Bleach Bath Hair 101 | How To Do A Bleach Bath At Home.

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.

Bleach washing hair is trending all over TikTok right now with some weird and wonderful results!

This hair lightening technique is becoming increasingly popular, especially among those who want to achieve a lighter hair color without using harsh chemicals.

Whether you want to lighten your hair by one or two shades, correct color, even out your hair tone or strip out some leftover semi-permanent or permanent hair dye, here’s everything you need to know to get a bleach wash right – first time -at home.

Let’s go!

Bleach bath hair - how to do a bleach bath for hair infographic step by step with pictures

What is a Bleach Bath?

A bleach bath or bleach wash is a mixture of bleach, developer and shampoo.

Bleach bathing is gentler way to remove unwanted hair color from your strands or correcting your color without damaging your hair too much.

It’s a technique that’s kinder to your hair than regular bleaching as the bleach is diluted with shampoo and water.

Because the bleach is diluted, it’s not as effective a process as regular bleach. So if you have dark hair or stubborn hair dye pigments to remove, this might not work for you.

Why Choose a Bleach Bath for Your Hair?

A bleach bath is best for:

  1. Gently removing unwanted hair color without causing excessive damage to your strands.
  2. Correcting your hair color in a less aggressive manner than traditional bleaching.
  3. Stripping off any leftover dye from a previous color job.
  4. Neutralizing unwanted tones in your hair color.
  5. Prepping your hair for a new dye job by creating a clean base.
  6. Brightening up and toning lightened hair for a refreshed look.
  7. Gradually going one shade lighter in a more gentle process than regular bleaching.

If you want to go platinum or bleach blonde, a bleach bath won’t do it!

Top celebrity hair stylist Brad Mondo tell us that “Bleach baths are best for lightening your hair by 1-2 shades. If you want a more dramatic change, you may need to use regular bleach or visit a professional colorist.”

Overall, bleach baths are a great option for those who want to remove hair dye or gently lighten their hair without causing damage.

How to Bleach Bath Hair at Home.

While bleach baths can be a great way to achieve a lighter hair color, it’s important to remember that they can still be damaging to your hair if not done correctly.

That’s why it’s important to follow the instructions carefully and to use a good quality bleach and developer.

And ALWAYS do a patch test first to ensure that your hair can handle the bleach bathing process!

Preparation for a Bleach Bath

Before we start with the bleach bath process, you’ll need to get your hands on the right tools and ingredients. Here’s what you need:

Ingredients

  • Bleach powder
  • Developer
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner

Tools

  • Mixing bowl
  • Tinting brush
  • Measuring cup
  • Latex or plastic gloves
  • Old towel

Follow these steps to get yourself ready:

1. Wash your hair with clarifying shampoo – this gets rid of any excess product that may block the 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.

3.Apply Vaseline to your ears, nose, neck and eyebrows (literally everywhere!).

Bleach washing can burn your skin so Vaseline acts like a shield to protect your sensitive skin underneath!

4.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. Cover your surfaces too.

Dab Vaseline onto your clothes where the bleach will drip down (collar, cuffs etc) to prevent it from staining.

5.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.

6.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.

You’re ready!

Bleach Bath Hair Recipe

  • The bleach wash ratio is 1:2:3.
  • That’s one part bleach powder, two parts developer, and three parts shampoo mixed with water.

Step 1: Prepare the mixture.

bleach bath mixture being prepared in a bowl at home bathroom counter
  • Mix the bleach powder and developer according to the instructions on the packaging. We recommend using a 1:2 ratio of bleach to developer for a gentler lightening effect.
  • Add shampoo to the mixture. Add at up to 3 times the shampoo – how much you need will depend on the length and thickness of your hair. We suggest using a moisturizing shampoo to help prevent dryness and damage.
  • Dilute the mixture with water. This will help to make the bleach bath less harsh on your hair.

