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How to Do a Bleach Bath

Updated on March 1, 2016
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Bleach is an extremely useful tool for dyeing your hair as it's the only product that can lighten hair substantially. In fact, if you've dyed your hair with a permanent dye, it's practically the only way you can lighten it at all.

Sometimes you don't need to perform a full bleach process however, and this is where a bleach bath becomes useful. A bleach bath is formulated in a slightly different way to make it a more gentle way to use bleach.

What is a bleach bath?

Normally when you bleach your hair, the bleach powder is mixed with peroxide and applied as directed to dry hair. This is an effective way to lighten your hair, but it can be overkill in some circumstances where you don't need a lot of lightening or you're dealing with fragile hair. A bleach bath or bleach wash is a milder alternative to this process.

Bleach baths differ from a regular bleach process in a couple of ways and every hairdresser has their own method for performing one. The main differences arise from the fact that shampoo is added to the bleach mixture, it is applied to wet hair, and it is generally mixed up with a lower volume of peroxide.

These qualities lead to a more dilute preparation of bleach that is far gentler on your hair. On top of this, applying the preparation to wet hair means that it is much quicker to apply it to the whole head, and the results are very even all over.

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When should you use a bleach bath?

Bleach baths are handy for a few reasons due to their milder lightening action and ease of application:

  • Stripping out hair dye
  • Correcting over-toned hair
  • Lightening hair one level
  • Lightening fragile hair

If you dye your hair with bright colors and you change these colors all the time, a bleach bath can be used to remove stubborn traces of color that haven't washed out yet. In this case, because the bleach is diluted and isn't in contact with the hair for very long, very little damage occurs compared to a regular bleach process.

A bleach bath can even be used to strip out permanent hair dye when it either turns out too dark or you need to remove a buildup of color. In this case however, hair dye remover is much more effective and a bleach bath should not be used unless the dye remover fails to lift enough of the color out. For stubborn color or excessive dye buildup that doesn't respond readily to dye remover, a bleach bath is a useful option.

Of course, bleach baths can also be used to lighten your hair in the same way as regular bleach. When used in this way, they provide you with a much gentler bleaching action and cause less damage to fragile hair, but you won't see the same amount of lift that a full bleach process could grant you. Use a bleach bath when you have fragile hair and only want to lighten it a little.

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When to bleach

Hair condition
Type of bleach
Over-toned
Bleach bath
Over-processed
Bleach bath
Stubborn color
Bleach bath
Mild lightening
Bleach bath
Dyeing hair blonde
Full bleach
Removing dark colors
Full bleach
Regrowth tinting
Full bleach

Preparing a bleach bath

To prepare a bleach bath, you can start by mixing bleach powder and peroxide up as usual. The ratio of powder to peroxide can vary a little depending on manufacturer, but for the most part this is a 1:2 ratio of bleach powder to developer. To this mixture, you need to add at least one part shampoo.

In this sense, the ratio becomes 1:2:1 bleach powder, to developer, to shampoo. However much bleach powder you add should be followed by the same volume of shampoo. You can increase the amount of shampoo a little to further dilute the bleach bath or simply use a lower volume of developer.

When it comes to the volume of developer, 10 vol or 20 vol are generally used, keeping in mind that the real concentration of peroxide will be significantly lower because of the shampoo added and the water in your hair when you apply the preparation. As such, a bleach bath will lighten your hair less than a regular bleach can when the same volume of peroxide is used.

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Applying a bleach bath

The application of a bleach bath is fairly straightforward. You should be applying the bleach bath to wet hair and will need to dampen your hair with water before you begin. You should also only apply the preparation to hair that is unwashed in order to minimize irritation and prevent excessive dryness from the combination of shampoo and bleach.

Apply the bleach bath quickly by hand or brush, massaging it into your hair thoroughly. To prevent irritation, move your hands in an outward motion from length to tips through sections of hair instead of pressing it against your scalp.

Once the bleach bath is distributed evenly through your hair, you'll need to watch it constantly. Unlike a regular bleach, the intended use of a bleach bath to strip out remaining colors or provoke gentle lightening means that the product won't need to be left in the hair too long, and it can be washed out as soon as the desired result is produced, or left in for 20 - 30 minutes for greater lightening.

After you've achieved the level of lift you require, you can rinse the product out and condition your hair thoroughly with a good deep conditioner to replenish the hair's moisture.

Caring for bleached hair

Hair that is lightened with a bleach bath needs the same care that you'd give it if you'd used a full bleach. This means intensive conditioning and gentle styling until the moisture is restored and the hair has been allowed to recover. Just like a regular bleach, you shouldn't perform a bleach bath any more than once a week to avoid stressing the hair.

When using heated styling tools, your hair should always be protected by a heat serum or spray, and this is even more important for hair that is freshly bleached. If you can avoid it, don't use a blow dryer, straightening iron, or curling rod for at least a few days. Bleach is drying, and dry hair is more susceptible to damage from heat and styling.

If you find your hair still feels a little dry even after conditioning, leave-in conditioners can be used to add a little extra moisture and this can be followed up with a smoothing serum to lock the moisture in and keep your hair feeling its best.

Once your hair has had a chance to recover, you can return to handling and styling it as usual. The great thing about a bleach bath is that this won't take very long. It's a gentler way to get the color you want, yet it will still keep your hair looking and feeling beautiful.

Do you have a question about bleach baths or an experience to share? Leave a comment for tailored advice and share your insight with other readers.

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      Emily 2 years ago

      I have virgin hair and have been taking care of it ridiculously. So after two bleaches in two days, it is doing just fine.

      I need to get it very light though in order to apply my pastel color. And I think right now it's at like a level 7. Very gold still.

      SO.

      My next step would either be waiting a few weeks and trying it again with a faster-working bleach (Splat) or slowly lightening it once a week through bleach bathing. I don't know which would work better. I have short hair so there's not as much risk, but I still want to have hair in the end:P And I have to think about the future. In a few weeks my roots will be coming back in. Then what? Thank you, this article has been helpful!

    • Maffew James profile image
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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Emily,

      Pastel colours look great, but as you know, you need to have very light hair in order to achieve a pastel tone. Level 9 is the point you should be aiming towards, and you only have two more levels to lighten before you reach this point. Your hair should be a pale banana yellow in order to dye it with a pastel colour.

      The bleach vs bleach bath debate is a strong area of contention, though I believe there are two clear cut uses for both methods. Bleach should be used to lighten your hair any number of levels, while a bleach bath is best used where only a little lightening is needed, or you want to remove some of the colour from a dye. In the end, if you lighten two levels with either method, the damage will be the same as damage is the result of the oxidation. Which method you choose is decided more by your goals.

      In this case, I'd recommend just applying another full bleach, as long as your hair is indeed in good condition, and this should be enough to finally reach a light enough base colour.

      Your roots are also a problem when you go so light, and they will be noticeable dark, making it necessary to lighten them much sooner than you would have to for a darker blonde or other colour that isn't so light. Luckily, your roots are new hair and don't have any of the damage of your previously coloured hair and as long as you apply bleach to the roots only, without overlapping onto previously lightened hair, you won't cause too much damage.

      In future, when you're maintaining your pastel colour, I'd suggest using a high quality salon bleach like Igora Vario or Wella Multi Blonde. They really do lighten your hair more effectively, and with less damage than cheaper products like Splat and Hi Lift. They are about three times more expensive than those other bleach powders though, so if you can't afford the salon products, don't worry too much. In the end, as long as you're careful with overlapping and you look after your hair with protein treatments and conditioners, you won't run into any problems.

      Finally, I know you said your hair is fine even though you bleached it twice in two days, but I'd suggest you wait at least a week before you bleach it again. Hair contains natural oil that moisturises it and keeps it from drying out. Bleach strips this moisture out, leaving the hair brittle and prone to breakage. If you bleach hair that is already dry and lacking moisture, the damage is compounded because the hair is more fragile in this condition.

      If you need any further clarification with any of this, or don't understand anything, feel free to ask and I will be happy to help with any other questions. Good luck with your pastel colour.

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      Emily 2 years ago

      THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH! You are so kind! This was the most helpful thing for me!(:

      I can totally wait at least week. It's at least a decent color(:

      I do have some further questions, though. As I pull my hair back, I can see that there are actually many many different shades in my hair still. Some actually honey brown... Yet my roots have been white from the first bleach. So, I still have some doubts about whether it will all lift next time.DX I will be using 30 vol again. And when I do a full bleach again, do I need to be extra careful in not applying the bleach to my white roots?? Bc that can be quite difficult esp. when you're going fast. And I figure by that time I will have my brown hair coming in anyway. Is it okay to blend the bleach all over a few minutes before rinsing or don't even touch my roots...? I don't understand what the damage is, I would think the roots are stronger/healthier, but I've been warned to stay off them.

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      Emily 2 years ago

      Actually looking at the scale http://www.clairolpro.com/Content/Articles/natural... I would say I have everything from 5 to 10 in my hair right now. Ugh... In general though it looks like an all over 7. This is most likely due to the fact that before the first bleaching I put coconut oil in my hair that little did I realize had petroleum in it. XP

    • Maffew James profile image
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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Had you dyed your hair any other colour before bleaching it? You usually get that kind of uneven multi-coloured effect in hair that has been dyed previously. It's not generally a problem that affects virgin hair. In this case, it's not the coconut oil. Dyed hair just doesn't lighten evenly a lot of the time.

      The reason your roots are so much lighter is because they are virgin hair, and they are close to your scalp where there is more warmth. Heat acts as a catalyst, boosting the decomposition of bleach into reactive oxygen that lightens your hair.

      I would recommend you avoid the white roots entirely. They're already more than light enough for your desired colour and will just suffer unnecessary damage. You only have so much melanin in your hair, giving it its natural colour, and when all of this is discoloured by the bleach, it is more likely that the protein in your hair will react with the bleach instead.

      You will also need the roots to remain strong because when your roots grow through next time, even being as careful as possible with the bleach will result in some overlap onto the previous roots that are now part of your lengths. The hair closest to your roots needs to be able to stand up to another bleaching when the time comes to lighten your regrowth, and the more you bleach it now, the less likely it will cope later on.

      Focus the bleach onto the darkest areas of hair. If possible, apply it to the darker areas, then apply it to the next darkest hair once those areas lighten up, and so forth until the lengths of your hair are entirely covered. This will help even it out and get rid of the colour differences.

      As for the damage and what that is, damage to your hair occurs due to the oxidation of the bleach. Oxidation discolours your hair, which is what you want to do when you're lightening it, but it also has the side effect of damaging the structure of your hair. The keratin protein that your hair is made out of is damaged by oxidation and your hair becomes weak and can break easily or even stretch apart like cooked spaghetti.

      Then there's another form of damage that occurs outside of the actual hair shaft, where the hair cuticles exist. The cuticles generally act like scales that seal the hair shut, lock in necessary moisture, and protect your hair from the environment. Oxidation breaks the cuticles down and your hair becomes frizzy, dry, rough feeling, and colour washes out of the hair easily.

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      Emily 2 years ago

      Understood. Thank you(:

      I had never dyed my hair before. I'm pretty sure the petroleum had to have been blocking out the bleach from sections...

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      That is possible. Petroleum jelly can be used as a barrier cream on skin to stop dyes staining or prevent irritation from perm solution. Conditioning agents on a whole can block dye and bleach from penetrating the hair shaft. If you've never dyed your hair before, that is the most likely cause.

      Other than that, the way you're applying the bleach, or how much product you're applying could also impact how even the colour is, and some people just tend to have hair that is more resistant in some areas. If in doubt, use a little more bleach than you really need to ensure that your hair is completely and evenly covered when you bleach it.

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      Jada 2 years ago

      Maffew, I recently used a hair color remover and I am now left with a mixture of uneven colors - Dark Brown (framing my face), Light Brown (with orange tint, on my tips and the rest of my hair), and my natural golden blonde peaking through at the roots.

      Will a bleach bath even my color out during the lightening process? Should I apply the bleach shampoo to the darkest parts first and then make my way to the lighter parts, ending at my roots?

      How can I avoid hot roots?

      The color I am trying to achieve is a natural golden brown. I have lots of fine hair and it is currently in good condition.

