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 (though, trust us—you're better off going to the salon), or maybe you've spent countless hours in the salon chair to achieve the golden hue of your dreams. No matter how 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. It starts with finding the best shampoo and conditioner for you (and even considering a purple shampoo to avoid brassiness), but the care and keeping of bleached hair also beyond that: When combatting the drying effects of chemical bleaching, a good deep conditioning treatment, like a hair mask, is vital.
Therefore, we tapped the talents of Matrix brand ambassador Rachel Bodt along with XMONDO founder and CEO Brad Mondo (opens in new tab) for their best tips and product recommendations for keeping bleached hair soft and conditioned.
Do I need to use a deep conditioner on bleached hair?
Yes, you need to use a deep conditioner on bleached hair, Mondo tells us—especially if you want to have the best hair possible. “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, adding that deep conditioners infuse hair with protein and moisture.
How do you deep condition 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.” Deep conditioners work best on damp hair and should sit on the head for anywhere from 10 minutes to overnight, depending on the conditioner.
However, 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.” To avoid this, be sure to read your deep conditioner's instructions carefully, and if you notice your hair feeling weighed down and greasy, cut back a bit until you find the most balanced conditioning routine for you.
How else can you repair bleached hair?
“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," Bodt advises. "You also want to add something to repair the bonds that have broken during lightning services."
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.
The Best Deep Conditioners for Bleached Hair
- Best for Curls: Camille Rose Algae Renew Deep Conditioning Mask (opens in new tab)
- Best for Straight Hair: Joico K-PAK Deep-Penetrating Reconstructor (opens in new tab)
- Best for Damage-Control: Aveda Botanical Repair Intensive Strengthening Masque (opens in new tab)
- Best for Combatting Brassy Hair: Amika Bust Your Brass Cool Blonde Purple Intense Repair Hair Mask (opens in new tab)
- Best All-Around: adwoa beauty Blue Tansy Reparative Mask (opens in new tab)
- Best Single-Use: Matrix Total Results Miracle Creator Multi-Tasking Hair Mask (opens in new tab)
The Tried and True Deep Conditioner
The hero of deep conditioning masks, especially if you have curly hair. Reviewers report fantastic results after just one ten-minute use (!!). Users also love that the mask has a faint but pleasant smell and that it's color-safe.
Pros: vegan; planet-positive; protein-infused
Cons: not as frizz-fighting as other, oil-based masks
The Miracle Deep Conditioner
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."
Pros: great for all hair types and textures; increases shine; affordable
Best Smoothing Deep Conditioner
“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.
Pros: promotes shine; good for all hair types and textures
Cons: contains sulfates; high price point
Best Clay Mask Deep Conditioner
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. A whopping 94 percent of users on Sephora recommend it, with straight-haired users to 4C hair type users and everyone in-between saying that it made their hair look and feel softer and more moisturized
Pros: clean; silicone-free; Black-owned brand; good for all hair types and textures
Cons: high price point
Best Brass-Reducing Deep Conditioner
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: Reviewers warn that, although the mask effectively reduces brassiness, leaving it on too long could result in a purple tint or a grey color.
Pros: combats brass; vegan; works on all hair types
Cons: should be used in moderation; high price point
Best Deep Conditioner for Scalp Dryness
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. Reviewers love how soft and bouncy it leaves curls, and multiple people note appreciatively how quickly the mask works—a mere five minutes!
Pros: cruelty-free; Black-owned brand; great for curly hair; affordable
Cons: contains propylene glycol
Best Deep Conditioner for Dull Hair
Of course, Brad Mondo loves his own products for bleached hair repair, and their 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.”
Pros: increases shine; protein-infused
Cons: contains propylene glycol; strong scent
Best Clean Deep Conditioner
"There I was, crying at work after a bad bleach job, my hair shedding excessively every time I ran my hands through it," Marie Claire contributor Alexis Gaskin regales us. "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."
Pros: cruelty-free; vegan; free of parabens, silicones, and fragrance
Cons: high price point
Best Detangling Conditioner
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. Reviewers with thick hair especially love this option, saying that it made brushing their hair a breeze and minimized breakage.
Pros: great for curly hair and for bringing out curls
Cons: strong smell; thick and can be time-consuming to rinse out
Best Deep Conditioner for Natural Hair
Deep conditioners from Black-owned brands are always A+ options for curly and natural hair, and this one focuses on revitalizing locks after they've been damaged. Customers with natural hair love the product, writing that it didn't weigh down their curls and that it's perfect for penetrating low-porosity hair.
Pros: Black-owned brand; affordable; contains natural ingredients like shea, cocoa, and coconut oil
Cons: not well-suited for thin or straight hair
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. The formula is lightweight, but reviewers caution that a little goes a long way: Applying too much of the product or keeping it on for too long can weigh down your strands.
Pros: cruelty-free; free of parabens and phthalates; vegan
Cons: can weigh down thin hair if not used in moderation
Best Deep Conditioner for Hair Regrowth
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. Reviewers with natural hair especially love the mask, but buyers warn that the product's strong mint smell, while refreshing to some (like me), is not for everyone.
Pros: affordable; good for all hair types; silicone-free
Cons: strong mint smell
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. Reviewers love how bouncy and shiny it makes hair look and feel. Plus, multiple people note how effective it is at detangling.
Pros: color-safe; good for regular use
Cons: small container
Best Fast-Acting Deep Conditioner
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. Reviewers note that the product works especially well on thin hair and straight hair. For thick hair, on the other hand, one may need to use an increased amount of the product.
Pros: great for low-porosity or dry, dull hair; good for regular use
Cons: not ideal for curly or thick hair
A Salon-Favorite Deep Conditioner
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. Reviewers note that the product is especially adept at enhancing shine and combatting frizz.
Pros: affordable; sulfate-free
Cons: thick; strong smell
A Stylist-Approved Deep Conditioner
One of the many hair color specialists that we 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.
Pros: stylist-approved; clinically tested; clean; vegan
Cons: high price point