Bleaching is a very effective way to lighten hair quickly, and thousands of people undergo this treatment every week. Using bleach on the hair creates that iconic platinum blonde look, and it can also be used to create a lighter base on which to layer brighter, more vibrant colors.
However, the ingredients used in bleaching hair is harsh on the scalp. Transforming hair from dark to light requires a strong solution, and this can irritate the scalp if left on for too long. Some people even experience a burning sensation, or their hair falling out as a result of home bleaching.
A little itching on the scalp after bleaching is thought to be normal, but if the itching is severe or starts to feel like a burning sensation, you may have suffered chemical burns from the bleach. As well as hair loss, this can lead to scabbing and peeling, scalp redness and general irritation, which can make life miserable.
In this article, we’re going to look at how you can soothe an itchy scalp after bleaching. We’ll also look at how you can lighten the color of your hair safely, and even some ways to lighten your hair without bleach. If you’re currently suffering an itchy scalp as a result of bleaching, you’ve come to the right place!
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First, we’re going to take a look at how hair bleaching works. The process relies on something called oxidization, which is an irreversible chemical reaction. The bleach (which tends to be made up of hydrogen peroxide and ammonia) reacts with the melanin in the hair, which is the natural pigment that gives hair its color.
The oxidization process removes all the pigment from the melanin, giving it a pale, platinum-like tint that many people are seeking. The hair may sometimes have a slightly yellow shade after bleaching. This is because keratin (a structural protein that is the foundation of all hair) is naturally yellow. Many hairdressers will include a tint with the bleach to ensure the hair doesn’t turn a brassy yellow.
For the bleach to reach the melanin within the hair shaft, the cuticle needs to be opened. There are no two ways about it – this damages the hair. Though some hairdressers may be able to offer treatments to rebuild the health and shine of the hair, the act of opening the hair shaft to disperse the pigment within is inherently damaging.
Bleach needs to be a strong and robust solution. After all, it needs to be able to crack open a hair shaft and remove the pigment within. The scalp is a very sensitive area, not designed to be exposed to harsh chemicals. This is why so many people experience itching and burning after bleaching.
The amount of irritation you’ll suffer after bleaching depends on a few different factors. First, you’ll need to consider how dark your hair is, to begin with. If you have naturally very dark hair, you may need extra rounds of bleach to achieve the lighter look you want. The extra bleach can be damaging to the area, causing scabbing and redness all over the scalp.
You’ll also need to ask your stylist how much peroxide they’ll be using in their own bleaching solution. This can differ between hair stylists – the more peroxide, the more likely it is that you’ll experience itching or burning.
The proximity of the bleach to your roots will also play an important role. With the current trends for balayage and ombre hair which involves bleaching the tips rather than the roots, many people escape irritation altogether. If the bleach does not come into contact with your scalp, or if the contact is minimal, you may not experience any itching or burning.
If you’re going to have your hair bleached, you may want to try to protect your scalp before the treatment. One of the best things you can do is stop washing your hair a few days before you have your hair bleached.
Oil on the scalp will help to protect the skin from the harsh effects of bleaching. If you let the natural oil on your scalp build up for a few days rather than washing it away before your treatment, you can potentially protect yourself from serious chemical burns on the scalp as a result of bleaching.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, and despite the high-quality products used by your hairstylist, there’s no stopping bleach from causing irritation. If you’ve recently had your hair bleached and are suffering from an itchy, irritated, red or burning scalp, here are some home remedies you can try to ease the pain.
Using items found around your house, you should try to cool the irritated area right away. You may still experience a hot, tingling sensation on the scalp after bleaching, and a little cooling action can provide much-needed relief.
Grab a bag of frozen peas from the freezer, or add some iced water to a small Ziploc bag and let it rest on your head for a few minutes. Cooling the area can reduce inflammation quickly, which could prevent the burn from rupturing the skin and starting to blister. Speed is of the essence – the faster you can act, the more you will stop the burn from progressing.
Coconut oil is the natural product of the moment. In the last few years, it’s been used for everything from hair masks to skin care treatments. This nourishing oil is packed with nutrients and has many positive attributes. It’s certainly great at soothing an irritated and itchy scalp.
To use coconut oil for a dry scalp, take a few tablespoons of oil and heat it to room temperature. Apply Viva Naturals Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil directly to the scalp or the affected area, and leave it in for around ten minutes. This should provide some fast relief, as well as delivering moisture to the place you need it most.
After ten minutes, you can rinse away the oil. You might not be able to rinse all of it away straight away. This oil can be stubborn, and your scalp’s tolerance to warm water may be low at this point. If you’re finding it hard to get rid of all the oil in one go, just wait a day or two and try rinsing again. This way you’ll avoid irritating your scalp even further.
Aloe vera is a natural healer. Many people use aloe vera gels, creams or lotions for sunburn and other irritation – so why not use it for chemical burns on the scalp?
