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Going blonde is fun, but it is not without its risks to the health of your hair. That goes double for anyone thinking about bleaching hair that is naturally curly, coily or wavy, or hair that has been chemically processed or colored frequently in the past. You need to prepare your hair before color processing, and the preparation is often the difference between minimal damage and severe damage.

Get a color consultation

This is important because the stylist needs to see the condition of your hair and determine how much bleach is needed to get the desired color you want. A good colorist will tell it to you straight and inform you of what is going to happen during and after the color session. They may also have some specific tips and products to use before and after bleaching and when it will be time for a touch-up. This is a vital step and should not be overlooked or skipped and a good colorist will insist on it.

Read more: 4 Signs You Need to Walk Out of a Salon

Pump up your hair’s moisture

The bleaching process is harsh and the biggest problem you will face after it is moisture retention. Bleach dries out your hair, and many suffer from straw-like strands that are brittle, frizzy, and dry. Using moisturizing shampoos, conditioners, and treatments prior to the appointment will help hair get into the best possible condition, which is necessary.

Don’t shampoo hair a few days prior to bleaching

There is this common misconception that dirty hair will not bleach properly, but according to American Board Certified hair colorist and hairstylist Monaé Everett that is simply not true: “While the natural oils produced in the hair act as a very thin buffer between the hair strands and the bleach, it is actually healthier for the hair to be dirty and have a little oil on the shaft. I have never seen hair with a normal amount of oil on the shaft not be able to be lighting with bleach. Also keep in mind that many of the top hair color lines add essential oils to their hair bleach in order to help keep the hair healthy while lightening.”

Not only is this not true, but the natural oils in your hair actually help coat the scalp and make the bleaching session less painful. When you wash your hair the day of or even the day before you are removing barriers from your hair, making your scalp susceptible to irritation from the chemical processing.

Reduce your heating tools about 1 week prior to bleaching

Eliminate heat a few days to the appointment. Heat styling could cause heat damage or at the very least dryness. You want your hair as moisturized and as healthy as possible to combat damage that may or may not occur during the bleaching session.

Buy products specifically for bleached or color-treated hair

Not only are these products specifically created to prolong hair and prevent fading, they also have extra moisturizers, proteins, and ceramides to keep hair healthier and stronger. Ask your colorist if they are using Olaplex with your color. It is a bond rebuilder that gets added to bleach but that allows the color to be truer without compromising on the integrity of your hair.

Read more: Where to Buy Color Safe Products

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