Hair Tips and Tricks. Part One: Bleach.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Let me just start off by saying I am NOT a professional, everything I'm about to tell you I know from experience (which is most cases is the best way to learn) and just because it works well for me doesn't necessarily mean it will work like that for you.

I'm going to break this down into three posts. Part one: Bleach. Part two: Dye. Part three: Tips, Tricks and Miscellany. As an intro I'll give you the basics about my hair so you can kind of get an idea - My hair is naturally a dark blond. It dries pin straight and is fairly thin. I have pretty greasy hair meaning to feel fresh and clean I have to wash it daily (not saying I do...we'll talk about that in about part 3. ;))

Now we'll hop right into it.
It's scary, of course it is. This is what could hurt your hair and leave it damaged. But it's also a necessary part of achieving a vivid color. You will need to bleach your hair even if it's fair to begin with. Bleaching your hair not only makes it lighter but makes it porous so the dye can be absorbed (which in turn makes it stay longer).

My bleach of choice is and always has been Beyond The Zone Radical Bleach Kit. It works like a charm. It works super fast on my hair but I recommend having a friend help you. By the time I'm done applying it I usually only have to wait eight minutes before my hair is nearly white and ready to rinse. I follow the directions on the package all except for the recommended time which in my opinion is extremely excessive. If you were to follow the time guidelines there is a very good chance your hair would be fried.
*Tip:  don't wash your hair the day you plan on bleaching your hair! Let your hair get good and greasy before bleaching.

Dark hair?
If you have dark hair (dark brown or black) then you're most likely not going to safely bleach your hair to a desirable color in one sitting. Don't be discouraged and most importantly never ever ever bleach on top of bleached hair. Meaning don't rinse your hair after bleaching and start all over again. Your hair will need a resting period and a few conditioning treatments before bleaching again. Most likely the easiest option will be to bleach, then dye your hair a color similar to what the bleach left you with and keep doing this over a period of time making sure to condition and baby your hair.

The first time I had my hair dyed pink, it was professionally done and we were bleaching out 5 years of black dye build-up. It took 4 sessions and a few months, which actually ended up being too quickly as during the last session my hair was fried. That was the first and last time my hair was ever significantly damaged.

Take your time lightening your hair! Seriously, all the work you did to get from black to pink (or whatever color) won't be so pretty when your hair is fried, looks like straw and feels gummy when wet.

How light?
Your hair does not have to be one even color after bleaching for it look great after dying. Just like "normal" hair colors, bright colors look best when they have more than one shade/aren't a flat color. 
The photo above shows my hair after bleaching out blue. This is a very acceptable color to reach when bleaching and it makes no difference that my roots are nearly white compared to the rest of my hair which is tinted blue. Generally your hair does not have to be white before dying it.

How light your hair needs to be depends on which color you're trying to achieve. The blue-ish tint that the bleach left my hair in the photo above was perfectly fine for dying my hair pink/purple but probably wouldn't have been acceptable for a shade of orange. Something to remember is that rules of color blending apply with hair dye too. The dark blue streaks the bleach left appeared purple when I applied pink dye to my hair.

After you bleach...
Did you reach desirable color? If so, then it's time to dye! Stay tuned for part 2: dye coming early next week!
Hair still too dark? Why not try dying it a darker color like Manic Panic's After Midnight Blue or  Manic Panic's Purple Haze to give your brown hair a fun tint? Wait at least 2 weeks before bleaching again.

Bleaching to re-dye/touch up roots...
When your roots start to get long it's time to do a touch up. I like to wait until they're so long I can't stand looking at them. When you're just looking to touch up and not change colors you only need to bleach your roots. Refrain from applying bleach to all of your hair, it'll just be unnecessary damage.

When bleaching to change colors (after already having a semi permanent color) it's best to fade the color as much as possible before bleaching. Try taking a long, hot shower, soaking in the tub, or doing a conditioning cap (we'll cover this in part 3) to help.  Remember your hair has already been bleached in the past and probably won't need to be processed quiet as long.

I hope I made bleaching a little less scary and mysterious. If you have any questions feel free to ask! Stay tuned for parts 2 & 3 coming next week and the week after that!

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41 thoughts

  1. This is a great idea for posts!
    I went from dark brown hair to purple and did the bleaching in between, and I found the same sort of results you were speaking about with the lightening results. It worked out well for me since I was going a dark shade of purple (Special Effects: Pimpin Purple).
    My boyfriend went blue and when we bleached that out to go to a different blue we were surprised to see the blue tint still hanging on after bleaching - glad you have a picture to show that :)
    I wish we had found something like you have posted before we started the entire process :P :)
    Love the hair! Keep it up :D

  2. I love how much you dye your hair, iiiiits amazing. I have been dying my hair every colour for years and I have dark brown hair naturally.

    I agree with the over bleaching, all mine snapped and it was not plesent.

