Can you bleach wet hair? You asked, we answered!

Do you want to lighten up your locks? It can be tempting to just go for it and start bleaching, but is it actually possible – or safe – to bleach wet hair?

We’ve all heard the horror stories about bleaching your hair, and we’ve all asked ourselves “Is it safe to bleach wet hair? Can I do this at home?” Well, we asked the experts and have come up with the answers! Let’s dive into the world of bleach and find out if you can take a dip.

Whether you’re looking to brighten your blonde, light up your life (and hair!) or are searching for tips or tricks, our guide has got it covered!

Let’s go!

Can you bleach wet hair?

The simple answer is YES! The REAL question is HOW?

There are some precautions you should take if you decide to go down this route.

Bleaching your hair when it’s wet can help even out the color and make sure that all of your strands look uniform. It can also prevent dryness and damage caused by bleaching dry hair — which makes sense, since wet hair is more malleable than dry hair.

But we all know that when wet, hair is at its most vulnerable state and prone to breaking and frazzling and splitting all at once.

Bleaching wet hair will not work as strongly as bleaching dry hair as the moisture in your hair will act as a natural barrier. It could also mean the bleached areas become patchy.

This can make it difficult for a new hair color to take, or to re-dye your hair evenly. And no one wants that!

Really, it all depends on what you are trying to achieve doing it – whether you want to remove some hair dye, go bleach blonde, or get the perfect base for some on-trend colors.

Now, let’s get down to business!

When should I bleach wet hair?

To begin with, there are some major differences between bleaching dry hair vs wet hair.

Generally speaking , if you are going for a light, icy platinum shade, it is best to bleach your wet hair first and then tone with a silver shampoo.

If you want to go any other shade of blonde, we would recommend dry bleaching your hair first and then dyeing your hair with the blonde hair dye of your choice.

If you’re just trying to remove some colour, correct colour or pigmentation to make a clean base, a bleach bath or bleach wash, could be for you.

Keep in mind that bleach will work faster on wet hair than on dry — so if you have any doubts about timing or intensity of color, start off with a small section of your mane first before applying the product to your entire head.

This way, you’ll get a better sense of how quickly or slowly the bleach will take effect on your hair strands — giving you more control over the finished look.

Reasons to bleach wet hair

  • For a subtle lift
  • To remove colour build up
  • To lighten hair ends
  • To brighten blonde
  • To go one or two levels lighter
  • To do a bleach bath

Watch and learn: How to bleach wet hair.

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How long to leave bleach on wet hair?

If you’re just going for a clean blonde base, leave the bleach in for about 15 minutes.

However, if you’re looking at a platinum shade or going lighter than your current hair color, we would recommend leaving the bleach in up to 30 mins.

You may need to leave the bleach in for longer or repeat the bleaching process if you are trying to lighten dark hair.

Keep in mind that the longer you leave the bleach in, the more likely the bleach will damage your hair as it will break down and wear away at your strands – bleaching can be very damaging!

Can you bleach wet hair extensions?

Natural hair extensions

YES! Of course you can.

The same rules apply – it’s really about what you’re trying to achieve.

If you want to remove some colour, go for a bleach bath or wash.

If you are looking at lightening or lifting the colour, then follow the recommendations stated under ‘How long to leave bleach on wet hair’.

Synthetic hair extensions

NO! You can’t.

The bleach won’t stick to or penetrate the synthetic hair fibres so bleaching them won’t work and could end up ruining your extensions.

It’s far better to just buy a new set in the colour you want!

Bleach hair before and after.

can you bleach wet hair before and after results hair color instagram post
bleach hair before and after color instagram post

Can I bleach my hair after washing it?

There’s an old wives tale that says you should bleach your hair when it’s dirty to stop it from damaging your hair. That’s not really the case.

You need clean hair to help the bleach penetrate your hair shafts evenly.

Remember, you are bleaching your hair so the less product build up, the better!

If you have to wash your hair before you bleach it, keep in mind that washing your hair will remove some of the natural oils in your hair which can help protect your scalp while being bleached.

You might need to use a toning shampoo or an intensive reconstructor to try and restore some of that lost moisture after washing.

