Bleaching your hair is a great way to go from drab to fab, but it can also be an incredibly damaging process. If your heart’s set on a whole new you and you need to bleach your hair to get there, what can you do? Bleach bath hair could be the answer.
Whether you want to correct color and tone your hair, strip out some old hair dye or you just want a clean canvas, ready for a brand new do, here’s everything you need to know to get a bleach wash right – first time -at home.
- 1 What is a bleach bath for hair?
- 2 Bleach bath
- 3 Full strength bleach
- 4 When should I do a bleach bath?
- 4.1 Reason #1: You need to lighten your hair by one or two shades.
- 4.2 Reason #2: You want to even out your hair tone.
- 4.3 Reason #3: You want to remove leftover semi-permanent or permanent hair dye color.
- 4.4 Reason #4: You want to color-correct blonde or bleached hair.
- 4.5 Reason #5: Your hair is too damaged to be able to go through direct bleaching.
- 5 How to bleach bath hair – What you’ll need:
- 6 How to make a bleach bath for hair – The recipe
- 7 Set the scene: How to prepare.
- 8 How to bleach bath hair at home.
- 9 Bleach bath for hair before and after.
- 10 TOP TIPS!
- 11 Watch and learn: How the professionals do it.
- 12 How to bleach bath hair to remove color.
- 13 Bleach bath hair FAQS
- 14 Will a bleach bath lighten my hair?
- 15 Is a bleach bath safe for my hair?
- 16 How many levels will it lift?
- 17 Do I need regular bleach or a bleach bath?
- 18 Can a bleach bath lighten dark hair?
- 19 Is better for your hair than regular bleach?
- 20 What do you mix in a bleach bath for hair?
- 21 Should I bleach bath on wet or dry hair?
- 22 Will a bleach bath fix orange or yellow hair?
- 23 Can I mix bleach with purple shampoo?
- 24 Can a bleach bath fix over-toned hair?
- 25 Is it easy to do at home?
- 26 Can I dye my hair after a bleach bath?
- 27 Bleach bath hair pros and cons.
- 28 How do I care for my bleached hair?
- 29 Parting words.
What is a bleach bath for hair?
A bleach wash or bleaching shampoo is a type of hair treatment that involves soaking your hair in hair diluted bleach to strip the color from your hair strands.
This technique uses color-stripping hydrogen peroxide mixed with shampoo in order to get your hair lighter than its original color, without having an actual bleaching process done at a salon.
Bleach bathing is great way to remove unwanted hair color from your strands without damaging your hair too much. It’s kinder to your hair as the bleach is diluted with shampoo and water.
It’s not as strong a process as regular bleach. So if you have dark or stubborn hair dye pigments to remove, this might not work for you.
A bleach bath is more for removing leftover dye or getting rid of any unwanted tones.
So if you want to remove dye from your hair or simply go one shade lighter, a bleach process like this is one of the most gentle ways to do it.
And best of all- it’s easy to do a bleach bath yourself at home!
Bleach bath vs Regular bleach
- Only lifts your hair 1-2 levels.
- It’s applied to wet hair like normal shampoo, leave on for 5 minutes – rinse and done!
- It’s kinder to your hair.
- It’s easy to do with no experience at home.
Full strength bleach
Bleach bath vs Regular bleach
- Used to remove all dye from your hair strands.
- Is an aggressive substance that’s harsh and damaging for your hair.
- Works well on dark colors.
- The bleaching process takes longer.
When should I do a bleach bath?
It can be tricky to work out whether you need traditional bleach or a bleach bath. Here are some of the reasons why you might want to consider a bleach bath for your hair:
Reason #1: You need to lighten your hair by one or two shades.
If you’re looking for a subtle lift in color, rather than an obvious change, then a bleach bath may be just what you need.
It will take you up a notch without harsh chemicals or too much damage to your hair.
Reason #2: You want to even out your hair tone.
