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Do You Shampoo After Bleach?

by Gabbi

Dyeing your hair at home is one thing, but bleaching it is a whole other ballgame. When you bleach your hair, the chemicals in the bleach open up your hair shaft and remove pigment. It’s a potentially dangerous process that can leave your hair looking dry, damaged, and prone to breakage.

That being said, many people successfully bleach their hair at the salon and even at home. As long as you know what you’re doing and understand the ins and outs of hair bleach, you can get gorgeous results!

Chances are, you’re reading this because you have decided to bleach your hair and you want to be prepared so that it comes out looking stunning (and not ruined).

Among other things, you’re wondering if you’re supposed to use certain products on your hair after bleaching, like shampoo.

So, do you shampoo after bleach? It depends on if you’re putting another dye or toner over your hair after bleaching. You may need to use shampoo to wash out that other color. Outside of that, avoid shampooing your hair immediately after bleaching and wait to shampoo for at least 24-48 hours to allow your hair time to recover.

In this post, we will cover questions about washing out bleach, when shampoo can be used after bleaching, and more tips to keep your freshly-bleached hair healthy!

How To Wash Out Bleach

Most people who bleach their hair follow it up with another color or toner to achieve a certain look. But some people just want to lighten their hair and leave it at that.

Regardless of what plan you’re following, you will need to wash out the bleach from your hair once your hair has lightened.

To wash out the bleach, you do not need to use any shampoo. In fact, it’s best to wash the bleach out of your hair using cool or lukewarm water.

You might be surprised to hear that you shouldn’t use shampoo to wash the bleach out, but it’s better for your hair since the bleach has opened the hair shaft and you don’t want to put shampoo over your fragile hair.

Make sure to spend plenty of time rinsing your hair with water to remove all of the bleach thoroughly. If any bleach is left behind, it might continue to lighten your hair and can potentially damage it.

If you’re not putting another color or toner over your bleached hair, you can simply wait 24-48 hours before washing your hair again. At that point, you can use a gentle shampoo.

How To Wash Out Post-Bleach Toner

If you’re following up with a color or a toner on your bleached hair, you will likely have to wash out the toner with shampoo.

Colors and toners make it possible for you to go from “bleach blonde” to various shades of blonde or fun colors like pink, lavender, and grey.

A toner can remove some of the bleachy brass that’s left in your hair after bleaching, especially if you had dark hair to begin with.

So should you use shampoo to wash out toners and dyes after bleaching? Most colors and toners do need to be washed out with shampoo, otherwise, they can remain on the hair and continue to color it in ways you don’t want.

If you’re familiar with toner, it’s usually blue or purple to offset the yellow and orange tones in bleached hair. So if you don’t wash it out properly and it stays in your hair, you might end up with blue or purple hair.

If that’s what you’re going for – that’s one thing. But if you were hoping for beautiful blonde tresses this can make you really upset!

So if you follow up your bleaching with another color or toner, you will likely need to use shampoo to wash it out. Follow the directions on the packaging for whatever dye you’re using.

After you’ve washed it out, give your hair a break of 24-48 hours without shampooing. This will allow your hair to recover a bit before you resume regular hair washing.

What Shampoo Should You Use After Bleaching?

Whether you’re shampooing your hair immediately after applying toner or waiting 48 hours after bleaching, you should try to use a gentle shampoo.

Any hair that has been bleached is more vulnerable to the harsh chemicals that are often found in shampoos.

Bleach uses alkaline agents to make the hair shaft swell up and open up the cuticles. Once the cuticles are open, the lightener agents can access the pigment deep within your hair to remove it. During this process, your hair also loses its fatty acids, which makes it dry and brittle.

This is why it’s so important to use the right kind of shampoo and take really good care of your hair after bleaching.

Gentle shampoos will be:

  • Sulfate-free
  • Silicone-free
  • Hydrating and moisturizing
  • Strengthening (look for shampoos with keratin)

Another thing that’s great for bleached hair is a shampoo with purple pigment – it can keep brassiness at bay and make your blonde hair brighter.

These days there are a lot of shampoo options on the market that meet these criteria. We love this shampoo by Redken to help your hair recover. And this one by Olaplex is perfect for making your blonde tresses look healthy and fresh!

How To Keep Your Bleached Hair Healthy

Aside from using a gentle shampoo and waiting a day or two after bleaching your hair, there are a few more things you can do to help repair your hair after lightening it.

Here are our top suggestions if you want your mane to recover and regain strength:

Less Frequent Washes

Even if you’re using a gentle shampoo, it’s best to keep hair washing to a minimum, at least in the first three weeks after bleaching.

Every time your hair gets wet, the hair shaft expands and stretches, revealing vulnerabilities and exposing it to additional damage.

It’s best to keep your hair dry as much as possible. Try to go some days without washing and look into gentle dry shampoos to use on days when it looks a little greasy. Also, updos will become your new best friends.

Use A Repairing Mask Weekly

Using a repairing mask is basically a must for the first few weeks (or even months) after bleaching your hair.

Remember that your hair loses a lot of moisture and fatty acids with bleaching. It also uses a lot of keratin. 

So a weekly hair mask is a great way to replenish some of those lost nutrients. This one by Kloraine has moisturizing ingredients as well as a keratin complex to help target all those issues.

You can also make your own masks – they’re pretty easy to make! Look up some DIY recipes for hair masks containing coconut oil.

Reduce Heat Exposure

Since your hair is already vulnerable, using hot tools on it can make it worse. Even if your hair normally tolerates heat styling well, it’s going to be a lot more damaging to use hot tools after bleaching.

Hot tools like blow dryers, flat irons, and curlers dehydrate your hair and lead to breakage. If your hair is already dehydrated from bleach, it’s best to avoid dehydrating it further.

You can’t always avoid using heat on your hair (hello, cold winter mornings), but you can try to reduce it. Try not to use scalding hot water when you wash your hair, avoid blow drying unless absolutely necessary, and stop using straighteners and curlers on a daily basis.

Embrace your hair’s natural texture or explore heatless techniques like heatless curls, that are fun and easy to achieve.

Trim Frequently

It’s inevitable to get some new split ends after bleaching your hair. The best thing to do is to get a trim shortly after bleaching so that those split ends don’t split further up the hair shaft.

Getting a regular trim every 6 weeks or so will keep breakage and split ends at bay. It’ll also give your hair a fuller and healthier appearance.

There is a myth that trimming hair makes it grow faster. While it doesn’t quite work like that, trimming your hair does allow your hair to grow longer because the ends won’t be breaking off as much. 

If you want your hair to grow healthy and long, especially after bleaching, getting it cut regularly is a must.

Final Thoughts

There’s been a lot of confusion about whether or not you should use shampoo after bleaching your hair.

It all comes down to this: don’t shampoo your hair for at least 24 hours after bleaching unless it’s required to wash out any dyes or toners you’re putting over your bleached hair.

Even if you use shampoo to wash out these dyes or toners, you should still aim to give your hair a break afterward.

But the journey doesn’t stop there. If your hair is bleached, it’s important to continue to treat it with gentle, hydrating, and repairing products to keep it as healthy as possible.

Hopefully, this article helps clear up the confusion around washing your hair after bleaching.

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