I recently underwent one of the biggest changes that a curly girl can go through: I went blonde. The urge to dye my hair hit me so suddenly that I really didn’t put too much thought into the potential negative effects of bleach on my hair, and when people warned me, I did my best to ignore them. Luckily, the bleach didn’t harm my hair too much! I’ve been able to maintain the integrity of my curls while enjoying the brand new blond look by making some careful changes to my hair care routine and go-to products.

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Image Source: @taurantula

Here’s how I adapted my 3b curly hair routine after bleach, plus a list of my new favorite products.

My hair stylist, Selma Alamin in New Orleans, gave me blond balayage with dark unbleached roots. The entire process took about four hours, and because my hair is waist length, she had to use a lot of product. Many stylists use Olaplex after bleaching to repair the hair’s bonds, but my stylist didn’t use any on my hair this time.

Before this, my hair was “virgin” with no dye in it. Thankfully, I found that my curl pattern didn’t change after bleach, nor did I notice any increase in breakage. If anything, my curls are curlier and springier now, because I’m more careful about styling them.

My curls have changed in two other big ways, though: they’re drier, and they’re more frizz-prone. This has forced me to tweak my hair routine.

How my routine has changed

Before bleach, I was frankly a little lax about moisturizing my hair. I used light leave-in products, I slacked off on deep-conditioning, and I didn’t bother refreshing my hair every day. I only moisturized it on wash day or if it got incredibly dry.

After bleach, my hair needs much more moisture. If I don’t refresh it every single day, it becomes very visibly dry. So, I make sure to hydrate and condition my curls every morning. I spritz with water, then add some leave-in conditioner or hair milk.

Along with dryness comes frizz, so my hair is more frizz-prone. The lighter color also means that the frizz is more visible to the eye. When I had dark hair, I learned to embrace my frizz and the greater volume it came with. But with blonde hair, that amount of frizz just doesn’t look or feel right — it feels unhealthy. To keep my curls defined, I now use stronger hold products and refresh daily.

Deep conditioner has also become an indispensable part of my hair routine. Honestly, it should have been all along! But now, it’s no longer an option. I deep condition twice a week or so. I also pre-poo before I wash and use a protein masque regularly.

Lastly, I’ll soon start incorporating a purple toning conditioner into my routine to keep the blonde nice and bright, rather than brassy.

My new favorite products

My new hair routine has required me to buy new products. My old faves, such as Mielle Organics Moisturizing Avocado Hair Milk and Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Heat and Humidity Hair Gel, don’t quite give me the results I’m looking for with my blonde hair.

My blonde hair requires extra moisture and stronger hold products. I also have a lot of hair, so it’s important to me to not spend too much money on hair products because they disappear quickly. My new fave products achieve a combination of effectiveness and affordability.

  • Lottabody Moisturize Me Curl & Style Milk — I still love using hair milks, but I wanted to switch to one that I could use in abundance since I now re-moisturize my hair every single day. Lottabody Moisturize Me Curl & Style Milk comes in a pump bottle, making it easy to use a lot at once, and it’s CHEAP so I can use plenty of it for my hair without spending a ton of money. It’s super moisturizing but not too heavy.
  • DevaCurl Ultra Defining Gel — I’ve resisted buying DevaCurl products until now because I didn’t want to commit to such pricey products. But after finally trying out the Ultra Defining Gel, I can confirm that it’s totally worth the initial sticker shock. One 12 oz bottle goes a long way, even with all my hair, and the hold is exactly what I needed — a firmer, stronger hold than my other gels that still doesn’t get crunchy or flaky.
  • It’s a 10 Miracle Hair Mask — I also splurged on the It’s a 10 Miracle Hair Mask for my bi-weekly deep conditioning treatments. It ain’t cheap at over $30, but one jar lasts me for a few weeks. It seriously helps repair dryness, split ends, and damage, making it perfect for those with dyed blonde hair.

Other product recommendations for bleached 3b curly hair include:

My takeaways

My new hair care routine takes about 10 extra minutes daily, plus an extra 40 minutes per week or so to deep condition. Plus, the cost of a few new hair products. To me, that’s totally worth it for the trade-off of rocking a completely new look. With a little extra TLC, it turns out that I can have blonde hair and healthy hair—hooray!

What are your winning tips for blonde curls? Share them with us in the comments!