The higher the volume of developer, the stronger the effects will be. This means that there’s more peroxide in it, which will be more damaging.

It’s best to use a 10 volume developer for your first time if you are unsure which strength you need. You can always bleach bath your hair again after a few days.

Use a plastic mixing bowl (not metal as it reacts with the bleach) and tinting brush to mix the bleach powder and developer together. This will help you apply the bleach mixture in your hair too.

Step 2: Apply to damp hair

applying bleach bath to damp wet hair at the roots

A bleach wash needs to be applied to wet hair to take effect without being patchy. This will help the bleach spread evenly and reduce the risk of damage to your hair.

  • Wet your hair with warm water and towel dry it to get the excess water off.
  • Comb your hair using a wide-tooth comb to detangle your hair. This will help to apply the bleach mixture evenly.
  • Wrap a towel or hair stylists cape around your shoulders. Bleach will eat the color from everything it touches!
  • Using a gloved hand or a brush, apply the mixture to your hair. Start at the roots and working your way down to the ends. Make sure to cover all of your hair evenly.
  • Make sure 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 3: Leave to develop.

bleach bath hair mixture all over hair waiting 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. This will help trap in heat and speed up the lightening process.

Keep an eye on it! You don’t want leave the bleach in your hair too long as it will damage your hair. 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 or it will turn orange!

Step 4: Rinse and condition your hair

shampooing and conditioning after bleach bath hair

When your hair has reached the right amount of lift, rinse and wash your hair really well under warm water.

  • Apply a deep conditioner to help your hair begin to repair from the bleaching process.
  • 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. A bleach bath will give you a good base for a new dye job.

“Since bleach is being applied to the hair, even mildly, a deep conditioner or repairing mask should also be used afterwards for at least 10 to 20 minutes.”

Kristen Kell, top colorist at Salon SCK in New York City

Step 5: Tone your hair (if needed)

bleach wash hair being toned after bleach bath

If your hair is looking warm and brassy with orange or yellow tones in it after a bleach bath, you’ll need to tone your hair to get rid of them.

This is especially common if you have naturally dark hair, as the process of lifting color can reveal a lot of red and orange tones.

Toning at this stage can help cancel out those tones and give you a cooler, more even base.

  • If you are going to bleach your hair again soon, there’s no point in toning it. Bleach will remove any toner you apply, and you’ll end up with the same brassy or yellow tones you started with.
  • If you plan to leave your hair as it is, or dye it a cool color, toning can make a big difference.

Expert Insights

“Personally, I like to use toner on newly lightened hair since this tends to create a more natural shade of blonde while eliminating any brassy/orange tones.”

Kimberly Walter, Cosmetologist, Haircolorist, Skin Specialist

How to tone your hair

Toners come in a range of colors, from purple and blue to silver and gray.

  • If you want to neutralize yellow tones, you can use a purple toner.
  • If you want to neutralize orange tones, you can use a blue toner.

Toners should be applied to damp but not wet hair. You can mix the toner with developer, following the instructions on the package.

Some toners are more pigmented than others, so it’s best to start with a small amount and test a strand of hair before applying it all over.

Leave the toner on for about 10-20 minutes, or as directed, and rinse thoroughly with cool water.

And voila! You have successfully bleach bathed your hair!

bleach bath hair results lady with gorgeous blonde bleach bath hair

Bleach Bath Hair Top Tips!

  • Always do a patch test before applying the bleach bath to your entire head of hair.
  • Use a timer to keep track of how long the bleach bath has been on your hair.
  • Avoid using a bleach bath on hair that is already damaged or over-processed.
  • If you have sensitive skin, use a barrier cream around your hairline to prevent irritation.

Bleach bath for hair before and after.

bleach bath hair before and after blonde hair

Watch and learn: How to bleach bath your hair at home like a pro!

Here’s a fab video that shows you how to do a bleach bath for hair, lighten and tone your hair step by step without ruining it.

