When it comes to hair makeovers, getting a crazy colour done is far more effective in changing your look than going in for a complicated haircut. Hair colour is instantly eye-catching, adds depth to your complexion and is a style statement that is always in vogue. But no matter the trending shades or classic ones that you find pretty, none come close to the look you can achieve if you bleach your hair!
Hair bleach works by penetrating through your hair shaft and oxidising the melanin granules to lighten them. While it is often recommended to get your hair bleached by a professional, you can tackle the task yourself as well. Granted you inform yourself about the right process, essentials required and risks involved in bleaching your hair. Don't fret because we have you covered; read on to learn the ins and outs of bleaching your hair at home, starting with how to prep your mane.
- 1. How to prepare your hair for bleaching
- 2. The essentials needed to bleach your hair
- 3. Step by step guide for bleaching your hair at home
- 4. Tips to care for bleached hair
- 5. Side effects of bleaching your hair
- 6. Did you know?
- 7. FAQs about bleach hair
1. How to prepare your hair for bleaching
It might take a month or two to nurse your hair to be healthy enough to take on bleach. And once you are satisfied with its state, here’s everything your need to know about bleaching your hair at home:
2. The essentials needed to bleach your hair
There are a few hair bleaching essentials you need to make a checklist for:
- Bleach powder: Hair bleaching powder is a compound consisting of potassium persulphate, ammonium persulfate and sodium persulfate. It is responsible for lightening your strands and well, ‘bleach it’. Pick a good quality bleaching powder from a reliable brand, preferably one that is blue or purple in order to steer clear of brassy-looking bleach jobs. Do not use skin bleaching powders as they are not equipped to handle the complexity of your hair.
- Developer: The developer is a peroxide liquid that activates the bleach powder and gets it to the task of lightening your hair. The best way to pick the right developer for your at-home bleach job is to pick the right volume (10,20,30 or 40). There is an ideal volume for your hair level, which can be anywhere between 1 and 10 - 1 being the darkest (raven black) and 10 being the lightest (pale blonde). Follow this simple trick to pick your developer volume:
- Vol10 - Suitable for hair that is already dyed or naturally light; can lift 1-2 levels of colour.
- Vol20 - Suitable for light brown hair and can lift 2-3 levels of hair.
- Vol30 - Suitable for darker hair colours and can lift 3-4 levels of hair. Exercise caution while using this volume - do not leave it on the scalp for too long if you have sensitive skin. A safe way to activate the lightest shade on your hair with this volume is to do it over a couple of sessions, and not overdo it in a single try.
- Vol40 - The highest you can get from a developer, this strength can seriously damage your strands. Make sure to never bleach your hair at home with this strength, leave this strength to the professionals!
- Miscellaneous: Other tools and essentials you will need for bleaching hair at home are a tinting brush, claw clips for sectioning, latex gloves, a non-metallic mixing bowl, a shower cap and some old towel and clothes you don’t mind getting bleached and losing their colour.
3. Step by step guide for bleaching your hair at home
Do not wash your hair for two to three days prior to bleaching your hair, a ‘gunk-y’ mane will give better results. After you have put on a ratty old tee and have your bleach mix (two parts developer to one part of bleach powder) ready, follow this step-by-step guide to bleach your hair properly at home
Step 01: Divide your hair into easy-to-reach one cm wide strands, use small claw clips to make sure that these sections are properly separated in order to ensure full coverage.
Step 02: Start by applying the bleach mix and cover harder-to-reach sections at first. Which means you will be taking the brush from the back to the crown and then finally to the front of your hair. This is how you apply bleach to the strands - start with the tips and go up to the mid-lengths as they take longer to lighten. Once that is done, wait at least 10 minutes before you apply bleach to the roots. Use a shower cap once all of your hair is covered in bleach.
Step 03: Sit back and wait for the bleach to work. While the rule of thumb is not to leave the bleach on for more than 35-40 minutes, you should be checking on it constantly. When you notice the colour has been lightened to your liking, it is time to wash off the bleach.
