As someone who's taken excruciating care to avoid damaging processes like heat styling, using styling aids, and using conventional, drying dyes, this was a difficult step for me to take. And rightfully so, considering I'm dealing with a lot of BAQ henna- which is, in general, permanent.
There have been threads on various forums and some reported success with different methods to lighten henna, though removing it completely is incredibly difficult to do. Henna tends to stick around and not want to budge- and by the time you do manage to lift it out, you're left with terribly damaged, dry, lifeless hair.
Even knowing all this, I wanted to color my hair because I didn't really like the cool red my hair had turned. I have been careful to avoid my length during my henna applications, but I was using a high lawsone-content henna, meaning it had a stronger dye and left a redder stain. Even accidentally getting it on the length meant my hair would gradually turn redder and redder. I wanted a warmer, orangey color rather than what my hair was. So, enter bleach.
Before I detail my process, I want to specify that I was careful and strand-tested. I was dealing with high volume developer and there was not a lot of room for something to go wrong. This is crucial- if you have any intention of dyeing over henna in any capacity, you should ALWAYS STRAND TEST AND WAIT. Henna is an unpredictable beast to work with, so it is imperative that you at least get an idea of what your results will be. Sometimes henna will re-darken over several days, which I've found to be true of color removers like Color Oops (Though some people have had success with them)
With that all said, this was my starting color on the left, and the most recent length shot tody
You may notice that it's not really that big of a color shift- and you're right. It's definitely noticeable in certain lighting, and in person, you'd be able to tell.
The crazy thing about this color change? It took volume 40 developer to get there.
That tiny lift was over 45 minutes of the strongest developer on my hair. That's a lift most people would never recommend, and that's what I had to do to get that minor color change. That's the reality of henna, my friends.
But let's get to the whole reason why I wrote this blog post. Not because I lightened my hair, but because I have virtually no damage from the bleaching process- that isn't my hair texture changing in the second photo from bleach damage, though are just braid waves because I've been wearing my hair up.
What?! No damage, you might be wondering? But how, if bleach is so bad for the hair, is that even possible?
I had read on one of my favorite hair blogs, ktani's hair sense, about a promising theory that coconut oil, applied before the dyeing hair, drastically reduced damage done by dyes. So, using this knowledge, I set out to find out if bleaching my hair might be feasible. But first, I did some strand tests. The strand on the left is the bleached strand, and the strand on the right is the original color.
I was satisfied with the results of my strand tests, so I set out to replicate them on my whole head.
First, the day before I was planning to bleach my hair, I did a conditioning rinse to detangle my hair, then I followed it up with a strong clarifying shampoo. I did not condition my hair afterwords, as it would inhibit the coconut oil from being able to properly penetrate the hair.
I then carefully towel-dried my hair and gently removed any knots by finger detangling.
After my hair was dried, I then applied the coconut oil. I guess applied is too conservative- I drowned my hair in coconut oil, until it was soaked thoroughly and dripping. I then wrapped it up with a plastic cap and kept it on overnight, for a total of about 9-10 hours.
The next morning, I did not wash my hair, but did squeeze out some of the excess oil and then mixed up the developer and bleach. I carefully applied (Wearing gloves!!) the bleach to my hair in sections, careful to keep it off my skin and wipe up and drips immediately. I then covered my hair with a processing cap and let it sit for 45 minutes.
I rinsed my hair, using a diluted shampoo to help make sure the bleach was out of my hair- I did not condition yet, then I towel-dried my hair again. On my hair, I applied a protein treatment for about 30 minutes, covered my hair, and then rinsed it out. I followed up with an SMT (Snowymoon's Moisture Treatment- 4 parts conditioner, 1 part aloe, and 1 part honey) and let it sit for as long as I could stand it.
After rinsing the moisturizing treatment out of my hair, I applied more conditioner and then towel dried again. When my hair was mostly dry, I applied mineral oil to my hair to keep it manageable. I waited to see if the color would redarken, as henna is known to do sometimes, but luckily, I had no issue with the color reverting!
|The products that helped keep my hair form being completely fried.|
Mad props to coconut oil for shielding my hair form the evils of bleach.
Since bleaching, I have been doing light protein treatments followed by SMT and then a good oiling. My hair has shown no new splits, and only a little bit of dryness on the first day, when quickly calmed down after I oiled it.
My protein treatments of choice have been the ION Reconstructor and the ION Effective Care treatment. The Reconstructor is a more hardcore protein treatment, so I used that one after my bleaching. The Effective Care treatment is a lighter protein treatment that I'd already been using, so I've been using it after every wash, followed by a deep conditioning treatment.
I think the biggest player in this whole game was the coconut oil soak prior to bleaching. It is important that the coconut oil is able to penetrate the hair, so I was sure to do a good clarifying wash to remove any build-up that might prevent it from doing so.
Additionally, mineral oil has helped enormously in keeping my hair soft and smooth. I've found that it works the best when I apply it to almost-dry hair.
So where will I go from here? I still have a bit of the old color hanging onto the top part of my hair, but I would like to allow that to grow out for a little while before I try to treat that, because I don't want to accidentally get bleach on my less-saturated roots. I'll give it a few months, and post another update when I do decide to lighten the rest of the hair.
I hope you guys found my post informative. If you do choose to bleach your hair after a treatment such as henna, do always remember to strand test.
Until next time!!