How to Fix Hair Damage from Bleach

by Viviscal Hair Expert on June 20th, 2017
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Blondes do have more fun, except when they’ve taken it a little too far with hair color and now have the tell-tale signs of bleach-damaged hair. Writer Christina Grasso publishes the story of her quest for the ultimate bleach-blonde look, and how she’s repairing the major hair damage that resulted from that bottle of bleach. Find Christina’s complete article and a slideshow of her hair journey on StyleCaster.com.

The Quest for the Blondest Blonde Hair

Ever since elementary school, says Christina, “I’ve strived to be as blonde as humanly possible—all while still maintaining my status as a person with hair on her head. As you can imagine, it’s a very delicate balance: Taking any kind of drastic measure to lighten hair has the potential of damaging its health and integrity—and, you know, making it all fall out in clumps—so while I’d continue to get more and more highlights, I was still convinced that my hair was never blonde enough.”

Finally, Christina went in for the double process, getting platinum blonde results she loved with all that peroxide. “But it was an unrequited love,” says Christina. “Instead, my hair actually kind of hated me, which I suppose is fair because I put it through a lot.”

Maintaining her bleach-blonde color became a second full-time job for Christina. She had expensive salon visits every four to five weeks that involved sitting for several hours while bleach burned her scalp. Plus, her hair required constant maintenance with a regimen of at-home treatments, purple shampoos, supplements, silk pillowcases, “spells”… (OK, maybe no spells, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t consider it.) But it felt worth it to me because the color—or lack thereof—suited me well… and quickly became my identity.”

Bleach-Blonde Payback

But all that bleach took a toll. Christina’s hair started breaking off and falling out. The hair that remained was “crispy and lifeless”. Worst of all, there was no out-clause in Christina’s peroxide plan. “Despite having put great thought into a double-process for a couple years before taking the platinum plunge,” she says, “I never stopped to consider how I might find my way back somewhere down the line if and when I got sick of it.”

After consulting several hair experts over the past few months, Christina confirmed that she needed to make major changes to her damaged hair, “lest I go bald, or wind up with an unintentional mushroom cut. The jig was up.”

Less than 12 Steps: The Road to Bleach-Blonde Recovery

Step one: Christina got a healthy trim from Anh Co Tran and then went to celebrity hairstylist Daniel Villano, of Frédéric Fekkai Fifth Avenue Salon, who worked his magic over several hours in the hair chair.

She went in nervous about her hair fate but everything went swimmingly. Villano says, “As a colorist, I try to layer color to achieve the most dimension, this is key in creating beautiful, natural-looking color.” He carefully blended Christina’s ashy, dark-blonde roots through the ends leaving her with a more natural, lower-maintenance blonde that will grow out more seamlessly.

The process is not finished yet, but Christina is on the road to recovery. “Normally,” says Villano, “two factors primarily determine how long it will take [to fully restore hair]: structural damage to the cuticle and inner cortex, or loss of cuticle and proteins in the cortex. Structural damage can be healed to an extent with treatments and bond multipliers. However, loss of the actual cuticle or structure of the cortex means there is not much hope for repair. You’ll have to grow it out and that usually takes a few years.”

It may be a while before Christina has a long, thick ponytail again. But in the meantime, Villano has a few pointers: “First, try to avoid high heat paired with alcohol-based drying products — the two together are disaster waiting to happen,” he said. “Secondly, it’s important to condition multiple times a week to help restore the damage. Use a moisturizing product two to three times a week, such as Fekkai PrX Reparatives Intensive Fortifying Masque, and one protein treatment a week.”

“It’s now been a few weeks since I’ve gone to the darker side,” says Christina, “and to be completely honest, it’s been tough. My hair is still fried, it’s just darker. But in time, as Villano told me, it will recover.” For the time being, she’s doing everything she can to help her parched strands. She started taking Viviscal, she applies an Olaplex treatment once a week, and does deep conditioning masks three or four times a week. She also uses an oil on her hair every night and continues to sleep on a silk pillowcase.

Click through her slideshow to see a small snapshot of Christina’s journey back from the brink of extreme hair damage.

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Christina’s “before” bleach-blonde hair (Instagram/@thepouf)