What You Need To Know Before Bleaching Your Hair
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What You Need To Know Before Bleaching Your Hair

Beauty & Style

October 16, 2019


Brightly colored hair has been a trend for years. Different shades of every color of the rainbow painted onto hair often show up on Pinterest and Instagram posts, making people want them on themselves more and more. There are many variations to choose from when dying your hair. You could go all out and have an all-over color or stick to something subtle like an ombre or peekaboo hair. It doesn't only have to be bright hair, muted tones of ash browns and blondes are also considered a timeless hair trend.

I'm personally a hair coloring enthusiast, being a regular at several hair salons to get my hair colored, switching from shades of medium browns and blonde every now and then. I enjoy chatting with my hairdressers while they're doing my hair, and one thing that I often hear them complain about is how a lot of people come in to get their hair dyed a bright trendy color, like blue or pastel pink, but once they're told that before they can have the color dye applied on their locks they need to undergo a bleaching process, they instantly cringe and try to negotiate whether they can avoid it but still have the color they wanted.

When asked why some people don't want to have their hair bleached, the answer would most likely be the same:

"I don't want my hair to be damaged!"

Some people aren't scared to bleach their hair but choose to do it themselves at home without the proper knowledge about how to do it correctly, and end up using the wrong mixtures of products or applying the bleach incorrectly. This can deal great damage to your hair, making it extremely dry, brittle, and prone to breakage. Usually, people choose to do this by themselves to save money, but it's going to equally cost a lot to get it fixed.

You cannot get your hair dyed a bright color without having your hair light enough to make the color visible unless you're a natural blonde (if you are, lucky for you!). That's one thing that my hairdressers often find difficult to explain to customers who are clueless about the whole hair coloring process. If you're planning to get your hair dyed but you're still unsure about bleaching, read on! 

What is bleaching anyways? How does it work?

Bleaching is the process of lightening your hair by using an oxidizing agent to strip the pigment from your hair shaft. The bleach is usually made of a mixture of ammonia and hydrogen peroxide, seen as bleach powder and developer. The process starts with the alkaline agent opening up the hair shaft, then the oxidative agent goes into the cortex of your hair to dissolve the melanin (the dark pigment) in your hair. 

How light can the hair become?

The lightest your hair can be is platinum blonde, also called a Level 10 when referring to the image shown below.

The amount of time that it takes to have your hair reach a high level depends on your natural color. If you have hair that is a level 1-3, it might take longer for it to become light enough to be able to have color deposited into it. It also depends on the strength of the bleach powder and developer used.

How about the volume of developers? What are the differences between them?

Cream developers (also known as peroxide) come in several strengths, most commonly 10 volume, 20 volume, 30 volume, and 40 volume. When mixed with bleach, the higher the volume, the faster it lightens the hair, but you should NEVER use 40 volume on your hair unless a professional is doing it for you. It will deal great damage to your hair if you do.

It's better to take the bleaching process slowly, repeating it 2-3 times to get to the desired shade. Also, it is advised to only have a professional bleach your hair for you to avoid making a mistake because of choosing the wrong developer, as they know best about what should be used on your hair!

How about the damage?

The damage from bleaching is usually dryness and brittleness of the hair, and with repeated bleaching, your hair will become porous and susceptible to breakage. Your hair will need a lot of care and attention to maintain both the color and its health. It's a risk some people are willing to take to get their dream color.

So if it's just going to get damaged, why should I pay more to see a professional hairdresser to do my hair? What's the difference if I just do it by myself at home?

There are several reasons:

1. Professionals have a larger variety of products that they can use, and they have sufficient knowledge about what is best for your hair. They can tailor the mixture of both the color and bleach to best suit your hair's condition and type. Boxed bleach and dyes that are sold in grocery stores and drugstores are mostly "one-size-fit-all", usually very high in ammonia to suit even the toughest hair type out there.

The damage that you'll get will be much worse when you use boxed products. Even if you go to a salon supply store, you might not know which products should be bought for your hair.

2. The application process isn't as simple as just brushing it on and waiting for it to lighten. You can miss spots and have the bleach all over your head processing at different rates if you're not fast enough when applying it, creating a messy and splotchy result. Even if you get someone else to do it for you if they're not familiar with how bleach works and what's the best way to cover all of your hair, it's still going to end up badly.

3. For several techniques like ombre, balayage, or full-head highlights, a professional would be trained enough to be able to know where to place the bleach and how to get it to look blended with the rest of your hair. It's difficult and takes a lot of practice to master these techniques, so it's best to leave it to someone who knows what they're doing.

But there are exceptions. If you're looking to dye your hair only a little bit in a style that's low risk and easy to undo if anything goes wrong, like only doing a single streak of color or like these looks that are shown below, then you can do it at home. Two-toned hair like this is gaining a lot of popularity lately, and as long as you've done enough research on how to get the best results (so you don't have to undo it), you can do it yourself at home. It looks pretty self-explanatory, right?


What can I do to minimize the damage from bleaching?

Have you ever heard of Olaplex? It's a famous product used in hair salons to minimize the damage from bleaching. It consists of 3 products to be used step-by-step, but the only one that you can buy and use at home is Olaplex No. 3, with No. 1 and No. 2 limited to professional use only.

What it does is multiply the bonds in your hair that have been broken, and rebuild it, making the hair able to retain moisture. It's often called a miracle product because of its potency, and they've had the formula patented, so no other product can copy Olaplex. The picture below is Olaplex No. 1, the one that will be mixed into the bleach before application. 

But it sure is expensive.

There are other ways that you can do to minimize the damage from the bleaching process:

1. Using coconut oil

Leave coconut oil in your hair for a few minutes before washing it. You can also leave it in overnight, but make sure you cover your head with a shower cap so it doesn't stain your bedsheets. My experience using coconut oil was pretty good, as it does soften the strands of your hair, but I would call it more of a temporary relief. The effects will disappear if you don't do it every now and then, so if you choose this method, remember to repeat the process every week!

2. Use a leave-in conditioner

This is very helpful as it helps with moisturizing your hair and providing it with nutrients to replenish its overall health. You can do this alongside other treatments to help the hair regain its strength.

3. Regularly trim your split ends

There is no other way to treat split ends besides just cutting them off. Most bleached hair has split ends, so regularly trimming them will help the hair become softer and stronger.

What do you think? Are you interested to bleach and color your hair?

Tiara Georgina
100k+ pageviews

Writer since Sep, 2019 · 12 published articles

Tiara is a journalist at The Teen Magazine. Explorative and genuinely curious about life and all it has to offer, she dives into a whole variety of topics in her writing, mostly concerning pop culture, beauty, and mental health. Currently residing in Leiden, The Netherlands, she is experienced with writing articles for her school's publication in the beauty section and experimenting with makeup and skincare. She is passionate about coming up with fresh ideas and turning them into helpful, informative, and eye-opening content for everyone to enjoy and learn from. Aside from writing and makeup, she also enjoys art, reading, traveling, cosplaying, learning new languages, playing video games, and watching animated shows.