How to Bleach Your Hair Blonde—The Step-by-Step Guide
Learn How to Bleach Your Own Hair Blonde at Home
Have you always dreamed of having beautiful blonde hair, but balked at the thought of paying a couple hundred dollars a month at an overpriced salon in order to maintain it? Or have you ever told your hairstylist that you wanted your hair really blonde—not just a weave, but all-over color? Let me guess, she looked at you as though you were crazy and told you she would not do it because it would fry your hair off? Yeah, right—I am revealing the truth to wannabe blondes. What salons charge $300 for costs them less than $10. Since you are not buying the supplies in the same quantities as a salon, it will cost you a little more to do it at home, but you can still become a blonde for less than $40.
You may be skeptical. You might be wondering if the bleach will turn your hair orange if you have dark brown, red, or black hair. Or will the harsh bleach fry your hair off?
I, too, was once a victim of overpriced salons, struggling to keep up with my blonde locks. I used to dye my hair blonde and get a weave every month—the lady that used to do my hair always left a bit of the roots still showing, so I had to go in more frequently. Ugh! I eventually got tired of paying so much money and dyed my hair a soft black so I wouldn't have to worry about the roots again. Well, about a week later, I couldn't stand not being a blonde anymore. I missed it so much. So I finally decided to go to my local beauty supply store and purchase what I needed to do my hair myself.
I had done a bit of Internet research to get started, and even then, I did not feel as though I magically knew exactly which products to buy. I felt like I was taking a chance, and, trust me, I was scared. My hair is naturally a dark brown, and I have dyed it in the past, so not only did I have to drastically bleach the roots, I also had to strip the color. So I couldn't believe how simple the entire process was! My hair turned out beautiful—the blonde I had always wanted, but could never have. After successfully bleaching my own, I bleached my twin sister's hair, as well as that of a couple friends from work. They loved it too! People are always shocked when I tell them I do my own hair. Now, I want to share my knowledge with all of you.
Before You Get Started—The Supplies and Precautions You Need to Bleach Your Hair Safely
While bleaching your own hair is easy, you need to do your homework: you'd better know what you're doing before you begin!
Please read these instructions carefully and thoroughly at least twice. If you skim through this article, you may miss some instructions which are crucial to your hair turning out healthy and the way you imagined.
Right off of the bat, you should know that purchasing all of the bleaching supplies will cost roughly $40—less, if you choose to go with cheaper brands! This does not include the after-care supplies I recommend at the end of this article. After-care products aren't needed to achieve blonde hair, but they do help maintain beautiful, healthy hair.
The Supplies You Need to Bleach and Tone Your Own Hair
The first thing you should get is a Sally's Beauty Club Card. It is only five dollars and will pay for itself the first time you use it. I save so much money with my Beauty Club Card.
After that, here are the supplies you will need:
- L'Oreal Quick Blue High Performance Powder Lightener—I would recommend buying the tub, which is one pound (equivalent to 16 bleach packets). The tub only costs $24.99, and with your Beauty Club Card, it is $19.99, which is an awesome deal. Quick Blue is also sold in individual-use packets, but those are usually $4.99 each, and almost everyone will need two packets, if not more. For people with long hair, that's $15 or more for bleach alone each time you dye your hair, which really adds up! So unless you plan on bleaching your hair only one time, the one-pound tub is the more economical choice.
- 30-Volume Creme Developer—Developer comes in different strengths and consistencies. For this, you will need the 30-volume creme developer (the brand I use is Salon Care Professional). For a regular blonde, this is all you will need, but if you are going to go platinum, you will have to buy both the 30-volume creme developer and the 20-volume creme developer.
If you also choose to use Salon Care Professional and want to be smart with your money, you will want to get the 32 oz bottle for $5.89 unless you're only dyeing your hair once. It also comes in a smaller size, but keep in mind that you have to use the developer for both the bleach and the toner. Sometimes there are also half gallons that go on sale, so if you see a good deal, grab it!
- Purple shampoo—You will need this while dyeing your hair and for after-care. This shampoo is vital for keeping your blonde hair bright and beautiful. It also helps to take out any extra redness or yellowness in your bleached hair.