    I do however think that if you have dark hair and are planning on dying a warm shade of vibrant colour such as vibrant pink or bright red then you hair does not really need to be white bleached. Mine worked perfectly on yellow, copper bleaching.

    BLUE however is a nightmare :)

    Looking forward to seeing the next part of this
    Helen xx

  3. So cute! Your pretty hair colors make me think of Clementine from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - my favorite movie. : )



  4. Even though I've bleached my hair for years and recently started using vibrant colours (currently pink!) I still read this and it's awesome. I've never been scared to do anything to my hair and just went for it, I'm glad you took your time to write this out for people who are abit scared to try this!
    I personally think everybody in the world should have bright, fun, coloured hair :D xx

  5. Blessed with blonde hair, lucky!! I have daaaaaark hair and it's a you know what to bleach haha. Orange is my favorite color on me, though. It works because my brown hair kind of bleaches to an orangey/red instead of white/yellow.

  6. this is awesome kaylah. currently i am having my hair bleached at the salon. the only thing i am scared of hair wise is bleaching my own hair! you definitely make it seem less scary though.
    i really need to get better at taking care of my white hair. it's getting a bit crispy. i need a good deep conditioner!
    again, awesome post!!

  7. Thanks so much for the tips Kaylah!

  8. This is an AMAZING post. I dye my hair a lot and I've been a darker color for some time...I'm ready to go to a Monroe blonde but I wasn't sure how to approach the bleaching process. I will definitely be using your tips!

  9. thanks for this post. i am a bit of a scardey cat when it comes to trying different colours - but i really want to be more adventurous. here's hoping!! x

  10. what a great post! a really good idea!
    i'm dying my hair since i'm ~ 13 and i love to see how other people do it - and maybe get some tips and new ideas.
    a really great post! thank you!
    i'm looking forward to post number 2 :D

  11. Always good to hear what other people are doing. I use the Loreal Quick Blue Bleach with a 30 volume creme developer. I buy it in a huge tub and it lasts all year and then some. I like this because I keep a small portion of my hair white and this has a built in toner that pulls out the brassiness.

  12. got any tips for going from natural red to dark green? everytime I bleach my hair looks orange like Leaf!

  13. Great post Kaylah! i went to cosmetology school and i still can't bleach my hair without frying it. I can't wait until I have and excuse to bleach my hair again so I can try some of your tips :) And I agree, experience is usually better than just knowledge. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Oh man, you're really really making me want to change my hair to some crazy color! I've been trying so hard to stay boring brown...

  15. Fantastic post!! I bleach mine in order to dye it light red ..nothing really wild, although i'm dying to do pink one day-- pun intended ;) I use the maxi blonde or ultra blonde or SUPER BLONDE (not sure exactly what it's called) from the drugstore, for bleaching dark brown hair blonde, and mine usually lightens to a bright yellowish orangey color within 20 minutes. It's perfect as a base for the red, because it makes the color really bright. hmm not sure why I wrote all this... :)

  16. I have a question and please forgive me if it's something you've answered in the past... I use to bleach and dye my hair all sorts of colors (blue, green, pink-my mom's fave) in high school. I also use to do dyes out of the box, usually brownie-pinks but a few years back I began to develop allergic reactions to the dyes. Slowly but surely my last bout ended me up in the emergency room because my head swelled to the point that I didn't even look like me. I looked online and saw that it was happening to a lot of people that it hadn't happened to before and that it was some sort of chemical added to the dyes. I should note that I tried a lot of different brands including the "all natural" ones and the same thing kept happening. I haven't dyed my hair in probably 5 years because of this and I OH SO miss being able to do it. You seem very knowledgeable on the subject so I figured it couldn't hurt to ask. Any suggestions you might have would be greatly appreciated. :)

  17. I have been a hairdresser for 5 years. You did a great job explaining. Hair color is SO much fun! But I'm glad you warned people about over-processing. Thats where more people go wrong.

    I naturally have very dark brown hair, I lift it to a brass/orange color & then apply the pink. And that works quite well for me. I've never used Manic Panic though, so that might be different.

  18. Dang it... I wish I'd found this post two years ago when I was trying to convince my momma to let me get blue streaks in my black hair... Now my sweetheart, Robert told me that he likes me with brown hair, so I'm trying to grow out my natural hair, and it's taking FOREVER :P

  19. This is super helpful!
    I dye my hair allll the time and I wish I knew what I was doing when I first started, but luckily now I know what I'm doing.

  20. There is something that will help the dark haired people with getting really blonde. Manic Panic has a toner that is a lavender color, I can't remember the name of it but all it does is help lighten without damaging. What you do is lighten your hair as much as possible without seriously frying it. (I had a hard time not frying my hair when it was purple and all other sorts of colors) Put the manic panic on the blonde hair and leave it there for at least an hour and it will def help. You might have to do it a couple times but it is okay because it is vegetable based and not chemical based so it wont damage your hair. Granted I am not a hair stylist either but I've been dying my hair for years and it's now getting a break. I hope that tid bit of information was helpful. :) I have a tribute to my hair on my blog, its called In Memory of: my hair if you would like to see it.
    BTW I love your hair and it makes me miss mine. <3

  21. I forgot to say that you have to bleach it first then do the manic panic. Sorry.

  22. Oooh I love this post, I'm a long time hair dyer and it's always good to hear tips, especially from you as your hair is always b-e-a-utiful! I was wondering... when you just bleach your roots how do you go about it? I always bleach over all my hair when my roots are showing (which I know is naughty!) Any tips would be greatly appreciated as I'm due a top up!