      Any tips will help, thanks so much for your time.

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      Jada 2 years ago

      I just read your other advice above. Sorry, you pretty much already answered this.

    • Maffew James profile image
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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Jada,

      Hair colour remover and bleach can both potentially cause an uneven result. This is because when you've dyed your hair, some of your hair can be either more resistant to the colour or will actually soak up more colour than the rest. This results in unevenness when you strip the colour back out. As you suspected, applying the bleach bath to the darker areas first and proceeding like this will even it out. You don't need to bleach the roots at all as they're already lighter than necessary.

      You want it to be a light orange colour to achieve a golden brown. This may sound weird, considering you're after a gold tone, but this is the base for the brown. Blonde has a gold base, brown has an orange to red base, and black has a deep red base. It's the other contributing tones that turn this into the actual shade you see. In the case of blonde for example, violet progressively tones out the yellow to give you anything from a golden blonde to an ash blonde depending on exactly how much violet tone is applied to the hair. That's also why if you applied an ash blonde dye to golden hair, it turns to beige first, then a natural tone, then finally to ash as more colour is deposited.

      In this same sense, you'll apply an ash shade as the toner once it is pre-lightened and allow this to develop until it reaches golden brown. You can mix a little of the equivalent golden brown shade in with the ash if you want the gold to be more prominent.

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      Maya 2 years ago

      How many packets of bleach powder should be used for shoulder length fine hair? The powder I bought is 1.1 oz, mixing with 20 vol. dev.. Should I use one or two 1.1 0z packets?

      THANKS!

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      Jada 2 years ago

      Should I be using a permanent ash color?

    • Maffew James profile image
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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Maya,

      Go with two packets. It also depends on how thick your hair is, but this should be enough. If in doubt, buy more than you need. Preferably, buy a tub of bleach if you're going to have to lighten regrowth every few weeks.

    • Maffew James profile image
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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Jada,

      Use a permanent dye. Otherwise it will fade rapidly.

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      Jody 2 years ago

      Hi, i have years worth of colour build up on my hair which have bern purple, brown and red. About five months ago i was purple for a whilr and decided that i wanted to platinum,silvery blonde.

      I stripped my hair three times using a natural homemade stripper which took me to a peachy ponk colour. My friend (a recently qualified hairdresser) would befin helping me through my blonde jouney. Firstly, we applied a semi permenent mocha brown dye so had an even base colour to work with. Afyer 2 weeks we started the hilight process. First time - 20 peroxide and blonde dye (can't remeber shade. Foils used, no result. Secomd time (3 weeks later) - 20 peroxide and a lighter blonde colour. Foils used again, a timy result on top of head. Third time - (3 weeks later) (by now semi brown had faded and im left with a gingery colour) 30 peroxide same shade of blonde. More of a result on top but still not on ends. Fourth time - 5 weeks later, 40 peroxide and a really light blonde. Abit more of a rexult but bareky noticeable on ends. By now both of us lost patience so 4 weeks after that we decided to get a lighter blonde,use a 40 peroxide and apply to full head. Ended up with 4 inch of honey blonde on top but there downwarda still the gingery colour with timts of gold.

      Please note - NO bleach was ever used as my friend was scared as she wasn't fast enough applying it when higlighting.

      I have now come to the conclusiom that the amount of buikd up of colour on my hair is just far too much, when a 40 peroxide can't even givr resukts then god knows.

      Do you think a bleach bath would help me? Thanks in advance

    • Maffew James profile image
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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Jody,

      I'm somewhat curious as to what is in your 'natural homemade stripper'? Usually when talking about stripping the hair, bleach is what is being used, or it can sometimes refer to using dye remover. Then again, if you've been using purple semi-permanent dyes to get your purple colour, that is removed differently.

      As for why your hair wouldn't lighten, it's because it has been dyed before. Hair that has been dyed can't be lightened with more hair dye because dye can't lighten the artificial colour in your hair. The reason the hair that is closer to your scalp lightens however is because it is new hair that has less dye in it, or none at all. Sometimes, you may see some lightening in dyed hair because the natural pigment underneath the dye will lighten, but the artificial pigment still won't budge. Overall, you'll get nowhere using dye to lighten your hair unfortunately, because you need to lift both the remaining natural colour and the artificial colour to get to platinum.

      In this case, for your hair, I would recommend using hair dye remover first to try to remove as much of the permanent dye as possible. This breaks down the colour molecules and they can simply be washed out of the hair. After that, you need to bleach it to lighten it any further. Keep in mind that you should only do this if your hair is in good condition. You've been a few different colours in the past, so if that has lead to any damage, you may be better choosing a darker blonde to aim for instead of platinum.

      In order to get to platinum, you need to reach a pale colour first. On virgin hair, this would be pale yellow, but dyed hair doesn't always turn yellow when it gets to this stage. You'll have to look at how dark it is overall to judge when it's light enough because it will show orange tones all the way to platinum because of all the dye. At that point, you need to tone out all that warmth using an ash dye.

      When bleaching, you can use a bleach bath or a full bleach. Using a bleach bath, it would have to be repeated several times over a few months to get it light enough. Using a full bleach, you're looking at 1 - 2 processes, depending on what brand of bleach you use and how well your hair responds to the bleach. This is something else to keep in mind as far as damage goes. One bleach won't likely be enough to reach platinum in your case, so that will result in more damage. If your hair isn't in good enough condition I would avoid doing this.

      Also, another problem with the different dyes you've used is that the lightening won't be even and you could have dark patches, banding, or hot roots after lightening. This is difficult to adjust for and one of the biggest issues with a colour correction where the hair needs to be lightened.

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      Tina 2 years ago

      About 6 weeks ago I used a box dye to lighted my hair. I'm going for a level 8 ash blond It turned pretty orange but with my pale skin tone, it didn't bother me much. About a week ago I used a different box dye to lighten my hair further. My hair is now an orangey-gold color. I'm not sure if it's light enough to tone it and get to the color I want. I'm thinking of doing a bleach bath just to lighten a bit more and get rid of the orange tone and then using a wella t14 toner. Or do you think my hair is already light enough to get to an ashy medium-light blond?

      Another question I have is can I use a bleach bath to lighten my roots? I'm really scared of doing full bleach for root because I have heard of hair disasters because of bleach overlapping. I'm thinking because the bleach bath is gentler, overlapping wouldn't be as much of a problem.

      Thanks in advance

    • Maffew James profile image
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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Tina,

      If your hair still has orange tone in it, it's generally not light enough to reach a level 8 yet. This isn't always the case if you've used any darker, warm, or red based dyes prior to lightening it though, as the red tone will sometimes persist all the way to a level 9 when you're dealing with artificial pigment so you can't judge the level by the tone.

      If you hadn't dyed your hair prior to lightening it to its current colour, then you're probably between a 6 and a 7. If you had dyed your hair before lightening it, I'd need to see a picture of it to tell you what level it is as the tone isn't a good indication of level in this circumstance.

      As for the bleach bath, you can definitely use it to get closer to a level 8. I can't really give you a guarantee that it will get you there though as it's a fairly mild way to bleach your hair depending on what level of peroxide you use and how it is mixed. As for the colour you're aiming for, it's a yellow to golden colour for a level 8 when lightening virgin hair. For dyed hair, judge it by how dark it is instead, matching it to pictures of level 8 blonde hair if that helps.

      You can also technically lighten your roots with a bleach bath, but the formula is runnier than full bleach and you'll likely end up with more overlap as a result. The roots also aren't likely to lighten to level 8 in one process with a bleach bath, so you have to factor that in as well.

      A useful tip when doing a root touch up is that you need your lengths to be in good enough condition and strong enough that the overlap won't lead to snapping. No matter how careful you are, you can't avoid overlap because it will always happen to some extent. Unless you were sitting there with a microscope to apply the bleach, there will be a tiny amount of overlap regardless of how perfect your application technique is and this is enough to create a weak spot in the hair if your lengths are already quite damaged.

      Something else which may help is to do a root touch up sooner rather than later. The closer bleach is to the scalp, the more effective it will be because of the warmth of the scalp. Longer roots are less likely to lighten in one process, meaning that you could end up having to bleach it more than once; or worse, end up with banding where the bleach has lightened less.

      Finally, Color Charm t14 might not be enough to tone your hair at a level 8. If this happens, use Wella Koleston 8/1 to tone it (Or Wella Color Charm 8A if you'd prefer to stick with the Color Charm line - Koleston is a much better colour line from Wella, but you should use what you're most comfortable with).

      If you need any more help or are having trouble understanding anything, feel free to let me know and I'll answer any further questions you have. I also apologise for how late my reply is.

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      Jessica 2 years ago

      hi! So I came across this post while researching bleaching and bleach washing. I have been dying my hair. Medium brown for a little over a year and then added bleached peek a boo highlights too. Then I colored over that with an auburn red a couple of months ago. Now I am wanting to strip out the color to be able to dye it all a bright fire engine red color. I tried using a hi lift red color (twice)meant for dark hair (which has bleach in it and called for a 30 developer) in the hopes it would lift my color. It of course lifted the roots and those peek a boo highlights that were still lighter than the rest of my hair even after coloring over them with the auburn, but not the rest of my hair. It just gave the rest a red tint basically. How do u recommend I proceed to achieve a bright red hair color? Do I need to do an all over bleach with a 30 developer to get light enough? I just need to get to an orange to be able to color it bright red right? Also should I start with the darkest pieces first then the lighter pieces from the previous peek a boo highlights and the roots last to achieve the same level of lightening? If it is patchy when done can I still color over with the red or do I need to reapply bleach again until I have an even color all over? I am hoping to do the bleaching and then red color right after since I don't want to wear that orange hair around. LOL I would appreciate any advice u can offer. Thanks!

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      Jessica 2 years ago

      i should also probably clarify that the auburn color that my hair was (and mostly still is) before trying this hair lift color is a dark red auburn.

    • Maffew James profile image
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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Jessica,

      The dye you used is called a high lift dye. These were invented to replace bleach in situations where clients who wanted blonde hair were averse to bleaching their hair. Whilst they can offer good lightening, they won't lighten hair that has already been dyed, and they don't actually contain bleach. Dye only lightens virgin hair and this is why the roots lightened and the rest of your hair didn't.

      To lighten your hair enough for a very bright red, it'd be best to strip out as much dye as possible using hair dye remover. This won't remove it all, but any dye it does remove will help decrease the amount of time the bleach has to process. This means less damage and easier, quicker lightening. After you've used the remover, that's when you bleach it.

      I wouldn't recommend using a bleach wash though. It would have to be a regular bleach, as a bleach wash is too weak to lighten your hair enough for bright red given its current dark colour. It's also correct that you need to apply the bleach to the darkest areas first to even it all up if it's not one colour. Otherwise what happens when you apply the red is that those darker areas will still be a darker (And duller), red. You can still dye it, but it won't even up from the dye.

      As for the level you need to reach, this can't be qualified in terms of colour because not only is your hair dyed, but it has been dyed with a red colour. Dyed hair often shows red tones even after being lightened to a fairly light blonde shade, and if you've dyed it with a red shade, this is even more likely. You'll have to judge it by how dark it is rather than the colour it becomes; you're aiming for at least a level 6 for a bright red. Preferably a level 7 for a really vivid fire engine colour.

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      Jessica 2 years ago

      Thank you so much for your help! after doing a hair color remover and then the bleach, do you think that will be enough to sufficiently lighten it? I guess I am worried that I will do all of that and it will still be too dark and I would need to bleach it again but I don't want to destroy my hair!

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      It's so hard to tell because it really depends on many factors like the brand of dye used, how many times your hair was dyed with that dark dye, how resistant your hair is to lightening and dyeing, and the brand of bleach you're using.

      In general, hair dye remover can often remove all of the dye if the hair was only dyed once before the dye remover is used. If it has been dyed multiple times, the hair dye remover won't take it all out.

      Bleach is similar in that the more times you've applied a dark dye to the same hair, the higher the concentration of pigment that is in the hair and the more difficult it will be to lighten it.

      The brand of dye you've used also impacts the removal process because if you were using box dyes at any point, some of these contain metallic dye that won't be removed by hair dye remover and is resistant to bleach lightening. Salon dye, although longer lasting and higher quality, is actually easier to strip out because the dye is more likely to be purely oxidative colour, which is removable with dye remover.

