Before you bleach, you should think about what your goal is. Do you want to go medium blonde? Light brown? Platinum? Depending on what color your current hair is and what kind of bleach or developer you use, you could lift your hair color up to seven levels in one session.
Lift Potential of Bleach
1 - 2 levels
2 - 3 levels
3 - 4 levels
But you should also be realistic about it. You won't be able to go from super dark hair to the lightest platinum in one go.
Based on what kind of lift you think you'll be able to achieve in your hair, you should be ready with a dye afterwards to tone it to the color that you want it to be — otherwise, you'll get stuck with hair that looks, well, bleached. Check out our awesome Pastel & Intense ColorConditioners that are prefect for coloring and toning after bleaching https://evilhair.com/
- Tinting bowl or non-metal bowl for mixing the bleach and developer
- Old shirt that you don't mind getting bleach or dye on to wear during the process
- A friend or two to help you apply the bleach (not mandatory, but extremely helpful — and fun!)
- Hair clips to pull your hair back into quadrants
- Bleach and developer (see the notes below for more info on what kind to get)
- ColorConditioner Pastel & Intense for after bleaching (if you're planning on toning right away).
2. Prepare Your Hair
Section your hair into quadrants and pin them up. To do this, make a part from the center of your forehead all the way to the nape of your neck with a tailed comb. Finish by taking another part from each ear to form the four sections and clip each of them out of the way.
3. Prepare the Bleach
Follow the directions of the brand of bleach you purchased.
To prepare the bleach, mix the powder together in a one to one ratio of bleach and your chosen concentration of peroxide developer, unless the brand you're using specifies a different ratio. Check carefully!
The product should be prepared and then used immediately as there is a chemical reaction taking place and it loses its effectiveness the longer you leave it sitting. Always use gloves when mixing and applying bleach to avoid the risk of causing chemical burns or irritating your skin.
To measure how much bleach you're using, you can either use measuring cups, use the measuring lines on your tinting / mixing bowl, or just eyeball it. The lines on the tinting bowl can be hard to read, so for your first time, you might consider measuring out the ingredients. Make sure you have measuring utensils you don't mind using for harsh chemicals. If you bought a tub of bleaching powder, it usually comes with a scoop.
You should also do a strand test to see how your hair and skin reacts to the bleach. This is where you choose a semi-hidden part of your hair to try out the product on.
4. Apply the Bleach to Your Head
Working from back to front on your head, and top to bottom on the individual sections of hair, apply the bleach with a tinting brush as quickly and as evenly as you can until your hair is completely covered (here's where having friends can help — this can take a long time!) Watching YouTube videos can be helpful as well to see how professional hair stylists (and home stylists) do it.
Note: Leave 1/4 - 1/2 inch between the bleach and your roots. Since the heat from your head makes the bleach work faster, your roots need less time to process. Otherwise, you will get "hot roots' — roots that are much lighter than the rest of your hair.
After applying to the rest of your head, go back and do your roots.
5. Let the Bleach Process
The length of time that you leave the bleach in to process is largely dependent on your goal. The only thing to remember is that it shouldn't be left in for longer than an hour.
If the bleach hasn't lifted enough pigment by that time, you will have to perform another application, and this shouldn't be done for at least a week, and only if your hair is still in good condition. Past this point, the bleach won't lift much more color as most of its lightening power has been expended.
All you really do is increase irritation to your scalp and cause more damage to your hair from the alkaline environment.
If the bleach has lifted enough pigment before this time however, wash it out immediately to stop the process and avoid any unnecessary damage now that you've reached your desired level of lightening. Bleach needs to be watched to avoid over-processing, and you should check it every 5 - 10 minutes.
Depending on your hair color, the bleach might make your hair seem lighter than it actually is. Also, parts of your hair might lighten at different speeds. In this case, the hair at the top lightened more quickly (and more) than the hair at the bottom.
6. Rinse Out and Shampoo Twice
Once you've reached the maximum processing time or you've reached your desired level of hair color and it looks even all the way around your head, it's time to move on.
Bleach should be rinsed out thoroughly with plenty of cool water before you shampoo your hair. Any bleach that isn't rinsed out will continue to process and may cause damage to your hair, so it is important that you ensure it is all removed. Shampoo your hair twice to remove any remaining residue.
If you're going to be applying ColorConditioner immediately, avoid using conditioner. If you use conditioner before applying ColorConditione, this can reduce the penetration of the pigments and you may end up with brassier hair than you wish.
You can add a small amount of white vinegar to ColorConditioner to neutralize the pH imbalance that the bleach has caused. This is an effective way to close the cuticles and bring the hair back to natural balance much quicker. This will help make your hair feel smoother and look shinier.
