How to Care for Bleached & Color-Treated Hair, According to a Professional Hair Colorist

Whether you've already taken the leap or you've had your local hair salon's website bookmarked forever, here are all the things you need to know about maintaining & growing out color-treated hair.

By Jenny Lee Mar 05, 2024 3:10 AMTags
Shop Bleached Haircare ProductsPhoto Courtesy of Getty Images - Nina Sinitskaya

We interviewed Richy Kandasamy because we think you'll like his picks. Richy is a paid spokesperson for R+Co. E! has affiliate relationships, so we may get a commission if you purchase something through our links. Items are sold by the retailer, not E!. Prices are accurate as of publish time.

As winter (finally) makes its grand exit and the smell of blooming flowers & tropical beaches fills the room, it feels like life is slowly returning back to our bodies — kind of like coming out of hibernation. We're dusting off our sundresses and swimsuits, finalizing our spring break plans, and most of all, looking forward to a fresh start full of clear skies and bright energy. The beginning of spring symbolizes positive transformation, and what better way to kick off the season than to change up your hair?

Whether you've already made a visit to the salon or have been stuck in limbo hovering your finger over the "Book Appointment" button for your local salon, there are few key things that you should know if you're going blonde or dying your hair. We're all for you living your best life, and that's why we've brought in Richy Kandasamy to answer all your burning questions about what it takes to care & grow out your color-treated strands. Richy is a professional hair colorist, VP of R+COLOR Development, and an R+Co Collective member, meaning he's got you covered from A-Z on the salon encyclopedia. Read on to learn about the best ways to nourish & protect your hair, as well as Richy's go-to products and key advice.

Photo Courtesy of Victor Quintana

What should you know before deciding to bleach or color-treat your hair?

If you're in the process of deciding whether to take the leap, you first need to "ensure that your hair is in good condition to minimize damage," Richy says. This step includes "asking advice from a professional colorist for a personalized experience and recommendations."

Richy adds, "You also have to understand that maintenance is required for colored hair, including root touch-ups and specific haircare products. An allergy test or patch test is required if it's your first time coloring your hair. One last piece of advice is understanding that achieving certain colors may require multiple sessions, and results may vary based on natural hair color."

What are some must-have products you love for taking care of and maintaining bleached & color-treated hair as it grows out?

With bleached & color-treated hair, Richy advises prioritizing sulfate-free shampoos, hydrating masks, and leave-in conditioners in your routine to nourish, hydrate, and protect your hair. He also notes that "products with UV protection are key, because they will to help protect hair from sun exposure."

According to Richy, R+Co's GEMSTONE collection is perfect for color-treated hair care. In particular, "I recommend R+Co GEMSTONE Color Shampoo and Conditioner twice a week." Additionally, "As a deep conditioning treatment, use a hydrating hair mask like R+Co GEMSTONE Ultra Shine Glossing Treatment once a week."

R+Co GEMSTONE Color Shampoo + Conditioner Set

This shampoo and conditioner set is designed to provide essential support to your colored strands so they stay vibrant and healthy for as long as possible. What sets them apart is that they're made with an added color protection complex specifically designed to protect and prolong the vibrancy of your shade.

R+Co GEMSTONE Ultra Shine Glossing Treatment

The Ultra Shine Glossing Treatment features a rich creme formula that deeply hydrates your hair, enriches color, and seals damaged cuticles for that glass hair shine. Plus, it provides UV protection to your strands.

SadieB Creator Smoothing Berry Rose Shampoo

For an affordable hair care option that goes above and beyond in nourishing and protecting your color-treated strands, check out SadieB's Creator Shampoo. Antioxidants and amino acids gently cleanse and smooth your hair, leaving it healthy & bouncy without stripping it of its natural oils. It's an ideal choice for hydrating hair that's been heat-styled or color-treated, and it's formulated without sulfates, parabens, or phthalates.

Amika Bust Your Brass Cool Blonde Purple Intense Repair Hair Mask

Amika's Bust Your Brass hair mask is a tried-and-true pick that's gained a large, devoted following in the beauty community, and it was my personal holy grail back when I had bleached hair (both the first & second time). The mask left my hair looking silky & toned, feeling healthy, and smelling ah-mazing.

