Red to Pink Hair - Caring for Bleached/Coloured Hair

I have done it. I have made the decision to adopt pink hair! Although, admittedly, I'm making a transition as opposed to straight up bleaching and redying - my usual route.

Whilst naturally fading (I'll discuss that in more depth later) and phase 1 dying my hair, I thought I would post my own ways that I get rid of one colour, introduce another and ways that I care for my bleached/coloured/bright hair.

Here's my hair after phase 1 of hair dying. I am changing from red to adopt a more pink look. I don't desire neon pink hair or my alternative phase dying wouldn't quite work.

- Always towel dry hair/naturally dry hair

I tried to remove all heat based hair caring procedures from my routine as they can cause irreversible damage. I rarely hair dry or straighten it and when I do (nights out, or when I'm in a rush and HAVE to wash my hair) then I will use it on the lowest settings. Never let your hair 'smoke' or singe whilst using heating products as this is the number 1 cause of heat damage to hair...duh.

- Cold water is essential

Think of your hair like washing the dishes. If you have made food that is stuck to the dish then you naturally soak it in steaming hot water to get the food off. If you soak it in cold water, it will have little to no effect. Hair care should be thought of the same way. If you soak your hair in hot water then it will remove the colour from the hair as it makes the hair molecules expand and the colour dissipate. Cold water will still remove colour as any water or insane amounts of humidity will but the colour is less likely to leave as the molecules will remain close to their original size 'trapping' the colour inside. 

Once you've dyed your hair, rinse it with cold water to 'seal' your molecules back up again.

- Don't drown it

When washing your hair, rinse it rather than keeping your hair under the water. It is said that up to 80% of colour loss is in water alone so rinse as opposed to soaking.

- Protect your hair against heat

There comes a time where heat products are a neccessity. On nights out I wear mine as straight as possible. I will use products designed to protect my hair against heat and will use the straightener (this applies to curlers too) on the lowest setting. A good tip is to find alternative ways to style hair. Rock updo's and curl hair overnight with some alternative strategies

- Trim regularly 

My hair grows at insane rates and I have bleached and dyed hair that is layered. I trim it every 6 weeks on average. Trimming dead and split ends is a necessity as hair becomes damaged at the bottom of your hair quicker than at the top. If you have split/dead ends and leave them then the damage can quickly work it's way up your hair causing knots and other, more permanent damage. If your hair is undyed, unbleached or not layered then you can even wait up to 12 weeks as your is less damaged to begin with. Different textures and what you have done to your hair all contribute to the recommended time scales of trimming and cutting your hair. Research your hair type or ask your hairdresser.

- Bleach bath

If you are dramatically changing your hair colour (I went from bright blue to bright red hair) then bleaching is a key process to remove all of the previous colour. Blue is such a bitch to get out and I had patches of the colour (colour build up) for months after. Instead of mixing the bleach and applying to hair, I researched a 'better way' (no bleach is good for your hair, let's face it) to bleach my hair for dramatic changes like this. 

A bleach bath reduces the concentration and intensity of bleaching. 

* Set up your bleach as normal - 1 part bleach and 2 parts developer
*Add an equal amount of "clean" clarifying shampoo (head and shoulders is my usual choice, that bad boy strips everything).

Apply to hair and leave as long as you would the normal bleach.

You can make your own ratio (i.e. more shampoo) of the product. More shampoo equals more dilution and so less damage to the hair but it may not be as 'bleached clean' as a less diluted concoction. 

A 'natural' but lengthy way of stripping hair colour which I have used a lot lately is to use "clean" and clarifying shampoos such as head and shoulders. Good old dish soap, I'm talking Fairy liquid, I'm talking what you use to clean and wash your dishes. It's designed to break down tough substances which also works well on the hair!

My hair was bright red when I started stripping it. 

I used the clarifying shampoo over a period of time.

You can see how dull it got to be.

Below is the day that I dyed it 'Raspberry Rebel' by Live.

Such an awkward angle but you can see how much of the original colour has been removed with it almost blonde at the bottom. Bleach is not a requirement if you're going the same kind of colour. My hair is partially damp here. A requirement of the particular dye that I was using. 