There are three different brands available that I know of and have used: Shimmer Lights, One 'n Only Shiny Silver Ultra, and Generic Value Products conditioning purple shampoo. For the price the Generic Value purple shampoo is the best deal. It has the same ingredients and works exactly the same. You can't tell the difference between brands—purple shampoo is purple shampoo! Just a small warning, I have tried the Shiny Silver conditioner and it sucks. Don't buy it! One last thing about purple shampoo: Do not use it everyday, as it can be harsh on your hair. Rotate purple shampoo with your normal daily shampoo, using it every other wash.
Wella Color Charm Toner—If you have long or thick hair, you will need to buy two boxes. For a normal blonde, get the toner (be careful—they have hair color too) in Ivory Lady.
If you want a silvery, platinum-blonde color, buy the White Lady instead. Be careful—later, when I give the instructions for how to tone your hair, I will say to leave it on for 40 minutes. If you get the White Lady, only leave it on for 15 minutes at maximum. Otherwise, your hair will turn completely silver, and you will look like an old hag ☺. As noted above, if you decide to go with the White Lady, you will need to buy a bottle of Salon Care Professional 20 volume developer in addition to the 30 volume. That's the only downside of going platinum.
- Ardell Red Gold Corrector Plus—If you have thin/fine/short/medium-short hair, you will need to buy one tube of Ardell Red Gold Corrector Plus (it comes in purple 0.125 packets or tubes for less than a dollar each). If you have thick/coarse/long/medium-long hair, you will need to buy two tubes.
- Ion Effective Care Intensive Therapy Packet—Lastly, you will need an Ion Effective Care Intensive Therapy Packet. You can sometimes find one ounce packets on sale for as low as $0.99—otherwise, larger bottles are often the more cost-effective option.
- Gloves, mixing bowl, hair clips, and hair color brushes—You may already have many of these products lying around at home. What brand you have does not matter, as long as you have them on hand.
- Color stripper—If your hair is already dyed, as mine was, you will need a color stripper. The brand I prefer is called Jheri Redding One 'n Only Colorfix, which is a permanent-hair-color remover. It will work regardless of how long the color has been on your hair and costs about $17.50.
Once you have the necessary supplies, let's begin!
Bleaching Your Hair Blonde Step-by-Step
If you already have colored hair, you will need to strip it. I stripped the black from my hair. Then I bleached my hair once, then toned it. Bleaching is the worst part of going blonde, and if your hair is already agitated from stripping the color, then bleaching it more than once will be too harsh. After bleaching my hair, I waited about a week to give my hair a break. Then, I completely bleached and toned my hair one more time, resulting in a light blonde. If you are happy with the blonde that you achieve the first time, then just stick with that—you don't have to bleach it again.
If you have your natural hair color, you do not need to strip you hair color first. You will be able to bleach it twice, then tone it.
What exactly is toning? When you are finished with the first bleaching, your hair will become light yellow. A toner will change that yellow color into a nice, natural-looking blonde.
Now, if you're a skeptic who thinks your hair is going to fall out if you bleach it, you're wrong! If you follow my directions that are very clearly laid out for you step by step, then you will be fine. I was born with thin hair. I'm not exaggerating—it is really bad. If I try to put it in a low ponytail, it looks like a frickin' skinny rope of blonde hair dangling from my head. Again, this is not from bleaching; it's always been that way. Gotta love genetics! So if my hair doesn't fall out (and I've been doing this for quite a while), then yours definitely will not. Seriously, you have nothing to be worried about! The hairstylists just try to scare you so that you won't do your hair yourself; that way, they can continue to make money off of you. Makes sense, right?
I promise it will look great! I've turned black and dark-brown hair platinum blonde, and if I can do it, you can!
Now that I have hopefully steered you in the right direction and taken away any fears about bleaching your hair, I will explain step by step how to become a bangin' blondie!
How to Strip the Color from Already-Dyed Hair before Bleaching It
As mentioned before, if you already have dye in your hair, you will need to remove it before you bleach. There are various color strippers, and you will want to follow the directions for whatever color stripper you buy. Here are a few tips for the process:
- Make sure your hair is clean and dry before you begin.
- Wear gloves to protect your hands while applying the color stripper.
- Expect the process to last about 45 minutes—you will have the stripper in your hair for about 20 minutes, and then will need to wash and dry it. Use a hair dryer on low while the stripper is in your hair in order to speed up the process.
- When you are finished, your hair is going to be as orange as the girl from The Fifth Element. But don't freak out, it won't stay that way for long.
- Some people will say that you should spread out the process of stripping, bleaching, and toning your hair weeks apart because the process is too harsh. Well if you ask me that is B.S., and my hair is just fine!
