Dyeing bleached hair can cause problems like breakage, split ends and allergic reactions on your scalp because of the chemical processing. Using traditional chemical dyes that are darker are not as damaging to your hair as bleach. There are natural dye options to also consider.
Dyeing Bleached Hair vs. Unbleached Hair
Bleached hair has a different physical structure than unbleached hair. Bleached hair is more porous and swollen than unbleached hair due to the effects of the bleach on your hair's outer cuticle and pigment.
This makes bleached hair more sensitive and vulnerable to chemical processes than unbleached hair, which means you need to be more careful when dyeing bleached hair than unbleached hair.
Henna Dye vs. Traditional Dye
Henna hair dye offers bleached hair a conditioning treatment, as well as a darker color because the henna dye coats your hair's outer cuticle (See Reference 2).
Henna won't cause further damage to your hair like other dyes because it doesn't change the structure or texture of your hair because it actually conditions your hair and scalp (See Reference 2).
Henna hair dyes come in shades of red, light brown, dark brown and black, and the process is the same for applying all of them.
Darker dyes do less damage to the hair than bleach, but they do still cause damage to the hair. However, traditional chemical dyes offer you more color options. Semi-permeant dyes are the least damaging to your hair because they act as a stain (See Reference 5).
Henna Dye Instructions
Prep Your Space
Henna hair dye can get a little messy because you're going to mix it yourself. You may want to wear an old T-shirt you don't mind getting ruined in case there's any dye spills.
Likewise, you may want to lay down towels around stainable surfaces like the floor and counters in case dye gets on them.
Mix Your Dye
Some henna dyes come in powder form and others come in blocks. The process is the same for both.
You need to slowly add hot water, mixing until the dye becomes a thick paste or mud-like consistency.
Section Your Hair
Section your hair in four different sections. This helps keep the process a little less messy and a little more precise.
Divide your hair once front to back, and once left to right, leaving you with four distinct sections.
Protect Your Face
Once you have your hair sectioned, take a moment to put vaseline or another skin-protectant balm around your hairline. This will protect your skin from the dye in case it runs a little. You may want to apply the vaseline to your ears and neck as well.
Apply The Dye
Using a gloved hand or a hair brush, apply the dye to one section of hair at a time from root to tip. Get the application as even as possible.
Once each section is consistently coated with dye, massage the dye into your hair.
Wrap It Up
Take your hair and place it all on top of your head. Wrap it up either with plastic wrap or a plastic cap.
Time the Process
Henna hair dye can take a while to set, depending on the brand of henna you purchase. This can take anywhere from one to four hours.
After your color has processed, it's time to wash the dye out of your hair. Depending on the brand of henna dye, you may need to use a shampoo or just water. Make sure you read the package instructions carefully to figure out if you need shampoo or not.
After you've rinsed the dye out, be sure to use conditioner on your hair. This will help wash out pieces of dye that have hardened or dried out.
Once you've finished rinsing out your conditioner, you can blow dry your hair or let it air dry.
Traditional Dye Directions
Section Your Hair
When you're trying to get even color application at home, it's easiest to do when you section your hair first. Section your hair once front to back and once left to right, leaving you with four separate sections of hair.
Mix Your Dye
Put on your gloves, and mix the color with the developer in a plastic bottle. All of these things should come with your dye.
Apply The Dye
Take the bottle and squirt the dye onto your hair, one section at a time, moving from the roots to the tips. Massage the dye into your hair.
Let the dye set on your hair for the time period on the directions. Some dyes will come with caps, and other dyes will instruct you to pin your hair up. Be sure to follow the specific directions that come with your dye.
When it's time, rinse your hair out with warm water, until all of the excess dye has been washed out.
Most dyes will come with a conditioning packet. Make sure you use this on your hair, and rinse it out completely.
Putting moisture back into your hair after the dyeing process will help to keep your locks from further damage. You can do deep conditioning treatments, use leave-in conditioners or even use a bit of coconut oil. These hair conditioning remedies will help your color stay vibrant longer and put some nutrient back in your hair.
Sean Meyer has worked since 1994 as a reporter, editor and photographer for several weekly newspapers in southwestern Ontario, including "The Londoner," the "Guelph Tribune" and the "Waterloo Chronicle." His experience includes hard news and feature stories, covering a variety of subjects including politics, sports, recreation and the arts. He earned a diploma in journalism from Conestoga College in Ontario.