Understanding the Risks of a Bleach Bath

Let’s chat about the risks of going for a bleach bath. We know it’s a gentler way to lighten up those locks, but it’s good to keep in mind what’s actually happening to your hair.

An interesting study on PubMed tells us that when you bleach your hair, you’re not just changing the color. You’re actually opening up your hair to changes in its structure. This can make your hair feel a bit different, maybe drier or rougher.

  • Hair Structure: Bleach, even in a diluted form like a bleach bath, can alter the inner structure of your hair. This means your hair might feel different after the treatment.
  • Dryness and Brittleness: One of the most common side effects of bleaching is increased dryness. Your hair might feel more brittle and less elastic, so extra care is needed.
  • Uneven Lightening: Sometimes, bleach baths can lighten hair unevenly, especially if applied inconsistently. It’s something to be mindful of for an even hair color.
  • Scalp Sensitivity: If you have sensitive skin, a bleach bath might cause some irritation to your scalp. Always do a patch test first!

Here’s how you can minimize the risks:

  • Deep Conditioning: Treat your hair to some extra love with deep conditioning treatments before and after bleaching.
  • Professional Advice: If you’re unsure, it’s always a good idea to seek advice from a professional hairstylist.

What the experts say:

Expert Insights

“I wouldn’t recommend bleaching your own hair at home. There’s so much that can go wrong and you can end up with orange hair. It’s best to get it done by a professional.”

Enza Piazza, Hair Stylist & Color Consultant

“It can be done at home, but I would strongly suggest having someone you trust there to help you apply the lightener in the back. Be aware that if your hair is dark, it will take more than one application of lightening to get your hair to a shade of blonde.”

Jennifer Adams, Licensed Cosmetologist specializing in color

When to Choose 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 that over time, hair color fades. Washing, styling, and damaging UV rays from the sun can lead to uneven patches of hair color.

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 hair dye and want to get rid of the remaining tints, this is a great option.

A bleach wash 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 frazzling your strands.

“A bleach bath can be a much milder process to start with on the hair if the hair has been compromised from previous services.”

Scott Tyler, a colorist and educator at Van Michael Salon 
bleach bath recipe hair - lady bleaching roots

To Sum Up: Bleach Bath Hair Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Less damaging: Bleach baths are generally considered less damaging than traditional bleaching methods. This is because the bleach is diluted with shampoo, which helps to protect the hair from breakage.
  • Lifts brassy tones: Bleach baths can help to lift brassy tones from hair, which is especially useful for those with dyed blonde hair.
  • Gradually lightens hair: Unlike traditional bleaching methods, bleach baths gradually lighten hair over time. This means that you can achieve your desired look without risking over-toned hair or unwanted pigments.
  • Cost-effective: Bleach baths are a cost-effective option for those who want to lighten their hair without breaking the bank.

Cons

  • Risky: Bleach baths can be risky, especially if you’re not familiar with the process. If done incorrectly, bleach baths can cause damage to your hair and scalp.
  • May cause breakage: While bleach baths are generally considered less damaging than traditional bleaching methods, they can still cause breakage if not done correctly.
  • May damage hair bonds: Bleach baths can damage hair bonds, which can lead to breakage and other hair issues.

How to Care for Bleached Hair

The downside to bleach bathing is that it can be damaging to your hair if left in for too long. Or without proper care afterwards.

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. 
  • 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.


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 help you go from black hair to platinum blonde. For that you may need the regular bleach process (more than once!).

It will lighten your hair more than lightening your hair naturally in the sun. But 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.

The Trichological Society of hair scientists makes it quite clear that human hair was not designed to be bleached!

Medicinenet asks us to remember that bleach is an aggressive substance. Applying it directly to your hair often can be risky, especially if it’s thin and fragile.

So if you don’t do it right, a bleach bath for hair can cause damage to both your scalp and hair. Always follow instructions closely, use quality professional hair products, and monitor the time that the bleach is left in your hair.

