What is Hair Bleaching? Things to Know Before Going Blonde

woman with light blonde hair wearing a red and black bikini, laughing on a beach

Looking to lighten your locks? If you are thinking about adding some highlights or are even considering a total hair makeover and going a few shades lighter, you will likely need to bleach your hair with a bleaching agent to create your desired look. Keep reading to discover our top tips on the things to consider before and after bleaching hair. 

back of a blonde haired woman's head, wearing a grey t-shirt with her hair in a wavy ponytail

So, what is hair bleaching?
Hair bleaching is a chemical process that involves stripping the pigment (colour) from hair strands, resulting in a lighter hair colour. 

Each individual hair shade will have different levels of pigment to dissolve through and is dependent on the condition and type of hair you have, as well as how dark the natural colour is. 

The longer the bleach is left on the hair, the more pigment is dissolved, and the lighter the hair becomes. Hair with existing blonde tones will find it easier to become a platinum shade, whereas darker shades like dark brunette/black will likely appear yellow or even a warm reddish hue after the first application. 

Things to consider before bleaching hair 

When thinking about lightening your hair with bleach agent, there are several things you should consider before doing so in order to help you achieve the most realistic and fabulous colour. 

Bleaching hair can be time consuming, with the general rule of thumb being the darker the natural hair colour, the longer the bleaching agent will take to achieve the desired shade. 

The process of bleaching hair can be hard on your locks and too much exposure to bleach can result in dry, brittle hair strands which are prone to breakage, so make sure you consider your hair health before application. 

It is common knowledge that bleach works best on virgin, unprocessed hair that is free of heat damage, so bare this in mind when evaluating the condition of your hair before application. If you’re wondering whether to reach for the hair bleach, read our common FAQ’s below first:

woman with brown hair and light blonde highlights, sat leaning against her bed looking ahead

Should i wash my hair before bleaching?

It is best to avoid washing your locks just before bleaching as washing strips your hair’s natural oils that protect your scalp, increasing the likelihood of scalp irritation. When you do wash your locks, be sure to check out our tips on choosing the best shampoo for your hair.

Can you bleach greasy hair?

Greasy hair is the recommended hair condition as your hair’s natural oils are well equipped to resist the bleach process, protecting the scalp from chemical damage. We recommend bleaching hair at least 72 hours post-hair wash for ultimate protection.

Can you bleach wet hair?

You can apply bleach on wet hair, however the final result is not that effective and is suitable for more subtle hair transformations.  Applying bleach onto dry hair is the way to go, as this will allow the pigment from your current hair colour to be stripped properly, revealing a bolder, more vibrant hair colour. 

How long do you leave bleach in your hair?

The recommended time limit for hair lightening at home will be dependent on which hair bleach brand you choose to use. As a general rule, the length of time that bleach is in your hair should not exceed 45 minutes. Any  longer than this and your hair strands will look and feel fried! Make sure you follow the advice and instructions on the pack.  

Things to consider after bleaching hair

After bleaching, your locks will feel slightly weaker and will likely need some ‘TLC’. Give them a pick-me-up with a hydrating hair mask like our Hydrate and Recharge Masque, replenishing and nourishing your strands with moisture. For more after-care advice see our tips on how to repair and care for damaged bleached hair for the best advice on how to keep your hair healthy, hydrated and looking its best.  

But what about removing, maintaining or adding colour to bleached hair? Take a look at our FAQs below.

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How long does bleached hair last?

In comparison to other semi-permanent and temporary dyes, hair bleaching is a permanent process which cannot be washed away over time. This is because of the melanin stripped away from the hair within the bleaching process. If you are looking to tone down your bleached locks, you can either wait for it to grow out, or alternatively get balayage highlights to help your natural colour shine through. 

How to tone down bleached hair

Bleached hair not only requires extra care, but extra products that help maintain the colour, which is why you will need to reconsider your go-to shower essentials. When your lightened locks start to go brassy with pigments of yellow/orange, and the ashy cool hues have turned warm, you will need to neutralise those undesirable tones. The key is to occasionally use a purple shampoo like Violet Crush if you are blonde, or Blue Crush if your natural brunette tones are peeping through the bleach, to help keep those brassy hues at bay

If you have blonde highlights, our Sheer Blonde Highlight Activating Moisturising Shampoo and Conditioner will help illuminate brighter tones whilst moisturising your blonde locks. Alternatively, take a look at our Best Products for Blonde Hair to ensure your colour is the best blonde it can be! 

Can you dye bleached hair?

The swelling of the hair from the bleaching process actually helps when adding colour in the later stages. This is due to the fact that when the hair is swollen by the alkalinity of the bleaching agent, the more successful the dye will impact the overall pigment. Have a look at our article on how to stop hair colours from fading quickly article to ensure your new shade lasts. 

Now that you’re clued up on all things hair bleaching, be sure to look at our 13 shades of blonde article if your ultimate goal is to become a blonde bombshell. Alternatively, take a look at our other hair colour articles to get some inspiration for your next look.

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