I can’t blame anyone for being tempted by the bleach!
It’s all over Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest and YouTube….beautiful natural haired ladies flaunting their curls in different shades of gold. “Perfect hair” is beginning to become redefined….no longer straight, limp and boring (yet slightly glossy). Today hair porn involves big, vibrant and bouncy curls. Most popularly in honey, caramel and ashy tones.
As I stated in my opening paragraph….I can’t blame anyone for wanting this! It’s super pretty! Mesmerising in fact…..
But…..I have to point out that this obsession is not much better than relaxer.
Just like a relaxer, hydrogen peroxide (bleach) uses a very high PH (of about 10) to raise the cuticle and penetrate the hair shaft. The hair cortex and medulla contain melanin, which are the hair colour molecules if you like. After the peroxide penetrates the shaft, it works to dissolve the melanin within your hair, this process is called oxidation.
Depending on how dark the hair naturally is, this process can greatly vary in time. Those naturally fair could have all melanin stripped out within an hour, those with naturally dark hair would need to gradually do this in several stages. As mentioned above, oxidation is where most of the damage occurs, the more oxidation needed, the more damage will be caused. This is why hair stylists encourage you to go no lighter than 2-3 shades at a time, with a six week wait in between bleaching sessions to help the hair recover.
However, that’s not the end of it. Peroxide is not enough alone in the hair lightening process, all it does is create the absense of colour (white). Another colour is needed afterwards to help you to attain a golden hue.
Now this process may sound very harsh. And I can’t lie to you, it is! When you strip the hair of it’s natural colour, you are also ripping out vital nutrients which help to keep the hair in place such as essential amino acids, keratin and moisture. The bleach also damages the hair cuticle quite severely, tearing at the overlapping scales of the cuticle as it goes to work. This can lead to overly porous hair that has a hard time keeping moisture within the hair shaft. Leading to excessive dryness and eventually breakage.
Don’t be surprised if your curls start to loosen either! Depending on whether the cysteine bonds in the hair that hold your curl pattern get damaged too. I don’t think anyone’s a fan of the curly hair with straight ends look!
Now….considering these days a natural is most likely to swear that she’d never get a relaxer again due to the damage that it causes….what makes bleach any different?
If hating your natural curl pattern is classed as self hate, surely hating your natural colour is the same thing? Surely wanting to attain a colour that is outside the spectrum of your genetics should be classed as conforming to a beauty standard?
I personally think that the answer is much deeper than “it just looks pretty”. And I also think that this is something that affects all races.
How Disney Devastates Young Girls Self Esteem
A friend of mine pointed out some pretty sinister symbolism that she noticed in a recent Disney film. (She’s the beauty editor of Zero Magazine, check it out!)
I personally enjoyed the film Tangled. I watched it with my two year old son recently, (however he’s not interested in anything that doesn’t involve racing cars, explosions and superheroes!) and I couldn’t help noticing the exact same thing.
The outline of Tangled, for those of you who haven’t seen it, is that Rapunzel has incredibly long flowing golden hair which has magical powers. Whenever she sings to her hair, she has the power to heal and even reverse the aging process (hence why she’s stolen by a vain old witch who keeps her locked away in a tower in the search for eternal youth).
However, and here’s the sinister part. Once her golden magical hair is cut….even just a trim….her hair loses all power and turns boring brown.
Just think of the messages that it sends to young girls watching…….her long blonde hair is magical and transfixing with incredible power over people, yet the second it’s snipped….she’s a plain Jane and no one is interested in her anymore!
Now whilst some might think I’m going off on a tangent here, think about how this very scenario applies to the current natural hair world as we speak! Sales of hair vitamins are actually crazy. Every blogger I know (myself included!) is currently popping Hairfinity or Biotin or MSM or Silica (or all 4) in search for that elusive tail bone length goal. Since when did Pixie Cuts and Foxy Brown afros stop being cute?
All you have to do is follow certain natural hair Instagram accounts to see that the majority of the naturals that they feature have bleached, loose spiral curls. Some are a pretty ashy tone, others are the unsightly brass tones that make you want to chuck some black hair dye through the screen.
This points back to the very point I made initially. We all know that this is total carnage for our curls. None of us would entertain the idea of getting a relaxer anymore, yet alone worship relaxed hair as the new beauty standard on natural IG accounts and Pinterest. Why do we find ourselves not only drooling over unnatural blonde curls but trying to achieve it ourselves? (me included here too by the way!)
As this post was trying to highlight, we have experienced some pretty terrible symbolism since childhood. Very subliminal and covet messages which have seeped into our minds and overcome our logic. Its not enough to say that it’s people just following fashion, or trying to fit in. I am overwhelming coming across lots of beautiful women who feel like they NEED to reach for the bleach in order to have that mesmerising power. One quick way to boost your IG followers is simply to go blonde, several “Instagram celebrities” have proved this over and over again.
I look at some of these IG girls and I know their hair is slightly yellow/brassy. I can see spots where the bleach has taken out their curl pattern completely. I have dealt with bleach several times in the past and I know first hand the damage it can do…..I’ll always remember crying in the bathroom as I saw yellow, straw-like broken ends all over the sink, shower and floor. I know that dark hair looks better on me! So why do I find myself still lusting for those golden curls?
I just wanted to make you aware of just how deeply ingrained some of this really is! Just how tight a hold some of these beauty ideals have on us. It’s not enough to say that blonde hair is prettier….but Disney are implying to young girls that long, blonde hair has more power! Think about what power translates to as adults…..money, followers, subscribers, endorsements, admirers……is there a trend for bleached naturals getting more views on their YouTube videos? Personally, I think yes.
The Useful Part
When bleaching you need to be extra extra cautious! Aphogee will now be your best friend should you decide to go down the blonde route! Do an Aphogee two step treatment just before you bleach to strengthen the hair (very strong protein treatment). When bleaching never go lighter than 2-3 shades in one go, accept that going from black to blonde will take several months. Directly after every bleach/hair dye session, do an apple cider vinegar rinse. This will return the hair to it’s natural acidic state (4.5-5.5) and therefore seal the cuticle, lock in moisture and keep damage minimal.
Aphogee Two Step Protein Treatments will be needed every 4-6 weeks. I personally recommend using the Aphogee Green Tea and Keratin Restructurizer spray under your leave-in conditioner as it will not only keep your protein levels up, but will help to regulate the PH of the hair strand and keep the cuticle sealed.
Moisture! Moisture! Moisture! Deep condition with every single wash. Switch to sulfate free shampoos or cleansing conditioners when washing. Always use a leave in conditioner afterwards. As the hair will be more porous, use a thick oil to seal like castor oil, jamaican black castor oil, avocado oil or coconut oil. Trim regularly as your ends will split!
Please watch these two YouTube videos below to help you maintain your hair health should you choose to bleach!
Let me know what you think! Comment below!