how bleach your hair at home

hello, friends! are you a scene kid™ that wants to dye your hair bubblegum pink? perhaps a punk who wants a vibrant, cherry red? billie eilish fan going for slime, toxic green? or maybe you're into a marilyn-monroe-had-a-love-child-with-barbie platinum blonde look? to achieve vibrant colors, one must first have a light canvas - or perhaps that light canvas is the goal in itself

here be a tutorial on how to bleach your hair, at home, and hopefully not end up in a brad mondo fail video uwu

part 00: thoughts & supplies

things to consider before even beginning:

  • this tutorial is written from the standpoint of someone with long (past shoulder length), natural level 1 (black) hair, with an end goal of level 10 (platinum blonde) hair. things may need to be tweaked for your needs if you have shorter, naturally lighter hair, or if you want your end result to be lighter

  • your hair is going to be damaged. there's no getting around that. you've got to resign yourself to that, period. there are means of damage control, and causing less damage, but there's no way to bleach your hair without at least some damage

  • this is a time-consuming, expensive process. you're looking at a full day if not more of work, using a lot of products, and from then on it'll be a constant effort to meet your hair's needs. that's not even taking into account touching up roots if you're trying to remain lightened, lol. basically, if you don't or can't invest the money and time, or don't have glucose guardians to gift you things, bleaching is probably not a good idea for you

  • you might sustain a chemical burn. of course, we want to avoid this, but i'm putting out there that this is a possibility to bear in mind

  • there's no shame in going to a salon. that's (usually) a safe bet to avoid harming your hair further and getting the color you want, but depending can be more expensive. but if you have the disposable income, there's nothing wrong with saying "i ain't riskin' it at home" and going to a stylist instead of following a tutorial by a rando on the internet :,) (in my defense i know what i'm doing but yeah, i'm not a licensed cosmetologist) mini edit: i showed this guide to my hairstylist friend for feedback, and his response was to give me his cosmoprof account bc he trusts me not to kill myself if that's any indication. so while i'm not licensed, but someone who is gave this guide a passing grade lol) 

for supplies, i'll be making a list of my recommended brands after the tutorial, but this is a general overview of what you absolutely need. i have broken it up into "you literally can't lighten your hair without these," and "these aren't technically required, but it's wise to get these, like, seriously dude." i'll also be writing the tutorial under the assumption you'll be using the same supplies, and the what's and why's for my recommendations will be addressed in the tutorial itself :,)

i'd recommend getting double of what you think you need, to make sure you have enough. larger quantities are usually cheaper as well. worst comes to worst, if you have extra (unused, bc you didn't need to bust into it) product, you can just return it, or use it when you do a root touch up

necessary supplies:

  • bleach lightener
  • 30 volume developer (if starting with dark hair)
  • old clothes (ones you don't mind getting ruined)
  • plastic or ceramic bowl (absolutely not metal)
  • a tint brush
  • latex/rubber gloves
  • a wall-mounted or tabletop mirror
  • a hand mirror
  • hair clips (the pincher claw kind, not barrette kind)

highly recommended supplies:

  • tinfoil
  • shower cap
  • glasses or other protective eyewear
  • plastic measuring spoons
  • a plastic fork (absolutely not metal)
  • bond sustainer
  • protein treatment
  • 20 volume developer (if starting with lighter hair)
  • 10 volume developer (regardless of starting hair; for toning)
  • scalp protector
  • coconut oil plz see what i use it for before sacrificing me to brad mondo lol
  • vaseline
  • toner
  • intensive mask
  • oils
  • old towels (ones you don't mind getting ruined)
  • purple (and/or blue) shampoo
  • the will to practice """bad hygiene""" 
  • a cheap shower curtain or tablecloth
  • wide tooth comb

ready to start? alrighty >:3

part 01: prepare

step 01: don't wash your hair for a week. yes, seriously. i know, i know, [valley girl voice] "gross" or w/e. don't worry: you can bathe, just don't wash your hair lol. you're temporarily going no 'poo. if you must wash, then only wash the mid-shaft to the ends, and leave your scalp alone. i recommend just wearing a shower cap tho. before bleaching, you want as much of a buildup of natural oils as possible to protect your scalp from irritation and chemical burns. bleach on a freshly washed scalp = suffering

step 02: go into a room that you can keep well ventilated. a bathroom that has a fan to turn on, where you can open a window, is ideal. this will help reduce fumes from chemicals

