Jumping into the coconut oil bandwagon may seem too late and even traditional. With so many products in the market, can you rely on coconut oil for bleached hair?
When you see the amount of damage bleaching caused you, a highly-studied and constantly praised product seems like the total solution. (Not to spoil you— it is.)
What’s in coconut oil, and how can you use it to make your hair softer and shinier again after bleaching? It’s time you learn the truth behind the rave.
Coconut oil probably belongs at the top of the pyramid of haircare staples.
It doesn’t cost a lot and is efficient at what it does. When it comes to pulling miracles for bleached hair, it also doesn’t lag behind commercial hair treatments.
While the oil gained its reputation for helping damaged hair in its recovery phase, you don’t need severely traumatized hair to use it.
So coconut oil is a must-add to your hair care routine, whether your bleached hair is a step away from irreversible damage or showing signs of dryness.
Coconut oil contains 52%-85% saturated fats called medium-chain fatty acids. It also provides a barrier that keeps away bacteria and other environmental pollutants from the scalp. Along with its sealant property, it’s also known to soothe the scalp and moisturize the hair.
The last two are important to note since bleaching may cause contact dermatitis on people with sensitive scalp.
Bleaching also results in loss of protein and moisture, which, if left unattended, leads to frizz, dryness, and breakage. Coconut oil prevents further protein loss and maintains your hair’s hydration to a healthy level.
Bleached hair will forever be a temptation, summer or not.
Whether you lightened some sections for highlights or went full-on Targaryen white, you can’t escape the warning tales about bleaching.
The outer layer of your hair shaft, the cuticle, controls the amount of water and oils into and out of your hair and forms a protective barrier for the proteins found in the softer inner layer of your hair fiber.
Since this is your hair’s first line of defense, you can expect that harsh chemicals will harm your cuticles.
Bleaching is a process that uses hydrogen peroxide as a lightener to break down the color pigment, melanin, found inside your hair shaft. Leaving it on for too long also destroys the proteins in your hair.
Opening your hair shaft means eliminating the fatty acids that play a vital role in keeping your hair shiny, manageable, and strong.
So not only do you lose fatty acids but also proteins mainly found in the cuticles and cortex. The cuticle maintains the mechanical integrity of your hair, so if you go through this process repeatedly, the accumulated damage becomes apparent with the appearance of frizz, split ends, and stunted growth.
This is where coconut oil helps you.
The medium-length fatty acids in coconut oil, composed mainly of lauric acid, have low molecular weights and straight chains that easily penetrate under the cuticles.
Coconut oil delivers hydration and effectively seals it in, unlike other oils with bulkier molecular structures that merely block the scalp.
If you are also worried about protein loss during bleaching, coconut oil is your answer.
When you coat your hair with coconut oil, you decrease further loss from gaps on your damaged cuticle layer.
An FYI: Coconut oil does not contain proteins. It’s primarily fats and fatty acids. You would still need a proper protein treatment, especially if your hair feels gummy when wet or straw-like when dry. Later in your routine, you can incorporate coconut oil to keep your protein levels normal.
Bleached hair can also look untamed and prone to tangles due to dehydrated strands. Coconut oil lubricates and reduces the friction between strands, especially during combing.
Coconut oil can gradually rid your hair damage, especially if you already make it a part of your haircare ritual.
When people say bleaching can make your hair weak, it’s not only something you see under a microscope. You actually feel how fragile your hair has become. And it can be intimidating!
Instead of being anxious about the do’s and don’ts after bleaching, it’s better to get down to the one solution everyone recommends: coconut oil.
The section above already discussed how coconut oil works well in theory. There's also science to back it up.
Right after bleaching, your hair experiences a loss of moisture, protein, and essential fatty acids, which keeps your hair healthy.
So what’s the first thing you remind yourself of after bleaching? It is to close your cuticles.
Your hair is thirsty and requires sealing— two things your coconut oil can give you.
Impressive, right? So how does coconut oil after bleached hair work? Fret not because here’s your answer.
In the following steps, it’s preferable to buy extra virgin (VCO) and cold-pressed coconut oil since this unrefined version contains a higher percentage of lauric acid.