With its naturally cooling and soothing properties, aloe vera is a go-to solution if you’re suffering from burns anywhere on the body. It is known to help the formation of new skin cells and healthy tissue growth, as well as reducing inflammation, killing bacteria and speeding up healing. Is there anything aloe vera can’t do?
You can pick up aloe vera lotions and creams in any pharmacy or supermarket – or you can head online to find the best of the best. Amara Organics Aloe Vera Gel is a completely natural, 99.75% aloe vera gel with no artificial substances, colors or fragrances. The thin gel absorbs quickly, which is ideal when treating the scalp as you don’t want to end up with build-up around the roots.
This product is perfect for soothing and hydrating the scalp after a bleach burn. It’s also great for dandruff and itchy scalps in general, so it’s worth keeping a bottle around even after your burn has healed.
InstaNatural Aloe Vera Gel is another popular product for treating chemical scalp burns from bleach. The organic formula uses cold-pressed aloe vera to nourish the scalp, decreasing itchiness and dryness, as well as providing protection against the elements. The product is cruelty-free, made in FDA-registered facilities, and has received rave reviews from happy users.
Many people keep lemon juice around the house for a multitude of reasons. It’s a fantastic cleaning product, it’s a great cooking ingredient, and it has antiseptic properties so that it can be used for health and healing purposes.
If you’re considering using lemon juice as part of the healing process, you should check out the affected area first. If the area is still blistering or only just beginning to scab, lemon juice may be painful – it’s quite acidic, and could cause further irritation. But if your scabs are almost healed, and you’re still suffering from an itchy scalp from the burns, lemon juice is the ideal solution.
Simply dilute one part lemon juice to two parts water, and decant into a spray bottle. You can then spray it directly onto the scalp and leave it for around ten minutes. Rinse it out with warm water, or shampoo if you wish. Repeat the process every day until the itching subsides entirely – then you’ll know your scalp has healed.
If you’ve experienced a chemical burn on your scalp, you may feel like you want to try every possible product and treatment to ease the discomfort. But when your scalp is irritated, you need to be very selective about the products you apply to the area.
Chemical burns can make your scalp much more sensitive to certain ingredients than it usually is. Tolerating ingredients like cetyl alcohol and added fragrances in shampoos or gels might usually be a breeze for your scalp. But in its weakened state, these ingredients might irritate the area even further.
Try to avoid any products that aren’t natural in the hours and days after your bleaching treatment. Aim for gentle, soothing ingredients like natural oils – these are much less likely to cause extra irritation.
Another great, natural product you can try for your chemical burns is hemp seed oil. This oil is much lighter than coconut oil and easier to rinse out. If you’re having trouble ridding your scalp of excess coconut oil, give this option a try.
Topical hemp has been used for centuries to treat plenty of skin conditions and ailments. It’s been proven to be effective in treating atopic dermatitis, and it can soothe burns by acting as an anti-inflammatory and natural pain reliever.Irie Hemp Pain Balm with 50mg of hemp extract is a fantastic pain reliever, and can be used on the scalp to treat burns. It combines powerful natural ingredients to create a therapeutic balm which targets pain fast. The balm is quickly absorbed, so it won’t linger around and create build-up on the scalp. One of the key benefits of this balm is that it doesn’t come with the side-effects of many conventional painkillers, which can include dizziness, drowsiness, and nausea.
One of the best things you can do if you’ve experienced a chemical burn on the scalp is to see a medical professional immediately. You may choose to see your regular doctor or a specialist dermatologist – the most important thing is that you seek some professional advice.
A doctor will be able to make sure the problem isn’t something more serious than a chemical burn. They can also recommend or prescribe other healing lotions and treatments that may be stronger than those available in pharmacies or online.
Many people will go to a doctor immediately after experiencing a chemical burn. Some prefer to treat the issue themselves. If the burn is not healing well, it’s advised that you see a doctor. They may prescribe an antibiotic ointment to help set you on the road to recovery.
Here are some other extra tips that will help you handle your chemical burn from bleaching:
Bleaching as a hair styling treatment looks like it’s going to be popular for years to come. When carried out safely, by a professional, it’s a great way to give yourself a new look with lighter locks. But when it’s carried out at home, with substandard products and ingredients, it can be quite dangerous.
One of the best ways to avoid an itchy scalp after bleaching is to have the treatment carried out by a professional with great credentials. Choose a good salon with a hairstylist who is experienced in bleaching different hair types. If you want to avoid the salon route, or if you’d prefer to go down the DIY route, consider asking a professional what type of products they may use.
Whichever way you bleach your hair, there is a small chance that you’ll experience irritation. This is because of the sheer strength and power of the ingredients involved in the bleaching process. It’s advised that you stock up on some of the products listed above so that you’ll have them prepared if you do experience a burn. There’s nothing worse than having a chemically burnt scalp and having to wait for a delivery of the recommended treatment!
You should also see a doctor if your scalp is severely burning or blistered. A professional will always be able to advise you on medications or products that you can use to treat the issue, and they may even prescribe some for you on the spot.