Top Nine Mistakes Made When Bleaching Hair at Home
Blonde Gone Wrong
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.
Avoid these nine common mistakes made when bleaching hair at home:
- Getting started before you have what you need.
- Not reading the instructions.
- Skipping the test strand step.
- Bleaching your hair alone.
- Leaving the bleach on too long.
- Forgetting to deep condition.
- Bleaching hair that has already been bleached.
- Bleaching damaged or over-processed hair.
- Skipping the toner.
Most experts do not recommend bleaching your hair at home. Having a professional dye your hair in a salon is always the safest option.
1. Getting Started Before You Have What You Need
This may seem silly and not like such a big deal, but it really is. Make sure you have all the supplies you will be needing 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 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
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.
3. Skipping the Test Strand Step
This is so important! Do not skip the strand test. The strand test will prevent anything weird happening to your hair. If it turns orange, you will know not to use the 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.
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 myself 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.
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.
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.
Tips for Avoiding Orange Hair
1. Don't forget to use toner.
2. Purple shampoo can cool down the tone of your hair.
3. Bleach hair again if it is healthy enough.