Hair: How to fix hair that’s turned to chewing gum
You’ve washed the bleach off, you’ve conditioned, you’ve looked in the mirror. It might not even be a particularly light shade of blonde. Somehow, your hair has become super-stretchy and doesn’t flex back into shape again very well when you run your fingers through it.
This is NOT going to help if your hair is coming out in clumps. The only thing that’ll help there is a pair of scissors. Sorry, but you need to be honest with yourself about the current state of your hair before you do this.
If your hair is worrying you with its poor condition, but isn’t actually breaking apart yet, this tutorial is for you.
Firstly, I’ve got some bad news for you: You are probably not going to be able to stay completely blonde. At this stage, you have almost completely bleached the core out of your hair. It’s unstable, and isn’t going to withstand staying in this state for long. Think long and hard (but not for too long) about whether you need to follow this tutorial or whether a deep conditioning treatment will help.
Is this method for you?
1. When you last washed your hair, how many hours did it take to dry?
2. When your hair is wet, does it stretch then stay stretched after you let go of it, only returning to its shape gradually, if at all?
3. Have you bleached your hair in any of the following ways (or more than one of these):
a) Left the dye on for far too long?
b) Used a 40 vol peroxide with a bleach on light blonde hair?
c) Didn’t wash the bleach out properly before drying or straightening (flatironing)?
d) Bleached it too many times in a relatively short time period (more than 3 over 2 weeks, depending which products you used)?
e) Bleached it too many times over a longer time period (three times or more per month for more than three months)?
f) Used a product not intended for hair e.g. bleached with kitchen bleach, toilet bleach, household bleach etc even just once?
g) Used blonding/lightening spray on light blonde bleached hair?
If you answered yes to any of the statements in question 3, and your hair is taking more than 3 hours to dry after washing, and it’s stretching as described in question 2, you need this tutorial.
Disclaimer: I am not at your house assessing the state of your hair, nor do I know the state of your scalp. This is your judgement call, but if your hair is wrecked anyway, and your only other option is to cut it off, this might be a helpful last resort. Obviously, like with any dying process, this could make your hair worse, and you may have to do this several times over a period of months to get a colour to stick.
1. Get your hair dry, carefully.
If your hair isn’t dry right now, get your hairdryer and blow dry it on a low setting. Once your hair is dry it’s in a more stable condition. For now.
2. Put longer hair in a gentle plait, until you’re ready to work with it.
This method is used to protect hair extensions at night time, and is equally useful for your own hair when it’s damaged like this. It will help avoid that pesky tangling that constantly happens to over-bleached hair.
3. Decide how dark you can stand to go.
Look through the shades of hair dye that are available (don’t buy any yet), and decide on a level of darkness. The darker you go, the stronger your hair will be, but it will take longer to get it there.
4. Buy the reddest permanent dye you can find, that is not darker than the shade of brown you picked in step 3. If you are choosing between two shades of red, ignore the box and choose the darkest. This is because most of this red will wash out in a couple of weeks, tops. Don’t choose anything weird or unusual, this is not a good time to experiment. I used the auburn shades of Nice ‘N’ Easy when I did this. Don’t expect the colour to come out as strong as it does on the box, you will probably have to repeat this a few times.
5. Make sure you’ve waited at least a week since you last bleached/toned/coloured your blonde hair, and follow the instructions to apply your darker shade. While you’re waiting to colour, treat your damaged hair like antique silk.
6. When you rinse, expect most of it to go down the drain. Your hair will come out a mousey colour, probably with patches that are redder than other bits. If this bothers you, now would be a good time to bring back the bandanna or crack out a hat or headscarf.
7. Use that conditioner that came with the dye. Leave it on for twice as long as it says, and at least 10 minutes.
8. Dry very carefully, don’t rub when you towel dry and don’t use the full heat from the hairdryer.
9. Repeat this process every 2-3 weeks (don’t do it any more regularly than this) until the colour sticks inside your hair.
10. Congratulations, you have just artificially re-created the core of your hair, using artificial pigment molecules. Your hair will be stronger now, although it won’t be the way it was before you dyed it. I found when I did this several years ago, that when I tried to bleach it a year later, it was still not in a suitable condition (luckily I did a test strand because I was NOT ready for that jelly that my strand test turned into), however, it did buy enough time for roots to grow through so I could at least sport a lovely bob 18 months after I wrecked my hair, without having to cut it all off before that time. Try to take better care of it, it’s still very fragile underneath.