Adler says she has been dyeing her hair every color of the rainbow for years with no regrets. She’s been periwinkle blue, lavender, pastel pink and icy white, and has loved every minute of it. Although friends and family sometimes nagged her about her less-than-healthy hair, but she says, “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 her hair started literally breaking off about a year ago, she cried and proceeded to tell every colorist and hairstylist all of her problems. “Sitting in my therapist’s — I mean stylist’s — chair,” she says, “I asked how this could ever have happened to me, the hair dye chameleon.”
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 do deep damage to hair over time. To make matters worse, Adler says she would sometimes skip conditioning treatments or switch up colors too often, making it very prone to breakage and damage. While she knew a whole lot about tones and Manic Panic, today she now knows a whole lot more about hair growth supplements and conditioning treatments. She is never going to stop dyeing her hair pastel shades, but she is going to dye it smarter this time — and help everyone else learn from her mistakes.
In case you’re also a bleach addict or dealing with some minor breakage, here are Adler’s tips for how to repair your hair damage — or, better yet, how to make sure you never get there in the first place.
What the Pros Say About Over-Bleaching
Bumble and bumble colorist Zoe Wiepert 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,” Wiepert 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… 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, to rehab hair damage, 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,” she says.
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.”
The 5 Best Products to Repair Hair Damage
Viviscal Professional Hair Growth Programme. Adler says: “Beloved by models for years, Viviscal Professional 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…”
Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil, $20. Organic coconut oil packs moisture back into any strands that are just plain thirsty. Leave it on as long as possible — or sleep in it — then wash with shampoo multiple times for best results against hair damage.
Nexxus Emergencee Reconstructing Treatment, $18.99. Another damaged hair favorite, the gel-like consistency is strange at first — it almost appears too thick — but if you apply it first, and then shampoo and condition your hair, you’ll find it’s softer than ever.
Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3. 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. Finding an oil that will help to soften the ends of hair (especially bleached-out ones) while also battling frizz is crucial, and Bumble’s oil does just that, without weighing it down.