratin shampoos are everywhere on the market, and they don’t have to be expensive. Of course, you can pay £20 or £30 – heck, even more – if you like, but why bother when cheap and cheerful does the trick for you? I love the Keratin Protein Shampoo from Hask. I think I’ve talked about this before (I’m not entirely sure), but it is my everyday go-to, and I used it even more as I was prepping my hair for the bleach.

While we’re on the subject, I usually only wash and condition my hair a couple of times each week, because a) that’s all it needs and b) I really don’t see the point in lathering it with oils when our scalps produce them anyway. Especially if you get dandruff or a rough scalp – which I used to – trying holding off shampooing so often and see if it helps. That being said…

Essential oils are EVERYTHING!

Shampooing is one thing, but nourishing your hair is a whole other story, and you want it to be at its peak when it’s time to leap in with the bleach. Sooooo where to start? There are a few ways you could do this; you could use masks, make home remedies, or lather on oils in their purest forms as a kind of intensive treatment.

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But this isn’t a one-off-getting-ready-for-a-big-night kind of deal, and that kind of messing around is just too much. I mean, the number of times I forget to wear deodorant, there’s no way I’m gonna remember to mix yoghurt and honey and lather it into my hair each night. However, conditioning in the shower is easy enough, and the amazing range of essential oil conditioners from Phil Smith left my hair so soft and smooth – and they smell amazing too!

I alternated between three – argan oil, avocado oil and coconut fruit extract – and used one every day in the two weeks leading up to bleaching. Slightly excessive? Maybe. But the fact of the matter is, I’d much rather have the peace of mind that I’ve done everything right and ensure my hair will be OK than have disaster strike and shaving everything off and starting over.

Make a mask from kitchen essentials

I know I said I wasn’t totally on board with using elaborate masks etc. as part of a mammoth hair prep fortnight, but I did do a couple during that time – and I didn’t have to look further than the kitchen cupboard to find just what I was looking for… Coconut oil!

Yes – remember a couple of years back when it was all anyone talked about? Well, the buzz has died down a little, but it’s still a staple and it has myriad uses. Aside from cooking, it’s something of a grooming essential and is great for skin, hair and nails. So, why not make the most of it?

I coated my hair with Vita Coco Coconut Oil twice during the two week period and left it as an intensive mask for around half an hour. To be honest, I could have put it on in the morning and ashed off in the evening, but it really did wonders in taking things to that next level and leaving my hair looking and feeling in fine form.

Again, I don’t really think masks are essential in the run-up to bleaching, but if they’re at your disposal, you do them as part of your routine anyway, or just want to be 100% sure, it’s not going to hurt.

And, finally…

Here’s the key: For the last 3 days, don’t wash, condition, or use anything on your hair. Give those natural oils time to do their thing and rid your hair of any sulfates from the products you use. These can affect the follicles and may alter the way your hair takes the bleach. But, give time for nature to do its thing and you’ll finally be ready to reach for the bleach.

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