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Ask a Hairstylist: How to Grow Out Fine, Bleached Hair

The colour, cut and conditioning regimen you need.
How to grow out bleached hair

Welcome to our Hair Consultations column. Bill Angst is a celebrity hairstylist and the owner of Angst Hair in Toronto, Canada. To request an online hair consultation, follow the instructions here.

Q: Hi, my name is Karla and I am 54 years old. I’m trying to decide what to do with my hair. I would like to keep it longer, but am feeling that it lacks style and pizazz! Local salons don’t offer much advice.

From The Styling Edit Archives

How to grow out bleached hair

My hair is very fine and thin and dry (although it has improved since I started eating more protein). I also have a cowlick in the front. As you can see in my pictures, I have my hair parted against the cowlick and have worn it this way for many years.

I have always kept my hair very, very short with lots of layers and texturizing—until a couple of years ago when I decided to grow it out. It has been a long process, and you can see it’s still not really long. (Of course, considering how short it was to start with, it’s not that surprising.)

During the growing process, my hair has been trimmed a few times and highlighted. I like the blonder look, but I know it’s not that great for my hair.

How to grow out bleached hair

I am a lady that does not like to spend time on my hair. I prefer not to use a hairdryer (although I would if it made a huge difference) or using any other type of styling tool. I don’t mind using some product, but I haven’t since I started growing it out.

I would love advice on how you can help this older woman feel more stylish. Thank you so much and I hope you can help me out! — Karla

A: Karla, thank you for sending along your photos and requesting a hair consultation. It can take forever to grow out a short cut on fine hair, and get past all the layers and texturizing. I also know that backing off on the blonde is very difficult. 

When you go blonde with short hair, the damage and dryness that it causes is not an issue because you are frequently cutting it off. In fact, most people with short haircuts actually welcome some damage because it adds texture and body. 

Unfortunately, it backfires on you when you want to grow your hair out, because it starts looking dry and causing breakage. You are not only growing out your layers, but also the damaged coloured hair that has to grow right from the roots. This is comparable to growing out a shaved head. 

Patience is the only way to get past this part of making a style change. 

Non-Ammonia Colour

First, I would change the colouring program that you are on. I would consider to stop using bleach on your hair and try to achieve a blonde, streaky look that satisfies you with a non-ammonia colour product. Ammonia products ruffle the cuticle and make your hair more susceptible to breakage.

Warmer, Deeper Blonde

Here is an example of what I think you can achieve with your natural base colour:

How to grow out bleached hair Margot Robbie

A bit of warmth and depth to the colour will make your hair shine. It will also add visual weight and thickness. When the ends are too blonde, they look more fluffy and transparent. 

Short Bob to Long Bob

Here is an example of the cut I would suggest: 

How to grow out bleached hair Reese Witherspoon
How to grow out bleached hair Olivia Wilde

Yes, it is flat, but it is a good example of the length I recommend for you—and it’s not far from the stage that your hair is currently at. 

If you could get on a colour, trimming and conditioning regimen that you could maintain, then it is possible to keep growing your hair to this length:

How to grow out bleached hair Reese Witherspoon

Products for Fine, Damaged, Colour-Treated Hair

I commend you for adding protein to your diet, as hair is made of waste protein that your body doesn’t need. This will help to strengthen your hair and promote growth. 

The key thing you need externally is moisture to help smooth the hair cuticle. There are so many products on the market that present themselves as the right ones for your hair type. Unfortunately, trial and error seems to be the recipe for success in this department. 

Look for a shampoo and conditioner for fine, fragile hair that has been colour-treated or damaged. Kevin Murphy Angel Wash and Angel Rinse are gentle and lightweight.

Kevin Murphy Angel Wash Angel Rinse
Kerastase Chroma Absolu Shampoo Conditioner
Pureology Hydrate Sheer Shampoo Conditioner

I would not suggest using oil on your hair. It doesn’t have any moisturizing properties. It will, however, weigh your hair down and make it oily.

A thickening cream or lotion such as Kevin Murphy Full Again is the answer to your styling dreams. It will plump up your hair and add a smooth finish.

Kevin Murphy Full Again
UNITE BOOSTA Thickening Creme
Living Proof Full Thickening Cream

Styling Your Bob

This is how I would style your hair without blowdrying it:

How to grow out bleached hair Sienna Miller
How to grow out bleached hair Emma Roberts

Simply add your styling cream to damp hair, and then comb your hair smooth but not flat. Do a deep side part, as you can see in these photos, and then comb the bang hair up and over to the side. Flipping this extra bit of hair over your cowlick can give you the modern update you’re looking for:

How to grow out bleached hair Rachel McAdams

Then let it dry. Occasionally ruffle the roots as it is drying, but don’t comb or run your fingers all the way through to the ends. If you do this, it will promote fuzz and you will lose the cool texture. 

Once it is dry, touch up the ends with a flat iron:

Dyson Corrale Hair Straightener

Add a small amount of styling cream on the tips of your hair to help with separating the ends and to keep them looking moist.

I hope this helps you on the way to a new look, Karla.


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