  23. I've been curious to know your tips :) I'm excited for the posts to come!

  24. I have dark brown hair with natural red highlights... I use 40 vol. by RAW, which usually gets my roots a white color and the rest of my hair a light yellow without frying it. However, a am a huge conditioner disciple, which probably helps. I love your hair posts! Thanks so much for putting these together for those of us who have less experience.

  25. Yay! Hair posts!! :)
    This makes bleaching look a lot less scary, a hairdresser stripped my hair once - it took about 4 hours and my hair was absolutely fried, I've been afraid of bleach ever since then!
    Can't wait for the other posts!!

  26. Great info! I am going platinum from black right now. It is such a long process!!

  27. I was thinking of 'turning blue' when I next visit the hairdresser!
    You have made me want to turn blue now!

  28. Just thought I'd share my experience with bleach:
    I started dying my hair pretty colors in January and I've been using Goldwell Silk Lift High Performance Lightener and it has allowed me to bleach my hair safely with only 2-3 days waiting time before I bleach it again. I haven't damaged my hair yet (I've bleached it A LOT in the last few months) and I have thick, prone-to-breakage hair. And I went from about one year's worth of dyed black (over my natural dark blonde) to "light enough to dye" in about 2 weeks. I only use 30 volume developing cream though (too scared to do 40), so I don't think my hair is as light as your's turns out before you dye it the pretty colors.

    Anyway, just thought I'd let you (and people who read this) know that it doesn't necessarily have to take that long to safely bleach out a dark color. Lots of conditioner and research make for healthy bleached hair. :)

  29. this was SO helpful. thank you! i have been dying my hair black for years and i recently bleached a little section and it got orangish, so i dyed it a light brown for now. then i wasnt sure what to do but know now after reading this, i know i can just wait a while and bleach it again.

  30. Hey, I stumbled across your post this evening b/c I too have blue hair and after a year of having the same color, I'm ready for something different! I've never bleached my hair before, my hair is naturally a light brown/dirty dishwater blonde and I use a darker blue so there's never been a need. I want to go reddish orange though. You mentioned that there will be blue left in your hair after it is bleached and you can't go straight to orange,in one of your upcoming posts, could you please explain how would you work your way to a new color if it was on the opposite end of the wheel from the color you previously had?

  31. Great post and thank you for writing it! I am bleaching my hair this week and it's been a I'm scared :) I don't want it to all fall out. Can't wait for part 2! xo

  32. I found your blog through a fellow friend's yesterday. I have had my hair every color in the rainbow. It's naturally dark brown. What I've found that keeps my hair healthy, is that I condition it, like crazy. It's naturally thick, so it falls out a great deal (but my hairdresser said it's ok, because of how insanely thick it is. If it all stayed in, I couldn't even get my fingers through it.) Anyway, I like your posts about the bleaching & dyeing tips. Thanks!


  33. Hurrah! I am in the process of bleaching my hair from brown to white and than to purple - this post has made it all a lot less scary.

  34. THANK YOU for this guide!! I am so excited to begin experimenting with bright hair color again. Last year, I added pink with the L'Oreal Color Rays in fushia. It was so much fun, and easy. Tonight, thanks to your guide, I am bleaching the ends of my hair and adding Beyond the Zone Not So Violet.

  35. Hello! I love this post, brief but very informative for people like me who wants to dye up my hair into pastel colors. My hair's naturally dark brown, near to black but maybe black, depends at times. But I have been bleaching and dyeing my hair to light brown or greenish blonde from jet black. Thank you for the tips here because I am planning to dye my hair soon, gotta bleach it first.

    xx Aurora


  36. Dear Dainty Squid I am thinking about dying my hair pink like yours do u think I should

    P.S im 13

  37. My hair is naturally whire blonde and I've dyed it many times over the last 2 years. I've just decided to bleach my hair then dye it vibrant red. I would dye it midnight blue, but my twin sister already did. I love your post though!

  38. Hmm!! This blog is really cool, I’m so lucky that I have reached here and got this awesome information.

  39. Thanks for the post. It really helped me uncover some myths about bleaching lol. I'm planning on dying my hair black brown underneath and platinum blonde on top. And maybe adding some other color like purple or red.

  40. Thanks so much! I'm doing a lavender ombre & the process is killing me but I am following these steps and it's good to know it's for a good cause. So many haters telling me I can't go from dark brown to lav but they are wrong! I'll show them.


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