We all know fading can happen over time due to washing, styling and those color zapping sun’s UV rays – ultimately resulting in patchy areas on different parts of your head.
A bleach bath is an effective way of evening out those tones without having to re-bleach it all over again.
Reason #3: You want to remove leftover semi-permanent or permanent hair dye color.
If you’ve recently dyed your hair with semi-permanent or permanent dye and want to get rid of the remaining tints, this is a great option as it will strip away any traces of unwanted color without damaging your locks.
Reason #4: You want to color-correct blonde or bleached hair.
Bleach baths are also great for toning down overly bright blonde tones that can sometimes look almost brassy or yellowish on certain skin types.
Reason #5: Your hair is too damaged to be able to go through direct bleaching.
We all have days where our hair needs some TLC after being put through its paces with multiple coloring sessions and processes.
Before even considering another bleach job, try a bleach bath first!
It’s gentler on your locks and can still achieve a lightening effect without tugging at fragile strands.
How to bleach bath hair – What you’ll need:
- Tint brush
- Hair lightener/bleach hair kit
- Sulfate-free shampoo or clarifying shampoo
- Plastic gloves
- Mixing bowl
- Shower cap or cling wrap
- Wide tooth comb
- Conditioning after-treatment
- Full instructions
You’ll also need:
- An old towel to protect your clothes and surfaces
- Vaseline to apply to your ears and hairline to stop the bleach getting on your skin
- Some hair clips to hold back sections of your hair to apply the lotion more precisely.
And don’t forget to do a strand test before you start!
How to make a bleach bath for hair – The recipe
- Mix equal amounts of bleach powder and developer. Up to 50ml depending on the length of your hair.
- Next, add a gentle shampoo. Add enough to double the amount of liquid.
- Give it all a good stir to blend the ingredients together.
- You’re ready!
Set the scene: How to prepare.
Follow these steps for the best results for bleach bath hair:
1. Wash your hair with clarifying shampoo – this gets rid of any excess product that may block the bleaching process or interfere with the bleaching chemicals and stop them working on your strands.
2.Leave your hair wet. Don’t apply the bleach mixture to dry hair, it needs to be applied to wet strands. It’s called ‘bleach washing’ after all! If you have long hair, separate it into sections and secure with pins or claw clips.
Grip the section of hair that you wish to bleach at the top with a claw clip, then remove your grip from the mid-lengths and ends – leave these out of the way.
2.Apply Vaseline to your ears, nose, neck and eyebrows (literally everywhere!).
Bleach washing can burn your skin so Vaseline acts like a shield protecting your sensitive skin underneath!
3.Wear old clothes. And protective gloves. Bleach bathing can stain clothes so it’s a good idea to wear something you don’t mind getting ruined.
Dab Vaseline onto your clothes where the bleach will drip down (collar, cuffs etc) to prevent it from staining.
4.Do a patch test! Check for any allergic reactions to the bleach by doing a patch test on somewhere inconspicuous like the inside of your elbow or behind your ear.
5.Open some windows! The fumes from bleach can be toxic if inhaled so it’s a good idea to have some fresh air in the room.
How to bleach bath hair at home.
Step 1: Mix a solution of bleach and developer.
You’ll want to mix equal parts (1:1 ratios) of bleach powder and developer. Follow our bleach bath hair recipe above to get the bleach wash ratio right. Make up to 50ml depending on the length of your hair.
We recommend using a 10 volume developer for your first time if you are unsure which one will work best. Try and go one shade or two lighter than the color your hair is now to avoid your hair turning orange!
The higher these levels go the stronger they get, this means that there’s more peroxide in them! If you have very dark hair you’ll need 20 volume developer and up.
Use a mixing bowl and tinting brush to mix the bleach powder and developer together. This will help you apply the bleach mixture in your wet hair too.
Step 2: Add shampoo to the mix.
Next, add the shampoo to the bleach powder and developer mix.
When it comes to the amount of shampoo, add enough to make twice the amount of liquid. It’s more than a good blob.
