Bleaching your hair is an investment to say the least. Beyond the cost of actually getting the process done and the time it takes to go from dark to light (a whopping eight hours in my case!), there’s the aftercare that you might not have considered. If you’re up for the upkeep, here are some tried-and-true tips to keep your color bright and your hair a little less damaged:

By Jenny Jin
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Woman with bleached hair combed over face
Credit: Pando Hall/Getty Images

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Purely Perfect Cleansing Creme
Credit: purelyperfectproducts.com

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.

Aquis Microfiber Hair Towel
Credit: amazon.com

Dry gently.

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.

L’Oréal Paris Total Repair 5 Damage-Erasing Balm
Credit: drugstore.com

Treat yourself.

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.

Davines Alchemic Silver Conditioner
Credit: us.davines.com

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.

Sachajuan Finish Cream and OGX Healing + Vitamin E Penetrating Oil
Credit: sephora.com, ulta.com

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."