      Then the brand of bleach you use is also important. I've always had great results with bleach powders like Indola Rapid Blonde, Igora Vario, or Wella Multi Blonde. In my experience, the higher quality powders like these lift much more colour out of the hair, with less damage and even using a lower volume of developer than cheaper generic bleach powders. Don't rush out to spend money on a salon bleach if you already have bleach powder; but if you haven't purchased one yet, it's wise to choose a good one over the cheaper products for this reason.

      With everything taken into account, I'd say you'll probably need to bleach your hair 1 - 2 times. You could always apply the dye remover more than once though to try and get more of the dye out and make the bleach more effective. Dye remover isn't damaging (It's a little drying, but you can treat this with conditioner), and you can use it a few times before you start bleaching to try and get out as much as possible beforehand.

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      Jessica 2 years ago

      Ok thank you! so to do the hair dye remover two or three times and to bleach it-how long would I need to wait in between each hair dye removal and then between that and bleaching it once and then one more time if necessary? I want to do it all as close together, without horribly damaging it, as possible since my hair will look awful in the mean time!

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      You can use hair dye remover up to three times in a row, but it is drying, so it's best to avoid doing that unless you really need it done as quickly as possible.

      The main thing here is that you need to really shampoo it as best as possible to ensure you remove all the colour that has been broken down. Shampoo two to three times after using the dye remover if you have to. Any broken down colour that hasn't been washed out will be oxidised by the bleach and darken again from it. Because you need to shampoo it so much, I'd recommend using a deep conditioning treatment and leaving that in the hair for up to 10 minutes afterwards.

      Once all this is done, whilst you could technically bleach it immediately, you should preferably wait 3 - 4 days without washing your hair so that the natural oils can build up. This leaves your hair healthier and less dry after bleaching, plus it protects the scalp from irritation; hair that is dry is significantly weakened and will suffer from a bleach process. All in all, I'd say you're looking at about a week to achieve it all in the quickest time frame without increasing damage. You can tone right after bleaching.

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      Jessica 2 years ago

      i can't thank u enough for your advice! So helpful!! I think it is worth the cost to order some salon quality bleach considering how long I have been dying my hair dark and I have used boxed dye too and considering that I need to lift 3-4 levels. Which salon bleach would u recommend for what I am trying to achieve? Also-any recommendations on what hair dye remover to use? Should I order some or just use something from sallys(the only beauty supply store in my area)? Also-My natural hair color is an ash brown. Am I going to have to continue to bleach the roots to keep the bright red hair?

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      Jessica 2 years ago

      Clarification-my natural color is a light ash brown color

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      I like Juuce Eliminate. It seems to work better than most other brands of hair dye remover I've used. As for the bleach, Igora Vario or Wella Multi Blonde are both great. Then you have L'Oreal Platinum Plus or Infinie Platine, which are very expensive but also excellent. Just make sure that you don't use anything stronger than 20 vol developer with this kind of bleach as its different to the cheaper bleach powders and doesn't need a high concentration to produce the same or even better results.

      Your roots can be dyed red, but the ash in your hair is in direct opposition to any red colour you apply. You need to apply more red tone to ash hair to get it to turn out as vibrant. You won't have to bleach the roots, but I'd recommend using a good red dye mixed with at least 20 vol developer to lighten it up a little and take out the ash as it develops.

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      Jessica 2 years ago

      ok thanks! So when I do go to do a touchup and do the red dye with 20 vol developer on the roots-do I also use that all over? I know I will need to do the red all over because of it fading...

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Not all over, just the roots. When toning the lengths with permanent dye, it'd be best to use 10 vol developer at max to decrease damage. If you want to use the same permanent shade on the lengths, mix part of it up with 20 vol for the roots, then mix the rest with 10 vol and apply to your lengths for the last 10 minutes of development.

      I'd actually recommend using a demi-permanent or even semi-permanent red dye for reversing fading though. A demi lasts longer than a semi, but a semi causes absolutely no damage and can be used as often as you want. You could also try a coloured shampoo like De Lorenzo's Intense Red shampoo to slow down fading.

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      Crazy Sloth 2 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      Damn, I'll be lucky if anyone sees this...

      http://m.imgur.com/eTa98Yx

      Thats the current color of my twice bleached hair. The roots for some reason arent visible, but they are currently about a centimeter of brown. I bleached the first time with 30 volume developer, an argon brand or something + loreal blue bleach packet. It lightened my hair to a color similar to that of a wet baby chicken, yellow-orange. The second time was a disaster I think, cause I used a splat box and it didn't lighten as much as I thought it would, my mistake for buying that instead. I also noticed that it dried the back of my hair out, unlike the first bleach.

      I want my hair to be white, you see, and I'm skeptical about bleaching it a third time. I think a bleach bath would be a better choice, but I'm unsure how many more times I'd have to do it with my shade of hair.

      P.S: My hair is about 4 inches long but... does the timing for the bleach start after being applied or before? I'm afraid I'll be too terribly slow so I start the clock once I coat the first strand.. Not sure, but is that why my hair isn't as light as someone elses who bleached twice, with shoulder length hair?

      Thanks in advance (to whoever sees) and sorry for the looooong question/comment/thing ;(

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Crazy Sloth,

      You could tone that to a silvery colour with an 8A.

      As for reaching white, that's dependent on getting your hair to pale yellow. About the colour and lightness of the inside of a banana to be exact. Then that needs to be toned with a pastel violet colour to neutralise that remaining yellow and produce a white result.

      A bleach bath is technically a dye removal and correction technique, so it's definitely not the best way to get maximum lift. Whilst it is less damaging, this is really only because it's a weak formulation that is diluted down quite a bit. If you apply a bleach bath twice to get the same amount of lift as one bleach, the damage would still be equivalent as lightening and damage are caused by the same chemical reaction.

      As for why your hair isn't as light as you think it should be by now, it depends on bleach brand and product line, colour of your hair, how resistant your hair is, whether it was dyed that colour of has never been dyed, developer volume...even room temperature can have an effect, with a cold temperature slowing down the chemical process and leading to less lightening. I wouldn't suggest judging yourself based on the results of other people because not all hair is the same.

      Also, the drying of your hair isn't necessarily the result of the brand. Your hair's condition gradually deteriorates as bleaching is repeated, and even if the first bleach didn't seem to cause any problems, you may notice problems like dryness and breakage occur after subsequent bleaching. This isn't the result of the bleach brand in this case, but a result of the cumulative bleaching.

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      Michelle 2 years ago

      Hi! I had a question... I have ombre...at first a blonde then to a Red. The red only lasted 3 washes, now I would like to go blue. As of right now my hair still has a red tint... As I know blue+red makes green .. Would a bleach bath help me to achieve the blue ? With less/no green ?? I purchased the ION (sky blue)

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Michelle,

      Blue + red actually makes purple, so you won't need to worry about green. Green tone itself will actually neutralise red and tone it out if it was added to your hair.

      You have two options here, you can bleach wash it first like you planned to take some of that remaining red out and then top with the blue. This will also help the blue last longer because hair is porous after bleaching and it will penetrate deeper into the hair. A slight red tint may remain with bleaching, which can add a very slight violet tone to the blue.

      Alternatively, add a small amount of green to your blue dye. You only need a small amount to correct the red and this won't show up as green in the final colour. This method is a little more difficult than bleach washing it because you need to get the strength right to correct the red without leaving any red or adding too much green and getting a slight green tone in the final colour. Done right, it will give the purest looking blue though.

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      Michelle 2 years ago

      Oh kay that makes sense thanks so much! The reason I say green is because I did a strand test & it came out green :(i wanted to do minimum bleach seeing as how I feel like my hair seems a little dry after the last color) so i did strand test over the color I have now & then with bleach & they both came out green .. What am I doing wrong

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Michelle,

      Either the blue dye has some green tone in it, or there's quite a bit of yellow in your hair. I had a look at pictures of how the Ion dye has turned out on other people's hair and there is noticeable green in a lot of them, so it's probably the dye itself. You might want to try one of Manic Panic or Fudge's semi-permanent blue dyes for this instead and see if that helps.

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      Michelle 2 years ago

      Ok thanks ! I appreciate it

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      No problem Michelle, good luck with your colour.

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      Loo 2 years ago

      Is 1:1 ratio one ounce to one ounce ?

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      Loo 2 years ago

      Can I use color care shampoo for the bleach bath ? It's all I have. It is also a keratin infusion shampoo..

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      Loo 2 years ago

      * I also just found a pantene Pro-V Classic clean shampoo may I use that instead .. Or does it have to be a clarifying shampoo??

      ***Sorry I keep adding on ***

      What do you recommend ?! Thanks

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Loo,

      Yes, it's an equal ratio so both products are added in equal quantities. An ounce to an ounce, 30 mls to 30 mls, or even a scoop to a scoop, as long as both are equal.

      As for shampoo, you can use whatever you have. Clarifying shampoo just opens the cuticles better and helps take out dye more than other shampoos.

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      Loo 2 years ago

      Thanks!

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      No Problem Loo.

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      Leonnie 2 years ago

      My hair was dyed brown (once) from being a pastel pink. When I was brown again I bleached a front quarter of my hair twice and it went platinum (with the odd toning shampoo sessions) I recently decided I want to go silver so I bleached my hair, the first time it went a dark ginger.. I waited a week and the Monday just gone I bleached it again. My roots are a very pale yellow/white but the middles and ends are a lot darker (a dark yellow in places but a light gingery colour in other places) to get it all to an even pale yellow will a bleach bath work? (Just on middle and ends but avoiding the roots) or will I have to full bleach again? I also have white toners waiting to use once I get the pale yellow I need all over as well as purple shampoo (Lee Stafford one) As for the condition of my hair, it's not amazing but it's still pretty good considering so I'm not worried about it! Thanks :)

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      Natalie Jeanette 2 years ago

      Hi - I've read several posts on bleach bathing and each have a different opinion of what kind of shampoo to use. Some say to use a clarifying shampoo, some say as long as it's clear, that's ok, and some say use whatever you have. I'm getting ready to bleach bathe my hair, I have some stubborn color and want to lighten it, what is your opinion on the shampoo? I don't have a clarifying shampoo I can always go out and get one, but I also have a few clear shampoos that are a bit drying, and then I have a shampoo that's a glistening white color, that contains argan oil and other moisturizers, which obviously leaves my hair incredibly soft and silky. What would you recommend?

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Leonnie,

      It depends how dark the yellow still is and how strong you formulate the bleach bath to be. A bleach bath is better for certain types of dye removal and colour corrections, and can also offer mild lightening where required, but it's not the best option if there's still a lot of colour leftover.

      Technically, a bleach bath that is a quarter the strength of an average full bleach is going to produce a quarter of the lightening in the same amount of time. If it was applied until the lightening reached the same point, the damage would still be the same. It causes the same amount of damage on a lift-for-lift basis.

      What you may also want to take into account is the fact that a bleach bath has a thinner consistency than regular bleach and it can be harder to apply it to certain areas and keep other sections of hair untouched.

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Natalie,

      Clarifying shampoo works the best simply because it's a more effective cleanser. The purpose of the shampoo in a bleach bath is to open the cuticles and work with the alkaline environment to remove more hair dye, and a clarifying shampoo works best for this.

      If you're using a bleach bath to remove unwanted hair dye, use clarifying shampoo or at least a regular shampoo; if it's drying, that's a good sign that it can strip out dye more effectively because it's indicative of emulsification.

      Moisturising shampoos are less effective because the conditioner in it coats the hair and the weaker cleansing action doesn't emulsify as much dye. The bleach itself still has relatively similar lift, but most of the benefit of the shampoo is lost.

      If you're just using it as a mild lightener, and not specifically trying to remove dye though, feel free to use whatever you prefer.

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      gabrielle 2 years ago

      Maffew James you are a doll! I appreciate you. I don't exactly have a question because you've pretty much answered mine just by me reading ...but I just wanted you to know that. :)

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Gabrielle,

      I'm glad you found the article helpful, and good luck with your colour!