Give it all a good stir to blend the ingredients together. You’re ready for some bleach bathing!
Step 3: Apply to damp hair
Unlike hair dye, this is not a solution to apply to dried hair. Bleach bath hair needs wet hair to take effect without being patchy.
Wet your hair with cold water and towel dry it to get the excess water off.
Cover all your surfaces and wrap a towel or hair stylists cape around your shoulders. Bleach will eat the color from everything it touches!
Taking a section at a time, apply the mixture from the bottom of your wet hair up using the tint brush and wide tooth comb.
Ensure each strand is saturated from root tip. At the roots, massage it into your hair as you would when you shampoo it.
Repeat the process until your whole head is covered.
Step 4: Leave to develop.
Clip your hair up to keep it from dripping or marking anything while it develops. You can also tuck it up into a shower cap or cling wrap.
Keep an eye on it! You don’t want leave the bleach in your hair too long as it will be too light and wash you out. For a guide to timings:
- For already light hair 7 – 10 minutes.
- For removing a dark permanent hair dye color 10-15 minutes, or 30 minutes maximum.
- If you have black hair and you’re using a 30-40 strength volume developer, this will act fast! Don’t let it process longer than 7-10 minutes on black hair.
Step 5: Rinse thoroughly
Rinse and wash your bleach bath hair really well under warm water when your hair has reached the lift you’re after.
Apply some deep conditioning love to help your hair begin to repair from the bleaching process.
It’s likely you’ll need to tone your lightened hair after a bleach wash as natural hair has orange or yellow tones in it.
You can repeat the process and bleach your hair again to get it lighter, but be careful that you don’t damage your hair.
Or you can dye your hair another color on top for the most fabulous results. This will give you a really good base for other color hair dyes.
And that’s how to do it!
Bleach bath for hair before and after.
- Use a clarifying shampoo to mix into your bleach wash, not a toning shampoo.
- Make sure you do an allergy test beforehand.
- Cover all of your surfaces really well before you start.
- Apply the formula in a well-ventilated room.
- Keep an eye on the development process – everybody’s hair is different and your hair may develop slower or faster than it says on the instructions.
- Condition your hair well afterwards if you’re not planning on dyeing it again straight away to avoid damaged hair strands.
Watch and learn: How the professionals do it.
Here’s a fab video that shows you how to do a bleach bath for hair, lighten and tone your hair step by step.
How to bleach bath hair to remove color.
If you’ve changed your mind about the hair color you previously chose, bleaching can be an easy way to lighten up your look without having to wait months for your hair dye to fade or grow out.
It may sound intimidating, but it’s actually not too hard.
All you need is a bleaching agent, like hydrogen peroxide, which can be found at any beauty supply store, some professional-grade developer, which you can get from a hairdresser or stylist and some sulfate-free shampoo to dilute and add to the mix.
Once you have your supplies, section off the hair you want to bleach and mix the bleaching powder and developer in equal parts into a bowl.
Add twice as much shampoo and give it a good stir.
Begin applying the formula at the ends of each section and work it up towards your roots and scalp.
When you’ve covered your whole head, leave the mixture on for anywhere between 15-30 minutes (depending on how light you want to go) before washing it out with cool water!
Finish off with conditioner and voila! Your hair should now be closer to its pre-colored state.
Bleach bath hair FAQS
Will a bleach bath lighten my hair?
Yes, a bleach wash process will lighten your hair, but maybe not as much as you might think.
It will only lift your hair by 1-2 levels. So it won’t give you the almost-white look you’re going for if you have black hair and are wanting to go platinum blonde. For that you may need the regular bleach process (a few times).
A bleach wash is a gentler, step by step process that removes unwanted color one shade at time and is a gradual way to lighten your hair.
So although it will lighten your hair more than lightening your hair naturally in the sun, for heavyweight color lifting, you’ll need full strength bleach and the regular bleach process.
