Using a clarifying shampoo on bleached hair may NOT seem like the most sensible thing to do, BUT if you get it right, it can turn out to be a game-changer!
The general consensus is that a clarifying shampoo has harsh chemicals that can over strip bleached hair.
But that’s not always true.
The right clarifying shampoo can:
- Remove alkaline chemical leftovers from bleaching treatments
- Strip or correct blotched semi-permanent hair dyes
- Remove toners from bleached hair
- Remove brassy tones from bleached blonde hair
You just have to find one that strikes the perfect balance between cleansing and moisturizing and is formulated with the right mix of ingredients that caters to your golden hair locks. For example, Cica Cream and Lamellar Water (more on these below)
Read on to find out what a clarifying shampoo can do for bleached hair and which one I highly recommend.
Bleached Hair Craves Moisture!
Bleached hair needs all the moisture it can get.
When your locks go through a bleaching treatment, they take a serious blow. The risk of damage and breakage is heightened because the hairs are nuked to oblivion to excavate their pigments.
Bleach, which has a pH of 13, utilizes alkaline and oxidizing properties to break down melanin in the hair shaft to lighten the color. This also causes structural damage to the cuticle layer, stripping the fatty acids in the hair during the process.
That’s why bleached-processed hair always dries out fast and is prone to extreme frizziness when the treatment is not followed by a weekly deep conditioning treatment to restore moisture. But even that is not enough.
Literally, all styling products must be moisture-rich and kind to the hair’s natural oils to nurse the hair strands back to health.
Unfortunately, most clarifying shampoos are not formulated to be so.
What Does a Clarifying Shampoo Do to Bleached Hair?
Unlike a regular shampoo, clarifying shampoo contains fewer conditioning agents and more surfactants to remove product buildup and impurities from the hair and scalp. It’s an essential part of any hair care routine that provides multiple benefits regardless of your hair type and condition.
So let’s find out how a deep cleansing clarifying shampoo can help when your hair is bleached or color-treated:
It Neutralizes Active Alkaline Chemicals To Restore pH Balance
After a bleaching treatment, a clarifying shampoo helps remove alkaline chemicals that remain in your hair. Similar to neutralizing shampoos used after hair relaxers, a clarifying shampoo mops up the active chemicals that can otherwise disrupt the hair and scalp’s pH balance.
pH balance is vital for hair health as it prevents bacterial growth on the scalp and ensures the cuticles stay smooth and tight to prevent frizz and breakage.
It Prevents Brassiness
A clarifying shampoo can also help neutralize brassy yellow tones caused by environmental pollutants, cigarette smoke, mineral deposits from hard water, or chlorine oxidation that makes blonde hair take on a green tinge.
It Can Remove Toner From Bleached Hair
Instead of using baking soda, lemon juice, or dish soap, which can dry out the hair when not formulated correctly, a clarifying shampoo provides a better and stable pH formulation to do the job without the risk of side effects.
It Helps Remove Orange From Bleached Hair
Going from dark to blonde hair color can often lead to orange tones due to insufficient lightening during the bleaching process. Naturally, dark hair has more underlying red and orange pigments. If your bleaching treatment fails to break down these larger color pigments, you’re left with a very undesirable orange shade.
Depending on the shade of orange, a blue or purple shampoo can help by dispensing colors that merge into the hair to counteract the warm tones.
However, if your hair is coated with residues and other color-blocking elements, your color-correcting shampoo will fail to absorb into the hair for maximum impact. A clarifying shampoo can work as a primer to lift out the buildup prior to using a color-correcting or toning shampoo.
Related: How to use purple hair dye on dark hair without bleaching
It Prevents Hard Water Minerals from Further Damaging Bleached Hair
A clarifying shampoo can help bleached hair from hard water by removing any build-up of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, on the hair shaft. These minerals can cause the hair to become brittle and discolored.
A clarifying shampoo can chelate and rinse out these minerals to prevent them from coating the hair strands.
It Helps Correct or Strip Hair Dyes After Bleaching
You can use a clarifying shampoo to correct or fade colors applied during a bleaching treatment in situations when the result was not as desired.
Read more: Best shampoos to remove hair color.