- Semi Permanent vs Permanent 

I tend to choose semi permanent dyes over permanent dyes. If I have a colour change, I will dye it once 'permanently' and then continue to 'top it up' with semi permanent dyes for as long as I rock that colour. 

Semi permanent dyes don't tend to contain bleach, ammonia or harsh chemicals that cause damage to your hair and 'stain' your hair rather than altering it's structure. 

Permanent hair dyes use a process called oxidation (with chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide) combined with a 'para-dye' and other colouring agents and chemicals to make it permanent by altering the structure of your hair. This entire process and the make-up of the permanent hair dyes contain harsher chemicals (such as ammonia) that are stronger and more damaging to hair. 

- Top up roots over full head dyes 

This doesn't really need explaining in too much depth. Avoid dying your hair unless you need to. If you're only dying your roots to match the rest of your hair then you don't need to dye your hair. Simple and yet effective.

- Wash your hair once a week/week and a half

Hair takes care of itself. Hair produces it's own oils that cleanse, clean and replenish your hair more than any salon/store bought product ever will. If you continuously wash your hair, you are removing vital agents that your hair needs to keep itself maintained and you are making it harder to maintain as a whole.

Colour will also last much, much longer as you are not opening up the molecules for the colour to dissipate. Shampoos and conditioners contain sulphates and other chemicals that remove colour and cause it to fade quicker. 

- Protein shampoos

Standard shampoos or "cleaning" clarifying shampoos will strip the colour pigments right out of your hair. To replenish your hair from all of the bleaching and dying, protein shampoos or 'specialist' shampoos are highly recommended.

Protein shampoos are designed to 'reinstate' what colouring and bleaching have removed. They cleanse, strenghten and increase elasticity (so when you brush your hair, you are less likely to break it, particularly after bleaching). 

They typically contain several proteins, keratin (what your hair and nails are naturally made up of), collagen, silk and amino acids. 

I use bedhead which was gifted to me by my super bff Dannii. Both hair dye/bleach fanatics, and it has made my hair feel salon soft. My hair was really damaged the last time I was getting the blue colour build up and had to apply more bleach in a shorter time period than ever recommended and this has recovered my hair almost back to full health. 

This also applies to conditioners. Find a conditioner that is designed for damaged or coloured hair and allow your hair to 'soak' in conditioner when you do wash it. Conditioner hydrates and moisturises your hair just like a face moisturiser replenishes your skin. It will always leave it silky smooth and easy to brush, preventing breakages and lasting damage.

- Use hair oils/masks

I use hair oils to rehydrate my hair and every now and then treat my hair to a mask that will restore the protein lost in dying/bleaching. 

- Find the right brush for your hair

As well as brushing your hair regularly to prevent knotting, finding the right hair brush is also essential. I have straight, layered, short to mid-length (just above the shoulder) hair and have found that boar bristle brushes and wide tooth combs are perfect for my hair type. 

- Dry shampoo is your best friend

As well as cold water and not washing your hair for periods of time, your hair may naturally fall flat in between this. To give it that bit of extra life, use sulphate free dry shampoo to give it a boost and preserve your much loved colour.

- Pick your colour wisely

Red hair is my go to colour and has been since I was 12. The first time I dyed my hair was red highlights and have always gone back to my beloved red (or close colours such as pink and orange) ever since. 

Red hair is the hardest to maintain as it has the largest molecules. The molecule size makes it harder to penetrate deeply into the hair and so fades quicker meaning more upkeep. 

Below is a series of pictures of me getting my hair from the neon red above to a pinker colour. This isn't my final destination. To achieve my full pink colour with very little damage will take a series of months.

Freshly dyed, it appeared to have a more red tint which was expected as I applied it onto a red base.

My hair is super fluffy naturally and this is an incidence where I did hair dry my hair.

After a week, I gave it it's first wash and more of a pink colour came out.

In the future, as I continue to replenish my hair back to full health, I plan to 'top it up' with brighter pink dyes but I'm pretty happy with the way it is for now.

Do you have any hair care advice? How do you care for coloured hair? Post a comment/link below or find me on social media!

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  1. Your hair looks lovely! Tigi are a great product (I use the Fashionista purple shampoo) but I would say a deep conditioner like Osmo if you're looking for some serious restorative power.

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    1. Ooooo! Thanks for the tip! *Adds to shopping list* aha! Xoxoxoxo