How To Bleach Your Hair
Ready to bleach? Here we go!
Step 1: Mix Your Bleach
Make sure your hair is thoroughly dry. Then mix your bleach with your 30-volume developer. The ratio of bleach to developer is usually 1:1, but if you got a bleach other than Quick Blue, it's a good idea to check the instructions. Some instructions will tell you to use a bleach-to-developer ratio of 1:2, but I like to use a higher concentration of bleach powder because it results in blonder hair.
As I said, I use the bucket of Quick Blue, and I just start by adding a single scoop to my mixing bowl. Then, I take my 30-volume creme developer and add it until the mixture looks like it is half developer and half bleach. Eyeballing the amount of developer is fine—it doesn't have to be a perfect measurement, though you shouldn't be way off. When you have added the two products to your mixing bowl, stir well. You can mix more as needed.
Step 2: Apply the Bleach with Your Hair Color Brush
Clip your hair up into sections. Then, take down each section one by one starting in the back of your head and working forward and apply the bleach. At first, only apply bleach to the length of your hair, and leave the inch closest to your roots and closest to the ends. The roots will lighten the fastest, and the ends are easily damaged, so you will want to apply the bleach to them last. Once you have gotten the middle lengths of your hair, go back and get your roots and ends. Make sure you do not miss any spots, because if you do, it really sucks to fix them!
The amount of time you will let the bleach sit depends on your hair color. If you have a darker color it will take longer, and a lighter color will be faster. My rule of thumb is always to let it sit for at least 30 minutes (which is still cutting it a little short) but no more than 60 minutes because your hair will fry. Most people will leave it for 40-45 minutes. If you think your hair is done, you can take a damp towel and wipe off the bleach in one section close to your forehead. If this section looks done then that would mean the rest of your hair is also because you started in the back. Keep in mind that the white, creamy color of the bleach will make your hair appear to be a lot lighter than it will be when you rinse it off, so don't do it too soon. Be patient ☺. Be aware that the bleach doesn't feel very good. It might burn a little, especially if your hair is clean. Don't be alarmed, your scalp is not dissolving in acid! I'm kidding—it's not that intense, and it doesn't hurt. I just want to warn you that it is not delightful!
Step 3: Rinse out the Bleach with Purple Shampoo
Rinse your hair until the water runs clear. Then wash with the purple shampoo—be sure to rinse it out thoroughly.
Step 4: Thoroughly Blow Dry Your Hair
Blow dry your hair, then let it rest a bit. Your hair will be a yellowy orange. Now you know—next time you see someone walking down the street with yellow hair you can say, "Look! She didn't bleach her hair twice!"
If your hair is already a nice lightness, you can skip step 5 and go straight to step 6 to get the yellow out.
Step 5: Bleach Again
To avoid yellow hair: We bleach again!
Now, if you stripped your hair color first, you're only bleaching once today! You knew that, right? Bleach is harsh, so we cannot strip, bleach twice, and tone in one day—bad idea. Wait one week before bleaching the second time.
If you are one of the people who didn't need to strip any color and started with the bleach, you are going to repeat the bleaching process again. This time, you will not need to leave it on much longer than 30 minutes. But be sure to still check it and don't rinse it out too soon.
After You Bleach Your Hair, It's Time to Tone It!
Now that the color strippers and non-color strippers are back on the same page, it is time to talk about toning.
Toning your hair is absolutely crucial. It gives your hair the pretty natural blonde color you want, instead of looking yellow and orange (A.K.A. fake and trashy—not what we want).
Step 6: Apply Toner
Depending on whether your hair is in the not-so-much or way-too-much hair category, you will have either bought one or two boxes of toner. It's your call, but remember it is better safe than sorry! It will not be fun if you run out halfway up your head, resulting in half-orange, half-blonde hair. (But if you do, there are always hats and hoodies!)
Toner for People with Fine, Thin Hair
For the one-box people: Empty the contents of the toner bottle into your mixing bowl. The toner is 1.42 oz, and, with toner, we always do one part toner to two parts developer. Therefore, if you wanted to be extremely precise, you would then need to add 2.84 oz of 30-volume developer. But it is easier to just add 3 oz. (It will be fine, trust me!) As I have said, the measurements never need to be exact, though you should be careful not to get them too far off.
For future platinum blondes using White Lady instead of Ivory Lady, use a 20-volume developer instead of the 30-volume.
