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The long journey of “going blonde” has been trekked by many—Billie Eilish, Katy Perry, and J.Lo, to name just a few. Maybe you've been inspired to bleach your hair at home with a boxed dye (please don't ever do this). Or maybe you've spent countless hours in a salon chair to achieve the golden hue of your dreams. However you got there, being blonde is fun—even if you’re just trying to go light enough for a bold color. The upkeep and aftercare of an intense bleaching session can be tedious, but it’s necessary. And when it comes to repairing bleached hair, a good deep conditioner or hair mask is vital.
Marie Claire tapped the talents of Rachel Bodt, Matrix brand ambassador, and Brad Mondo (opens in new tab), founder and CEO of XMONDO, for their tips and product recommendations for bleached hair upkeep.
Do I need to use a deep conditioner on bleached hair?
Yes. Especially if you want to have the best hair possible, says Mondo. “Deep conditioners have a high concentration of extremely beneficial ingredients that promote the healthiest hair possible," he says. "They’re an easy way to get a quick pick me up and noticeably softer, easier to manage hair in minutes.”
Bodt seconds that, agreeing that deep conditioners add protein and moisture into the hair.
How often should you use deep conditioner on bleached hair?
Mondo recommends deep conditioning every wash if your hair needs the extra TLC, using it in place of a regular conditioner. If you’re looking for a more penetrating mask application, Mondo says, “I recommend putting a plastic bag over your hair and then wrapping a towel on top of that. This will keep your head as hot as possible which will help expand the hair fibers and get the hair mask to work on a deeper level.”
How should you apply deep conditioner?
Deep conditioners work best on damp hair and should sit on the head for anywhere from 10 minutes to overnight. Over-conditioning is possible, especially if you have fine hair, and leaving in the conditioner can lead to excessive protein and moisture in strands. Bodt says, “If you have fine hair or are worried about losing volume, be mindful as it can weigh your hair down when it comes to styling.”
What else can you do to repair bleached hair?
You should utilize specialized products and routines that will help hair grow healthier—and in some cases faster—depending on the regimen. Remember: Consistency is key. “Emphasize on maintaining a good balance of protein and moisture, because too much moisture can make your hair heavy or too much protein can leave your hair brittle. You also want to add something to repair the bonds that have broken during lightning services,” says Bodt.
Using products like the Matrix Total Results Unbreak My Blonde (opens in new tab) will infuse hair with citric acid that helps strengthen and soften hair. Mondo, who has seen his fair share of bleach fails, recommends:
- Staying away from hot tools;
- Deep conditioning at least every other wash;
- Sleeping with a silk pillowcase;
- Getting a haircut to remove excess damage on bleached hair.
What should you look for in a deep conditioner?
When it comes to deep conditioners, opt for reparative masks that target damaged hair but won’t fill strands with artificial silicones or parabens. We’ve rounded up a few expert favorites and highly-reviewed products.
The Tried and True
The hero of deep conditioning masks, especially if you have curly hair. Briogeo does not play games here: With ingredients like rosehip oil to control frizz, and algae extract to build amino acids in hair, this thick mask will laeve results after one use—with overall repair after several uses.
This is a favorite of Bodt's, who says, “Protein, moisture, bond repair, and a heat protectant should be included in a bleached hair routine. If you have fragile and colored hair, heat styling can really damage it, so it’s crucial to use something to create a barrier. Matrix Total Results Miracle Creator works wonders as it can help to create a barrier, protect hair from heat damage, nourish hair, and smooth the hair cuticle."
The One for All
“This is a great mask to use once a week or whenever your hair needs extra love and hydration. It has great ingredients like ceramide to smooth the hair’s surface,” says Mondo.
The Clay Mask
Bleaching hair actively strips hair of its natural oils while lightening, which results in strands that desperately need nutrients. The Moroccan lava clay not only leaves a welcome scent but also penetrate follicles to promote growth and rid hair of excessive fats from build-up.