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      HaircolorFail 2 years ago

      Hi, I recently tried a color remover on my hair. Before the color remover I had only dyed with a wella demi dark natural brown with one added manic panic red a random wella demi black and then more wella dark brown. That was all over the course of a year. A year ago, Before that my hair was purple and a bit damaged. so i got a trim and went brown for a year to let it get healthy. This brings us back to the color remover. it worked well on most of my hair. But it went ash blonde at roots to red brown mid shaft to a green black at ends from a blue i had tried over my dark hair right before i did color remover. I did the color remover process 3x and achieved that result. I thought it was light enough to readd the blue but i was wrong and now i have a pale graygreen blue at roots that fades to green red brown and then essentially black ends. I just want a deep pretty vibrant blue. I was thinking of using the color remover one more time just to get that 3 colored base back and then doing a bleach bath? I don't really want to damage my hair and its perfectly fine and healthy after the color remover i did about a week ago. I would be happy to achieve an orange or old base i think. What are your thoughts?

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Haircolorfail

      Hair dye remover only works on oxidative dye.

      When permanent dye is mixed with developer, oxidation occurs. This results in the original small colourless molecules in the dye assuming their intended form and colour due to this reaction. Initially, the dye molecules are small enough to penentrate your hair, but once oxidised they are too large to fit back out through the cuticles where they entered. This is why permanent dye is permanent.

      When you use dye remover, the chemical process taking place is called reduction. The dye remover reduces the bonds that were formed through oxidation and this breaks the dye back down into small molecules again which can be washed out of your hair.

      Demi-permanent dye can be partially oxidative or non-oxidative depending on whether it is mixed with a peroxide developer or an acid activator, but even a demi that is partially oxidative can't usually be properly removed with dye remover because a lot of the colour you see is direct dye. This kind of dye is already coloured and doesn't fully penetrate the hair; nor can dye remover break it down.

      With that out of the way, you can hopefully understand why it came out so uneven and odd looking. The different bands of colour and depth are where semi-permanent, demi-permanent, and permanent dyes have all shown a different reaction to the remover. The ends tend to be lighter regardless because the hair is older, has been dyed more often, and is thus more porous.

      Given that you applied a blue dye, which is most likely semi-permanent, you probably won't see much benefit from another application of dye remover, but as it's not damaging you're not really losing anything by trying. In the end, the best way to get your colour is going to be to bleach it in sections to even it up by applying first to darkest areas, and then progressively lightening other areas as it evens.

      Alternatively, use a darker blue so that it covers everything. You will probably still notice difference in depth and colour, but it will all be blue if the dye is deep enough.

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      colorfailgirl 2 years ago

      Thanks! I did give the color remover another shot. It took me back out to the greenish roots, brown red middle and teal green black ends. I have since used hair masks and coconut oil to remoisturize my locks. I purchased 2packs of prism lites blue bleach and 20 vol developer. I plan to do a bleach shampoo starting in the middle where its darkest and then working my way to my roots. I plan to leave my ends alone as they are a dark deep pretty teal green and id like to not fry them lol im hoping that one bleach wash with 20 vol wont do much damage but will give results. I bought enough to do a 2nd bleach wash if the first doesn't give the desired results but i plan to wait a few weeks in between to keep my hair healthier. I have fine/thin curly hair. Damage will show up quickly. Do u have any tips for bleach washing thin fine hair like mine?

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Colorfailgirl,

      Damage minimisation is mostly just based on keeping the hair from drying out and using the lowest volume of peroxide that will get the job though. Because the damage is a side effect of the intended method of action it can't ever be entirely avoided. Oxidation causes lightening of your hair by reacting with natural melanin pigment in your hair, as well as the artificial pigment of dye, but it also attacks the protein in your hair, which is what causes the damage.

      The drying effect compounds this because dry hair is brittle, and brittle hair is weak and much more prone to breaking. If you limit the dryness by thoroughly conditioning afterward and taking the bleaching slower with a milder mix over a longer period of weeks you can prevent some of the damage. Protein treatments will also help by repairing the damaged protein. Overall though, your hair can only take a certain amount of bleaching; even if you do use treatments and take care of it very well.

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      Katherine 2 years ago

      Hi, I stumbled across this page while reading up on bleaching already coloured hair. My hair is naturally dark brown but I bleached it all in December and then dyed it a bright turquoise using Directions hair dye. However it's now obviously faded quite a bit and my roots have gotten quite long so I'm planning on redoing it and going another colour, I'm thinking purple. However I'm unsure of what the repercussions of bleaching it all again to get a blank canvas would be? Some websites are saying never to bleach hair which has previously been bleached but how else am I to ever again have an even colour on all of my hair? I don't think it's in particularly bad condition, I've been using copious amounts of leave-in conditioners but I'm now wondering if it'll survive another round at bleaching? And if it will do you have any tips on what would be the best way to go about it?

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      CandlesM 2 years ago

      Hi Mathew, Great article, and very informative :-)

      I have done 2 bleach baths already on my previously highlighted hair over the course of a month. My hair is in a moderately good condition, a little dryer than before but no real visible damage. My colour right now is a golden / yellow colour. It looks ok, but when I use the Wella T18 to tone out the Yellow (left in for 30 Min, and it's still looks yellow. So do I need to do Another Bleach bath on my hair before the Violet toner will actually tone out the yellow in my hair.

      Thanks in Advance !

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Katherine,

      Most horror stories you hear about bleach are more due to it being used incorrectly. Hair can actually be bleached quite a few times depending on how thick and coarse it is before significant damage sets in. This is because the damage is related to total contact time rather than the amount of times it is applied.

      When you bleach hair, you're creating a controlled chemical reaction. Ammonia in the product swells the hair shaft and opens cuticles on the hair, allowing the solution to penetrate inside the hair. Once there, the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide produces oxygen and this oxidises natural and artificial pigment in your hair. It is this oxidation that lightens it, because it chemically alters the pigment in your hair, changing it into a form that is colourless.

      This is the intended action, and beneficial because it is what you want to achieve when bleaching hair. However, this oxidation also attacks the protein in your hair because it's vulnerable to damage from oxidation. This protein is called keratin and it's what your hair is made of. As the protein becomes more damaged, your hair becomes weaker because the protein is gradually being destroyed.

      All of this is basically the long way of saying that the more you bleach it, the weaker it gets, but it's not going to suddenly all fall apart just because you've bleached it once. There needs to be significant weakening for that to happen, and if it's strong and isn't breaking or splitting, it's perfectly fine to bleach it again. Bleaching hair that is damaged is where you need to be cautious, and if your hair is very damaged, to the point where it feels weak or stretchy when wet, frizzes up badly, suffers split ends and breaks excessively during brushing and styling, this is where bleaching it can potentially push it over the edge.

      Onto the actual bleaching, I would recommend considering washing it a few times with clarifying shampoo just to see if you can't eliminate a little more of the previous colour before bleaching. This is mainly just due to the fact that semi-permanent dye like Directions doesn't always remove very well with bleaching. It's more of a stain on the surface of the hair shaft because semi-permanent dyes don't penetrate like permanent dye does and bleach isn't as effective at lightening this stain. The action of bleach is more directed towards the interior of your hair.

      If you just can't get any more of the dye out without using bleach however, try a mild bleach bath. Use 20 vol developer, powder bleach, and clarifying shampoo applied to damp hair and leave it for about 10 - 15 minutes, or until the colour lightens. After this you can apply the new colour.

      Because the bleach solution is fairly mild, and it's not left in very long for this kind of treatment, very very little damage occurs and your hair is going to maintain its healthy condition. The clarifying shampoo in a bleach bath also helps to remove more colour by emulsifying and removing the stain of semi-permanent dye.

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi CandlesM,

      Are you happy with how light it is? The reason the toner isn't working is because it is too weak. Your options are either to use a darker colour or lighten your hair further.

      If you're happy with how light it is though, the best option is going to be to use a stronger toner rather than continue to lighten it because you're already where you need to be. Use Wella 9A if you want to stick with the same colour line, and this should tone nicely to a fairly neutral colour. If you want it to be ashier, or there's a lot of gold tone or even a little orange left, use 8A.

      If you do want it lighter though and specifically want that soft silvery platinum shade, bleach to pale yellow and then use the Wella T18. The T18 really needs to be used on a pale yellow base for best result because it is more of a pastel toner.

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      CandlesM 2 years ago

      Thanks Maffew, You are a Star !

      Yes I do like the lightness of my hair, it's just that yellow/gold colour I really don't like, and that is why I thought I would have to lighten more to get rid of it since my toner wasn't removing the yellow. I will try your suggestions on the stronger Toners. Thanks again x

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Candles,

      No problem. The T18 is designed to produce white or pale silver blonde results, so it's a very weak and delicate colour. Used on anything darker than pale yellow hair, it generally has no effect. Same as any pastel toner. There's no actual issue with your hair and if you're perfectly happy with how light it is and just want to neutralise the yellow, you'll need a darker toner like the one's I've mentioned.

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      Lily 2 years ago

      Hi! Thank you so much for this article, it answered a lot of questions for me but I still have a specific problem I wanted to ask about.

      I used to have pink hair that I achieved using Flash Lightning bleach kits very successfully on my own. For a professional function I had to dye over it with gold blonde, which worked great, then later I got bored and put a red-black demi-permanent dye on it which just looked terrible on me. I took a lot of the color out with a vitamin c treatment, dyed over an ash brown, then let my natural hair color (darkest ash blonde) grow in for months. I got it cut short, but there was still a weird red tinge towards the ends.

      So I tried another vitamin treatment, and then a bleach bath followed up by well t18. The combo left me with a stunning band of golden roots, gingery mid section, and golden ends. It's not cute!

      I wanted to wait a week and then perform a bleach bath again zeroing in this gingery mid section, then follow up with a darker ash wella toner, something very Green to fight all this red. Will this damage my hair irreparably? I'm doing vinegar washes and letting it air dry to coax the cuticle down. But is a week too soon?

      Thank you thank you thank you in advance for any advice!!!

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Lily,

      I'm glad you liked the article, and I'm sorry that it's taken me so long to reply to your question.

      As long as your hair is still in good condition, a mild bleach bath isn't going to cause much damage at all and your hair will stand up to it. A week is a good minimum time frame between bleach applications. If your hair is already quite damaged though, it's always better to wait and use protein treatments for a few weeks to repair the structure and build strength back up before further dyeing or bleaching.

      One thing you may want to consider though is that a bleach bath has a thinner consistency and it can be a lot more difficult to isolate it to certain sections and keep it from moving too much. It can be better to go with bleach by itself using 10 vol as the developer for this kind of process as the mixture is thicker and you can keep it where you need it to be, but it's up to you and either method is doable.

      As for the dye, if you're using Wella Koleston, you have the option of /2 shades which contain green tone and this can be used for correcting red tones in blonde hair. It's better to mix a /2 with a /1 rather than using it by itself unless your hair is very red though, as the green tone produces a very murky and strange looking blonde colour if you overdo it. You really only need a little to counteract the red, and too much gives a green tinge that you don't want. Another option with Wella Koleston is to use the 033 concentrate and mix a tiny amount into your ash blonde shade to add a small amount of green tone.

      With Wella Color Charm, which is the line that T18 belongs to though, you don't have either of these options. Most ash blonde shades are blue, blue-violet, or violet depending on how light the shade is that you are using. They do have a medium ash blonde that is green-based though, and you can mix this into another shade as needed.

      One last note on using green-based ash toners though, if your hair is more orange, coppery, or ginger, it will tone more effectively with a toner that is blue or blue-violet based. Green is only really useful when there is a pure red tone showing up. Eg, if you had applied a bright red dye and were trying to neutralise it to get back to a natural blonde colour, this is more the sort of scenario where green ash dye is useful. Wella T18 is only designed to be useful for platinum results, and it contains mostly violet pigment as hair is pale yellow at the point where T18 would be used. It doesn't contain the blue tone that is necessary to neutralise orange colours, and it isn't dark enough for toning darker blonde hair. This is more the reason why it didn't work for you, rather than necessarily meaning you need something green-based.

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      Docspicer 2 years ago

      Dear Maffew,

      What a great article and the time you've taken to answer the posts is incredible. Talk about good karma points!

      I was hoping to pick your brain. I'm from Australia so not all products you've spoken about earlier are available here (such as that Wella toner people rave about).

