Full disclosure – no colourist or hair stylist worth their weight in toner would recommend how to bleach hair at home.
Why? Because bleaching hair is risky business.
From blistering scalps to hair damage that feels like chewing gum, there are a lot of things that can go wrong when reaching for the bleach.
But do it right and the results can be amazing.
To find out how to bleach hair safely, we asked a colourist everything you need to know about bleach… and yes, how to bleach hair at home. Even though she really, really wishes you wouldn’t.
Why bleach your hair?
“If you’ve got artificial colour in your hair from a box dye at home, if you’re dark and want to go lighter, or if you want to go an on-trend shade, your hair will need to be bleached first before you can pop the lighter tone over the top,” Alannah told Mamamia.
“Bleaching is usually the only way to achieve a pastel tone – grey, silver, rose gold, amber – because your hair has to be as white as it can possibly be before you add another tone.”
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How does bleach work?
In the same way household bleach can be used to remove stains (or leaves you with a big white patch if you accidentally spill some on your clothes), hair bleach works to remove your hair’s natural pigment (colour), as well as any artificial buildup of colour from previous dying.
“Bleach breaks down the keratin bonds found in the hair and removes the natural melanin or artificial pigment so you can ‘lift’ your hair to a lighter level,” Alannah said.
“A powder lightener is mixed with a developer or ‘activator’, and the level or strength of the developer will determine the amount of lift (lifting colour out of the hair) you’ll get.”
As Matrix SoColor education manager Keira Doyle also told Refinery29, “these agents [in the developer] penetrate the hair’s cortex and dissolve the natural pigments and various stages of underlying pigment, depending on your desired results and natural level of pigment.”