Is a bleach bath safe for my hair?
While bleach baths can definitely be a great way to lighten and brighten up your hair, it is important to be safe about it.
If you don’t do it right, a bleach bath for hair can cause serious damage to both your scalp and hair.
To avoid any side effects, you should always follow instructions closely, use quality professional hair products, and monitor the time that the bleach is left in your hair.
Basically, if done right, a bleach bath is absolutely safe and can give you Instagram-worthy hair without putting it at risk; just make sure that you’re taking the appropriate steps!
How many levels will it lift?
Get it right and a bleach wash should lift your hair 1-2 levels. If you want more lift and lighter hair, or there are more stubborn color pigments to remove, you can use a stronger bleach.
WARNING: This is not household bleach we’re talking about! Hair bleach is specially formulated to take the color out of your hair without melting it off!
Because bleach bathing is a gentler process, it may leave your hair looking warmer with tones of orange.
If this happens, you’ll need to use a hair toner and leave it in for the right amount of time to correct that color.
Do I need regular bleach or a bleach bath?
If you want to…
- Remove hair dye
- Remove toner
- Lighten your hair
If you want to…
- Bleach dark hair
- Used to remove stubborn color
- Go bleach blonde or platinum
Can a bleach bath lighten dark hair?
Sure, you can use a bleach bath to lighten dark hair, but don’t expect miracles!
If we’re being totally real here, you won’t be able to transform jet black locks into a platinum blonde shade.
You might be lucky enough to lighten your dark tresses by one or two levels, but it might just end up turning orange instead.
If you want to go for the bleach bath route, use a stronger ratio of bleach to developer like 1:2.
Anything more than two levels and it’s time for the regular ol’ bleach process – just remember not to overdue it or else that can turn out tangerine too!
Is better for your hair than regular bleach?
Lightening your hair with any chemicals like bleach is damaging and an intensive process that can leave your hair feeling brittle and dry.
The bleach bath method uses equal parts bleach and developer to make a weaker strength of chemicals that are diluted with water. This means it’s not as damaging as using the full-on peroxide you’ll find in a regular bleaching process.
If you have a sensitive scalp or suffer from skin conditions like atopic dermatitis, a bleach bath is a gentler solution for your skin than using full bleach (although please seek advice before using strong chemicals on your skin).
So is this is really better for your hair?
Mainly, it will depend on what you’re trying to achieve and how much time you have in order to get there. So think about things like:
- What you want your hair to look like in the end
- How light you want it to be
- How dark your base color hair already is
- How often you plan on bleaching your hair
- How much time you have for upkeep between treatments.
And sometimes, a regular bleach process will really be what you want.
But generally, because the strength is watered down with this technique, it’s kinder to your hair.
What do you mix in a bleach bath for hair?
Bleach baths are fast becoming one of the most popular ways to lighten hair and are typically used to remove old color.
But what do you mix in a bleach bath recipe? What is the bleach bath ratio for hair?
The ingredients you’ll need for your bleach wash recipe are:
- Bleach powder
The shampoo is what makes this process a ‘bath’. It dilutes the strength to make it kinder for your hair.
Once you have the right ingredients, you’re ready to follow our step by step guide!
Should I bleach bath on wet or dry hair?
Applying bleach to hair can be tricky, but luckily, there’s a simple rule – bleach should always be applied to wet hair.
If you apply it to dried hair, the bleach won’t take as effectively, and you could end up with a much lighter or patchier result than you wanted.
So, if you’re feeling bleachy, grab a towel, wet your strands and get applying!
Will a bleach bath fix orange or yellow hair?
No, it will not fix orange or yellow hair. To remove unwanted tones from your hair you need to use a color correcting shampoo that is made for this specific purpose.
Unfortunately, the orange and yellow tones that show in blonde and blonde highlighted hair is often a result of your natural hair color and not something that can be easily removed.
BUT you can cover orange hair tone with other hair dye colors or tone your hair using glosses and toners.
