Skip to main content

How to Rehab Your Hair When You’ve Gone Too Far With a Bottle of Bleach

Here's how to bring your hair back from the edge — or, better yet, how to make sure you never get there in the first place.
Irene Kim at Paris Fashion Week. Photo: Emily Malan/Fashionista

Irene Kim at Paris Fashion Week. Photo: Emily Malan/Fashionista

I've been dyeing my hair every color of the rainbow for over four years — and I have absolutely no regrets. I've been periwinkle blue, lavender, pastel pink and icy white, and I've loved every minute of it. At times, has my sister (and every other family member) nagged me about the fact that my hair looked more Gisele-like before? Yes, more than I'd like to admit. But there's something about being able to switch up my hair on a whim — just to match the color of a great piece of candy I saw in a store — that I couldn't seem to shake. 

So, when my hair decided to break the habit for me by literally breaking off about a year ago, I almost cried. Actually, I did cry, and proceeded to tell every colorist and hairstylist that I saw that month (I'm a beauty editor, so there were probably 10 due to events) all of my problems. Sitting in my therapist's — I mean stylist's — chair, I asked how this could ever have happened to me, the hair dye chameleon. 

Basically, the answer is that all hair has its limits. If you're not careful with the conditioning products and heat styling tools that you use, bleach will eventually win over time. I had gotten cocky, and would skip conditioning treatments or switch up colors too often. Plus, my hair broke in the back of my head, exactly where I sleep on it, which can often cause it to be more fragile. Have I learned my lesson? Well, while I knew a whole lot about tones and Manic Panic, I now know a whole lot more about hair growth supplements and conditioning treatments. Am I going to stop dyeing my hair pastel shades? Of course not. I'm just going to be even better at it this time — and help everyone else learn from my mistakes. 

In case you're also a bleach addict or dealing with some minor breakage, here's how to bring your hair back from the edge — or, better yet, how to make sure you never get there in the first place.

The author with pink hair. Photo: Rachel Adler

The author with pink hair. Photo: Rachel Adler

What the Pros Say

Bumble and bumble colorist Zoe Wiepert (and my personal go-to) recommends switching up your look if you're noticing that your hair is getting a little dry or weak. "Try a 'root-ier' look so that it's not necessary to drag the bleach through to the ends of your hair each time, as the roots are the new growth... and it will be healthier," she says. "Or, right before your treatment, sleep with coconut oil in your hair, which will also help prep your hair."

Ashley Streicher, advisory stylist for StriVectin Hair and go-to stylist to stars like Emily Blunt and Kiernan Shipka, had similar advice. "Breakage is breakage, unfortunately. If you know that you're going to bleach the heck out of your hair, there are some steps to take before the procedure to soften the blow, like doing some protein masks to help strengthen it (I love the Ultimate Restore Mask by StriVectin). Breakage from repeated usage of hot tools is hard — you really just need to stop abusing the broken hair. So, if possible, leave the breaking hair out of the hot styling process and slather the ends with a treatment serum or oil."

And of course, try to steer away from using too many heat tools on your hair, especially right after you get it colored. Streicher notes that if you're bleaching out your hair or going for a pastel look, you may want to rethink styles that use hot tools. "Sometimes with a color change, you have to sacrifice certain hair habits to keep it looking its best," says Streicher.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Wiepert agrees, and recommends care when washing right after refreshing the style, too. "When you're bleaching your hair, the cuticle will be swollen which will give you more body, but also it will be a bit more dry, so you can rinse it and condition it, but don't wash it — especially the first 24 to 48 hours after."

As for supplements, Streicher says she doesn't love recommending them unless there's truly a hair loss problem, but does suggest upping the protein in your diet, or just adding a multivitamin. 

Taylor Swift with freshly bleached hair at Coachella. Photo: Instagram/@taylorswift

Taylor Swift with freshly bleached hair at Coachella. Photo: Instagram/@taylorswift

What to Stock Up On

Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil, $20, available hereOne of the best conditioners for dry and damaged hair, organic coconut oil packs moisture back into any strands that are just plain thirsty. Leave it on as along as possible — or sleep in it — then wash with shampoo multiple times for best results.

Nexxus Emergencee Reconstructing Treatment, $18.99, available here. Another damaged hair favorite is Nexxus's Emergencee Reconstrucing Treatment. The gel-like consistency is strange at first — it almost appears too thick — but if you apply it first, and then shampoo and conditioner your hair, you'll find it's softer than ever.

Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3, available here. Of course, for any hair dye junkie, Olaplex is a must-have. As it's salon-only, find one near you that not only uses it in the color processing, but also provides the No.3 take-home treatment to actually rebuild broken hair.

Bumble and bumble Hairdresser's Invisible Oil, $40, available hereFinding an oil that will help to soften the ends of hair (especially bleached-out ones) while also battling frizz is crucial, and Bumble's Hairdresser's Invisible Oil does just that, without weighing it down.

Viviscal Extra Strength Nutrient Tablets, $49.99, available here. Beloved by models for years, Viviscal has always been the go-to when you want a little more "oomph." The hair growth supplement definitely works — but it takes dedication. In about three months you'll see results, and once you do, you'll have hair growth everywhere — so make sure you're committed.

Strivectin Damage Repair Shampoo & Conditioner, $25 each, available here. If you're working your way back from damaged hair, you also need a shampoo and conditioner that each does its part. StriVectin — yes, the skin brand — recently branched out into hair care with its patented NIA-114 technology. The duo coats hair with keratin without stripping it of its natural oils.