Additionally, it is best to have dry hair when doing any chemical treatments like dyeing or bleaching.

If you’re looking at lightening your natural color (and not removing any unwanted tones), then wait for about 24 hours after washing your hair before starting with the bleach process.

You also don’t want to bleach your hair too often to avoid damage.

On another note: Bleaching your hair after washing might not be a bad idea if you’re trying to remove old extensions and restore your natural hair – it could work for this.

What is a wet balayage?

A wet balayage is a hair painting technique which creates the look of graduated highlights from root to tip.

It’s done on wet blonde or light brown hair that doesn’t need as much lift and is great for brightening blonde or lifting colour one or two levels.

This technique is usually done in sections, then wrapped with cling film while the hair sets.  The result is a lighter base with natural looking sun kissed highlights that fade into the root.

To get these sorts of results on your own hair, mix up some highlighting powder in developer and apply it to small sections of your hair, leaving it for about 10 minutes or so.

Wash out using cool water – this will seal all of the highlighted strands together.

From there you can apply whatever toning shampoo or toner you want to use to achieve the best possible tone for your blonde!

wet balayage hair color technique instagram post

Can I bleach wet hair with just powder?

This is where we deviate from the regular answer! NO!

Bleach powders needs to be mixed with developer to work. Together they are the best way to strip pigment from your strands quickly and effectively.  

You can also use a cream or lotion-based bleaching agent or hair bleach kit where the formula and ingredients will come ready-made.

Powdered bleach mixed with developer in varying amounts is much more effective at lifting colour faster, leaving you with better results.

As long as you know what you’re doing!

Can I use a toner after bleaching wet hair?

Yes! This is where you can really have some fun and experiment with different hues.  

If you are planning on using bleach powder to strip your strands of color – follow the instructions and mix it in some dyeing developer before applying it to your hair.  

You should leave this toner on for about 25-30 minutes or until you achieve your desired shade.  

When looking at toners, you can either add them directly into your developer while processing your hair OR add them afterwards as a semi-permanent dye.  

Purple shampoos are ideal for counteracting brassy warm yellow and orange tones in bleached hair.

Toners are a great way to achieve different tones and hues – without needing to dye your hair all over again.

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Can you bleach roots with wet hair?

YES! If you are looking to lighten your roots or add a touch of blonde to the ends of your hair, follow the instructions for ‘Bleaching wet hair’ but reduce the processing time down to about 10-15 minutes.  

Remember, the less time you leave the bleach on your hair, the more gentle it will be.

Can you bleach clean hair?

Clean hair is best as it will make sure there are no barriers to the chemicals getting to work on your hair pigmentation.

As we mentioned, hair is very fragile and needs special attention to make your poor strands don’t snap off in the bleach bowl.

If you try to lift colour out of your hair when it’s dirty, the grease and grime will slow down the bleaching process and weaken its effect.

It could turn patchy or uneven, especially if the dye has been sitting on your strands for a while.

Bleach can also remove any natural oils we put into our hair – conditioner included! This could mean that when you go rinse out that bleach – it may strip all of that beautiful silky softness from your locks and leave it feeling dry.

Make sure you use a good deep conditioner after all the processing is done to restore moisture and elasticity to your hair.

How to care for bleached hair.

If you’ve recently had your hair bleached and are looking for the softest, silkiest blonde mane around, let us tell you that it is totally achievable!

The secret? Choosing a shampoo and conditioner specifically designed for bleached hair.

These products deeply nourish strands so you won’t need to worry about your color fading or the dreaded straw-like texture.

Plus, there are some simple tips and tricks – such as using a deep hydrating mask regularly, avoiding heated styling tools and using a heat protectant spray before blow drying or ironing – that can help make sure your freshly bleached ‘do looks great for weeks!

Parting words

So yes, you can bleach wet hair, but it really comes down to what look you’re going for, whether you should really do it.

There are many factors that come into play when it comes to bleaching.

One of them is the type of hair you have, the colour of your hair and how much time has passed since the last time you bleached it.

If you’re still unsure after reading our article, it’s best to pop into your local hair salon and have a chat with your hair stylist. They’ll be able to assess your hair condition and what would be best for your hair.

Good luck!