Scale back on suds.
Per my colorist’s recommendation, I swapped out my shampoo for a sulfate-free formula. Purely Perfect Cleansing Creme ($40, purelyperfectproducts.com) is my go to because it’s the rare two-in-one product that does both jobs—shampoo and condition—exceptionally well. Just make sure to wet your hair thoroughly before applying. This will give it some much-needed slip, as the viscous formula does not lather at all. Then, massage a few pumps of cleanser into your scalp. I mean really get in there with your fingertips to help break down any residue. Like cleaning a greasy pan, it takes a good soak and a bit of muscle to get the grit out. After my self-administered scalp massage, I take any remaining cream and work it through the rest of my hair before rinsing.
I ditched my cotton towel for a softer option like Aquis Microfiber Hair Towel ($21, amazon.com), which soaks up excess water without roughing up the cuticle (a major faux pas for those concerned with frizz), or causing breakage.
Once a week, I slather on a moisturizing mask, clip it up, and watch a full episode of Parenthood to really let everything soak in before rinsing. I’ve tried the lot (in the name of research, of course), and nothing beats L’Oréal Paris Total Repair 5 Damage-Erasing Balm—especially for the price ($6, drugstore.com). It has a thick, frosting-like consistency that spreads easily, smells delicious, and leaves my hair super soft.
Beat the brass.
Every other week, I add a purple-tinted shampoo or conditioner to the mix. I like the Davines Alchemic Silver line ($24.50-28.50, us.davines.com) because it takes the dinginess out and honestly, makes my hair look a bit shinier (a tremendous feat for over-processed strands). Plus, the scent—though fragrant—is much less offensive than some of the others I’ve tried.
End with a cocktail.
I take a quarter-sized amount of Sachajuan Finish Cream ($26, sephora.com) and mix it with a few drops of OGX Healing + Vitamin E Penetrating Oil ($8, ulta.com) in my palms before applying it through from mid-lengths to ends while hair is still damp. Once my hair is completely dry, I take a few extra drops of oil and run it through my ends only as they tend to look the scraggliest.
There you have it: My post-bleach hair care regimen. Admittedly, it's a bit high maintenance, but it's the only thing that keeps my hair from looking like a brassy, dried out mess. And as a colleague so sagely told me recently, “Your hair is your crown. Treat it like royalty."