Friday, March 7, 2014

REVEAL ALL THE SECRETS!: How I maintain my hair

So I thought I should do this post, because I do bleach my hair with some frequency and like everyone else, I get split ends.

But how do I get my hair looking and feeling healthy after I get an attack of the "bleach fluffies"?

We know bleaching does three things: removes the pigment, dries out the hair and cause damage because you're changing the hair structure that can range to very mild to very, very ugly. To ease the damage and restore the hair, there are three things to do: trim up ends, use deep conditioners and reduce any extra damage (heat, teasing, etc). If you so choose, you can also slap on your desired alternative hair color, because the alternative colors (pinks, blues, etc) tend to be conditioning on their own. They won't fix up the damage completely but they will give your hair some life back!

The first thing I really insist on is trimming your ends, if you need it. Bleaching can really irritate already split ends and cause more split ends, breakage, or both. Take a good look at your hair before and after, figure out how much needs trimming. I know it sucks to have to cut your hair but having straggly, beat up ends isn't pretty either.

The second, which is pretty obvious: deep conditioning and conditioning treatments. I've used deep conditioners, oils (not too big a fan of most), and a protein treatment. All of them were conditioning and really made my hair feel revived! I like protein treatments but don't do them too much. They can end up harming your hair instead of helping. Here are my favorites for this:
  • Coconut oil - doesn't look like an oil in the tub, but this low-melting point solid does actually really make hair feel better. I've always had a dry scalp, which coconut oil is supposed to help with and my ends were feeling dry. I decided to try out the coconut oil in the kitchen (because of it's low-melting point, its best kept in the pantry!), since it is raved about. While it was a very drippy mess--wrap your head with plastic, a shower cap, or a plastic bag, then put a plastic bag over that--my hair still felt good. Plus I'm not seeing any gross flakes. I actually put pieces of paper towel around the edge to catch the oil because it was dripping so much. Be careful washing this out, it will make your tub/shower floor slippery! And the obvious: wear a shirt (maybe drape a towel around your neck too) that you absolutely could care less about getting oil on. Here's a great little article written by a friend on coconut oil. I like the uses she lists aside from hair conditioning.
  • Neutrogena Triple Moisture Deep Conditioner - It smells nice, doesn't cost an arm and a leg (about $6 to $8 depending where you buy), and it works. I've been using this stuff for about... 3 years? I buy it on and off, particularly when I bleach my hair. Haven't used it recently, mainly because I did DIY things (see above) or I bought something on sale at Sally's Beauty Supply. This does have sweet almond oil, so if you have an almond allergy, I'd possibly avoid this.
  • L'Oreal Total Repair 5 Damage Erasing Balm - I love this stuff, despite the fact it looks like margarine. A bit more expensive than the Neutrogena (about $7), it does what it says: re-hydrates dehydrated hair. Will it fix split ends? No, because it's only ever a temporary solution to them; it does certainly revive rough hair though. (See my review of the balm and the shampoo/conditioner here.)
  • ApHogee Two-Step Protein Treatment & Balancing Moisturizer - I don't like the DIY method of slathering egg on my head. No. Just no. I get cold easily so I can't take cold showers, which means I'd have cooked egg in my hair. Ewwwww. This protein treatment did help after a vicious bleach + dye session. While my hair didn't look bad, it felt like it to me. It was inexpensive ($4 but you might catch it on sale at Sally's or you can buy online in bulk), and well-worth it. The conditioner was great! I didn't like my hair becoming stiff from the protein treatment, but I'd rather have stiff hair temporarily versus damaged hair for some time. Don't use this if you have an egg allergy!
Personally, I don't recommend the placenta treatments due to any possible growth hormones. (I am neither confirming or denying them, but they are a possibility. A very gross one.) Let's not get cancer because of beauty, okay?

Now to the important part, reducing damage. This is something you need to take into account daily, because you do damage your hair daily with styling, blow-drying, blahblahblah. If you've just bleached your hair and tend to tease it, blow dry it, or straighten it, lay off. Teasing does and will cause breakage; you will have only yourself to blame for teasing newly bleached hair. I don't tease my hair much and especially not after it's been bleached. Nope. If you blow dry and/or straighten your hair, invest in a heat protector. I personally like the John Frieda Frizz-Ease Thermal Protection Hair Serum; it's now called Frizz-Ease Expert Finish Polishing Serum and they changed the bottle. Price ranges; I'm not sure how this new formula compares to the old. I haven't had to buy a new bottle as of yet! You'll be heating the product rather than your hair. Try to reduce how much heat you use as well. I let my hair dry on its own, unless it's either A) too cold for that, then I'll use the blow dryer till my hair is just slightly damp, or B) I'm going somewhere and can't have wet hair. Attempt to blow dry your hair straight, instead of reaching for the flat iron after--that's overkill with the heat. Don't you dare use a flat iron on your wet or damp hair. This is the stupidest thing anyone does. Your hair is weaker when it's wet, people!

Styling can make things worse, so take it easy. I don't honestly believe that a ponytail is really all that "protective" of hair. Try wearing it down or in a low, loose bun. Don't go nuts with the styling and don't wash your hair too often after bleaching because that can dry it out even more. Not pretty! Shampoo can also start leeching out your pretty neon colors, especially dandruff shampoo and clarifying shampoo. Clarifying shampoo is also drying, so don't use it frequently.

Everyone swears up and down that sulfates leech color, but I've found that even the "color-safe" stuff has sulfates and I'm fairly sure that some of the "sulfate-free" shampoos contain sulfates. Read your ingredient lists before you buy that bottle of "sulfate-free" anything. You might be disappointed! I don't find shampoos containing sulfates stripping out my color or even particularly affecting it. The better the brand, the better the color. Of course, porosity does change how well your hair holds onto your pretty new neon.

Update March 10: I forgot to add this in: a good way to maintain color is to add a little dye to your shampoo. Yes, shampoo. You might think, "Hey wait—you're just washing out the dye??" Yes! Since you're lathering up the shampoo, the dye gets to sit and be worked into the hair. The excess will get washed away when you rinse the shampoo out. Conditioner is actually used to prevent any bleeding onto the sections of hair one doesn't want to alter; conditioner locks out color and bleach. The reason to put it in shampoo and not conditioner is simple: in my experience, when I had all-over red hair (a permanent boxed one, blegh), I tried to mix conditioner—both deep conditioner and regular conditioner—with a cheap, very liquidy semi-permanent dye to keep my red looking vibrant. Conditioner was a total fail; I didn't find my red any brighter than before it was washed. Then I tried mixing it into my shampoo and BAM! Vibrant, refreshed red hair. You should be wearing gloves when you wash your hair for the first couple of days/weeks after you change your hair color because you will likely suffer some bleeding, which is natural. There are products that help seal in the colors, which I haven't tried. A DIY method is to use white vinegar—I could be wrong so look it up before you try—and I know Ion makes a "lock and shine" product. It locks in the new color and adds a healthy dose of shine to the hair supposedly. 

There you have it. All my secrets about my hair. Literally everything. I don't do a lot of heat-anything, and don't bother with styling usually! I trim my hair and give it TLC after bleaching and doing anything nasty to it. You only have one head of hair (and no one likes growing it out because it does go through some awkward stages), so be nice to it.


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