The One for Toning
Going blonde is one thing, but keeping your blonde strands bright is a whole other. When your color begins to get a little brassy—it’s inevitable—combat that with this reparative mask in a cooling purple that will infuse hair with nutrients while lightly toning. Be careful: Leaving it on too long could result in a purple tint or a grey color.
The One for Dry Scalps
It’s well-established that the enemy of bleached hair is a dry scalp—and after numerous chemical treatments, your scalp might be crying for some help. Skip the abrasive scrub that will only cause more damage; instead, use this scalp stimulating conditioner from The Doux. Honey and green tea are highlighted for their soothing and oil stimulating abilities. Give your scalp some love, it deserves it.
The One for Repair & Shine
Of course, Brad Mondo loves his own products for bleached hair repair, and the illuminating results speak volumes. He says, “This product will relink broken bonds in hair as well as add intense amounts of shine with an ingredient called luminescine, all in 20 mins.”
The Clean Choice
There I was, crying at work after a bad bleach job, my hair shedding excessively every time I ran my hands through it. Pan to this bottle of magic from Aveda, recommended to me by a stylist friend. After one use, my hair didn’t feel as thin; after a month of usage, breakage was in the past.
The One for Detangling and Conditioning
If your bleached hair is becoming too much to handle, this intense hair mask helps repair as well as detangle, so no unnecessary tugging on knots. Natural ingredients power this formulation, with shea butter, avocado oil, sunflower oil, and herb extracts combining to nourish and fill locks with antioxidants. This clean and vegan formula works wonders for dry, thick hair.
The One for Thick Hair
Deep conditioners from Black-owned brands just hit better, mainly because curly/natural hair requires a lot of maintenance, so these brands know exactly what they're doing. Damaged curly hair is a pain, especially if you took the chance to bleach it, and this deep conditioner is ideal for thick hair that needs an equally thick formula. Remember to part your hair for even coverage.
The One for Thin Hair
Make your hair care regimen an enjoyable experience with products that offer subtle fragrance without irritating a sensitive scalp and hair follicle. A major plus is the gentle texture that won’t weigh hair down but still enriches with shea butter and proteins.
The Minty One
Any time mint is introduced into hair products, I’m expecting my scalp to leap with joy for some non-physical exfoliation. Your bleached hair could be damaged to a point of limited hair growth and oil production, so a good scalp treatment will repair strands while inviting growth. If you hate regrowth because of the different colored roots, sorry, but your hair will thank you.
The Brand Favorite
After bleaching, section hair into four parts to ensure maximum coverage of freshly lightened hair. Between bleach treatments, take a beat to give hair time to recover and do a repairing mask-like this amino acid-based one from Wella, to keep breakage minimized. You or your stylist is probably going to use Wella to bleach or tone your hair anyway; might as well keep it all in the brand family.
The 5-Minute Mask
Chock-full of proteins like keratin and primrose oil, hair will look and feel stronger with regular use. Instructions recommend leaving this mask on for 5-minutes, however, overnight use will give added moisture for extremely damaged hair that needs it. The best part: You can add this into your routine for an every-other-week treatment.
The Salon Favorite
You can’t go wrong with Redken—it’s one of the most beloved salon-care brands for a reason. Cica is a known hero ingredient popularized by Korean skincare, but it can also help restore bleached hair that can’t keep the good oils in. Technically a leave-in conditioner, this light formula works well for thin hair that is prone to product buildup.
One of the many hair color specialists that I follow on Instagram, Megan Schipani, is always recommending the K18 brand for hair repair after bleaching and coloring sessions. Their clinical studies are based on hair that has been bleached eight times (yikes), and hair feels stronger and softer after each use.
Alexis Gaskin is a Freelance Beauty Writer for Marie Claire who can often be found painting her nails to match every outfit. She covers beauty, skincare, and fat fashion and will get distracted by any and all Halsey-related content or anything glittery.
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