Liberally apply VCO evenly and thoroughly on your hair. If you have longer and thicker hair, it may be better to create several sections to ensure equal coating. You can then cover it with a shower cap and leave it on overnight. Wash it off with gentle shampoo free of harsh ingredients like sulfates. Do not forget to condition your hair afterward.
You can follow this treatment weekly.
Aside from using it as an overnight mask, you can also use it as a hair serum and a conditioner.
To use it as a daily hair serum, only apply a pea-sized amount of coconut oil to coat your hair. You don’t want to weigh down your locks and take the chance of looking greasy in the middle of the day, so be mindful!
You can also opt to make it a go-to DIY deep conditioner that you can enjoy twice a week. For this step, you will need kaolin— a silica-rich clay that strengthens and moisturizes hair.
Mix 1/2 coconut oil and 1/4 kaolin in a bowl until you make a slurry. You can also opt to add drops of your favorite essential oil to complete the experience.
Apply a generous amount on your hair strands evenly, cover it with a shower cap, and let it sit for 30–60 minutes. You can wash it off thoroughly with a gentle shampoo and then conditioner.
You can use this as a general guide to your coconut oil-aided recovery. Read that again, please.
Not all may adapt well to this routine. Everyone has different hair types and histories, which influence the porosity of their hair. So if you’re wondering how long to leave coconut oil in bleached hair, your curiosity is well-founded.
It’s wise to know that bleaching causes pores to open (high porosity). Your hair won’t be able to retain moisture well and gradually lose integral proteins.
If you do an overnight mask with coconut oil more than your hair requires and without any keratin treatment, your hair will seal off the little protein left from bleaching. Overloading with oil also blocks products you might wish to incorporate into your hair to nourish it back to life.
The tea? You don’t want to overdo it with coconut oil.
Remember, this acts like a sealant. It will ultimately defeat your hydrating goals for your hair since the build-up blocks extra moisture, which causes dryness and brittleness.
Moderation is always the key. No matter how good something is, your hair will suffer if you blast it constantly with products.
There are only two circumstances where you’d end up disappointed while looking at your freshly-colored hair. Number one: your hair lost its vibrancy much earlier than you expected. Number two: your hair feels like it belongs to a broom rather than on top of your head.
It’s no laughing matter, though.
If you are the DIY hair color type, perhaps you already expect a certain degree of damage. If you recently visited the salon, though, those two circumstances may be an ouch moment that could frustrate you. Whichever you are of the two, you shouldn’t have to go through damage. AT ALL.
Yes, even for color-treated hair, coconut oil should be a must-have.
Well, how about brassiness? “Will coconut oil make my bleached hair brassy?” You ask.
Brassiness is your underlying pigment showing up again. That’s your melanin saying hi to your face. Blue dye molecules also wash away faster since they are smaller, leaving you with warmer tones.
Coconut oil doesn’t have a color-lifting property. It doesn’t react with the dye pigments deposited in your hair shaft. But instead, it works the opposite way!
Due to its sealing property, it keeps the dye molecules inside the hair shaft where water won’t wash them away. As a result, your hair stays vibrant and nourished!
To use coconut oil after color treatment, follow the overnight mask procedures described above. However, wash it off after three hours instead of doing it overnight. You may or may not condition after this. It depends on the state of your hair.
If you colored your hair, you’d likely color it again. Don’t deny it!
This time, you should be in on the secret. You can also use coconut oil BEFORE bleaching hair and coloring!
Conditioning your hair with coconut oil before coloring ensures your hair gets protected. Note that others will recommend bleaching immediately after coconut oil, but this advice is NOT for everyone. Bleach may not penetrate your hair in that regard, and lightening it may become harder. As a result, the color may not look what you expect.
You can follow the previous steps and vary the period required for the coconut oil to absorb in your hair. Remember to pay attention to your tips since it takes a toll more than the roots during coloring.
It’s also wise to increase your absorbance time if you have severely damaged hair. Wash the oil off with shampoo until the greasy feeling no longer stays on your strands.
By this time, nothing should stop you from grabbing coconut oil and treating your bleached hair to some highly crucial VCO hair mask. Your hair and pocket will thank you for it!
CHECK OUT: 5 DIY Coconut Oil Hair Mask Recipes To Try