You can also use purple shampoo to neutralize those unwanted tones, but not until the whole process is over!
Can I mix bleach with purple shampoo?
Purple shampoo is a must for keeping unwanted orange and brassy tones from happening in blonde hair.
You might think it’s a good idea to mix purple shampoo in your bleach wash to prevent any unwanted brassiness.
But you would be wrong my friend! What happens is the peroxide will eat the purple pigment and dilute the color so it will have no effect whatsoever.
So it’s best to wait until after you’ve finished the treatment to tone your hair with purple shampoo.
Can a bleach bath fix over-toned hair?
Yes! A bleach bath for hair can be used to strip out unwanted color if your hair is too dark or has absorbed too much hair dye.
If you’re wanting to remove color rather than lighten your hair, just leave the bleach wash in for a shorter amount of time to lightly strip the unwanted pigments.
A bleach bath also works particularly well for removing traces of direct dyes like semi-permanent dye.
Is it easy to do at home?
It is totally possible to a bleach bath in your own home with the right instructions, tools and confidence!
The bleach bath formula starts oxidizing the moment you mix it and will start in working on your hair the moment you apply it, so you must be confident enough at dyeing your own hair to apply it quickly.
Otherwise, you might end up with one side of your hair lighter than the other!
This and knowing the right strength of developer you need to mix in with your water or shampoo is the key to getting a bleach bath right at home.
Just follow our step-by-step instructions to get it right first time!
Can I dye my hair after a bleach bath?
You can dye your hair after a bleach wash for sure. In fact, doing this is a great way to strip out old hair color to create a clean base for a new one.
If your hair feels particularly dry or damaged afterwards, you could wait a few days in between colorings to give your hair some time to recover.
If you’re planning to dye it again another color straight away, don’t apply conditioner after rinsing out the bleach bath solution as it can act as a barrier to the new color.
Bleach bath hair pros and cons.
- It’s an effective way to strip out old and faded color.
- It can give you a lighter hair base with which to dye your hair pastel and brighter shades, or hues that are lighter than your natural color.
- It’s not as harsh as pure processing treatments.
- It’s still a drying process that will leave your hair feeling frazzled.
- It may not lift your hair as many levels as you were hoping.
- You will be left with brassy, orange or yellow tinge after the process so will need additional toning or coloring.
- The texture and porosity of your hair can get damaged and your bleached hair might not take hair dye color as easily.
How do I care for my bleached hair?
For many people, this is a fabulous way of giving their hair bright and beautiful color.
The downside is that bleach bathing can be damaging to your hair if left in for too long or without proper care afterwards.
The side effects of doing it on an ongoing basis are dryness, breakage, fragile hair and other forms of damaged hair that can make your scalp itchy.
Luckily, there are a few ways to restore lost moisture and get your bleached hair soft and silky again.
After you’ve stripped your color and achieved a fabulous blonde look you love, you’ll want to use deep conditioning treatments or a hair mask regularly and repair your hair bonds.
Use both deep conditioner and leave-in conditioner – and avoid a lot of heat styling if you can.
Bleached hair will be fragile and more prone to breakage and split ends for a couple of weeks.
Use a shampoo and conditioner for bleached hair that will help to replenish and restore your hair shafts.
When you do heat style, use a heat protectant every time like the ones in Best hair heat protection sprays your colored hair can’t live without.
You’ll also need to use specially formulated silver and purple shampoos and conditioners to keep your bleached hair in tip-top condition.
Follow these bleach hair tips and tricks and you’ll keep your hair happy and healthy.
As you can see, there are a lot of things to consider when it comes to bleaching your hair.
The most important thing is that if you’re going for lighter color or want your natural shade back, make sure to take care of the strands! Treat them as delicately as possible and avoid over-processing.
If in any doubt, always speak to your hair stylist. They’ll be able to advise on what’s best for you based on the color and condition of your hair now. Good luck!