7. Coloring or Toning with ColorConditioner
For more information about coloring your hair with ColorConditione visit our How to use instructions page
To get more information on using ColorConditione as a toner visit Toning - Erasing unwanted tones from your hair color
There are many people who successfully dye their hair at home, including bleaching, coloring and toning on their own. However, most people are able to get it right after at least several episodes of trial and error.
If this is your first time, be forewarned that it will probably take you longer and be more a bit more difficult than you think it will be to get the results that you want. That said, it can be done.
Bleaching doesn't have to end in a horror story, nor does it have to damage your hair. To achieve the best results and maintain the integrity of your hair, remember to be safe when you use it, and to only apply it to hair that isn't already damaged. If you look after your hair like this, it will thank you by looking its best every day.
-Apply bleach quickly and thoroughly to guarantee even results
-Use the lowest volume of peroxide that will reach your desired shade
-Don't bleach your hair more than once in a one week period
-Once you've bleached, always follow up with toner and repairing treatments
Volume of Peroxide (Developer)
When preparing bleach, you need to add peroxide to it to activate it. These are usually called developers. The concentration of the developer is what will determine the maximum lightening potential of the bleach, and this should be adjusted to suit your current hair color and scalp sensitivity. Increasing the strength of peroxide will increase the lift, but will also cause a lot more irritation to your scalp, and more damage to your hair.
10 vol peroxide should only be used on hair that is already close to your desired color. You can use this concentration to lighten a color application that has turned out too dark, or for gentle lightening of 1 - 2 levels depending on the texture of your hair and your dye history. If you've dyed your hair a few times with dark colors, this concentration of peroxide will be ineffective for most purposes where any major lightening is required.
20 vol peroxide is fairly standard for bleaching hair. This volume of peroxide will lift a potential of 2 - 3 levels with low-end products. This level of lift is enough to take dark brown hair to a light brown color, or to take light brown to a light to medium blonde color. It isn't strong enough to lift dark brown or black hair to blonde in one process.
30 vol peroxide is strong enough that most people will notice irritation to their scalp. If you have sensitive skin, this formula is too strong for on-scalp application, but you can use it for foiled highlights as long as you don't apply it near your skin. Using of this concentration of peroxide will attain a lift of 3 - 4 levels.
40 vol peroxide, mixed with bleach, should not be used on your scalp at all. It shouldn't even be used for highlights in most cases. Whilst you can buy this concentration of peroxide, it's mainly produced for high-lift blonde dyes. It's not meant to be used with bleach these days, and you'll risk injury to your scalp and damage to your hair if you attempt to use it like that. This is one of the mistakes that spawns bleach horror stories.
Generic vs Salon Brand Bleach
The lift potential of the different volumes of peroxide is true for both generic and salon brands of bleach, however high quality salon brands offer bleach powder that can potentially lift up to seven levels in one bleaching. Use quality branded bleach to go lighter, with less damage and better results overall.
Hair Level and Base Pigment
Bleaching your hair won't turn you into the blonde that you want to be. You'll also need to know how to tone or color your hair afterwards to get the shade that you want. And all of that depends on the hair level that you achieve and its underlying pigment.
All hair colors — from black to the lightest blonde — fall somewhere on the international color code level system. Black hair is defined as level one, the darkest possible hair color. Pastel blonde is a level ten, the lightest possible hair color.
All hair colors also have an underlying base pigment that contributes to that depth. In blonde hair, this base pigment is anything from pale yellow to golden orange. Black hair has a deep, dark red base.
When you bleach your hair, the color is stripped away to reveal this base pigment and you can estimate how much lightening has occurred by looking at the base color you've arrived at. You can also use the base color as a guide to what level of toner you should be using, and what color you will ultimately be able to reach after toning is complete.
As an example of how you would go about using this information, if you have identified that your current hair color is a level five, and you can lift it up to three levels with the bleach you've prepared, the lightest level you can reach is an eight.
You can then see that your hair is now a dark yellow color which tells you this is correct. Now that you know what level you've reached, you know that you'd need an ash (Pastel Silver Gray, Intense Ash Silver or Pastel Lavender White) toner to neutralise this yellow pigment to a natural blonde color.
Should You Use Bleach at All?
If your hair hasn't been dyed before and the color you desire is less than three levels lighter than your current hair color, you can use a dye instead of bleach. For three levels of lightening or more, bleach is more reliable.
If you've dyed your hair previously, you will generally need to use bleach to lighten your hair regardless of what color you want, because dye can't remove dye.
Before You Bleach
You should have a goal in mind before bleaching your hair. By combining the concept of depth levels and the lifting potential of the different peroxide concentrations, you should arrive at an estimate of how much lift you can achieve when bleaching your hair, and this will help you avoid mistakes and not hold unrealistic expectations when you use the product.
If you are not sure you could safely bleach at home we recommend you let a professional hairdresser do the bleaching and then use ColoConditioner for colouring or toning at home.