      So, I decided to highlight my hair, as I'm currently unwell and can't sit to go to my hairdresser. I'm a natural dark ash blonde with level 10 (goldwell 10p if that helps) highlights. Most of it went okay, but I didn't leave it on long enough in some areas. The toner and purple shampoo has helped but I've some spots that are light orangey yellow and two bigger spots where my virgin hair hadn't been highlighted for years, that are a nice brighter orange. To add to this, I have an undercut (for surgery last year) which accidentally got some bleach on it so has a few orange spots among the virgin hair (which is growing back much darker than the rest, apparently from anaesthetic shock). As I have highlights not all over bleach I'm thinking of a bleach bath. But my concern is what it will do to the undercut? Would it turn it orange? Is it okay to add to the parts that are orangey then to the undercut for a short amount of time (to get a little lighter than my natural colour)?

      I couldn't separate out the highlights I did previously as my dear Dad gave me a hand and went a little brush crazy, so I couldn't simply weave them out again. The crown is more bleached than highlighted due to Dads 'painting' (bless his cotton socks for helping).

      Any thoughts would be terrific, I just don't want to turn my entire head orange!

      Thank you for reading, I appreciate your time

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      Kate Shoe 2 years ago

      Hi Maffew

      Wow, this is a great and thorough article, bravo!

      And I appreciate the time you take to answer each and every comment with such great advice and detail.

      On to my question :)

      I've been doing internet research for a few weeks now, but after reading through all of the comments I'd love to hear what you think. I'm a natural ash light brown/dark blonde that I've been box dying every shade of dark brown for the past 5 years or so. (shame on me for drugstore haircolor, I know) As of late, I'm sick of dying my hair every couple of weeks to keep my roots dark because they fade rather quickly in spite of my few and far between hair washes with a sulfate free salon shampoo.

      It's been about a month since my last root touch up and so this was my plan of action to go back to my natural hair color so I can have a less harsh transition into my original natural color.

      -bleach bath the ends first to lift the color, leaving the color on the tops for last, and not touching new regrowth.

      -toning with an ash toner (reccomendations welcome)

      -possible adding a light ash brown color on top if needed/wanted

      Also, in surfing the internet I've come across some articles stating that putting coconut oil (or some type of oil) in hair the previous night and then doing a bleach bath minimizes damage further. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this as well.

      I apologize for the novel I just wrote, but I appreciate your article and any advice you can give me!

      Cheers,

      Kate

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Docspicer,

      Thank you, I'm glad you liked the article.

      A bleach bath is fine to use for gentle lightening, but it is going to be hard to isolate it to specific areas like your highlights as it's a much runnier consistency. It moves, swells, and drips more readily than regular bleaching. Generally you'd be best using it for all-over lightening or dye stripping, rather than using it for highlights. Foil will help a lot if you would prefer to still use a bleach bath, as long as you're comfortable applying foils, but you may want to consider using bleach and 10 vol instead for easier application. This is still a very mild formula.

      As for the reaction on your undercut, this will be lightened if exposed to bleach. This lightening lifts the visible colour first, and once all the cool tone is gone, the warm base tone is revealed. You can lift for a few minutes and this will lighten it slightly without turning it bright orange, but lightening always reveals warmth and the colour is still going to be tinged with this warm tone unless you tone it afterward, which would unfortunately darken it back up to what it was. Ideally you want to lift it to slightly lighter than what you want it to be, then tone it as toning will darken slightly. The end result is that after lifting past where you want it, the colour deposited by the toner neutralises the warmth whilst darkening it to the level you want.

      As for the highlights, will you be able to separate them out? If you can't and you think you'll end up getting bleach where you don't need it again, this will lead to further lightening of other areas and make it more uneven. There are other options if this is going to be a problem, but you should have a think about what you would prefer to do prior to applying anymore bleach.

      If you can apply to just the orange areas to take them to a lighter gold or yellow, this will even it up. Then tone the highlights to neutralise the yellow colour. You can tone to beige, natural, or ash, depending on what you would prefer.

      If not, you can bleach all over until the darkest areas are at least gold, fill with a light gold shade to even the lighter areas up to the same colour, then dye with medium natural blonde or medium ash blonde. This process will even up the depth and tone but it will get rid of the highlights. This is more of an option for correcting the colour to something that is even without having to try separating your hair out if you keep having trouble and need to fix it.

      In any case, using a light ash blonde dye may tone it fairly nicely, but having lighter and darker sections causes issues with toning because the lighter hair can over-tone with anything strong enough to affect the darker hair, and the darker hair isn't affected by anything light enough to avoid over-toning the lighter hair.

      Let me know what you decide you'd rather do, if you want to try something else entirely, or just if you have any questions or problems. Also, I'm sorry to hear about your illness and hope you're heading towards recovery.

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Kate,

      Thank you, I'm glad you liked the article.

      I'd definitely recommend going with hair dye remover first if the dark brown dye you've been using is permanent. As long as you're not working on a strict budget, the dye remover is always a good first step because it breaks down permanent hair dye without causing damage. The more colour you can remove before bleaching, the easier and less damaging the actual bleaching stage will be.

      However, it is important to note that the more times you've dyed your hair, and the longer you've left it a darker colour, the less effective dye remover is. It will still help, but if you'd rather keep costs down, you can skip this step and go straight to bleaching.

      To bleach the colour out, start in areas that are darker to get it even. If it is already even, start about 1/2 to 1 inch away from your scalp to avoid hot roots; especially if you have any regrowth. If you have regrowth of your natural colour, don't apply to this at all until the rest of your hair is about the same colour, and then only if you need it lighter. If there is no lighter regrowth, apply bleach to the roots about 10 - 15 minutes into the process and continue to process until maximum process duration is reached for your bleach brand or it has lightened to a bright orange colour (Whichever comes first). Bright orange can tone to light brown, whilst you should aim for more of a golden orange colour for a result closer to dark blonde. However, red tone persists from darker dyes and you ultimately need to base it on how light it looks, rather than what colour it looks.

      If it isn't light enough after this bleach, you need to leave it for at least a week in-between bleaching. Rinse the bleach, shampoo, apply a protein treatment for repair, then condition thoroughly with a deep conditioner or a conditioning treatment to add moisture back into your hair and deal with any dryness or pH imbalance. From dark brown to light brown is fairly easy, even when dealing with dyed hair and buildup as it's only two levels lighter, but this does depend a lot on what brand of bleach you're using, and what concentration of developer you mix it with. If you use the bleach by itself, this will lift more colour than a bleach bath with the same volume of developer.

      Once you get it light enough, what you use for toning depends on whether you took it to the light brown or dark blonde level. Use an ash dye one level lighter than what you lightened to for a fairly neutral result. For a cool-toned result, use ash at the level of your hair.

      Eg, if you took your hair to light brown, tone to neutral with dark ash blonde, or tone to ash with light ash brown. For dark blonde, tone with medium ash blonde for neutral, or dark ash blonde for ash. If you want a beige or golden tone, this will be approached slightly differently. You can remove a lighter ash dye sooner for this, or you can mix the ash with the equivalent golden shade to dilute down the cool tone and increase gold tone.This will still take out excess warmth, but it leaves a more golden result.

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 2 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      This is really good information. I am constantly changing my hair color and it sounds like this would be less harsh on my hair. I am going to bookmark this hub for future use. Great hub and voted up!

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      Docspicer 2 years ago

      Oh Maffew thank you for replying, I've been waiting for you before I did anything as I thought you'd set me on the right track! I can see that I shouldn't do the entire head, I'm going to try and separate out with foils, at least the bigger orangy bits! If I am able, should I just rebleach it down instead of doing the bath? I have the toner, so that's not a problem.

      Again, thank you!

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Docspicer,

      As long as you separate out the darker pieces and apply only to them, that's the main thing. I'd recommend regular bleaching with 10 vol developer, which is a mild formula; though you can use a bleach bath if you prefer. Both are mild lightening methods: regular bleach is thicker and easier to keep in place, whilst offering better lighteing; whilst a bleach bath contains shampoo and is generally applied to damp hair, both of which dilute the bleach down. It is weaker as a lightener and runnier, but the shampoo helps lift dye out more effectively when lightening dyed hair. Applied in foil, you shouldn't have any trouble with the runnier consistency.

      Focus on evening up the lightness as best as possible. The closer it is to all being the same depth, the easier and more effective toning is going to be. Once you get it more even, apply the toner you have. If this doesn't cool it down enough, go darker with the toner. Eg, if your toner was a 9A and this wasn't effective enough, use an 8A instead. Otherwise if you have a good idea of what level it is by looking at it, use an ash shade that is 1 - 2 levels lighter than your current level for effective toning.

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Jeannie,

      Glad you liked the article and found it helpful.

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      Bethany 2 years ago

      My hair is naturally a brown level 4/5 injust recently had a salon put in highlights where they lifted to a yellow color and toned with a level 8 toner (they did not tell me what tone) it was like a light orange yellow color and very chunky highlights so I went back and asked for them to be a little darker. So she said she needed to put in some 5n lowlights and toned it with a level 6copperbrown. Now it is orange red color. What can I do to achieve a neutral brown color without it going too dark and covering the highlights??

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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Bethany,

      Tone with a semi-permanent medium ash blonde (7A). You need the dye to be semi-permanent rather than demi-permanent or permanent as these kinds of dye can effect your natural brown hair even though they are lighter than it (The peroxide in developer will cause the dark hair to lighten slightly even though it doesn't add noticeable colour to it).

      You may need to use a darker ash (6A), but I'd recommend starting no darker than a 7A and only using a darker shade if absolutely necessary due to the combination of highlights and lowlights. There are a few different colours in your hair and each colour will react differently to the ash, so the lighter the dye, the less likely it is to over-tone any area.

    • profile image

      Bethany 2 years ago

      Thank you so much for replying!! So I actually had a 6a toner and did a test strip, It didn't seem to take which makes me think my hair is at a level darker then they mentioned. I should have also mentioned that my hair is naturally a 4/5 but it is dyed a 4/5 brown with red copper tones I don't remember what the code was I think 5RB, that was a couple months ago. If I were to do a bleach wash over all my hair and lighten to an orange and color with a 6 ash blonde would it be a golden/neutral light brown and maybe even the existing highlights still peep thru as tonal highlights? I want my hair to look lighter hence why I wanted the highlights and hey are pretty heavy so you don't see much of the colored hair underneath. I eventually want a level 5 hair and put in some golden bayalage highlights just don't know if that is possible on dyed hair. Sorry I left out that part about my hair being dyed all over!

    • Maffew James profile image
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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Bethany,

      It's probably darker then. A 6A is strong enough to affect level 5 hair, so the lack of any noticeable colour is a good sign that it's darker than you were lead to believe.

      With the bleaching, if applied all over, the colour will lighten all over. This means you will see the base lighten, as well as further lightening in the highlights. You can do this, but keep in mind that the highlights being lighter will mean they will take more colour from whatever you use for toning, causing them to end up ashier than the darker hair, which will stay reddish unless you use a darker colour on only those areas.

      An alternative is to lift it all to at least level 6 and then dye over that with a 5N. This will even it all up and take it all to a light brown that is roughly neutral and the same depth. The only problem is that it would remove the highlights. You can foil the dye in as lowlights and then apply a 7 or 8 ash dye to the rest of the hair to tone that whilst the rest darkens to preserve the highlights.

    • profile image

      Bethany 2 years ago

      I finally found this article again! I wanted to say thank you so much for your advice. I was able to do a bleach bath get the color to a 5N and it looks so much more natural for what I want! My hair feels so healthy! It just started to show some copper recently. Is there anything to do to fix that?? It's subtle but it seems the more it fades the more copper I see. Also, as I originally wanted natural color hair with highlights and with the pesky copper coming back through, is it possible to get the caramel highlights I have been wanting??

    • Maffew James profile image
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      Maffew James 2 years ago

      Hi Bethany,

      You can apply 6A in semi-permanent or demi-permanent as a toner and remove once enough warmth is neutralised. As for the highlights, you'll need to bleach in foil and then tone separately with a lighter shade of ash. Because you want caramel highlights the warmth isn't as much of an issue, but you'll likely still need to tone it a little to get it looking softer and more natural rather than bright orange-gold.