Live In Mist Leave-In Conditioner

When you have color-treated hair, it's super important to look for products that nourish and protect, just like this leave-in conditioner from Arey does. The formula includes ingredients like raspberry seed oil and jojoba oil that work to build the internal strength of your hair, along with naturally derived UV protection that helps protect your colored strands (as well as grey hair, according to the brand).

One Arey shopper wrote, "I LOVE this leave-in conditioner. Compared to other leave-in conditioners, this is absolutely weightless and perfect for fine hair. I apply at the end of my shower when my hair is soaking wet and scrunch in, then later comb out into silky tresses. I usually hate my natural hair texture, but this helps create soft, smooth waves and a lot less frizz than usual. Highly recommend!"

Mielle Organics Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening Oil for All Hair Types

According to Richy, "For a more DIY mask, I like to use three superfood oils to deeply heal the hair after bleach. Mix coconut, argan and almond oil and apply it to the hair."

This bestselling scalp & hair oil has a whopping 56,300+ five-star reviews on Amazon, and it certainly lives up to the hype. It's made with jojoba oil, almond oil, and a whole lot more hair-nourishing ingredients (as in, more than 30 essential oils).

One shopper raved, "My hair has really thinned out from bleaching and stress. I've started using this and my hair feel so moisturized. I didn't realize how dried out it was until I let this sit in my hair for a few hours and washed it out. Sometimes I'll keep it in overnight and it feels amazing afterwards. I do recommend if your hair is really dried out from bleaching."

Hair Food Coconut & Argan Oil Heat Protectant Spray,

Crafted with powerful ingredients like coconut and argan oil, this heat protectant spray keeps your hair sealed and hydrated up to 450° F. It's formulated without sulfates, parabens & dye, and it has 9,500+ five-star reviews on Amazon.

According to one shopper, "This stuff smells like a happy tropical vacation. It leaves my hair soft and shiny, leaves no residue on my hair or my hands, and doesn't seem to add any weight to my hair. My hair is bleached, and this allows me to heat style without my hair feeling like straw. I use it every wash, regardless of whether or not I heat style. Definitely recommend. One of the few hair products I've found that I genuinely love."

R+Co SUN CATCHER Power C Boosting Leave-In Conditioner

After you've finished shampooing and conditioning your hair, Richy recommends following up with a leave-in conditioner. Particularly, "A lightweight leave-in conditioner like R+Co SUN CATCHER Power C Boosting Leave-In Conditioner is a blonde's best friend. And, always use sun protection like a hat when in the sun."

One R+Co shopper raved, "I love this Sun Catcher Power C leave in conditioner, it smells great, it looks and feels as though it has added an extra boost of vitamins to my hair. My hair looks amazing with this stuff, and I have noticed that I have been able to go longer between hair trims. I have not seen a single split end since using this stuff. This will forever be a part of my hair routine (unless something better comes out). Like all R+Co products I absolutely love the smell of this stuff!!"

What kinds of products or haircare routines do you recommend to keep hair color from fading or changing as long as possible?

When you're going through your hair care routine, Richy advises, "Wash with cool water, avoid excessive sun exposure, and limit heat styling. Incorporate color-protecting masks or treatments, and schedule regular touch-ups to maintain vibrancy. Rinsing your hair with cool water will reduce fading and will promote shine."

Additionally, "To maintain the brightness and neutralize any warmth, I recommend using a purple shampoo once a week."

R+Co SUNSET BLVD Daily Blonde

Richy says, "To preserve hair color, use sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners specifically designed for color-treated hair. Try color safe, R+Co SUNSET BLVD Daily Blonde or GEMSTONE Color Shampoo and Conditioner."

The SUNSET BLVD shampoo works to repair and hydrate your hair while bringing out the best of your blonde or gray hair. According to one R+Co. shopper, "Love this shampoo, in combo w/the conditioner. Keeps my blonde color so vibrant and no yellow tones! Hair is super soft despite being processed and the smell is to do for!"