It Prevents Greasy Roots On Bleached Hair
It’s a common problem for those with bleached hair to experience greasy roots and brittle ends. The bleaching process can strip the natural oils from the scalp and hair, leading to an overproduction of oil as the scalp tries to compensate. This makes the hair greasy, especially at the roots.
A clarifying shampoo can help by unclogging the scalp pores and clearing up excess sebum to prevent greasy hair.
It Can Help Reduce Over Washing Bleached Hair
A regular deep cleansing routine can significantly improve and balance the scalp to prevent impurities from building up. As a result, it reduces the need to wash the hair frequently, minimizing color fade and further dryness.
Best Clarifying Shampoos For Bleached Hair
The Redken Extreme Bleach Recovery set is my go-to all-time favorite product I use whenever I bleach my hair or do blonde highlights.
The hair care system contains 3 excellent products:
- Bleach Recovery Shampoo
- Bleach Recovery Lamellar Water
- Bleach Recovery Leave-In Conditioner
Unlike other clarifying shampoos, the Redken Bleach Recovery is pH-balanced and high on moisture, making it an excellent clarifying shampoo for bleached hair. This shampoo delivers a moisturizing cleanse and a squeaky clean foundation to help over-processed hair rediscover its vitality, strength, and shine.
The Lamellar water works as a conditioning liquid bandage to protect the fragile hair strands from breaking during recovery.
And to further enhance its effectiveness, the Cica cream provides the active all-day deep conditioning your hair needs to stay smooth, elastic, and optimally moisturized. Cica, also known as Centella Asiatica, is essentially a medicinal healing herb used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for its high antioxidants and healing abilities.
How to use the Bleach Recovery System:
- Wash your hair with the shampoo
- Condition with the rinse out Lamellar water
- Apply the Cica cream leave-in conditioner
This system works to heal and repair bleached and highlighted hair with its excellent combination of Conditioning Complex, Lamellar water, and Cica cream.
The Nexxus Keraphix damage healing system is perfect for bleached and color-treated hair. The shampoo gently cleanses without stripping natural oils, while the conditioner contains a generous amount of fortifying ingredients that help to deeply hydrate and repair damaged hair. To boost the system’s effectiveness, use the masque at least once a week.
You can also use the Nexxus Keraphix Dry shampoo in between washes to help refresh your strands.
How Soon After Bleaching Can You Use A Clarifying Shampoo
Right after bleach is applied, it’s essential to rinse the hair completely until the water runs clear. Then apply the clarifying shampoo to wet hair, lather, and rinse thoroughly. Follow up with a good conditioner to prevent your hair from drying out.
How Often to Use a Clarifying Shampoo on Bleached Hair?
Ideally, 1-2 times a month is enough.
It all depends on the level of buildup and how brassy your blonde or dyed hair looks in between. Also, it’s worth noting that if you use many styling products, you may need to use one more often than suggested.
Since bleached hair is more porous and delicate, it requires more maintenance than regular hair. If you live in a hard water area, you may also need to clarify your hair more often because hard water mineral deposits can contribute to brassy tones.
Will Clarifying Shampoo Lighten Bleached Hair?
Yes. Over time, and if used excessively, a clarifying shampoo will further lighten your hair color. That’s why it’s recommended to pick one specifically formulated for bleached blondes or highlights.
Always Deep Condition Bleached Hair After Clarifying
A deep conditioning treatment is a good way to rebalance moisture in your hair. I highly recommend doing one straight after clarifying because when your hair is clean and detoxed, it absorbs better. You’ll get 10x more moisture into your hair after using a clarifying shampoo.
Read: Why it’s best to use a hair mask or deep conditioner after shampooing
Bleached hair requires a special type of shampoo and the Redken Bleach Recovery Extreme is the one that ticks all the right boxes.
You don’t have to use it regularly, but if you incorporate it into a nice little weekly ritual, it will keep your bleached blonde hair poppin.
Charlene has been blogging for over 10 years and has a background in digital marketing. She's also a certified yoga teacher and loves to travel.
When she's not working on her next article, she can be found spending time with her two young daughters or planning her next big travel adventure.