Take a deep breath. Ok, I’m going to make a controversial statement: you can bleach your hair at home and it is perfectly safe/sane/cheap. I’ve been doing it for years, though, so I know my hair’s limits, but it’s very easy to learn your own’s characteristics.
This will be part one in a two part series on bleaching your hair at home. Part two will be how to go daenerys targaryen platinum.
Alright, you ready? Let's do this.
Here’s what you’ll need (all the images link through to amazon options):
1. Bleach (duh)
I usually like to use a blue-toned bleach, since my hair gets very orange when I bleach it (know your hair #1). I’ve always had good results with quick blue . If your hair is shoulder length or longer, you’re gonna want to get a bucket like the one above. Honestly, if you're going to be bleaching on the regular, just get the bucket, it'll save you a lot of money.
The most important *know your hair* step.
Developer is what gives bleach its pOwEr. It comes in volume strengths from 10 all the way up to 40. The bleach and developer are mixed at equal ratios, so buy enough for that.
If you're just starting out with dyeing your own hair, I'd advise using 20 volume. A really great colorist I've seen swears by only using 20 volume, and leaving the bleach on for a lot longer. Low and slow, so to speak.
Personally, I don't do this. I actually use...40 (gasp), with a very big caveat:
1. Only on hair that has never been dyed before (i.e. regrowth at roots)
2. Only on hair that is black or really dark brown.
3. Only when I need my hair to be bleached to the absolute lightest color (mother of dragons blonde)
So to recap:
Level 20 : for if your hair is light brown to medium blonde, hair that has already been bleached before, or it's your first time and you're afraid
Level 30: For medium to dark brown hair, especially if it is thin, and if you don't need it to get really light.
Level 40: For very dark, untouched and healthy hair, when you need to get very light.
3. Coconut Oil
No beauty post is complete without mentioning coconut oil. It is divine, will probably cure cancer etc.
Bleach + unprotected skin = ouch
5. Brush + bowl + shower cap
Let the bleaching begin!
1. Twas the night before bleaching...
The night before you're planning to bleach, grab that jar of coconut oil and completely cover your hair in it. I'd say use around the same amount as you use for conditioner in the shower.
Next, cover your hair in a shower cap, and leave it in overnight. (protip: cover your pillow with a towel to prevent the oil from getting all over your sheets). DON'T wash it out before bleaching. Trust me.
2. The mise-en-place
Mise en place is a fancy french word for "getting your shit together" (thanks blue apron!)
When you're about to bleach, make sure:
1. The area you're bleaching in is protected in case bleach falls somewhere.
2. You've got the brush, bowl, gloves, developer, and bleach all near each other.
3. If you're only doing highlights, have some pre-cut aluminum foil for the streaks.
3. Mixing time
Throw on the gloves and crack open the bleach and developer.
If you got the bucket, it probably came with a little scoop. This scoop is perfect for measuring to make sure the developer is at the right ratio. If you don't have a scoop, a 1/4 cup dry measure (spoon? what do you call that?) will work.
It's always a good idea to make small fresh batches of bleach, rather than one giant one so:
Working in two scoop quantities, mix together the bleach and developer in the mixing bowl, making sure there's an equal amount of bleach and developer.
It should have a consistency a bit like the picture above, somewhere between melted ice cream and greek yogurt.
Using the brush, apply the bleach to your hair, starting from the ends (furthest from your scalp), to the roots.
It's always a good idea to work as quickly as possible, so that your hair has a somewhat equal time to develop.
Each time you run out of the two scoops of bleach you made, make another batch.
Once the bleach is on all of the parts you decided on bleaching, start checking the color at 15 minute intervals. The higher the volume level of the bleach, the faster it will the develop (and the shorter you should keep it on).
For each of the volume types, don't leave it on longer than:
20 volume - 2hrs
30 volume - 1hr
40 volume - 30min-1hr (but keep an eye on it!)
You can check the color by wiping a bit of bleach off a visible area. Be warned though, often the color looks lighter than it actually is because of the bleach around it.
Once the hair is to your desired color, move on to:
What you do during the rinse step depends on what you're planning on doing after the bleach.
Leaving the color as is? Shampoo and condition it with an intense conditioner
Adding a toner or dye? Shampoo and towel dry
Be proud of yourself, dear reader, you have successfully bleached your own hair! Huzzah!
Be sure to follow my most important hair rule: THOU SHALL NOT BLEACH THINE HAIR MORE THAN ONCE EVERY TWO WEEKS
Any tips or tricks from the bleach masters out there? Any major fails? Questions about what I mentioned?
Let me know in the comments!