step 03: cover the area you're in with your cheap shower curtain, table cloth, and/or towels. this will protect your counters from getting bleached and damaged :,)

step 04: the day of, slather your forehead, temples, neck, and anywhere else your hair touches with coconut oil. legit you want a thick coat of the stuff. then go over that with vaseline. this will help protect your skin from irritation and chemical burns

you might see other tutorials saying to put coconut oil in the hair and leave it overnight, and sure, if you want to, go for it. it won't hurt

i don't personally do this because it's just something for the bleach to have to eat through, but the bleach will eat through it, so at best it doesn't really help the hair, and at worst makes the bleach develop slower. (this is input from brad mondo coupled with my personal experience. you don't always gotta take the word of professionals as the end-all-be-all gospel of god, but i mean... it doesn't hurt to listen to professionals lol, and in this case all i can say is i personally find he has a point lol)

step 05: separate your hair into quadrants. down the middle of the back of your head, then across the middle horizontally. using where your ears attach to your head, giving or taking an inch or so, is a good guideline for where this part should be. use the clips to clip up your your hair to keep these quadrants separated, with the top parts up so no hairs are falling down. to help, a lot of ppl use the handle of a tint brush to make the divide lines and separate things out evenly

pictured: an example of how separated hair quadrants look

step 05: put on your gloves and eyewear. DO NOT SKIP GLOVES, bleach can and will burn your skin with prolonged contact. eyewear isn't as much of a necessity, but i also don't think you can be too careful :,)

part 02: the actual bleaching process

step 01: mix your lightener and highest volume developer together in a plastic or ceramic bowl, with a plastic fork. (DO NOT USE METAL, EVER. metal can be corroded by the bleach, and can give off toxic fumes. it's dangerous to use metal. i personally have a ceramic bowl, and i use a plastic fork. the fork is kind of like a whisk and i find things get mixed better, but a plastic spoon is also viable)

the typical ratio is 2 parts developer to 1 part bleach (2:1), but depending on the brand of bleach/developer you're using, that could vary. read the instructions of the products you're using to make sure. use the plastic measuring spoons to accurately measure out your products

you want your mix to have a thick, creamy consistency. scoop some on your mixing utensil, and hold it upside down like an employee at dairy queen showing how thick a blizzard is. is the mix immediately dribbling off, super thin and runny? or is it staying put like a karen who's demanding to speak to a manager, very slowly dripping like thicc oatmeal? you want the thicc stuff. a thicker mixture will not dry out as easily. the mix can only lighten while wet, so you want something that will stay wet on the hair, and not drip down as much to irritate your skin

step 02: if you're using a bond sustainer like olaplex, and/or a scalp protector, this is the step you also mix those in to the bleach mixture. always read the instructions on how to properly use these products as well, but i can say that i can't imagine this won't be the step to use them in :,)

step 03: take down one of your bottom sections of hair, and separate that into smaller sections, 1-2 inches wide. it's time to get painting >:3

step 04: this can be tricky since you should start from the back, and the bottom first. you're gonna have to juggle with holding a mirror up to see the back of your head, and painting the bleach on with the tint brush

lay your hair over some tinfoil, start an inch from your scalp, and paint down one of the smaller sections. you want to make sure, again, that the bleach is on there thick. if the bleach already looks white bc the product is so thick, but you can just barely see the hair underneath, that's a good sign

i personally like to take the hair between my fingers, and "slide" my fingers down the shaft, to feel if it's wet and saturated. once it's saturated enough, wrap the tinfoil it around. this will keep this section separate so you don't get more product on it, and the heat will help it process. rinse and repeat with all the mini sections you made

note: bleach does not lather. it will feel saturated and kinda goopy, but not foamy


pictured: example of using foil (please disregard the time on the image lol)

pictured: example of leaving an inch from your scalp

step 05: take the next bottom quadrant down from it's clip, and repeat step 04

step 06: same as 05 lol :,) but this time you're going to want to make sure you're still working from the bottom layers to the top

step 07: when you finally get to the very, very top layer of hair, you're going to make slightly different subsections, and instead work from outwards (near your ears) inwards (near your middle part.) this way you're not starting at the part, and having to flip your wet hair over to get to the hair underneath. i hope that description makes sense ;w;

step 08: once the majority of your hair is saturated, leave it for 15 to 20 minutes. keep checking a top section every few minutes to see how it's lightening. once it looks yellow or light orange, then you're ready to get those roots, babey!

