how to bleach hair04/02/2013
I wanted to write a post on how to bleach hair for so long but have never had time to do it properly. I get a lot of e-mails, comments and messages from girls asking how do I dye my hair, what products do I use etc… I decided that it would be best if I wrote a full post on how I do it, share some tips and how-to’s in one place, rather than just explaining the whole process each time someone asks. Plus, you can bookmark this article and get back to it any time you need a reminder.
I have been bleaching my hair myself for few years now and am pretty satisfied with the outcome most of the time. However, before I had the guts to try and do that myself, my hair had been regularly dyed by a professional hair dresser. That’s where I learned how to bleach hair. I’m always stressing this and I cannot stress it enough – if you aren’t absolutely sure what you’re doing, it’s best if you leave it to pros. It’s not only your hair at stake, but your scalp and overall health. These type of things are not to be taken for granted and easily messed with, so please always read the instructions on the boxes, take precaution measures, consult a professional, learn all you can before attempting to do it by yourself. I also need to state that I’m self taught, but have been learning how to bleach hair for a year before I tried doing it on my own. In that time period, I found out what works for my hair and what doesn’t. With that being said, what I’m about to write here may or may not work for you and your hair. Note that every type of hair is different and you need to see what’s best for you. So, let’s start!
Products needed for bleaching your hair
First, let’s discus products that you’ll need. I can’t really recommend a particular brand, because I use anything that I find at the drugstore. But I have some tips that’ll help you pick the right ones. Also, you can shop for everything you will need at the bottom of the post!
1. Bleach – Since I bleach my hair every month (or sometimes two), my roots are approximately 2-3cm long. For that length, I recommend using a 30g or 50g pack of bleach. Look for the powder that has a purple or blue tone to it, that’ll help prevent the canary yellow tone in your hair. If you can’t find any of them, use regular white powder, it will work just fine.
2. Developer/ Peroxide – I always use 12% (40vol) peroxide or do a 50:50 mix with 9% (30vol). I know, I know, it damages my hair so much, right? Well not really and I’ll explain why later on, so keep reading.
3. Toner/ purple shampoo/ hair dye – This is mandatory if you seek white/ greyish hair. For toners, always look for those that have the purple tone or are white. If you use hair dye for toning, use the whitest of whites or silver/ grey ones.
4. A plastic bowl, a brush, a comb, few plastic hair clips – Pretty self explanatory. Never use metal crafted bowls, brushes, combs and hair clips when working with peroxide and hair dyes, it can cause damage.
Before I start describing the process, let’s take a look at some…
Tips for hair bleaching
– First and foremost, if you want your hair icy white, don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ll get the result by just dyeing your hair with white dye. You won’t. Bleach is not the same as dye. What bleach does is giving you an empty canvas by pulling the pigment out of your hair, whereas dye just adds color to it. I know a lot of girls that have been dyeing their hair every month just because “their hair will fall out if they used bleach”. Let’s try simple math. What’s more damaging – 12x dying with 9-12% peroxide or 1x bleaching with 9-12% peroxide? Yeah, I thought so too. If you get it right the first time, you won’t need to do it again. Then it’s all maintenance from there – you will only have to dye the roots once they grow out.
– If you’re planning on bleaching your hair soon, always allow it to get really greasy beforehand. I know it’s gross, but it’ll protect your scalp. Do not ever apply bleach or any kind of dye to clean hair – it can cause severe damage to your scalp and hair and cause burns, hair breakage and falling out. And it burns like hell.
– Try to work quickly but carefully
– Wear old clothes while dyeing your hair – you don’t want to ruin your shiny new stuff.
– When buying the products ALWAYS check expiration dates!
– Do not start the process if you’re in a hurry. It can easily go wrong and you’ll have no time to fix it. Take your time if you want to get it right! I like to clear out my schedule for the whole day when I’m planning on dyeing my hair.
– I don’t use gloves as it’s easier for me to work that way. However, I recommend using them because the bleach can burn a bit, especially if you have ripped cuticles or scratches.
So how to bleach hair? Read on!
1. Take your plastic bowl and pour your powder and peroxide and mix them together until smooth. For 50g of bleach powder I recommend using at least 120ml of peroxide. Feel free to add more if your mixture is too thick. Be careful not to make it too liquid though. It needs to be just right, like yogurt for example. As for the peroxide strength, I personally use 12% developer. My natural hair is very dark with red pigment and it’s the only way I can get the lightest shade possible. You can use 6% or even 3% developer, if your hair is already light blonde. Since I’ve never used those, I can’t guarantee you will get the desired color. Now, if you ask any hairdresser, they’ll tell you that 9% is the best even though I have no idea why. Of course, you can try it and see how it works for you. However, I found that it doesn’t work for me as my hair turns bright canary yellow every time with just 9% peroxide.
2. Section your hair using a tail comb. I like to do the front part first because I want the bleach to work longer in that area – no one cares if there are yellowish parts in the back, the front is what’s important. It’s best if you do one by one section, lightly combing through each time you apply the bleach. DO NOT apply it to sections that have already been bleached as it’s likely to cause unnecessary damage! Make sure you distribute the bleach evenly so all of the dark parts are covered. So let’s review – section, apply, comb through. Repeat until you’re done coating every part of the hair.
