First, read my guide called “What you need to know before you bleach your hair.”
Got it, now let’s do this!
Remember: bleach can be dangerous. The only way to know how your scalp and hair will react is to try things out on your own body/head/hair, but don’t sacrifice your safety. Testing your personal reactions can be done smartly. To do this responsibly like a real adult, consider performing a strand test.
What this entails is choosing a tiny portion of your hair no one will see (behind your ear is a good spot) and trying the bleach there first before you do a large amount of your hair. It’s the only reliable way to know if you’re allergic, if your scalp will burn, if your hair will survive, and what color it will turn out to be, and it’s also a good idea if you’ve done things to your hair already (coloring, perming, relaxing).
I recommend you do this on your head and not on a cut piece of hair so that you can test your scalp sensitivity. Follow the directions on how to dye and leave the mix on the tiny test portion for the total processing time unless it hurts. If it hurts, stop! After you process your hair wait 24 hours to see if your skin reacts badly. If it does, guess what? The bleach either needs to be tried with a lower strength developer or left on for a shorter time. If the skin is okay, you’re good. Common sense says if you have a damaged scalp (cuts, sunburn, dandruff, psoriasis, etc) you just shouldn’t do it. Sensitive scalps should consider multiple bleaching (with days in between) with lower developer numbers. I personally have never experienced problems even with repeated use of strong bleaching but I know some people who burned their scalps with even 20 developer (which is pretty low strength). I don’t want horror emails and sad scalps on my conscience so take care of this please. It’s on you now.
Okay, really NOW let’s do this!
1. Use your bowl and mix bleach and developer together according to directions. The directions will say “2:1” or something like that. It’s parts per, so 2 parts of this for every 1 part of that. Some of these kits come with a scoopy, you can measure with that or eyeball it. If you have a lot of hair then mix a lot of product. If you have less hair, mix less. You can always make more but after you make it but you can’t “store” it for later. It will probably explode or worse: breed. Discard the unused amounts you mix.
2. Make sure your hair is clean and completely dry. Section your hair. Follow the pictures to section your hair like I do. Most people make 4 sections (split your hair in half like you’re making pigtails, then split those halves into top and bottom halves).
3. Vaseline your neck, ears, and the skin next to your hairline. I’m not kidding. Do it.
4. A lot of experts will say to leave an inch or two away from the roots and then when you’re done come back and hit those. The reason is that heat activates bleach and your roots will be lighter than the rest of your hair if you don’t obey this. Also it’s protecting the scalp by causing it to be on for the least possible amount of time. I just don’t have the energy for that so I do the roots at the same time section by section. Avoid putting the mixture on your scalp, and don’t rub it into your scalp (this isn’t shampoo). Start a timer as soon as you begin applying. Pick one of your quadrants and start at the nape of the neck, applying from the underside and working your way up. Follow the pictures below for help. The technique I find best is to create thin-ish lines of hair and apply top and bottom and keep making lines until you reach the last part of the hair in the quadrant. You don’t want to take forever, it doesn’t have to be perfect (just try to apply bleach evenly) and ideally with practice you should be able to get this stuff on your whole head in 10 minutes. Try not to take more than 30 minutes. Get help from a friend if necessary.
5. Continue with the next bottom quadrant. Then hit the top quadrants. Be careful to get the hair on the hairlines covered well, if you miss a spot here everyone will see it and it will be annoying. Don’t get the mixture on your face. Don’t use this to bleach your eyebrows or mustache. Don’t eat it. Don’t be dumb.
6. After you’re done applying the bleach, gather your hair on top of your head, and if necessary clip it there. Then stick your cap on your head. This is optional but it keeps it all from getting on things while you wait. Skip this if you’re worried about your scalp burning (the heat from your head makes the bleach work better).
7. Check your timer. If it’s been only 10 minutes, you rock! Now you want to leave your bleach on for 30 mins to 1 hour (or less if you feel burning scalp horrors). It takes an hour to get full “lift” but it’s also important not to hurt yourself to have blonde hair. If it took you a long time applying (30 mins) maybe don’t leave it on for a full hour unless you know your scalp and hair are durable.
8. Time’s up? You’re done! Wash that out. Wash it really out. Important: don’t get it in your eyes.
9. Condition it. Dry it. Look at it. How does it look?
- It’s a really light color but it’s orange and ugly wtf? Chances are you need to add more toner. Use that toner shampoo we talked about already and leave it on for like 3-5 mins. If you do that, then dry your hair, and it’s still orange you may need to wait a couple of days and try bleaching again (20 is probably a good developer to mix for this). After your second bleaching tone again. You also need to thoroughly dry your hair to be certain of the color. It will always look a bit orangey when wet.
- Looks pretty good! Maintain it with toner, and every time your roots annoy you bleach them the same way you did to get this color that you’re happy with.
- It’s still too dark.
- The color is patchy! This happens to me all the time. When I bleach I start with 40, and then I inevitably miss a spot. I wash and dry my hair and then I put a 20 developer mix on the whole thing (not just the spot you missed) and wait an hour. After that I rinse, tone shampoo, and dry, and then I look like Daenerys Targaryen. If you’re sensitive you may need to wait a day before putting more bleach on, or use a weaker developer than 20. After your hair is dry test it if you’d like to be certain.
If it’s dark but the problem isn’t just an orange color, you may need to dose your hair with another round of bleaching. Sensitive scalps and delicate hair should wait a day or a week before doing this again. If you are concerned about your scalp strand test before doing the whole shebang! Idiots like me can just dry their hair thoroughly and put a round of 20 developer mix on for an hour right away. Then rinse, tone shampoo, and dry.
Congrats! You should have achieved your goals! Now you can leave it blonde or apply cool colors. Some of my looks: