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To bleach or not to bleach...

Updated: Jun 11, 2019

Well here we are again. It's like everyone either forgot the 1980's bad bleach experiments or we weren't born yet. I guess it was, after all, almost 40 years ago. As a professional of over 22 years in hairdressing, I have finally decided to wield the most powerful weapon against the perils of bad hair days - the word "no". It's a word that we, hair heroes, find difficult to say to our clients. We love our clients, we want nothing more than to make them happy. But at what cost? Months, sometimes years of set backs follow a bad choice in the delivery of that brush with chemicals on the strands of our most loyal of clients. Why do we do it? Why do we think we can outwit the years of research and expertise of Chemists and Manufacturers alike? 8 out of 10 times, I truly believe it has nothing to do with the money we made on the services. The expense of the aftermath of a bad bleach job far outweighs the original price tag of such a service. So the only answer I can honestly come up with comes down to a deadly combo of ego and an honest desire to make the client happy. Depending on how experienced the stylist is would determine the ratio of one to the other. Don't get me wrong, I have made some bad decisions in my time. I have damaged hair too. When learning from my mentors as an early apprentice, I recall asking them "How do I know when the hair will break off when using lighteners?" I was told the frightening yet very real truth: you have to do it once and try never to do it again.

Photo courtesy of Google Images

So many factors go into why hair is damaged by chemical overdose. The list is long, but the history of chemicals on a 12" strand of hair on someone's head is longer. I want to reassure you that although bleach can be a hair nightmare, it is also a very effective tool for the EXPERTS. It is NOT however something, in my opinion, that should ever be used by just anyone. I have seen scary things done by those who do not know what they are putting on their scalps. It is amongst a number of chemicals known to us as alkalis. You may be familiar with more commonly known products in this class, such as oven cleaners and liquid drain removers. I have known people who have had skin grafts and shiny pink cauliflower-like blisters as a result from bleach being used without proper understanding of it's use. I am merely telling you that you should ALWAYS go to a professional hair colorist and get a thorough consultation before undergoing this process on your hair. When going to an all-over lightest blonde, it is considered a color correction. Please also bear in mind, it is a lot of work for the stylist, so do not expect the price tag to be low. Beautiful blondes look expensive - because they are. Take the time to discuss your desired results with a competent colorist. Bring pictures of hair similar to your own. On a future segment, I will be sharing about preparing for the consultation with regard to small changes and major overhauls to one's personal hair journey. I have included a picture of the undesirable results of over-processing with lighteners and one that was executed with the knowledge of someone who knows how to make bleach = beautiful.

I'd also like to include the statement that it isn't the chemical's fault when it goes wrong. We, as stylists, have the utmost responsibility to the outcome of our client's hair. We, not the product, become the ones who are responsible for the further damage caused if we don't speak up and say no when it is the proper time to do so. We all want happy hair days in the long run.

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