    • profile image

      Kari 23 months ago

      Hello! I have been reading your posts and you are so knowledgeable. I really appreciate you taking your time to respond with so much detail to all of us who need advice. A little of my hair coloring history: I have natural brown hair which I have darkened and lightened myself since 20 years ago. I've also had highlights done at the salon that involved some bleaching in the past. Currently, I've been coloring it myself using 6N, 7N, and finally 8N. Box/brand reads: "Satin, Ultra Vivid Fashion Color, Aloe Vera Based" and I've mixed the 6 and 7 with 20 v developer, and the 8N with 30 v developer. I've used One color at a time, just lightening it more instead of just touching up my roots. This last time, using the 8N and 30 dev, left my hair lighter but orange, especially at the roots (after reading your posts I now know why)...but I've read so much that I want to make sure I follow your advice depending on my color situation. I don't want to go lighter,I just want to get the orange out, maybe eventually even one shade darker, oh and I've been told my ends look a bit greenish...so I'm not sure if I should stay away from dye with ash in the name (?)

      At this point I'm unsure whether to dye it or a bleach bath with a 10 vol developer...learned from you that t18 won't help me, is a t9 better? And if you advice dyeing instead of bleach bath, what color should I get and what brand(s) do you recommend?

      Thank you, Maffew for being so generous with your time and expertise

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      Maffew James 23 months ago

      Hi Kari,

      Do you know what level the warmth is roughly? If you don't you can use the chart in one of my other articles here to estimate it: https://bellatory.com/hair/How-to-bleach-hair...

      To properly tone your hair, you need a shade that is close to the level that your hair is, and this is why the T18 doesn't work on darker hair. It's not strong enough to have an effect because the amount of colour deposited isn't enough to neutralise the darker warmth.

      To ensure the toning is effective, use a shade one level lighter in an ash tone for a close to neutral result, or ash at the same level for a cooler result. As you have a few different colours in your hair though, you will need to ensure that you're not applying this dye to any hair that is at a lighter level because this will be over-toned. You can get around this by foiling it over the hair you need to tone only. If the rest of your hair is darker though, this is fine because toning will be minimal, although you should use a demi or semi-permanent dye instead of permanent to avoid lifting the darker hair.

      As for the ends, there are two possible reasons why they've grabbed the ash. Either, they are lighter than the lengths so the dye used becomes more intense there, or they are more porous due to being older hair that has been processed more, which often happens, To avoid this happening, you can apply primarily to the lengths and then last to the ends if necessary. You can also apply a golden shade, one level lighter than the ends with a small amount of red as a toner to reverse the greenish tone if you want to get rid of it.

      Let me know if you need me to explain further on any of this and good luck with your colour.

    • profile image

      Kari 23 months ago

      Thank you sooo much for answering!! My current level is a 6. I've been reading through your articles and if I had a magic wand and could have my hair exactly like that of a favorite picture, I'd pick the last picture on your Best Hair Repair Treatments Article. The girl with the red petty coat. I love her hair!! but since I'm not very talented when it comes to doing more than just coloring all over, I would settle for all of my hair being the color she has up on top, I know she probably has highlights and balayage on the rest...I don't think I can do that or even foiling which you graciously suggested to me. Can I achieve getting the color that's on the top part of her hair, even with my current hair color? That's what I am aiming for and I'm waiting for some products I've ordered based on your recommendations from other articles and replies to other posts.

      I am following the steps from your article on How to get a Light Brown Hair Color. Pleeaasse correct me if you disagree with anything that follows: Since my hair has been dyed, I am going to do the double process with 1 part bleach (Igora) and 2 parts 20 vol developer, wait until it becomes a bright orange, rinse, shampoo 2x, and dye it with Matrix socolor in Dark Ash Blonde and rinse when I see the desired shade. I'm not sure if Light Ash Brown would have been better since I'm aiming for same or darker than my current shade, which is a 6, or they about the same? I'm going to order it now to have just in case.

      Last question, can I still finish with the small amount of vinegar in the conditioner after rinsing off the dye?

      Thank you again, and for your patience:)

      If I could go into a salon and find you there to fix my hair, I would.

    • Maffew James profile image
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      Maffew James 23 months ago

      Hi Kari,

      As you mentioned there were a few different colours in your hair, is that the darkest colour in your hair that's a level 6, or the overall look of the colour? Highlights and lowlights can change the overall appearance of depth. Eg, if you had a base of level 5 with level 8 highlights, this will make the overall colour look lighter than a level 5 when looking at it as a whole.

      Regardless, getting to the colour in the picture requires the darkest hair to at least be slightly lighter than the colour you want (Toning to that ash shade will darken slightly up to where you do want it). Any hair that is lighter than this can be dealt with using a natural tone to even it all up to the same depth. If you do have darker areas that are a level 5 or darker, you can adjust for this either by lightening these areas only, or by lightening it all over if necessary and then evening up with a natural tone.

      If your hair is indeed a level 6, this is about the level in the picture. It looks slightly closer to a light brown because it's an ash tone, and ash will generally always look a little darker. Best route to the colour is to lighten one level using bleach, and then tone with a dark ash blonde. If you have varying levels present, mix the dark ash blonde half and half with dark natural blonde and this will darken up those areas.

      As for the vinegar, you certainly can mix a little into your conditioner. It's great for after bleaching and dyeing because these processes increase the pH of your hair and the acidity will help correct it back to what it should be.

    • profile image

      Kari 23 months ago

      Thank you so much for walking me through this process. I am going to lighten one level and tone it with ash blond. I will continue to read through your articles on my hair coloring, root-touching-up, and just basically hair-care-journey, as they are filled with invaluable information that is so greatly appreciated:) I hope people are doing good onto you as you are onto others with your patience, valuable time, and expertise.

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      Maffew James 23 months ago

      Hi Kari,

      Thank you and good luck with your colour. Let me know if you run into any problems with it or need any more help.

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      Kari 23 months ago

      Hi Maffew,

      I think I've made a mistake. My current hair color is not a 6, but an 8. The reason I think so is because the last color I dyed it was an 8N (because I wanted to lighten it, but as you know, it gave me lighter but orangish hair). I didn't know until after reading your articles that I needed to bleach first in order to get it to lighten properly. I have the perfect picture of my lovely orange/brassy hair but don't know how to load it here. It'd be so much easier than trying to explain the blah color I managed to get for myself. What would I have to do differently if my overall dyed hair color is an 8 and I want to get it to a shade or two lighter than my natural hair color which is dark brown? I've never bleached my hair all over before but I'm already set with my Igora Vario Blond and Igora Royal 20 vol, but want to know if the dye would have to be different than what I got, which is the Matrix Socolor 7A in Dark Blonde Ash. Just fyi if needed, I also have 8N Light Blonde and 6N Dark Blonde, both are Satin brand and I don't know if it matters to mix different brands of dye. I apologize for my confusion and thank you in advance for clearing things up once again.

    • Maffew James profile image
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      Maffew James 23 months ago

      Hi Kari,

      Sorry for the late reply. The lightest dye you have used won't necessarily be how light your hair is, but this is possible. It just depends on how well it lifted and how dark your hair was prior to use. Eg, a permanent dye mixed with 30 vol developer will generally lift up to 3 levels, so if you had level 3 hair and applied a level 7 dye, it's more likely it will take it to about a level 6 at lightest. The lightening and colour deposit are separate, so what is happening is that the developer you add determines how many levels of lift will occur, whilst the level of the dye determines what level of colour is deposited. As another example, say that you applied a level 6 dye instead, with the same developer. What happens is that the lift is about the same, but the colour deposit is deeper because there is more actual dye present in the hair dye.

      Anyway, without trying to confuse you, it will change the shade you need to use if your hair definitely is a level 8. The ash tone I recommended will work properly when applied to warm level 6 hair because it is used to correct the warmth and tone to more of a neutral to cool level 6. On level 8 hair though, that ash tone is much stronger because lighter hair will grab the dominant tone in the dye, leading to the potential for a very grey or even blueish or greenish result.

      To get around this in lighter hair, you can fill your hair first, or because there's about a 2 level difference you may be able to do it without filling using a natural tone dye, mixed with a small amount of gold and copper to keep it balanced as it darkens. Filling is the most reliable method and can be done with a protein filler or demi-permanent dye.

      If in doubt though, you can always fill your hair with a demi-permanent dye as a caution to ensure it turns out properly. If your hair is already level 6, this won't darken it or have any overly noticeable effect on the colour because the dye used to fill it is intentionally lighter and only used to replace the missing base tone that serves as the foundation for the darker colour. Best idea if this is the case is to apply medium gold copper blonde (7GC, or 7CG depending on what you can find) as the filler, process, rinse, and then use the ash tone as the final dye as intended, or mix the ash with a natural tone. If your hair was closer to a level 8, the ash as the final colour will turn out a little cooler and this is where you may want to mix it half and half with natural tone. If your hair is a level 6 you're better using the ash by itself.

      With any of these methods, bleach won't be necessary if your hair is lighter than level 6. If it's not, remember you only need to lift it a little so that it then darkens back up to a level 6 after dyeing.

      Also, as for the mixing of dyes, it's best only to mix dyes of the same line and brand. Eg, you can mix any shade of Matrix SoColor together, but you shouldn't mix SoColor with most other Matrix dyes or those of other brands. Technically, most of the time, nothing overly bad is going to happen if you do mix two different brands, but there is the potential for strange chemical reactions to occur; it's not impossible. The main problem though is that different brands can vary the base colours that form specific tones, how concentrated the dye is, and other factors that can lead to strange results if you mix the two brands.

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      Candles 23 months ago

      Hi Maffew,

      Thank you, I love reading through all your advice, really been helpful!!

      Ok, I had done 2 bleach baths about 2 months ago, so I would say I am currently about an 8, as it's a brassy/golden-yellow colour. Now that my roots have grown out a bit, I would say it's about an Inch long now, I would say I am between a 6 -7 naturally (a dark blonde). I am going to the hairdresser to have my roots done, as I don't want to get the whole banding effect if I don't do it properly. What I would like to know is, once my roots are done, I wait about 10 days, and then do a bleach bath over my entire head, to lighten my hair further to get rid of the yellow/golden colour and reach more of a 9 or 10. Would my roots be able to handle the bleach bath as it will be done on my virgin hair. I will be using a Vol 20 for the bleach bath.

      Thanks for all your help !!!

    • profile image

      Kari 23 months ago

      Thanks for your response and for explaining it so well. I was able to load the picture of my hair on google+ and was wondering if you saw it? Also, thank you for letting me know that I won't need to bleach ( because I'm not trying to go lighter but instead to get rid of the orange I just need to just tone with the dye, if I understand correctly). Anyway, I trust your opinion more than mine on which route to go with from the ones you provided in your reply based on the picture.

    • Maffew James profile image
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      Maffew James 23 months ago

      Hi Candles,

      Your roots should be fine as they're already fairly light and there's not much lightening required to match to your current colour. This means when your hairdresser touches up the regrowth the lightening will be mild and won't need to be left too long. Most, if not all of the original strength should remain.

      The weakest point of your hair will be the line of demarcation, which is where your regrowth and previous colour meet. Because this is where the previously dyed hair ends, this is where snapping will generally occur if the hair is over-processed. Ultimately though, if your lengths feel strong and healthy, it's very very unlikely that this will happen. Especially if all you've done to it in the past is those 2 bleach baths and a colour or two.

      If you're worried, you can always have your hairdresser assess the strength of your hair whilst you're there. Because they can see and touch your hair, they'll be able to tell you whether there is any severe weakening. You could also always have them do the whole process for you by applying to your regrowth, then pulling the bleach through to the lengths as it processes so that once the roots reach the same level as your lengths, all your hair is then taken a level further to finish. Then you can tone at home if you prefer using 9A.

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      Maffew James 23 months ago

      Hi Kari,

      I just had a look at the picture and it may be a little closer to a level 5. The dye you'd be using will still tone it effectively if it is, but the colour result is going to also be slightly darker. You can lightly bleach it one level before dyeing to get a more exact result or just go ahead and tone it if you're happy with its current level.

    • profile image

      Candles 23 months ago

      Thank you Maffew, I really appreciate your assistance, and completely trust your advice.

