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Bleached hair is bright and fun, but it’s also a high-maintenance style, according to the celebrity hairstylists we consulted. Lightened locks require frequent salon visits and the use of special shampoos and conditioners plus bleach runs the risk of weakening hair. “Having bleached hair is like having a finicky house plant: It’s not a full-time job, but you need to take your lifestyle and daily routine into account before making the leap,” said celebrity hairstylist Tim Aylward. He noted bleached hair will require at least an extra five minutes of daily upkeep.
According to Aylward, bleaching “excavates the pigment from your strands” by opening up the protective layer of the hair and removing the natural color. Kristen Shaw, the hairstylist to Jodie Comer and Chloe Sevigny, added that once the bleach is applied, the hair swells and the melanin is removed from the hair strand — this process creates lightness and allows the optional toner to help seal the cuticles.
Aylward, who works with Zosia Mamet and Anja Rubik, also compared bleached hair to an empty water bottle. “You’ve removed the pigment on the inside, but you’ve also taken a lot of what naturally protects your hair [and makes] it shiny and strong,” he said. “It’s up to you to put back in what you’ve taken out with color-specific shampoo, conditioner and leave-in products.”
If you want lighter hair but are not ready to fully commit to caring for bleached hair, Shaw advised opting for a balayage, which offers a “natural feel, less overall bleach and more space between your salon visits.” She also recommended getting money pieces, little pops of color around the face, which she called the “quickest and easiest ways to add a little boost to your hair.”
How to shop for shampoo and conditioner for bleached hair
Since bleach weakens the hair, the experts we consulted advised using shampoos and conditioners that don’t strip the hair, which would ultimately alter the hair color. According to Shaw, the general rule of thumb is to opt for shampoos and conditioners made with moisturizing and smoothing agents like oils and vitamins, and that are paraben- and SLS-free. Aylward advised being wary of products with alcohol as the main ingredient because “alcohol adds immediate shine but will damage your hair over time.” He continued that when your hair product “doesn’t work like it used to, chances are alcohol is the main ingredient.”
Which shampoos and conditioners are best for bleached hair?
You can easily find color-safe shampoos and conditioners with bleached blondes in mind at popular beauty retailers like Sephora, Ulta and Dermstore. Those who prefer shopping at mega retailers like Amazon, Walmart and Target are also in luck — they carry color-specific hair care products at relatively affordable price points. A few well-known brands like R+Co, Lee Stafford and Function of Beauty all make shampoos and conditioners formulated for bleached hair, too.
There are also purple shampoos and conditioners that work as a toner to protect bleached hair from the elements — water, sunshine and smoke — and sweat, which can all turn the hair yellow or give it a copper tint. Aylwin called purple shampoo and conditioner the “first line of defense” for those with bleached hair and Shaw added they are “a great help to balance in between visits to the salon.” Popular brands that make purple shampoo and conditioner include L’Oréal, Redken and Matrix. Nexxus, Paul Mitchel and Wella have created purple shampoos and conditioners, too.
5 best shampoos and conditioners for bleached hair
We tapped hair experts to share their go-to hair care products for bleached hair and included a couple of recommendations from the Shopping staff, too.
Beyond the L’Oréal Shimmer Lights and Oribe Bright Blonde collection, Shaw is also a “huge fan” of this Davines hair mask for bleached hair because the combination of fatty acids, vitamins and moringa oil “adds a lot of shine and moisture to damaged hair.” It received a 4.8-star average rating from nearly 730 reviews on Amazon.
Aylward, who has been a bleached blonde before, “loves” Sachajuan’s Silver collection because the “super pigmented” purple shampoo and conditioner helps remove yellowness from the hair, and “won’t alter” the bleached hair. He is also a fan of the “clean, minimal” bottles — they’re white with a purple label — that look “super chic” on the shower shelf. The shampoo earned a 4.6-star average rating from more than 150 reviews on Amazon while the conditioner received a 4.5-star average rating from nearly 60 reviews on Amazon.
Hairstylist Courtney Foster recommended this purple shampoo to help “balance out” the bleach blonde color and enhance its vibrancy. Since bleach blonde hair is “very delicate,” dries out easily and breaks if it’s not cared for properly, Foster appreciates the “very moisturizing” ingredients like coconut, sunflower oils and squalane. The shampoo earned a 4.6-star average rating from more than 8,800 reviews on Amazon while the conditioner received a 4.6-star average rating from nearly 3,500 reviews on Amazon.
This honey-based shampoo is infused with a blend of minerals, vitamins, amino acids and antioxidants. "Honey is a natural humectant that maintains the hair's natural moisture balance while giving it a really nice shine," said celebrity hairstylist Dominick Pucciarello of The Salon Project in New York. "Bleached hair needs extra moisture to prevent further damage." It received a 4.8-star average rating from nearly 130 reviews on Gisou’s site.
After Shopping Production Coordinator Rebecca Rodriguez bleached her dark brown hair, Olaplex’s shampoo, conditioner and popular No. 3 treatment became staples for her chemically treated hair. “It’s helped save my hair and it’s never felt softer,” said Rodriguez, who has used the Olaplex system for the last three years. She highlighted the No. 3 pre-shampoo treatment as her favorite, which boasts a 4.6-star average rating from more than 70,600 Amazon reviews. The treatment helps repair broken hair bonds and protect against heat damage. Olaplex's shampoo and conditioner each earned a 4.7-star average rating from more than 25,600 reviews and more than 27,600 reviews respectively on Amazon. If you’re looking for a deeply hydrating hair mask, the brand also recently released the No. 8 Hair Mask this month.