The Ultimate Guide To Bleaching Your Hair.

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Buying a bleach kit.
Quite simply your bleach kit should contain a powder and peroxide, also known as the developer. But you need to check the strength of the peroxide before buying it, basically:

10+ if your hair is already light but you need to remove yellow tones.
20+ if your hair is light to medium brown.
30+ if your hair is dark.
40+ if your using it to tip dye your hair, it's far too strong to risk putting near your scalp and I don't recommend using this at home.

If the box doesn't contain an instruction leaflet I would put it back on the shelf and back away.

A bleach kit:
  • A bleach kit, obviously.
  • Hair clip.
  • A bowl to mix in.
  • A dye brush.
  • Old towel.
  • Old shirt.
  • Timer.
  • Latex gloves.
  • A plastic cap.
What technically is bleaching?
In the simplest terms possible it's a chemical that removes colour or lightens hair because it reacts with the melanin in the hair, it's an irreversible chemical reaction so please don't take bleaching your hair lightly. 

How adorable! Source.
How many times will I have to bleach?
Depends on the colour of your hair and the volume of the pexoride.

If you've got black hair I recommend two applications of 30 volume but you must leave at least a week in between them, even 30 volume can be harsh on skin so please be careful. Volume 40 is too harsh to use, end of. Don't even attempt this, I'm talking chemical burns here so leave it to the professions. Black has a lot of pigment and that's why it takes more time and effort to bleach your hair to a pale blonde shade. If it's a permanent dye then you might have to deal with the orange or even red patches that can occur, patience really is key when you're trying to remove black from your hair. Personally I recommend seeing a professional but I guess that's not why you're read this eh? Well if you're worried it won't work and can't deal with patches you could always try using a colour remover beforehand and bleaching until it's pale blonde then using a white toner to finish, of course this will take more time and patience but it's worth it in the long run.

Dark brown hair and deep redheads should use 30 volume, you might end up with orangy patches but you only need to reapply bleach to that area. Anything from light brown to medium blonde should use 20 volume in order to get a pale blonde shade, however this hair shade does specifically need a strand test. Sometimes it takes less sometimes it takes more. 

Gray to white blonde should use 10 volume or possibly dilute a 20 volume, but strand test first to see whether it's strong enough. Obviously a volume this low won't cause as much damage but you'll still need to check the instruction for timing, if you're diluted it I recommend ten minutes then shampooing it out. 

Allergies and testing.

A strand test is easily done, just snip off a section of your hair and put an elastic band around the roots. Create the mixture and soak the hair in it, if you planned to use a 30 volume then use a 30 volume or if you planned to leave it on for ten minutes then try that. This is perfect for making sure everything will work out as planned, hopefully you won't have to change anything but if you did at least you know now.

You can develop an allergic despite regular use and it's not unheard of so do a strand test 24 hours before applying all over. It's possible that the bleach could cause blistering or even burns to your scalp so be careful. The bleach can also have a bad reaction with chlorine so swimmmers beware. An uncomfortable tingling sensation on the scalp is normal but it ever turns into burning you need to rinse with cool water as soon possible and seek medical attention. If you're planning to dye over your bleach check the ingredients for metallic dye components which damage your hair if they're mixed other chemical process. 

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Mixing.
The developer comes in several amounts of volume up to 40 and which one you can use depends on how light you need your hair to be. If you're doing all this by hand or can't get hold of your box just mix until it has a thick texture and doesn't run off your brush. If you've mixed it too much and it's gone all runny add more powder. Please note that thick bleach dries much faster so apply as soon as possible.

Applying.

Please don't shampoo your hair clean beforehand, it's not necessary and the oils will help protect your scalp. Section your hair using hair clips to make it easier to apply the bleach evenly. Wrap a towel around your shoulders and neck, don't forget the gloves. If you're applying the bleach by yourself I recommend sitting in front of a mirror with another mirror behind you.

Apply the bleach to your hair downwards using a dye brush, evenly and quickly. Don't apply it directly to the scalp and only apply a thin layer near the roots because the heat from your scalp will quicken the process. Depending on the thickness of your hair and the sections you created you might need to reapply another thin layer or twist the section around so it's completely covered. It's very important that it's done quickly and evenly so your hair lightens evenly and at the same pace.

You can put on a shower cap afterwards if you want to, just make sure to take it off when you colour check. Now set a timer!

The Process.
When you've applied your bleach you still need to regularly check the colour and your timer. Bleach keeps on working until you wash it off or it dries so pay attention to your scalp so you don't over process it. This part gets quite boring so read a magazine or better yet grab a friend.

It should get lighter as the process goes on for example if you had black hair it should go from black, brown, dark red, red, orange, yellow, blonde yellow then to light blonde. Don't worry if it's not following this exact trail, it's the result that matters and as long as you know you've done everything right don't worry.

When the timer goes off or when you're satisfied with the colour go rinse the bleach off with water and finish by using a mild shampoo and a good conditioner. Leave it to dry naturally and don't brush it while it's wet.

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Damage.
Bleaching does damage the existing hair but doesn't prevent your hair from growing. Nothing you put directly onto the hair will stop it growing and technically bleach doesn't kill hair in a literal sense. If it's your first time bleaching you're probably going to be okay, change your hair treatments to suit coloured or damaged hair and always use a conditioner.

If you notice any signs of damage such as breakage, rough texture, matt when wet or the colour fades quickly you could have damaged hair. If you're unsure whether the hair has naturally fallen out then check for a "bulb" at the root of the hair and check your hairbrush for newer build up. A more severe level of damage is shown by sponginess when your hair is wet and obviously severely damaged hair is immediately obvious, sadly this requires intense treatment and you always need to be careful. It's best to cut off the worse of the damage but if this isn't an option then treat your hair very gently from now on.