Do I need regular bleach or a bleach bath?

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.

Is a bleach bath better for your hair than regular bleach?

Lightening your hair with any chemicals like bleach is a damaging and intensive process.

This can leave your hair feeling brittle and dry.

The bleach bath method uses a weaker strength of bleach and developer that’s diluted with shampoo 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. Although please seek advice before using any strong chemicals on your skin!

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. You could end up with a much lighter or patchier result than you wanted. This is super hard to fix!

Will a bleach bath fix orange or yellow hair?

No, a bleach bath 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 getting unwanted orange and brassy tones out of 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.

Just leave the bleach wash in for up 10 minutes to lightly strip the unwanted pigments.

Can I bleach bath a wig?

If you’re looking for an easy and affordable way to revamp your wig, a bleach bath might be just what you need.

It’s important to note that not all wigs can be bleached, so it’s crucial to read the care instructions that came with your wig first.

If your wig is made of human hair, then you should be able to bleach bathe it without any issues. A synthetic wig might need something stronger.

A bleach bath can help brighten up your wig, get rid of any stains or discoloration, and restore it to its natural shine.

Can I dye my hair after a bleach bath?

You can dye your hair after a bleach bath 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. This will 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. This will act as a barrier to the new color.

Parting words.

All in all, if you’re determined to bleach your hair, you don’t need to subject it to long hours of chalky bleaching powder and peroxide.

A bleach bath could be the answer you’re looking for.

You don’t have to be a professional stylist to achieve beautiful hair color – just come armed with the right knowledge.

By being informed on how to correctly, safely and effectively use a milder alternative such as bleach wash hair, you can get vibrant results that suit your desired look without having to suffer from brittle and brittle locks in the future.

If you dream of lighter hair, try bleach washing today!

Have you tried a bleach bath at home? Share your experiences, tips, and tricks with us on our latest post – was it easy, tricky, or super fun? Snap a pic or drop a comment @colouredhaircare on Facebook and Instagram and help others on their hair journey.

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Our Research & Review Process

To ensure our recommendations are as comprehensive and reliable as possible, we’ve undertaken an extensive research effort.

We cite scientific evidence and journals, collect real user reviews and gather impartial perspectives from hair stylists, users, and experts in the field.

Additionally, we conduct hands-on testing by using products and applying hair dyes not only on our own locks but also on real human hair extensions and hair pieces of different hair type, textures and lengths.

This rigorous approach allows us to provide you with insights into which products genuinely live up to their promises.

As always – please consult with a professional hair colorist or stylist for advice on how to color your own hair at home. It’s different for everyone!

This article was written and reviewed by:

  • Nicola Freeman, Creative Director & Content Lead
    Creative Director & Content Lead

    With over two decades of passionate hair dyeing experience, I've experimented with nearly every shade imaginable. My journey began long before blogging; as an award-winning copywriter in London and New York, I shaped narratives for iconic brands. However, when friends sought advice during lockdown for at-home hair dyeing, I realized my true calling. Beyond being your hair color expert, I'm a mom of two girls, wife to artist Tony, and an avid soccer player!

  • Enza Piazza, Hair Stylist & Color Consultant
    Hair Stylist & Color Consultant

    I’m Enza Piazza, your go-to hair stylist and color consultant with over 23 years of professional salon experience bringing vibrancy and life to hair of all hues. My Italian roots from sunny Sicily infuse passion into every snip and color, a passion that’s been recognized with top honor awards including bridal and party hair at the National Hairdressers Federation’s Championships. After training in Surrey, UK’s most prestigious salons including Head Master Academy, I embraced the entrepreneurial spirit and set up Enza Hair Styling, offering tailored hair care for 13 years, and treating each client like family. Away from the salon, I cherish moments as a proud Nonna to grandson Joseph and as a playful companion to my Jack Russell, Bo.