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Top Nine Mistakes Made When Bleaching Hair at Home

I enjoy learning new things and sharing them through my writing. One of my favorite topics is natural health and beauty.

If you've opted to bleach at home rather than at the salon, be sure to avoid these nine rookie mistakes that many people make when they try to lighten their own hair.

If you've opted to bleach at home rather than at the salon, be sure to avoid these nine rookie mistakes that many people make when they try to lighten their own hair.

Mistakes Made When Bleaching Hair at Home

Nothing is worse than trying to lighten your hair at home and ending up with an orange or green mess that was once your beautiful hair. It happens all the time though, even to those with lots of experience in bleaching and coloring their hair at home. It is all too easy to make one little mistake—using chemicals to bleach your hair is serious business. Listed below are nine major and common home bleaching mistakes—you won't believe how simple some of these things seem, but as simple as they are, they are just as easy to forget or skip. Find out what these mistakes are so you can avoid a bleaching disaster.

  1. Getting started before you have what you need.
  2. Not reading the instructions.
  3. Skipping the test strand step.
  4. Bleaching your hair alone.
  5. Leaving the bleach on too long.
  6. Forgetting to deep condition.
  7. Bleaching hair that has already been bleached.
  8. Bleaching damaged or over-processed hair.
  9. Skipping the toner.
Make sure you have all of the supplies you need before you start the bleaching process.

Make sure you have all of the supplies you need before you start the bleaching process.

1. Getting Started Before You Have What You Need

This may seem silly and like it's not such a big deal, but it really is. Make sure you have all the supplies you will need before you get started. Create a checklist and make sure that you go over it a couple of times. This leaves less room for error and mistakes. You'll also save a ton of time since you won't be rushing back to the store or sending someone else.

What You Need

  • Rubber gloves
  • Old clothes/towels
  • Mixing bowl
  • Dye brush
  • Clips to section hair
  • Powder or cream bleach
  • Bond builder
  • Developer/peroxide (make sure you choose the correct volume)
  • Toner (blue if your hair is orange, purple if your hair is yellow)
  • Sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner
Read the instructions thoroughly every time you bleach your hair, even if you are using products you've used before.

Read the instructions thoroughly every time you bleach your hair, even if you are using products you've used before.

2. Not Reading the Instructions

Even if you have done this one hundred times, read the instructions. Every box kit is different and so are the instructions. If it is the same stuff you always use, you should still read the instructions because products do not always stay the same. Reading the instructions will help keep you from making any serious mistakes that will cause crazy accidents like orange hair or hair loss.

Don't forget to conduct a strand test to ensure your hair will react appropriately to the bleach.

Don't forget to conduct a strand test to ensure your hair will react appropriately to the bleach.

3. Skipping the Test Strand Step

This is so important! Do not skip the strand test. The strand test will prevent anything weird from happening to your hair. If it turns orange, you will know not to use bleach on your whole head. If you have an allergy to the chemicals in the bleach, you will prevent a serious reaction. A strand test has saved me quite a few times. It may seem like a simple, pointless precaution but it can really prevent the worst kinds of accidents.

What Does a Test Strand Do?

"It shows the integrity and health of the hair, as well as a hair history of what has been done to the hair," said Chris Byrne, Master Stylist and Salon Team Manager at Complexions Spa for Beauty and Wellness in Albany, N.Y.

Strand tests ensure hair will react properly to the bleach. They also give you a good idea of how long you'll have to leave the bleach on your hair to achieve the desired level of lift.

Friends can help you get all the spots on the back of your head that you might miss using just a mirror.

Friends can help you get all the spots on the back of your head that you might miss using just a mirror.

4. Bleaching Your Hair Alone

I know that not everyone will agree on this one but in my experience, I have found that it is easier to do anything to your hair when you have a friend helping you. Don't do it alone—you could miss some spots and that can be a little embarrassing, especially when you had no idea they were even there. Having someone else there to help or just to check for any spots you might have missed is really helpful. Trying to use a mirror or play it by feel can be truly tricky at times.


5. Leaving the Bleach on Too Long

Do not leave the bleach on longer than the instructions suggest, no matter what someone else says. Do not do it, even if it worked for their hair. You have a completely different head of hair and you are the one taking the risk. Leaving the bleach on longer than instructed could permanently damage your hair beyond repair and even burn your scalp.