Don't believe the product selling lines that claim to cure your damage, the treatments available today help protect the hair and make it feel softer but they can't literally take back the damage. Seriously you will not wake up with Goddess hair.  Choose a protein conditioner and leave it on for a few minutes and put on a hair treatment once a week for 20 minutes plus, also after washing your hair use a light leave-in conditioner. If your hair is seriously damaged you could consider using weekly treatments as a regular conditioner. Avoid heat styling, dyeing, more chemical processes etc as until necessary. Always consult your hairdresser if it gets beyond your control, they won't judge you.

The best way to keep your hair healthy is preventation so don't get lazy about hair care. The delicate ends of your hair are the most fragile part of shaft because they're the oldest and probably driest part of your hair, they're prone to break off from everyday stress such as brushing your hair. Your hair is particularly vulnerable when it's wet so use a wide toothed comb to create a parting and avoid brushing through when it's completely wet.

Any advise to share or questions?

23 comments:

Caroline Carnivorous said...

Fantastic post!
Loved it.
I'm a hairdresser, but most people do it at home, so they need to know this!

Julietslace said...

Thank you :D I actually didn't know you could get your hair bleached at hairdressers at one point, hahah.

The HouseCat said...

Very useful! I will save it for when I have the opportunity to have funky hair.

Rawr?!1123 said...

What volume would you recommend for a medium brown hair colour of a girl that wants to dip dye her hair? :o

Julietslace said...

You could try 20? If it's a fade effect dip dye I would suggest 20 but you might need another application at the bottom. If you're dyeing over it with a bright colour go for 30 though.

Keelin said...

This post is great, so helpful! Just wondering, does bleach affect your hair differently if your hair is dyed? Thanks! :)

Julietslace said...

Bleach works the exact same way on dyed hair as it does on natural. Dye doesn't stop the bleach from working as such, depending on the colour you may need more applications or a stronger strength.

Lester Ordinado said...

My hair is pitch black and the only available volume of bleach is 10, would itwork?

Julietslace said...

Unlikely, if you can't find a higher volume in your area you could either get it done professionally or look online.

MANDUH said...

I dip-dyed my hair and the color has faded off. I'm thinking of switching up to an ombré effect and I will have to bleach my hair again. But it's half black and half blonde (i'm asian). Do you have any advice on how to go about bleaching it? I plan to ombré blue and purple.

Thanks!

Jessica Jade said...

Amazing post, extremely informative, and makes me feel a lot braver about bleaching my hair! Girlycopyrighyxo.blogspot.co.uk

Marley van Roemburg said...

I have bleached my hair 3 times in the past 6 weeks. I started from bright red and now it's a pale yellow/blonde. My hair doesn't feel very damaged (I used 40 vol.), but the color won't lift anymore. I really want to dye it a pastel/lavender color, but it's still to dark and yellow. Do you know how I could get my hair lighter? Or is it possible that my color can't be lifted anymore?

Julietslace said...

Have you tried using a toner to whiten the hair? Unfortunately it is possible your hair may always have a yellow tint but I wouldn't give up just yet. xo

kimba said...

Great post. What do you suggest for lifting very dark hair just a few levels, without damaging it? I was thinking 20 vol and then toning it with Ash to cool it down?

Julietslace said...

Always get a trim beforehand, any damage like split ends can travel further up the hair shaft and affect the rest of your hair. What shade are you aiming for?

kimba said...

I'm aiming for an ombre effect with dark chocolate level 5 roots/ mid lengths and 'milk chocolate' (creamy, cool light brown/ dark blonde level 7-8) ends. My hair is currently about a level 5 red-brown after removing old black dye buildup. Natural base is about a 4.

johanna knyn said...

I normally box dye (lightest blonde they sell in the supermarket). But I tried a more natural blonde box dye recently. My hair is grey now w greenish tint but my roots are fine. How long should I wait to box dye again if I'm bleaching it? Without my hair falling out? Is a week too soon

cdillaha said...

I need to touch up my roots but I don't have enough 20v developer. Can I mix in a little 10v with it, or will that change the results?

Miya McManus said...

Great post! I have dark brown-almost black hair, I want to bleach my hair platnum blonde in a matter of a couple weeks for spring break, what do you suggest?

Miya McManus said...

Great post! I have dark brown-almost black hair, I want to bleach my hair platinum blonde in only a week, what do you suggest?

Julietslace said...

@ Jonhanna Knyn.
Have you tried soaking your hair in tomato sauce? Try this before using a toner to get rid of the green, there should be no need for bleach. Although FYI your hair will not fall out if you bleach frequently but it will break off from damage!

@Cdlilaha.
10v + 20v does not equal 30 volume, the strength will always be equal to 20 as that is the strongest. And mixing it up may cause patchy results!

@ Miya McManus,
I would not recommend changing your dark hair to platinumn in quick sessions, it will not happen straight away and requires some time inbetween. I recommend you speak to a profesional hairdresser too.

Julietslace said...

@ Jonhanna Knyn.
Have you tried soaking your hair in tomato sauce? Try this before using a toner to get rid of the green, there should be no need for bleach. Although FYI your hair will not fall out if you bleach frequently but it will break off from damage!

@Cdlilaha.
10v + 20v does not equal 30 volume, the strength will always be equal to 20 as that is the strongest. And mixing it up may cause patchy results!

@ Miya McManus,
I would not recommend changing your dark hair to platinumn in quick sessions, it will not happen straight away and requires some time inbetween. I recommend you speak to a profesional hairdresser too.

Dream_land said...

great advice :D
Hope it works well for me :D