R+Co BLEU Blonded Brightening Shampoo

Additionally, Richy notes, "For more of a toning effect, use R+Co BLEU Blonded Brightening Shampoo and Masque." He recommends this particular pick "for blondes specifically, because they're designed to tone brassy hair."

One R+Co shopper raved, "I would honestly say this is the best Blonde shampoo I have ever used. It makes my blond super bright, tones any orange, and adds a ton of moisture. Since my hair is super bleached and needs all the moisture and strengthening it can get. I use it once a week. GET IT!" 

How to Grow Thicker, Fuller Hair, According to a Dermatologist

For those with bleached or color-treated hair, how often should you be washing your hair? Are there any negative effects of washing your hair too much or too little with bleached/color-treated hair?

According to Richy, caring for your colored hair is all about finding balance depending on your hair's individual needs and your lifestyle. If you wash your hair too frequently, it "can strip natural oils, leading to dryness and color loss." On the other hand, if you don't wash it enough, it "may cause product buildup, impacting hair health and color vibrancy." Overall, you should "aim to wash it 2-3 times a week to prevent color fading."

Renpure Apple Cider Vinegar Clarify and Shine Scalp Serum

Healthy hair starts with the scalp, and this clarifying serum will help you make the most out of every wash day. It works to rebalance your scalp with natural oils and remove flakes, leaving your hair refreshed & conditioned without leaving it feeling stripped or dry. I incorporated this serum into my hair wash routine a few months ago, and I've never looked back since — I genuinely love it so, so much, especially as someone who has a super sensitive scalp & previously bleached their hair.

As one Amazon shopper explained, "I read the reviews and wasn't sure what to expect but I am very happy with this product. It smells great but it actually works which is what I love most. I don't wash my hair often, once or twice a week, and I have dry scalp. Like flaking gross dry scalp. Within the first use I had no more flakiness. 100% recommend. I have tried one other product in the past that was more expensive and didn't have nearly the same results."

Can you share any tips for protecting bleached or colored hair while heat styling?

While Richy advises that you limit heat styling with color-treated hair, when the occasion calls for it, you should "always use a heat protectant spray or serum before blow drying or using hot tools." Plus, you should try to keep your tool on the lower heat settings if you can to prevent damage.

R+Co HOT SPELL Thermotech Blow Out Balm

Richy's go-to heat protectant treatment is R+Co.'s Thermotech Blow Out Balm. The silky balm texture turns into a protective smoothing cream when it comes into contact with your hair to tame, smooth, and de-frizz. Oh, and it protects your strands up to 450° F.

One R+Co shopper noted that this product gave them the "best blowouts." They raved, "I love this product more than I thought I would. I'm blonde and live in a very dry climate, so the struggle with breakage is real. This product, combined with centerpiece, leaves my hair shiny, smooth, and healthy-feeling with blowouts."

Color Wow Dream Coat Supernatural Spray

Color Wow products have earned a loyal following among shoppers, but this bestselling anti-frizz treatment spray truly takes the cake. It does everything from blocking humidity & preventing frizz to leaving your hair silky, glossy, and radiant thanks to the innovative polymer technology.

According to one Sephora shopper who was "shook with how good this is," "First of all, I find it so hard to go off reviews anymore because it seems like all these people get paid to leave a review. Let me say THIS IS A REAL REVIEW!!! I can't believe how good this product works. Don't forget that you have to spray on damp hair and blow dry. It won't work unless you blow dry your hair. It truly works if you follow the way it is intended to be used. I have naturally straight hair but it is very frizzy. This has completely changed my hair. It is so good that I will be purchasing a couple for Christmas gifts"

How long should you wait after bleaching your hair before changing it up with another color or bleaching session? How often do you recommend touching up your roots?

According to Richy, "Wait at least 5-6 weeks between bleaching sessions to allow your hair to recover. Touch up roots every 4-6 weeks to maintain a seamless color appearance. Giving your hair time to rest minimizes damage and promotes overall hair health."