BB pro tip: Along with checking on the hair, you need to keep a check on the skin surrounding your hair as well. If you notice itching, burning, redness, remove the bleach immediately and seek medical attention.
Step 04: Bend down under a faucet and wash off the bleach thoroughly with plain water first. This will ensure that you are not subjecting your skin to the bleach under a showerhead. Then, hop in the shower and wash your hair with a pH balancing shampoo and follow up with a protein balancing conditioner. Let your hair air dry.
4. Tips to care for bleached hair
Here are some post-bleaching hair care tips that you should follow religiously to ensure there is no further damage to your mane:
1. Cut down on conditioner usage
Newly bleached hair is quite weak and highly susceptible to chemical damage. Let your hair regain its strength naturally; till then, cut down on conditioner usage to once a week. Conditioners are made of highly potent ingredients that instead of nourishing, can damage your already vulnerable tresses significantly.
2. Use natural and/or organic products
As mentioned earlier, chemicals cause further damage to bleached hair. So switching up your hair care routine with natural or organic formulas will help care for your already vulnerable hair in a wholesome way.
3. Avoid heat styling
Pack up your heat styling tools for at least two weeks, they should NOT be going anywhere near your hair! Heat is already pretty damaging to your hair and can be even more aggressive if subjected on bleached hair.
4. Oil your hair regularly
This might sound surprising, but coconut oil can be a boon for bleached hair. This potent oil is able to reach deep into your hair and repair damage from within. Increase the frequency of oiling post-bleaching, keep the oil on for at least an hour before washing and repeat twice a week.
5. Dilute your shampoo/hair cleanser
Take a coin-sized amount of shampoo in your palms and dilute with water. Lather it in your palms instead of directly applying it in its concentrated form on your hair.
5. Side effects of bleaching your hair
Two major components of air bleach are an alkaline agent, ammonium hydroxide and an oxidising agent, hydrogen peroxide. These chemicals work towards breaking down the natural pigment in your hair by penetrating deep within the hair shaft and destroying the melanin in the cuticles. This affects the health of your mane adversely, from loss of hair colour to significant damage caused to your scalp, the list runs long. You might also experience scalp burns, brittle hair strands, significant protein loss, visible hair damage, and skin irritation from the bleach.
6. Did you know?
It is best to bleach hair that is virgin - meaning, hair that hasn't been coloured/ chemically-treated in any way before. Also, super dark or colour-processed hair may be difficult to bleach and may need more than once session to achieve the desired result. But make sure to space out these sessions once every couple of weeks, or to be on the safe side, a month apart. It is also recommended that hair that is extremely dark, long, chemically processed, textured, permed, or damaged, should be bleached by a professional. There might be a risk of overprocessing your hair if bleached at home.
7. FAQs about bleach hair
Q. Does lemon juice bleach black hair?
A. Contrary to popular belief, drenching your hair in lemon juice and standing under the sun won’t bleach your dark hair. It only works, in a small capacity, for hair is already light, like pale blonde. Applying lemon juice directly to your hair will also lead to drying of the tresses and irritate the scalp.
Q. Does toothpaste bleach your hair?
A. While toothpaste does contain a certain amount of hydrogen peroxide, it won’t actually bleach your hair. Plus, you never know how your hair will react to the other ingredients present in toothpaste, so it is not recommended.
Main image courtesy: @hungvanngo
Written by Sumona Bose on Nov 10, 2020
Sumona Bose is a writer, skincare junkie and a self-professed makeup connoisseur. Equipped with a Master's degree in Fashion Management and over 3 years of experience writing in the beauty and fashion space, her passion for learning new things has no bounds. Working closely with dermatologists, beauty excerpts, makeup artists and hairstylists, she brings you the best of all things beauty. From trending skincare ingredients to makeup looks that help you slay, she manages to bring something new (and vital!) to our readers every single time. Her hobbies include home workouts, watching foreign films and binge-watching makeover shows!