step 09: again start from the bottom, and clip up your foiled hair if it's in the way, if you really have to. (but since it's all separated, it shouldn't be as much of a problem as when the hair was still dry lol.) you should have the little sections still, so it shouldn't be difficult to just... go back in over the roots? :,)

make sure those puppies are also mega saturated, on all sides, do your best to avoid getting bleach in contact with your scalp, so it doesn't get irritated. you can spritz some water from a spray bottle onto your roots to make sure they stay moist, and you can put all of the foils inside and cover your head with a shower cap. this will make a warm, moist environment

bweach wike warm moist enviwonment to pwocess uwu

step 10: now that all of your hair is covered, it's a waiting game. you can leave bleach on up to an hour, but following this tutorial you already had it in the majority of your hair for 20 minutes, so i don't advise going past 40 minutes

keep checking what's in the foil, and your roots. if things are looking dry, spritz some water from a spray bottle

you should notice that the hair in the foils is the same shade as the hair at the roots. the reason you do the majority of your hair first and roots last is heat makes bleach process faster, so the heat of your head makes the bleach closer to it process twice as fast. oftentimes, people start at the roots, and end up with white roots, but orange hair. this is called hot roots ): keep checking on how things are processing

bear in mind that saturated hair is two shades darker than dry hair, so even if it looks more brown or a darker orange, that means it'll be lighter when dry. when in doubt just leave it in for 40 minutes

note: as the bleach processes, it may start to burn, itch, and/or tingle. that kind of discomfort is normal. however, if it becomes unbearably painful, rinse immediately. if you run fingers through one of the sections, and hair is coming out and breaking off, it's also time to rinse regardless of color or time

step 11: when things look light enough, or once it's been 40 minutes, it's time to finally rinse. just... hop in the shower and let cool water run over your hair lol. you want to avoid heat because that will keep the hair shaft open, and heat causes damage and can further strip it, whereas cool isn't as damaging and can help close the shaft

your hair will feel slippery from the bleach while rinsing, but it'll start feeling more normal when the bleach is rinsed out. it also will likely feel more dry, and that's... normal :,)

when rinsing, face away from the shower, and tilt your head back a bit so it's spraying near the top-back of your head. don't get your hair in your face. this will cause bleach to drip on your face, and it could possibly get in your eyes, hence facing away and tilting your head back so it drips behind you

step 12: let your hair air dry. don't squeeze it to get water out, and don't put it up in a turban wrap. (doing that damages your hair on a normal day, no less a bleach day)

don't use a blow dryer, because heat will damage it more, so avoid heat tools. even using a blow dryer on a cool setting may agitate the hair too much, so i recommend just letting it air dry. pat it with a towel, but otherwise leave it alone

bleached hair's shaft is open and it is more porous, which means it sucks up and retains water more. this means that it can take a while to air dry. it takes mine roughly 4 hours, so that's a waiting game too

step 13: once dry, look at the color. did you miss some spots? is it light enough? you want it to be yellow. if it's still brown or orange, then bad news: you're going to have to bleach again. (if you don't  want to do that you'll need to use a darker toner to tone it to a nicer color. see next section)

if you need to spot treat, repeat previous steps to make the mix again, but ONLY coat the parts that are too dark and wrap them in foil to separate them from other parts of your hair, to even things out

if you're doing your whole head again, then follow all the steps, but this time you likely won't need to process as long, and you might want to use 20 volume developer to be less harsh on the hair. always keep an eye on it. DO NOT BLEACH MORE THAN TWICE IN A SINGLE DAY, or a few months, for that matter. but especially not more than twice in a day. two max and you're done for at least two months

pictured: example of color you want vs color you don't

step 14: clean up some of the mess :,) wash your bowl, fork, measuring cups, etc. leave what you left on the counters to protect them, because the process isn't done, but you're going to be reusing your bowl and other supplies in part 03. make sure they're all dry before beginning part 03

part 03: toning

step 01: mix 10 volume developer with your toner in your bowl. the ratio for this is also usually 2:1, but again, read the instructions on your products. this time you don't need a very thick consistency, so this mixture will likely be more runny, and that's okay

step 02: get those gloves back on to protect your hands from developer and being dyed

step 03: get to work getting the toner into your hair, but BE QUICK. since toner is thinner than bleach, it's easier to saturate all of your hair with it. toner will be adding pigment to the hair, so you want to be fast so that all of the hair is saturated as quickly as possible