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      Kari 23 months ago

      Thank you for looking at my picture and providing your feedback. You are awesome!

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      Maffew James 23 months ago

      Hi Candles,

      No problem, good luck and let me know if you have any problems with it.

    • Maffew James profile image
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      Maffew James 23 months ago

      Hi Kari,

      No problem, let me know if you run into any problems with it or need any further help, and good luck with your colour!

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      Monica 23 months ago

      Hi! I am naturally a dirty blonde color, and used to have bleached blonde hair until I dyed it black for about 6 months, and right now I'm in the process of trying to lighten it again, not as light as it was before, but to a light brown or dirty blonde like my natural. Right before I decided to change it to lighter I used a burgundy box dye after using color oops on my black hair, and it turned black again, but has a strong red under tone now. I've used color oops twice, and the vitamin c + clarifying shampoo treatment twice. Not much has changed except on the top of my head of course. So it goes light blonde @ roots, then orange, to dark brown with red tints at strands. Needless to say my hair has some damage but since I dyed it black I also cut off 10 inches (from all the damage when I bleached it) but there's still a fair amount of damage. It's a little past shoulder length now. I am considering a bleach bath to lighten the dye out, do you think this will work? I'm trying to lessen the amount of damage as much as possible as it's been through a lot already. I have been deep conditioning a lot so it's in decent condition right now but still dry. Any advice would be super helpful!

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      Debbie 22 months ago

      Hi Matthew, please please help me. I have very long thick hair. My natural colour is a dark brown with red in it ( my sisters are red heads) I only used to was it once a week, and it was in fantastic condition....always had compliments. But I am now in my early 50's and felt i should go lighter to match my skin tone. I had some blonde slices put through the top ( took the hairdresser 2 seperate times to reach a blondish colour without being brassy. I felt my dark brown base was still too dark, and wanted my base colour a light brown with hilights, so i used a colour remover x2, but it was still gingery especially at the underneath back. I then put a semi permanent colour on, waited a week then used a hair stripper x2 to try and get rid of the ginger. It lifted it, but not enough. I put a nice n easy permanent light ash blonde dye straight on, but it didnt touch it ( my roots were very light), I then put the nice n easy med ash blonde, still nothing. I then used a schwarzkofp dark as blonde, and that was great. A week later I put in the l'oreal glam lights brush in. OMG my hair was a light orangey colour. I put a non aemonia dark blonde foam colour to tone it down 2 days later, which was better, but still so gingery. I have tried ash conditioning toners, but every time i wash it it seems to get more and more ginger. I hate it. Its dry now too, and doesnt shine like it used to. I been doing deep conditioning with coconut oil and olive oil. And used eggs to put protein back. I know i will have to bleach it to get the orange out so that when i put my base colour on, then hilight it so it wont go brassy. Do you think my hair would take bleaching, or can i use a bleach bath. Oh and is that what i would have to do to get the lift. I so want my hair to be in good condition again. Would putting coconut oil on the night before bleaching it jelp to protect it a bit from the bleach? Thanks in advance Debbie

    • Maffew James profile image
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      Maffew James 22 months ago

      Hi Debbie,

      Unfortunately you're always going to get that warmth reappearing with toning because as the toner fades out, the cool tone that is neutralising the warmth is washing out and allowing it to appear again.

      If you bleach, technically this can help if you're able to strip out all of the orange and get your hair to gold or yellow, but if you do this, you now have blonde hair. Toning it to light brown won't work properly anymore because the hair is too light. Doing so will lead to a very intense , possibly greyish or blueish result. So if you're happy with how light the base colour is right now, I wouldn't recommend bleaching it any further because it won't really help with the orange. If you want it a bit lighter though, go right ahead, but only with your hair in good condition. With the current damage it would be better to wait a while first.

      As for getting it to stay toned, shampoos and conditioners don't generally work for hair that is dark like yours because most are designed for blonde hair. Brown hair is simply too dark to show the effect. They also often contain mostly violet tone, rather than the blue that is needed for toning orange out. De Lorenzo's Cool Naturals shampoo may help, as that is actually designed for maintaining ashy brown hair, rather than for use on blonde.

      Otherwise, another thing you can do is take a white shampoo--any brand, as long as you like how it washes your hair--and add a small amount of semi-permanent blue dye to this. Give it a test on orange areas and if it doesn't tone, add a little more until it does. if there's yellow tone present, add in some violet dye too.Then you have your own toning shampoo adjusted for your own hair. You'll need to be careful with the use of this shampoo over the highlights though, because these are lighter hair and will grab onto that blue tone.

      As for the coconut oil, this will help protect your scalp and keep your hair from drying out as much, so it can slightly reduce damage as well as irritation. It doesn't have much of an effect though because most of the damage is a result of oxidation of the protein in your hair. Dryness compounds this damage and you do reduce it slightly by keeping your hair more hydrated because it prevents it from becoming brittle.

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      Sophie 22 months ago

      Hi Maffew

      I was trying to lighten my hair just a bit, I have level 2 dark brown hair and am trying to dye it dark purple but not completely purple just tinted purple. I wish I had known about bleach washing before I bleached my hair! My friends used 20 volume developer and did it really unevenly and I've been using 10 volume developer to try and even it out. I also have curly hair so it somehiw looks spottier. My hair is pretty healthy though. At this point I'm just wondering about how well purple would show up on level 3 (and in some parts level 2 still) brown hair and if I should do a bleach wash and if I could try to get it more even with the bleach wash. I think it'll be fine as long as it's light enough to get pretty purple because I don't mind if it's more purple in some spots I just don't want it to be purple in only some spots.

      thanks so much!

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      HelpHeather 21 months ago

      Hey Maffew! I've been using Joico 5NRM + 4VR with 15-20 vol. on my hair for quite some time now. I haven't touched up in quite sometime and now have 3" roots, about a lvl 4 dk brown.

      I was wanting to bleach wash my hair to lift the color and then eventually do an overall medium brown color.

      Should I tone my roots first and THEN bleach wash all over in order to achieve a more even color result?

      Thanks love!

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      HeatherHawley 21 months ago

      Ok, here we go! I always dye my own hair. I've never had a problem. Well I bleached my roots with a 20v developer to touch them up. I then did a bleach bath on the rest to reinvigorate my already bleach blonde hair. I also toned it with blonde brilliance's platinum toner. I have done this same process many times before. This time my roots to mid length went a lavender purple. I grabbed my 20 v developer and added it to my clarifying shampoo. Let it set and then washed it out with another round of the clarifying shampoo. It pulled all of the purple out, but now the roots to mid length are kind of a white gray color. I was thinking about doing a bleach bath to eliminate the white/gray color, but I'm a little worried. I don't want hot roots, though I have hardly any new regrowth at all! Like you can't tell. I also don't want my roots and mid length growth to be extremely lighter than my ends. My ends are a nice shade of blonde. My natural color is dirty blonde. Maybe like a 6. Any tips?

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      Maffew James 21 months ago

      Hi Sophie,

      It'll look more like a purple tinge through brown hair when it's that dark. It starts to look more like a dark purple from level 4 to 5, and brighter purple and violet colours need to be even lighter than that.

      The bleach wash is mainly useful where you only need a small amount of lightening or you're correcting colour, but it can be used to even it out. If you want to do this, you'll need to apply to the darker patchy areas only and lift those areas out to match the rest for it to even out.

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      Maffew James 21 months ago

      Hi HelpHeather,

      It'll be easier to apply to the roots first as this hair is darker and will need to process for longer. Once the roots lighten up, you can apply to the lengths and continue lightening to get it all light enough for the new brown shade and tone to finish it off.

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      Maffew James 21 months ago

      Hi HeatherHawley,

      What likely happened is either your hair is a bit lighter than the last time you used the toner, so that same shade turns out stronger than expected, or it was porous after bleaching and really grabbed onto the violet tone.

      As for fixing the ash tone, a quick bleach bath could take a bit more of the violet tone out and warm it up slightly, but it is going to lighten it further and you may still need to tone it again afterwards, albeit with a lighter toner to prevent the same problem occurring again. An alternative to deal with it if you're happy with how light it is would be to add a small amount of gold tone to it. This is basically the reverse process to what you would normally be doing when toning blonde hair. To do this, take a pale golden blonde shade in semi-permanent or demi-permanent, apply, and rinse when you're happy with how it looks.

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      HeatherHawley 21 months ago

      Thank you so much Maffew! So I've come to the conclusion that I just need to give my hair a break from bleaching. I'm tired of putting quite so much effort into my hair. I still have super bleach blonde hair, but I'm thinking of going back to my natural color. Like I said before, I'm more of a dirty blonde. I don't want to let it grow out naturally. I'm a nurse, and I want to look professional. I don't want inches of roots lol. I was wondering what I could do to get it back to a natural looking color. I don't want to slap on a color and have it go really dark because my hair is so light and porous. Should I just go 1 or two shades darker than the bleach, then continue this process until the desired color is reached? I know that all I've got left is the yellow and that I need to add back in the others, but I don't want to go gold! I look horrible with golden hair. I usually use cool shades of the Ion brand. Can I continue to use the cool shades, or should I go with a violet or neutral/natural shade?

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      Maffew James 21 months ago

      Hi Heather,

      That's correct about the yellow being the only pigment left in your hair. It's not so much of a problem if you're wanting to just go a darker blonde for now, but if you were aiming for a brown shade, this is where you need to re-pigment it because you need a certain amount of copper or even red in your hair depending on how dark you want it to be. If you have a particular shade in mind, I can give you a better idea of what you need to do to reach it.

      As for the porosity, using lighter colours than how you intend for it to turn out will deal with this, and you can also apply a few protein treatments if desired. These treatments will help strengthen your hair as well as reduce porosity. A clear protein filler or a porosity equaliser spray are other options; both of which are applied before applying dye, but sometimes this isn't enough and you still need to use a shade that is slightly lighter than desired. If you need to check how it will turn out at any point, you always have the option of applying as a strand test to gauge how porous it is and then using a product or a lighter dye as necessary once you know how it will react.

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      lala 20 months ago

      Hi Maffew,

      HELP! I am 55 years young and I had grown out all my creamy blonde highlights ( which i used to tone with purple shampoo) over the last 24 months to achieve my own beautiful real silver hair with my natural brown ( number 5) in a classy salt and pepper look that was completely natural. It was mostly silver at the front and the towards the back of my head the hair was still quite dark plus some silver strands thoughout. it was a typical silver and grey and dark natural looking head of hair - that is straight. I foolishly let a hairdresser put some Inoa foils ( semi permanent) in my hair - i think these were a light blonde plus some low lights of something brownish. There was no warmth at all anywhere at that stage. It was very mousey looking overall. Then 6 weeks later she talked me into further foils - a whole head of Inoa semi permanent foils consisting of once again low lights and highlights. However she chose lowlights that were the colour of a caramel toffee and the highlight was a white blond. The whole effect is weird and i have ginger hair foiled pieces plus white grey ashy /blonde hair all over. She also put a base colour ( also semi perm ) on all the roots. Now my own roots are coming back in and so i have my own beautiful silver roots plus some dark number 5 roots that is my normal natural colour before i went silver plus its all a bit salt and peppery looking. I have been washing out the Inoa semi perm colours and the ginger toffee colour is starting to fade out but its still a warm ginger colour. The whole effect is not what i wanted. The hairdrsser ofered to fix it by bealch shampooing it and then toning it. I dont want to go back to her unless i have a definite plan for her to follow. What woudl i be best to do at this stage. I hate the ginger with the white foils and the silver roots at the front and the rest of my natural colour appearing at the back of my head. My hair has naturally gone silver from front to back - so i am full silver at the front and salt and pepper at the back. I shoudl never have let her touch my natural silvery/ grey/dark hair with any colour. How do get my own natural coulour back. I do not mind using blonde highlights dispersed throughout the hair as a temporary measure to allow my own natural hair to grow out. But my hairdresser tells me because she put warm brown ( the toffee colour ) in my hair , that any bleach will grab onto it and make my hair tend towards orange or brass or yellow even - and she will have to correct it. I don't do ash very well as this makes my hair go khaki and my skin tone looks muddy if i use ash blonde. I am a blue eyed, fair skinned with redness and freckles and have a slight yellow tone to my skin with a bluey green vein. I have east european blood plus french and irish - so i am a weird mixture and i burn easily. In the past 20 years i have used straight out creamy blondes and a no 5 for lowlights and this has worked well while i was going gray. I always used to use violet / purple toning shampoo to keep out the brassiness and make my hair more silver toned. What do i do now with all this awful ginger and white mess ?? thanks so much and i am looking forward to your reply!