Now, add one type of the Ardell Red Gold Corrector Plus. Stir the mixture thoroughly and get ready for action!
Toner for People with Thick, Long Hair
For the two-box people: Do the exact same thing as the one box people above, just double the amounts of the developer and the toner. Remember that the ratio should still be 2:1.
For future platinum blondes using White Lady instead of Ivory Lady, use a 20-volume developer instead of the 30-volume.
Then, add two tubes of your purple Ardell Red Gold Corrector Plus. Now you may stir your mixture thoroughly and get ready for action!
FAQ: My Mixing Bowl Has Milliliters, Not Ounces. What Should I Do?
A: Well, you can do one of two things.
1. Get a measuring cup, measure 3 oz of developer, and dump it in your mixing bowl.
2. Stop being so anal! Just kidding, but not really. This is how I do it: Add in the toner first and see how much your fancy schmancy professional mixing bowl says it is. Say, for example, the toner was 20 mL (which it's not). Then all you have to do is multiply: 20 * 2 = 40 mL. From there, 20 mL + 40 mL = 60 mL. Pour the developer until the mixture reaches the 60 mL mark.
All right, we are all on the same page again.
Step 6: Apply Toner
Apply the toner thoroughly with your gloves, saturating all of the hair on your head. Massage your scalp to make sure the toner gets to your roots!
Leave on for 40 minutes. (For future platinum blondes using White Lady instead of Silver Lady, leave it on for only 15 minutes.)
Step 7: Rinse, Shampoo, and Condition
Rinse well until water runs clear. Again, shampoo with your purple shampoo.
Next, you will deep condition with the Ion Effective Care Intensive Therapy packet. Leave it in for at least four minutes, then rinse.
Step 8: Blow Dry and Enjoy Being a Blonde
'Cause we really do have more fun!
I recommend a reconstructive or moisturizing treatment soon after hair bleaching for hydration and damage repair. Through trial and error, there are a few products that I love and recommend:
1. Millenia Mud
This stuff is truly amazing. It infuses hair with mineral complexes from volcanic residue and is blended with beneficial oils to help balance moisture and strengthen your hair. It also does not add weight to your hair! This stuff is my style because it is quick—you only have to leave it in for four minutes! Put it on right after you rinse your shampoo, and then, by the time you're finished with shower, it will already have been four minutes or more. And the best part is that it only costs approximately $6.50.
2. It's a Ten
Can you say baby soft hair? This 10-minute miracle hair mask is named It's a Ten because it does 10 things for your hair: detangles, restores moisture balance, instantly restores elasticity, softens, smooths, adds shine, enhances body, nourishes, de-frizzes, and improves color vibrancy—quite the list for just one jar. The directions on the back tell you to put it in your hair after shampooing, let it sit for three minutes, then rinse it out. What I found worked better for me is to massage a dime-sized amount into my hair after I towel dry it, which means I don't rinse it out. This method softens your hair better.
We don't like it in our food but we sure do love it in our hair (hah)! This is a hair conditioning cream. It works wonders for me because I back comb my hair quite often, which leaves tangles; after using Cholesterol my hair is soft and tangle free! Cholesterol treats and conditions dry, over-bleached, damaged hair. There are two different-sized tubs available. One is 80 oz, and the other is 15 oz. It is really inexpensive for such quality stuff! I would recommend just buying the 15 oz tub because I have had the same one for about four months, and it is only halfway gone. But if you feel like you will be deep conditioning your hair fairly often, get the 80 oz tub.
4. Pearatin Fortifying Repairative Serum
Add a dime-sized amount to your hair after it is toweled dry, and then add some more after it is blow dried! This product really helps my frizz and fly away hairs.
Added bonus: It has a color keeper complex, so you can hold on to your bleached blonde hair for longer!
5. Chi Silk Infusion
All of you probably have this product already or have at least heard about it. It is the bomb. It is a silk reconstructing complex and it makes your hair so shiny! Apply it after your hair is dry. Be careful not to add too much to your roots as it may cause your hair to look oily.
6. Moroccan Oil
The smell alone would make me buy it! There are no beauty supply stores or salons that carry it near my city, so I have to order it online. Amazon is where I always find the best price. This product is known for leaving your hair shiny without making it look oily. It also makes your hair incredibly soft and is good for your scalp! The price is generally around $45 for the oil serum.
I hope one of these products works out for you! Thanks for reading.
How to Bleach Your Hair
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.