Bleaching Can Cause Hair Loss, Dandruff, and Irritation—How to Game the System


(Image credit: @gigihadid)

Healthybeautiful hair starts at the top—literally. The scalp is the foundation for the growth and nourishment of our strands, so it’s important we give it the same amount of attention and care we give our hair, if not more. "Scalp care is essential because it affects the health, growth and condition of the hair,” explains Rae Lynne Kinler, Hair restoration specialist and Medical Director at Ziering Medical Center in Greenwich, CT. "Hair is a dead keratinized protein, but the follicle where it is produced has a great impact on its quality. A healthy scalp and skin barrier with a well-balanced microbiome encourages less breakage and hair loss.” Basically, Kinler says, you want the best environment for new growth, and stronger, shinier, thicker hair.

Scalp health is especially important if you have bleached blonde hair, like moi. I’ve been blonde for about a year now (without going back to pink once, a record!), and during this time I’ve learned that scalp health is crucial for keeping my super processed hair healthy. "What we take or strip away from the scalp and hair. we need to return to restore health, balance, and vitality, says Philip B, scalp expert and founder of Philip B Hair Care. "From a healthy scalp healthier hair will grow. The scalp is its own little ecosystem. Those who bleach disrupt the pH of our scalp and strands. It can have a real effect on the bacterial community of our scalp—the microbiome.” Philip B says that on the scalp, bleach can result in irritation, inflammation or even a real burn, affecting the outer layers of skin with redness, peeling and pain.


(Image credit: @marielodiandreakos)

To avoid these issues, Kinler says exfoliation is key. Some of her tips include using a silicone scalp brush to massage the scalp and help to lift debris, and a natural boar bristle brush to lift dead skin cells from the skin surface and move the hardened sebum or product build up. Other tips from Kinler include using a deep conditioning mask or hot oil treatment regularly, avoiding chemicals like sulfates in shampoos, which are generally safe, but some people are more sensitive to. She also says to limit or avoid dry shampoo and styling products—something that is, admittedly, hard for me to do! While I’ve definitely had some itchiness and flakiness post-bleach session, I’ve been lucky to not experience more serious issues, like severe dandruff and irritation, or hair loss, which Kinler says can result from an unhealthy scalp.

Using the right products for my scalp and hair has helped me avoid this fate. I incorporate scalp serums and oils in my routine, take the time to massage my scalp with a silicone brush when I’m in the shower, and use sulfate-free shampoos. I also had an amazing oil treatment from Philip B where he soaked all of my hair in his Rejuvenating Oil for about 20 minutes and applied heat with a blow dryer, then massaged his Peppermint Avocado Shampoo while adding water. He suggests doing this treatment at home up to twice a week for a boost of hydration, volume, and a glossy finish. As Philip B says, "Blondes may have more fun, but an extra dose of scalp care is in order.” 

Try the Treatment at Home:

The Best Scalp Products for Bleached Hair

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Marie Lodi
Freelance Beauty and Fashion Writer/Editor

Marie has covered beauty, fashion, and lifestyle for almost 15 years. She contributes to the beauty section here at Who What Wear. Previously, she was the Looks Editor for Bust Magazine, built the beauty vertical at HelloGiggles as its beauty editor, and was a founding staff writer at Rookie mag, giving fashion advice to teens. Her bylines have appeared in The Cut, Allure, Glamour, The Hollywood Reporter, and more. She was born and raised in Southern California and is based in L.A. Marie is a self-proclaimed costume design nerd and a co-host of Makeover Montage, a podcast about fashion in film and costume design. You'll see her writing about her beauty obsessions: red lipstick, winged eyeliner, pink hair, nail art, and skincare for people over 40. When she's not working, she's playing with her dog, Gnocchi, and writing her style newsletter, Overdressed.