What Really Happens To Your Hair When You Bleach It

Changing up your hair color and look can be fun and exciting. There are tons of different ways to shake things up: going darker, lighter, or completely doing a different hair color altogether. For those who want to go darker, it's pretty easy and can even be done in your own home. But going lighter takes a bit more work and a lot of chemical processing. 

Simply put, there's not really a way to dye your hair a lighter shade or tone without using bleach products or stripping your hair color, according to celebrity hairstylist  Glen Oropeza, who spoke to PureWow. But many people don't realize this until they go to the hair salon wanting to get highlights or even go completely blond. Additionally, not many people stop and consider what bleach actually does to their hair. While it's well-known that hair can sometimes be dried out and frizz after using bleach, there are scientific reasons why this happens and why hair becomes weaker after a bleach session.

Get all of the details below.

This is how bleach damages hair

Many people report that after getting their hair bleached, their hair is dry and brittle, even breaking off. There's a pretty valid reason for why this happens. As Matt Davenport shares in his video series "Speaking of Chemistry" (via Bustle), bleach actually penetrates the hair shaft and destroys the hair molecules. Basically, this means that the chemicals in bleach go into your hair strands and break the color pigment molecules so that they will appear lighter, lifting the color. While this gets people their desired color result, it definitely leaves hair brittle and broken. 

After using bleach, you'll also probably see more split ends. This is because using bleach leaves the hair more porous, which means that the hair cuticle is more open (via Briogeo Hair). Once the hair cuticle is open, it's an irreversible process — it'll just continue to open. This ends up leaving you with split ends and fraying. 

However, just because bleach can cause damage doesn't mean you can't use it. Hair specialist Robert Dorin, in an interview with the Huffington Post, strongly suggested going lighter in phases so that the bleach stays on for a shorter amount of time. Also, investing in a hydrating hair mask to use after bleach processing can help prevent that dry, brittle effect, too.