So, How Long Do I Leave the Bleach on My Hair?

The amount of time you leave bleach on your hair depends on your current hair color, the color you are trying to achieve, and the texture and thickness of your hair. Make sure to check on hair every 10 minutes during the bleaching process to avoid over-processing.

According to Byrne, "Ideally, no lightener should ever be left on the hair longer than 30 to 40 minutes without any restructuring additives, such as Wellaplex, or similar products. The slow and steady wins the race, and the integrity of the hair must always be kept at utmost priority—even if it takes multiple highlights to achieve the lightness you’re going for."


6. Forgetting to Deep Condition

Always deep condition your hair the same day you bleach your hair. I have forgotten this step before and paid for it in the morning. My hair was almost impossible to brush through. It was so rough. I will never forget this step ever again.

Do not make the same mistake that I and many others have made. Deep condition your hair the same day, as this puts some of the nutrients back in your hair, making it more manageable and healthy.

Deep conditioning your hair in the weeks leading up to bleaching can also help to build up your hair's strength and mitigate damage caused by the bleaching process.

7. Bleaching Hair That Has Already Been Bleached

When your roots grow out just do a touch up on that area, not your whole head. If you go over your hair with beach again, you are just damaging it over and over again for no reason. Hair, no matter how strong it is, can only take so much before it is just completely toasted and fried. Hair that is over processed looks awful and feels awful, too.

Those with darker hair may have to bleach their hair several times to achieve the desired result. Wait several weeks between every bleach to avoid extensive damage to your hair.

There are also ways to lighten your hair naturally at home that don't involve the use of harsh chemicals.

Don't bleach over-processed hair unless you're willing to cut all of it off and start over from scratch.

Don't bleach over-processed hair unless you're willing to cut all of it off and start over from scratch.

8. Bleaching Damaged or Over-Processed Hair

If you think that your hair may be too damaged or weak to bleach, you may be right. Seek the opinion of a professional. They know what they are talking about and will be able to tell you if your hair is healthy or not. You can also perform a gummy test to measure the elasticity in your hair. If your hair looks like stretched gum when you pull it and will not retake its natural form, do not use any kind of chemicals on it.

The Solution

If you've already made the mistake of bleaching over-processed hair, it's time for damage control. Focus on pampering your hair. Quench your hair's thirst by indulging in leave-in or deep conditioners. Stop using hair straighteners, curling irons, blow dryers, and other heat-styling tools that can cause further damage to your locks.

"Sometimes we have to cut off some of the damage," Byrne said. "Sometimes a series of deep conditioning and hair rebuilding treatments will do the trick. At the end of the day, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of salon-quality products and treatments. Once the hair is hydrolyzed, or the alpha helix is damaged, there is really not much to be done to the hair besides cutting it and waiting for it to rebuild itself."

If you haven't yet bleached your hair, work on improving its overall health before bleaching it. Use deep-conditioning masks and coconut oil to nurture your hair back to life before using the harsh chemicals involved in the bleaching process. It's recommended that you wait a few months before bleaching on top of processed hair.


9. Skipping the Toner

This is a mistake frequently made by those adventurous enough to dye their hair at home. If your hair looks yellow or brassy, it is probably in need of a toner.

Orange hair should be bleached a little more but if it is a yellow or brassy color, move on to a toner. Do not skip the toner and bleach your hair again, as this won't really work. There are several other methods you can use to fix orange hair at home.

This is a really common mistake made all the time, especially by people who are inexperienced and new to bleaching and coloring their hair. Toner will counteract the yellow color, making the hair very light and even platinum blonde.

What Is Toner?

Toner is essential because it redeposits color on hair after it's stripped from the strands by the bleaching process. It does not, however, lift the shade of your hair.

Types of Toner

  • Purple hair dye should be used sparingly, as the redepositing of color can stain your bleached hair purple.
  • Ammonia-based toners are usually mixed with developer and can be harsh on bleached hair.
  • Purple shampoo is a gentler option that many blondes use to maintain the cool tones in their bleached hair.

How to Bleach Your Hair: A Helpful Video

Bleaching Hair

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2013 Brittanie Anne

I would love to hear what you think! Please leave a comment.