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      Carolyn 17 months ago

      Hi there! I just have a quick question on which color dye and tone to use. I have been colouring my hair with a light golden brown colour. My natural hair colour is a dark brown maybe a 5 with some grey and natural mahogany tones. My hair has always pulled mostly copper colours when I choose anything with gold in it. I would like to lighten my medium golden copper brown to a more neutral shade of beige or honey brown, (I love chestnut but would love to go slightly lighter and more neutral as my base colour. Then I would like to do lighter neutral honey highlights.

      I had dyed my hair once or twice a darker brown which has remained that way ever since and my roots and crown areas are lighter due to the grey in my hair and using a lighter dye. Would a bleach bath or full bleach to lighten my ends work best to achieve an overall lighter brown? I sort of want a light brown with lighter honey highlights to go a sort of brondish colour. If i want to achieve neutral after bleaching to orange/gold. Should I go with a neutral beige blonde to tone? or Ash? Thanks a bunch!

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      Carolyn 17 months ago

      I should mention I would like to achieve and maintain my golden brown base colour without bleach?? As I have gray anyways would like to not have to bleach and tone my roots all the time. Just concentrate on refreshing my highlights or graduating to a balayage. Thanks again!

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      Buxtiggityton 11 months ago

      I have salt and pepper hair. My salt is almost white. I wanted a more silvery color so I used Wella T18 with a 10 volume peroxide. My salt came out great but my pepper lightened up to a light reddish brown. I guess I thought my pepper was black but I guess it was a dark brown. Anyway, I thought that toners didn't lighten dark hair but it lightened mine. I like that it lightened it since I would like to have all my hair a silvery grey and it's taking forever to go all grey. Do you have any suggestions on what I can do to make my pepper, now a light brown, silvery grey like the rest of my hair? I love all your articles and can't stop reading them! Lol. You are great!

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      Maffew James 11 months ago

      Hi Buxtiggityton,

      The Wella T18 lightened because it is permanent dye and uses developer. Any dye that uses peroxide developer can result in lightening because it is the peroxide that causes this.

      To get your hair all that silvery grey colour, you would need to lighten it a lot further. To give you some context to the amount of lightening required, light brown is a level 5 and hair starts to look grey (when adequately toned) at level 8, becoming progressively more silvery towards level 9, and finally to a very pale silver shade of white once it reaches level 10. You're looking at 3 - 4 levels of lift before it all looks the way you want, after which you'd need to tone it to get it to look silver because the hair that was darker will be yellow at this point due to the base tone being revealed.

      One way to do this is to bleach it, and this should only take one process using 20 vol, assuming you haven't applied any dark dyes to your hair in the past which would decrease the lightening. Another method is to bleach bath it, as described in this article. This won't lift as quickly and is more likely to take 2 processes because a bleach bath is weaker.

      Rather than bleach all your hair, you can also highlight it to achieve a similar effect. When hair is highlighted it will look lighter even though not all of the hair has actually been lightened because it affects the overall level and tone. This is a good method to avoid some of the damage and keep more of a natural look as you gradually transition to being fully grey. It will soften the salt and pepper look but won't completely get rid of it because there will still be darker hair dispersed throughout, so it is a bit of a trade-off in that regard. Again, you would also need to tone to produce the silvery grey colour you want as the hair that has been highlighted will look yellow and will cause the overall colour to look warmer as a result unless toned.

      As for the toning itself, you may find that a good silver shampoo is adequate for this, especially if you decide to highlight. Otherwise you can use a dye like the Wella T18 for this purpose and then maintain the colour with silver shampoo.

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      Buxtiggityton 11 months ago

      Thank you so much for your answer! I was thinking of doing the bleach bath a couple of times, waiting a week before doing the second bleach bath. I was wondering if the bath would do anything to my already white hair. I was also wondering if I should use a blue/violet toning shampoo because the light brown part of my hair has a slight reddish tone to it. I'm not trying to get the brown part to the white stage, I just want it lighter. I really like the way the Wella T18 lightened it. It blends in better with my white/silver part. Once again thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, you are wonderful!

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      Brittany 10 months ago

      Hi, I had bleached hair and a few years ago went red (ion color brilliance permanent) after my twins were born I went back to bleached cause it's so much easier to maintain. I bleached it twice and it obviously was a bit uneven all over, then I waited too long to do my regrowth so I had an uneven band there. I colored just my bangs and under cut pink (semi). The pink was finally faded enough to lighten so I rebleached my whole head hoping to even out the color and get the pink out. It lightened nicely to white in most places (which is what I'm going for) and evened it out a bit but where the pink was and some spots in the middle of my length sill have some yellow. It's light enough that I thought my purple shampoo would pull it out but it's not getting the yellow out and it's making the white parts grey which is making it more uneven looking. I use ion bleach powder and ion 30vol developer with shimmer lights purple shampoo. Would a bleach bath be best to get the last bits of yellow out our should I do straight bleach, and should I apply to just the yellow spots or all over? Also would a purple protein filler added to the bleach mixture be beneficial?

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      Evelin Higuita 10 months ago

      I have dyed my hair tips for the first time in a salon and then the dye started to leave and it was like an orange so i started to dye it on my own. i have stopped recently and let all the dyes come off and it just looks like i have bleached it. I found that a bleach wash would help me get my natural hair color back. If i get it done in a salon how long does it last? Will my hair still be normal like soft? I have to get a hairstyle done also so should i do the bleach wash a few days or weeks before or would it be okay to get them done both?

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      Brittany 8 months ago

      i started a bleach wash and then read that you were suppost to wet your hair first ... i did a bleach wash on dry hair!!! is my hair going to be okay???

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      Maggie 7 months ago

      Hi! I've dyed my hair for years, but haven't dyed it in about 4 months. I want to lighten my brown hair to a light ash brown. I figured I would do a bleach bath, and then dye my hair using Wella Light Ash Brown and a 20 volume developer. Is this the right way to slightly lighten? Do I have to worry about hot roots? I am in need of some gray coverage. Does this impact my lightening process? Please help!

      Thanks so much!

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      HeddaLettuce 7 months ago

      I do love the simplicity of this artcle and the ongoing feedback. It saved me at a time when I could not afford a professional and set me on a path to self-done-at-home hair susperstardom :p It's important to know I only bleach bath Octoberish to March as I live near a beach and such is my method of maintenance in the offseason -

      It cleans the slate, but bleach is bleach. Compounding matters, the city water went from a very silky soft to hard as nails after a recent municipal overhaul. Yay.

      To protect my ends, does slathering coconut oil on them really work?- I tried it once and could not tell a difference, and I have also read its low flash point makes it bad for hair - Otherwise, what do you suggest one does to protect these delicate parts that are gentrified bleachers? Vasoline? I use straight slathered-on, roots to end Pantene or Dove conditioners before hitting the surf and directly after toweling off (they're cheap and I won't cry over a glob hitting the sand) - What's a good bleach bath protector and a good between-jobs conditioner for hard water?

      Thanks!

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      dfgmavis 6 months ago

      I've a balanage colour, which I then put Superdrug's 'temporary' turquoise Colour Freedom on - 3 months ago. It's not very temporary & I still have it. I've tried Vit C & Head & Shoulders multiple times which lightens it but doesn't remove it.

      Half my hair is virgin (which still has a green tint to it now) and the other half is pale green turquoise. I really want to strip out the colour without having to bleach my whole head.

      Would a bleach bath work? And if I bath bleach the virgin hair, how much will it lighten it?

      My hairdresser thinks a cleanse at the salon will get rid of the blue, but everything I've read says it won't. And my hairdresser is an hour away from me and I'm working 24/7 atm so don't have time to go there anyway - hence looking for home solutions because my hair looks awful atm!

      Thank you!

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      FS 5 months ago

      Is it ok to still use a toner after a bleach bath. I was planning to do a big chop from next month and as it grows, I will like to lighten my hair gradually like a shade lighter every month or 2 to look sort of like ombre but softer. Should I use a toner after every process or do I just leave it that way. Thanks

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      blueruby 5 months ago

      I'm hoping to bleach virgin roots (level 5) and do a bleach bath on already bleached hair (level 9) to bring everything to a level 10. Any suggestions on the process/timelines?

      Thanks!

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      Courtney 4 months ago

      Hi I need help or clarification. I currently have permanent red dye coloured hair from a medium blonde natural colour. I know want to remove the red and go to a golden blonde colour. I have researched the bleach bath but my question is should I first try a box colour remover first before the bleach bath to get the best result? Also after the bleach bath can I apply a box Ash Blonde permanent colour to act as a base colour? or do I need to wash my hair after the bleach bath with a purple shampoo to neutralise and orange,copper or ginger tones before I use the Box Ash Blonde Permanent colour??

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      Courtney66 4 months ago

      Hi I currently have been using a red permanent hair colour for several months on my medium to dark blonde hair and now want to try a golden blonde colour. I would like to know if I have to purchase a box colour remover first before going to the bleach bath for the best result to remove the red? Also after I have removed the red with the bleach bath do I need to use a purple shampoo to remove any orange, copper or ginger tones first or can I apply a box Ash Blonde colour straight after?

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      Louise flynn 3 months ago

      Hi

      If I use a 40 vol peroxide cream with a permanent light copper dye to dark brown hair ,will it lift it 4 shade lighter or is it best to do a bleach bath first ?

      Thanks

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      MollyV93 3 months ago

      I bleached my hair 3 weeks ago, hoping to achieve white blonde hair. My hair is naturally dark brown and I had not dyed my hair for about 2 years, getting regular trims every 6-8 weeks so my hair had grown a lot and was in great condition. The virgin hair dyed the perfect shade of platinum blonde from roots to mid ends. However, the mid-ends of my hair had banding and was a yellow blonde, toning my hair did not resolve this 2 toned colour look completely but made it a little better. I got fed up with this and went to Superdrugs and got a Graphite Grey hair dye. My roots dyed very dark shade of grey and then a slight purple shade and then a grey shade to ends. This was only meant to be a temp fix until my hair recovered a little so I can bleach it again? I now want to remove this colour and go back to the blonde I had after bleaching, please could you advise me on what to do? Shall I strip my hair? Bleach bath it? Bleach it? I want to achieve the white blonde then use a silver toner so I am left with silver/white shade. My hair is still in an OK condition however, I do not want to be bald or have to cut a load of my hair off. I have been using oil treatments and Aussies leave-in sprays and only washing my hair once a week. But i feel like this has been going on for far to long now, I just want the perfect shade of silver/white hair. Please help me :-)

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      Pumpkin 3 months ago

      After using the color remover oops on my steel, purple and blue turned blueish green hair that I had cover brown ( unsuccessfully because the green is still there) I now have dark blonde and green. I tried clarifying shampoo and baking soda but no difference. My salon said bleach was my only solution. I had a few inches cut off today and now my hair is healthier and well conditioned. What developer would be best to mix with bleach? I intend on dying blonde after, happy with any shade of blonde (naturally dirty blonde but have had all shades over the years ☺)

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      Jessica johnson 3 months ago

      Hi, I just started the process of bleaching my dark brown hair. I have colored my hair many times but never full on bleach. So my first session was with 40 volume and it lightened pretty well. I was left with some yellow but mostly orange brass! I bleached again with 30 volume and got pale yellows, white and still some orange. I did toner after each application. I decide to use a medium blonde dye(neutral base) to try and even things out and darken up a tad. Well it is more like a light brown/ dark blonde! I didn't want it that dark! I am thinking of doing a bleach bath. Will this give me the color I had before the dye?

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      Miff 2 months ago

      I have fine highly bleach foiled hair and hairdresser used demi to tone its gone a horrible dark ash beige can I bleach bath with wella blondor with 10vol?

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      Zenobia 2 weeks ago

      Thank you for the help.

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