What Happened When I Bleached My Curls

I don’t typically do this.

To point at Gwen Stefani platinum and say, “Let’s give it a go!”

My Dutch hair, already impossibly thin, super snappable and characterized by its spirals, seems to take one inch of abuse and leaps a mile in damage. I straighten it once in a blue moon and even then it seems to take a month to spring back into healthy form. So as a general rule, I stay 10 feet away from lotions and potions, heat and stress, pulling and primping, anything that’s going to stunt my hair growth or health.

But last month, I got bored. A few too many scrolls around Instagram and one too many hair Pinterest boards later and I’m throwing caution to midsummer’s wind. My self-proclaimed “lazy ombre”, a grown out half head of virgin mousy blonde with leftover bright spurts from dye jobs past, needed a pick me up. So why not ratchet the volume right up to borderline white?
I called my stylist who specializes in blondes, carries quality lighteners, porosity/PH balancers and, most importantly, Olaplex, and booked myself in.

Bleaching is the most popular way to go lighter because of the fast results however it also damages your hair. Bleach is a chemical that dissolves the natural colour pigmentation in your hair; the rapid chemicals break down the hair. Bleach affects your curls greatly, your curls can lose elasticity and strength, your curls can even drop! Eek! Bleach can be a little scary, but it doesn’t have to be.

You need a lot of patience when bleaching your curls, it is a gradual process. The slower the process the less damage you are going to do to your curls. Curl Keeper Founder, Jonathan Torch had some great advice on bleaching curls.

“If you unscrew a hot lightbulb and instantly place it into a bucket of cold water, the lightbulb will shatter. However, if you wait until the lightbulb has cooled down then unscrew and place it into a bucket of cold water the lightbulb will remain intact. In this same way, you must take time to bleach your hair and get fabulously coloured curls

Bleaching your hair will damage your cuticle so proper moisture to the cuticle and protein is key. Strengthening the cuticle will help with moisture retention. Doing a weekly deep conditioner treatment like the Curly Hair Solutions Pure Silk Protein will help to prepare your curls for the bleach and restore your curls back to their crowning glory after the bleach.

To give you the step-by-step, the porosity/PH balancer was sprayed on my hair to even out the hair porosity levels before applying the lightener. In fine sections, the lightener was applied to my hair to help keep the scalp in healthy condition, then applied to the scalp at the very end. Once everything was applied, the lightener/Olaplex combo was left on for an hour. The sections that were applied to first were rinsed while the others caught up. Once everything else was lightened, lightener was added to my roots last, since they lift the fastest, before rinsing. Then a balanced formula of three different shades of ammonia-free, EQ gloss toner was applied to achieve my tone. Once the toner had processed, it was followed by an Olaplex 2 Mask before a quick blow dry and trim. Finally, I loaded up on the three biggest take home products needed for any blonde – moisture masks, heat protectant and purple shampoo – to save my mane from the stringy, wilted texture robbery that bleaching can so often leave you with.

After an understandable, but still whopping five hours, I left salivating from the drastic before and after that had transformed me into a whole new Gwen, I mean, me.

beforeandafter