Pamela Ramos on August 19, 2020:

When can I bleach my hair again after you tone it ? I bleach my hair and tone it but it still was brassy so when as possible can I bleach my hair ?

maya abbey on August 05, 2020:

am ablack africa ican use dat methond thank you

Jordan on July 21, 2020:

My hair is a terrible orange how do i fix it?

skater girl on July 07, 2020:

how do I bleach only half of my hair

Abby Hale on July 01, 2020:

I had a horrid dark blue colour on my hair. I removed the colour with this stuff that smelt so nasty and then bleached my hair I’m waiting for a month because part of it is still the dark orange I started with under my black colour.

Blesched on May 15, 2020:

After my best friend's hair fell out I went to the salon and I ended up getting burns on my head so the beautician put seven up in the bleach and it actually works

Trish on April 17, 2020:

My natural color is dark and silver/white. I want to make my whole head silver/metallic. How long do I wait after bleaching to try it?

Kaylin on March 13, 2020:

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO WAIT WEEKS. I just bleached my hair for the second time in two weeks after not leaving it to develop for long enough on my length. DO NOT WASH your hair for as long as possible, wear a hat, put it in a bun, etc. the natural oils from your hair will rehydrate it and help protect your scalp from chemical burns. After bleaching, deep conditioner is ESSENTIAL. Get a hair mask, try argan oil and keratin to help with frizz and rehydration! Just take care of your hair, it’s much stronger than you think.

Jonay Arciniega on December 14, 2019:

Do not Buy Cheap Bleach if you have Dark Hair.

Cheap Bleach will not lift the dark color as good as the more pricer ones.

shyann on May 17, 2019:

yall need to know if it comes out brass it not a fail. that just natural. also toner wont stop ur hair from failing out neither will deep conditioning it. ur hair is already dead..the only thing that alive is what in the roots of ur scalp. i hate all the dam thing they have from ur hair u dont need all that just a vitamin. also dont use all that product in ur hair. n keep the bleach off ur scalp i bleached my hair 2 times b4 whole head. n had decent luck with it. also will be doing it again soon. since i have not touch the top part of my hair n years.

Hi on May 16, 2019:

Guys toner doesn’t make your hair not fall out it just fixes the brassy color did you read the article

sarah on May 12, 2019:

hey reather i bleached my hair and didnt use toner too but my hair is fine so dont worry. your hair wont fall out :)

Reather on May 10, 2019:

I bleached my hair, but didnt use a toner and scared my hair will fall out because i didnt. What to do?

Adrienne Farricelli on April 05, 2019:

These are all great suggestions. I am guilty for not doing the strand test. I did it once and then just got lazy and stopped doing it altogether.

Rachel Lambert on July 17, 2018:

Think suggesting leave several weeks between bleaching is ridiculous considering hair growth

Andrea Cerrato on September 05, 2017:

So I've been read touching my blonde roots with bleach for the past three years and I also been using bleach ever since I've been a teenager now in days I'm 23 and lately the past last two times I've read touched up my roots the web bleach I started getting hives on my palms And my face started turning red and swollen I started getting nauseous and it turns out I was getting an allergic reaction to bleach can someone please help me and tell me how I can continue being a Blanc without the bleach doing so much harm to me physically

Abby on June 08, 2017:

Wow I am thinking of bleaching my whole head platinum blonde, so I can dye it a dusty pink, but my sister had an accident when she was about my age, and some of her hair fell out, so I am definitly going to a hairdresser for this haha!

Albrecht on May 10, 2017:

Too many people forget the toning step. I cringe whenever anyone posts a bad review on a brand of bleach and it turns out to be someone who used it improperly and/or forgot to tone.

Virginia on January 12, 2017:

I just recently bleach my hair and it turn a light blue i think I forgot the toner the lady at sallies DIDNT tell me I needed that but give tryed almost everything inthe book to get the blue out if you can help please do my hair is black wanting to go blonde instead went blue not a happy camper

xxcccxxx from USA on October 13, 2014:

Toner! Now that one is definitely the key in all of this!

One other tip: ASK THE SALLY'S GIRLS! If you're going to do this at home, consult a Sally's worker on your toner! [They'll probably tell you never to do it at home, but they'll still point you in the right direction.]

Great article!

Liz on August 30, 2014:

Great How To video! Thank you!

Ana Maria Orantes from Miami Florida on April 23, 2013:

good advice brittannie

Karen Shiley from Washington on April 15, 2013:

Ah yes the toner is a very important step!