PHYTO Purple No Yellow Shampoo

While you're waiting for your next session, you'll want to use products that will keep your hair as vibrant (aka non-brassy) and as lush as possible. This purple shampoo from PHYTO will help you look like you just came from the salon thanks to its innovative formula. The violet pigments correct yellow and copper highlights to revive the radiance of cool highlights, while the antioxidant Edelweiss extract protects the hair fibre & the white mallow extract gives your hair that extra shine.

TruffLuv Indulge Collection Truffle Mask

Speaking of recovering and repairing, this top-rated hair mask from TruffLuv's award-winnig Truffle Collection will help you get your hair looking healthy & salon-ready. The mask is high in antioxidants & micronutrients that revitalize dull, damaged hair, while the infused black truffle extract is rich in proteins, minerals & amino acids that repair and rejuvenate your strands.

One Amazon shopper raved, "I have blond color treated, shoulder length hair and after its colored it feels like straw for awhile. This stuff makes it so soft and manageable!! The smell is amazing too!!! I use it 1 to 2 x week."

What hair products or ingredients should you avoid if you have bleached or color-treated hair?

In order to maintain the health of your bleached or color-treated hair, you should look for products that are formulated without "sulfates, parabens, and harsh alcohols." Conversely, you should prioritize products that contain "hydrating ingredients like argan oil, keratin, and sulfate-free formulas to maintain color and moisture."

Marc Anthony Leave-In Conditioner Spray & Detangler

swear by this TikTok-viral leave-in conditioner (to the point where I wrote a full ode to it that I 100% still stand by). It's formulated with beneficial ingredients like vitamin E, caffeine, ginseng, biotin & caffeine, and it's free of harmful ingredients like sulfates, phthalates, and parabens.

The leave-in conditioner has 37,100+ five-star reviews on Amazon, with one shopper writing, "I bought this leave in conditioner a little over a month. I use this after every hair washing, my hair is noticeably healthier and stronger. I have platinum blonde(which means breaking hair, dead ends, and depending on what hair product I use makes my hair feel like straw). This leave in conditioner has litterally transformed my hair In so many ways. The scent of this leave in is AMAZING and is long lasting. My hair is never knotting at the ends anymore after applying this, and I have noticed that my hair has gained strength back I used to be scared to even brush my hair because of my hair breakage after the shower from the bleach damage. After using this, little to no hair is breaking."

Milk_shake Color Maintainer Shampoo

When you're dealing with color-treated hair, you want to look for a shampoo that's gentle yet effective, that hydrates your hair while simultaneously protecting against color fade. That's exactly what this shopper-loved Color Maintainer Shampoo does, using nourishing ingredients like milk proteins, hydrolized wheat proteins, and more. Plus, it's formulated without sulfates and parabens.

One Amazon shopper reported, "In love with this product line. My hair is bleached and multi-processed and it was looking pretty dull and dry. This along with the conditioner and the incredible milk have totally turned my hair around. It's now silky, soft, and shiny! On top of that, it smells amazing. Will definitely continue to buy!"

R+Co SUNSET BLVD Blonde Toning Masque

Richy also advices that "a mask is key!" He says, "My personal favorite is R+Co SUNSET BLVD Blonde Toning Masque. Use it once or twice a week after washing with your shampoo, leave it on for three to five minutes, rinse and voilà… toned hair."

According to one R+Co shopper's experience, "This is the best purple hair product I've ever used. My hair was colored blonde over a month ago and I always have issues with my hair becoming brassy. This masque really helps with the brassiness and brings out the blonde. The blonde parts of my hair look brighter, fresh, and almost takes away all of the brassiness! It's also pretty moisturizing and works well as a conditioner substitute. Plus it smells amazing :)"

What hair colors or trends do you think we'll be seeing a lot of in 2024?

For 2024 hair trends, Richy predict that we'll be seeing "a variety of trends, a lot of  natural or earthy tones." He adds, "But for urban clients, we'll see a lot delicate pastels, and bold, unconventional colors."

Looking to shop more ways to transform your hair health? Get the lowdown on how to achieve expensive-looking glass hair on a budget, featuring picks starting at just $7.