If you’re bleaching your hair for the first time, same goes. Section, apply evenly and try to work as quick as possible. When all of the hair is coated, take a big piece of cling wrap or a plastic bag and wrap it around your head. This helps develop the bleach work faster as it preserves the heat to leave the head. Leave the bleach to work its magic for at least 30 minutes. I leave it to an hour. After 30 minutes check the process. You’re shooting for a very light yellow so if it hasn’t reached that shade yet, leave it for another 20-30 minutes. It’s important that you don’t panic and rinse it out earlier than you should. Relax, read something, grab a snack.
If you’re a redhead, have black hair or have already dyed your hair before, it’s almost certain that you will not get a light yellow the first time. You might need 2 or even 3 or 4 takes. I highly recommend taking a 2-3 month breaks between each bleach job as it will allow your hair to recover. If you cannot wait that long, at least do a one-month break and in the meantime ease up on washing your hair too often & make sure you deep condition it every single time. Before bleaching, you can also try one of those color removers. I’ve never used them so I can’t tell you much about them, sorry.
3. After the time is up and you’ve reached a light yellow shade, you can rinse out the bleach. I like to use herbal and/ or baby shampoos as they’re very gentle to your hair. Wash your hair once, twice – just the way you do regularly. Luke warm to cold water works best at this point. After that, be sure to use a conditioner or a hair mask. Use plenty of it and leave it in. Don’t rinse out just yet!
4. You’re half way there – it’s time for fine tuning! The easiest way out is the purple shampoo, it works the same way as a normal shampoo. Massage it into your hair and leave it for at least 20 minutes. The label often says 2-3 minutes, but I found it does literally nothing in that time period and that you need to leave it in at least 10 times longer. Be careful not to leave it in too long though, it might color your hair purple. If that happens, don’t worry – just rinse it out with warm water and normal shampoo until it’s gone. I can recommend Clairol Shimmer Lights purple shampoo, I have used it and it’s pretty good for getting the yellow out of your hair.
I don’t really use toners, but I’ve heard that they’re quite good. Basically, you use toners in a similar way you would a hair dye. You pour it into a plastic bowl and mix with developer, apply to your hair, wait 20-30 minutes (or however long it takes to get the desired color, make sure to keep checking on the process) and rinse out.
If you use hair dye, be sure to pick white or ash/ silvery grey shade, it will get rid off that yellow tone. Always do a test before using hair dye – it’s done to discover if your skin would react to the dye product. (Put a small amount of dye on your forearm, if you don’t have any reaction to it within 48 hours, you’re good to go). Now, you can use it according to the instructions provided in the box or you can dilute it. To dilute the hair dye pour half of the dye in a bowl, mix it with half of the developer, put a tablespoon or two of conditioner and add a little water. Mix well until smooth and apply evenly to your hair. Leave it in for at least 30 minutes, checking the process every 10 minutes. You can use the same technique with dye as you did for bleaching – wrap your hair in cling wrap or a plastic bag. Feel free to scrape the dye off one strand of hair from time to time to see the progress. When you’re satisfied with the color, rinse out.
5. At this stage, your hair is pretty vulnerable and weak, it craves nurturing. Take a generous amount of hair mask, conditioner, hot oil, whatever you have and massage it gently into your hair. Make sure you cover all of it! Leave it in for at least an hour or more, if you can. When the time is up, rinse out but not all of it. That way your hair will stay silky and protected. Also try to use cold water since it closes the pores and your hair will look shinier once it’s dry. Wrap it in a towel. Don’t ever rub the hair with a towel! If you must, lightly pat it until mid-dry. It’s also important not to comb wet hair, especially not freshly bleached hair – it may leave you half bald. Kidding, but you really shouldn’t do that.
Be sure to use heat protecting sprays, nurturing ampoules or hair creams, whatever you have will work fine.
Blow dry if you’re in a hurry, but it’s not recommended. I personally blow dry most of the times (guilty!), but I make sure I keep the blow dryer at least 20cm away from the hair. After your hair is dry, use silicone drops or serums for dyed and damaged hair for a silky finishing touch and additional health points.
And there you have it, girls (and maybe boys)! The definitive guide on how to bleach hair in the comfort of your own home while spending ten times less than you would normally in a salon. I hope you all made it to the finishing line without dropping dead. I’m sorry the post is so long, I just wanted to make sure I covered all the stages and that it’ll be helpful to you. Of course, if you have any further questions, you’re more than welcome to leave a comment below, I’ll gladly reply. Also, be a friend and share this post as I know a lot of people struggle with getting their hair color right, thanks!
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PS. Be sure to read the comments below, you can find some good advice there as well! Also, feel free to add suggestions and tips if you have any! You can shop the needed products below:
Disclaimer: Not that I haven’t already said it, but for those who skipped the introduction, here goes. Keep in mind that I am not a professional and I will not be responsible for any of the problems you might have with bleaching your hair. I repeat, what works for me may not necessarily work for you too. Before you try to do anything yourself, please consult a professional hair dresser.