I’ve double processed my hair from a dark mocha brown to a buttery platinum twice. As far as aesthetics go, I love being blonde — it’s made me feel much more Debbie Harry (my longtime beauty muse). And I think being blonde adds a certain warmth and radiance to my complexion (it’s like having a ring light on my face at all times.)
Being a bottle blonde is relatively easy, but ensuring your super-bleached hair stays healthy and avoids breakage is actually a lot of work — perhaps more than people realize. As my colorist, Emaly Baum, put it the first time I made the transformation, half the battle is at home. I only wash my hair once a week, but those days are far from a quick, five-minute rinse — they involve preparation treatments, masks, leave-ins, bond-building creams, and oils, among other hair-care products. But with the help of these products, I’ve been able to keep my very bleached hair as soft and shiny as possible — in fact, people are usually pleasantly surprised when they feel the texture of my hair.
Will your hair be as soft as it was when it was virgin? No — it’s important to manage your expectations here. But a thorough routine will ensure that your bleached hair stays hydrated and experiences as little damage as possible by delivering tons of moisture, fatty oils, and repairing ingredients back into your locks.
Below, a list of my all-time-favorite hair-care products for super-dry, damaged, double-processed hair. This list is definitely on the pricey side — you don’t need all of these products if they’re not in your price range (even just a bottle of $28 Olaplex No. 3 will help you out tremendously). But I just wanted to share a thorough list of all the products that have genuinely worked for me during my two stints as a faux blonde, as I ferociously scoured the internet for a similar list — to no avail — before my first double processes. So if you’re a fellow bottle blonde, faux blonde to be, or just someone with dry, damaged hair, I hope you find this helpful.
Olaplex is a treatment that repairs bonds in your hair that are broken during the bleaching process. In my opinion, it’s a bleached-hair essential — with consistent use, I’ve noticed that my hair has become a whole lot softer, smoother, and less brittle. However, this is not a conditioner or mask, which is a common misconception. It’s a treatment step, and so it should technically be used in this order: shampoo your hair, use Olaplex No. 3 on damp hair for ten minutes, wash it out, then apply your hair mask. But I totally understand how all of that time sitting around in the shower can be annoying — I’ve even found myself skipping this step because it just felt too cumbersome. That’s why I was so happy when the brand released its Olaplex No. 0 spray, a primer that not only preps your hair for Olaplex No. 3, but also has bond-building benefits of its own. You spray it all over your dry hair, wait a few minutes, then run Olaplex No. 3 throughout. That way, you can put Olaplex No. 3 in your hair whenever, not only in the shower. Sometimes I do so the night before my wash day, and then wear my hair in a slicked-back bun.
This hair oil utilizes a similar bond-building technology as its No. 3 counterpart, meaning it not only adds an instant shine to your hair — like most oils — it also repairs and strengthens damaged locks. Of all the oils I’ve tried throughout the years, this one is by far the star. I’ve found that a little teeny bit goes a long way, and its incredibly lightweight formula is excellent for giving that smoothing shine without stickiness or heaviness. It has been so great for controlling my frizziness during the summer months.
All the Christophe Robin masks are incredible for dry, dehydrated hair, but baby blonde is definitely my go-to. This particular mask is equal parts conditioning mask and toning treatment, meaning it will keep brassiness out of your hair and help maintain that bright, just-left-the-salon blonde while delivering rich, hydrating ingredients to your hair. What’s great about the toning aspect of this mask is that while it does a great job of knocking the hay-like color, it’s not so concentrated that it’ll turn your hair lavender. This mask is definitely expensive, but I’ve found that it goes on sale a lot, so keep your eyes peeled!
The launch of this product was a big deal in the beauty community. Basically, K18 works by delivering a patented amino-acid chain to the inner structure of your hair, replacing missing amino acids and regenerating the bond to repair your hair. It was formerly a salon-only treatment, but this year the brand finally launched its patented formula in at-home hair care products. It’s incredibly expensive, but a tiny bit goes a long way, and my God, it works. Here’s how you use it: Shampoo your hair, towel dry, then run a few pumps through your hair (it comes with a guidebook based on your length and thickness). Wait four minutes for the product to sink in, then style as usual. Not only is this mask absolutely incredible for repairing damaged hair, it has also made my hair-washing process so much quicker. I use this product every other week, and I have noticed such a big difference in the texture, softness, and general health of my hair.
This leave-in conditioner from Reverie has been a favorite of mine for a while — its lightweight, milky texture is perfect for replenishing any moisture lost during the washing process without giving my hair that tacky heaviness common with a lot of leave-in conditioners. The formula uses fatty-acid-rich olive and almond oils, as well as amino acids and shea butter for quenching dry hair and smoothing out flyaways. It also smells amazing.
One of the greatest tips I learned from my colorist, Emaly, was to ditch hair ties and instead opt for big claw clips. I have to wear my hair up all day during esthetician school, and I’ve found that having my hair in a clip has been so much gentler than twisting it up into a bun. A few hairdressers have told me that hair ties are one of the biggest causes of breakage and hair damage, so I highly recommend these. Plus, Urban Outfitters sells adorable ones!
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