the reason for this is if you leave toner in one section of your hair longer than another, when you rinse then you might have unevenly toned hair D:

you want to start from the roots this time, and do the tips last! the ends of your hair will be more damaged and more porous, and therefore suck up more pigment, so you want the toner on the tips less time than elsewhere. you don't necessarily need to section things out meticulously this time, because again, you want to be fast

personally what i do is i clip a top section up, and i just use my hands to slather the toner on and work it into my hair, then i'll let the top section down and do the same thing. it takes maybe five minutes tops to get all of hair saturated with toner

step 04: pop a shower cap on, and then wait again :,) the typical time to leave toner in is 30 minutes, but again, check the instructions on your products

while it's developing, the toner is going to turn a dark purple. don't worry, this is normal! purple is opposite yellow on the color wheel, so it will neutralize the yellow in your hair, ie.... tone it :,)

step 05: rinse it out again. you're going to want to check the water dripping from your hair. when it runs clear and no more purple is dripping out, then that means you rinsed it all

if your hair was a darker yellow, then you might want to use a blue shampoo during this step, and if it was a lighter yellow you might want to use a purple shampoo. this will also add more brass neutralizing pigment to the hair. don't leave these shampoos in too long, or they might dye the hair tho. i personally only leave them in for up to three minutes, or less depending on how my hair is looking

i personally also use a protein treatment, which uses a specific shampoo as prep, so this is the step i use that shampoo as well

step 06: wait for your hair to dry again, and the end result should be platinum blond(e)! :) or at least an even, lighter shade of hair, depending on what you were aiming for and how the toning process went

part 04: immediate damage control

step 01: do a protein treatment. brands and instructions can vary so follow instructions that come with what you pick up, but for real do a protein treatment. usually these treatments are hardcore and you can only do one once in a certain period of time, so make sure to keep track of when you do what

step 02: rinse the protein treatment out

step 03: do a bond sustainer treatment. these can also vary

step 04: do a deep hair mask, with a focus on restoring. depending, you can probably mix this with step 03, but if you can't, then rinse step 03 out then do step 04 on its own. what i personally do is make a mask with a bond sustainer, deep conditioner, and oils and leave it in for an hour if not more

step 05: rinse out the bond sustainer and/or mask

step 06: put in leave in conditioner and some leave in oil and allow hair to air dry

part 05: your life revolves around your hair now

  • no more heat styling, indefinitely. if your hair is seeming healthy enough then you can try it, and if it seems alright then go for it, but the first sign of further breakage cut it out, and better yet just prevent further heat damage to begin with

  • no other chemical procedures, indefinitely. no perms, relaxers, or chemical dyes, or processes that need developer. (dyes like manic panic and arctic fox are okay though)

  • no brushing your hair, indefinitely. finger comb first, then go in with a wide-tooth comb. brushing can rip it out and cause breakage, whereas combing is more gentle. always comb from the bottom, making sure to get out snags, working your way up a few inches and down until you can finally comb from the roots down to the tips. only comb when your hair is dry, because it's a lot more elastic and weak when wet

  • wear protective hair styles as much as possible, and especially when sleeping, indefinitely. an example is a braid tucked into a satin shower cap, but you can look up protective styles that would work better for you

  • hair oils and leave-in conditioners are gonna be a daily thing, indefinitely. you want to keep up the moisture

  • shampoo less, indefinitely. shampooing strips natural oils from the hair, so you want to avoid it as much as possible. i advise washing your hair no more than twice a week. you can shower every day, but avoid getting your hair wet, and putting cleanser in it is what i mean :,)

  • do a deep mask at least once a week

  • keep up with protein treatments according to the last time you did one

part 06: product recommendations

* generic is the same as it's a 10, except it does not have these ingredients: avena sativa kernel extract, hydrolyzed collagen, isopropylalcohol, retinyl palmitate, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, sodium hydroxide, phenoxyethanol, potassium sorbate, propylparaben, sodiumbenzoate

** generic is the same as it's a 10, except it does not have these ingredients: citric acid, isopropyl alcohol, tetrasodium edta, phenoxyethanol, potassium benzoate, passiumsorbate, propylparaben, sodium benzoate, benzyl benzoate, benzyl salicylate, butylphenyl methylpropional, hydroxycitronellal, hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexene carboxaldehyde, linalool

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