Can You Mix Conditioner with Bleach? What to do

Bleaching hair is already a harsh process to put your hair through. It’s lifting the hair and removing its natural color, so you’re most likely going to experience hair dryness and weak cuticles.

You cannot mix hair conditioner with your bleach because they are work differently; the conditioner works by sealing the hair cuticles, whereas bleaching requires your cuticles to be open so it can lift the hair strands. Furthermore, using a conditioner can cause uneven bleaching on your hair, which won’t look good.

Mixing these two hair products will be a waste of money and time because they are meant for different purposes. Moreover, they have ingredients that don’t work well together. Find out more about the reasons, below.

Why Would Anyone Want to Mix?

As you know, bleach is a very strong chemical product that could undoubtedly cause serious damage to your hair. Therefore, using a conditioner may seem like a safe option by making the bleach more gentle to the hair.

You may assume that if you applied conditioner with your bleach, you’re doing one of these three things;

  • Protecting the hair from the dye chemicals.
  • Getting smooth, silky hair after applying the color.
  • Lighten the color of the dye

Unfortunately, none of these possible results is true. Find out why!

Reasons You Shouldn’t Mix

The short answer, both hair products work differently and not concurrently to get you the result you want. If you do mix conditioner with bleach, you’re not reducing the effects of bleach and the outcome can be bad for your hair. Let’s get deeper into the discussion.

Conditioners shouldn’t be mixed with bleach because according to research a conditioner seals the cuticles thus blocking the lightening process. On the other hand, bleach needs those cuticles opened up so they penetrate and lighten the hair, hence the need for a developer.

Theoretically, if the two would be mixed, it would be a waste of time and money. Chemically, the effect of mixing the two can lie both ways. There may be no effect because as the conditioner seals the hair cuticle, bleach can’t penetrate, hence can’t lighten. However, the ingredients from the conditioner and the bleach can cause irreversible damage to your hair.

Conditioner vs Bleach

Bleach contains between six to 12 percent of hydrogen peroxide which is the main ingredient. Other ingredients include ammonium persulfate, potassium persulfate, and sodium persulfate. The persulfates act as oxidative that increase the rate of chemical reactions making the product dangerous for your hair and skin.

Colorista bleach
Bleach

Conditioners on the other hand contain a lot more ingredients depending on the type of container. For example, moisturizing conditioners will contain glycerol, fatty alcohols, hyaluronic acid, panthenol, sorbitol, polyquaternium polymers, and cationic surfactants (cetrimonium chloride, dicetyldimonium chloride). Such would just seal your hair cuticle.

Hair Conditioner
Conditioner

As for acidifying conditioners, the acid in the conditioner will react with the basic hydrogen peroxide causing the bleach to intensify hence, a more adverse reaction to your hair.

Other ingredients in conditioners such as hydrolyzed proteins, mineral oil, silicones (dimethicone and derivatives), and Esters (glyceryl stearate, isopropyl palmitate), can also activate the bleach further.

In summary, conditioners can have acidifying ingredients with a pH range of 3.0 – 4.0, which only means instead of the conditioner protecting your hair from damage by the bleach, it can only extenuate the effects causing the bleach to work harder causing more damage to the hair.

What Should I Do Instead?

There are many things you can do to prevent damage to the hair. While the two hair products can’t work concurrently, you can use the conditioner later on to minimize hair damage. Here’s how!

  • After the bleaching process, use a deep conditioning treatment to add moisture back into your hair. Bleaching often strips the hair of its essential oils and moisture, so while the hair cuticles are still open, use a deep conditioner to plump the hair and add in more elasticity and bounce. The conditioner will also add shine and make your hair easier to manage.
  • After your wash, don’t forget to add a leave-in conditioner to your hair. It will close your hair cuticle and seal in the moisture. Keeping the hair supple with the conditioner will also prevent hair damage, split ends, and single or double-strand knots.
  • Use a bleach bath instead if your hair isn’t strong enough to withstand bleach and developer alone.

An Alternative to Prevent Damage From Bleach

If you don’t want to directly apply the bleach to your hair, you can try a bleach bath or a bleach wash.

Ideally, hair bleach is a concentrated mixture of hydrogen peroxide and ammonia which activates the peroxide to lighten the hair color through oxidation of the melanin in your hair. Because the bleach penetrates the hair cuticle, keratin will be lost and that can be hazardous especially on weak or already processed hair

For less negative effects, you can simply bleach bath your hair by adding shampoo to the mixture of bleach and cream developer. The shampoo will cushion your hair strands from the harsh chemicals meaning you get the same lightening effects but with less risk of damage to your hair.

Below is a step by step guide on how it’s done;

  1. In a bowl, mix two tablespoons of bleaching powder and two tablespoons of a cream developer. You’re free to decide which type of developer you would like to use. Just ensure you mix the two in a 1:1 ratio.
  2. Add in your shampoo. There’s no specific type of shampoo you can use by a moisturizing shampoo would be best as it helps retain moisture in your hair. Add in the same amount of shampoo as your other measurements. Mix it well into the mixture.
  3. Wet your hair slightly like you’re preparing to wash your hair.
  4. Put your gloves on and start applying the mix with the help of the brush from the bottom up, until you get to the roots.
  5. After you’re done painting with the brush, apply the mix with the help of your fingers, rubbing them against your head. Make sure you only apply the mix to the roots last, since the root bleaches much faster than the rest of your hair.
  6. Let the hair sit for about 10 to 45 minutes. How long it stays depends on a lot of things including if this is your first time, the state of your hair, how much lift you want to your hair, and many more factors.
  7. Check-in on your hair and once it’s ready, wash off your bleach by rinsing thoroughly with clean warm water.
  8. You can repeat the process if you’re not satisfied but don’t do the process immediately.

Sources

  • https://www.reference.com/world-view/common-hair-bleach-ingredients.
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hair_conditioner
  • https://softerhair.com/how-to-minimize-damage-to-your-hair-from-bleaching
  • https://www.philipkingsley.com/hair-guide/chemical-hair-processing-and-colouring/bleaching-your-hair/

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