How Damaging Is A Bleach Bath For Hair? Here’s The Truth.

Are you thinking of giving your hair a makeover? Perhaps you’re considering a bleach bath, but you’re not sure how much damage it could cause your luscious locks?

Well, you’ve come to the right place! We’re here to tell you all you need to know about bleach baths so that you can decide if it’s the right treatment for your hair.

Let’s delve into the world of bleach baths together. 

What is a bleach bath? 

This technique, also known as a bleach wash, is a less damaging method compared to the regular bleaching process.

It involves mixing bleach powder, developer, and shampoo to lighten your hair.

It’s a popular method among those who want to change their hair color without causing excessive damage. You can also use it for:

  1. Color Correction: If your hair color has become uneven, or you’re not satisfied with a recent dye job, a bleach bath can help even out the color and lighten any overly-dark areas.
  2. Color Removal: Sometimes, you may want to get rid of an existing color from your hair. In such a case, a bleach bath can help strip the color more gently than total bleaching.
  3. Hair Lightening: If you wish to go a few shades lighter than your natural hair color, a bleach bath can be a less damaging alternative to a full bleach treatment.
  4. Preparing for a New Color: If you’re planning on applying a new color, especially a lighter one, a bleach bath can help prepare your hair by giving the new color a blank canvas.
  5. Reducing Product Buildup: Over time, hair products can build up on your strands, causing your hair to look dull. A bleach bath can help remove this buildup, restoring your hair’s natural shine and volume.

This all sounds great. But just how damaging can a bleach bath be for your hair? Let’s find out! 

How damaging is a bleach bath for hair?

Bleach baths can be damaging for your hair if not done right or too often.

The bleach used is usually less strong than regular bleaching, but it can still weaken and damage your hair. Remember, any kind of bleaching can harm your hair, even a bleach bath!

Compared to regular bleaching, a bleach bath is generally less damaging.

That’s because the bleach is mixed with shampoo or conditioner, which helps reduce damage.

But keep in mind, the level of damage can still vary based on your hair’s condition, the strength of the bleach, and how long it’s left on.

Bleach bath hair before and after.

What are the side effects of a bleach bath for hair?

The side effects of a bleach bath can range from mild to severe, depending on the strength of the bleach and how long you leave it in your hair.

Here are the most common side effects to watch out for – and avoid!

  • Hair Damage: This is the big one! Bleach baths can result in hair damage, leading to breakage, split ends, and dryness. Why, you ask? It’s because bleach robs your hair of its natural oils and proteins, leaving it fragile and brittle.
  • Scalp Irritation: That’s right, bleach baths can also cause scalp irritation. Symptoms like redness, itching, and general discomfort are all too common. Remember, bleach is a harsh chemical that doesn’t play nice with your skin.
  • Hair Discoloration: Oh yes, this can happen too! If bleach isn’t mixed properly or left on for too long, hello hair discoloration! The range can vary from slight yellowing to a more noticeable orange or brassy tone. Fixing it can be a challenge and often requires additional bleaching or color correction treatments.
  • Allergic Reactions: Some folks can have allergic reactions to bleach. Symptoms may include itching, swelling, and redness. In severe cases, it can even cause difficulty breathing and require medical attention. ALWAYS do a patch test before you use bleach.
  • Environmental Damage: And let’s not forget our planet! Bleach is a toxic chemical that can harm aquatic life and pollify waterways. So, disposing of bleach properly and using it sparingly is crucial.

Remember, beauty shouldn’t come at the expense of your health or the environment! Always be mindful of the potential side effects before committing to any beauty treatment.

does a bleach bath damage hair - lady doing a bleach bath with wet blonde hair over a sink

How is a bleach bath different from regular bleaching processes?

Compared to regular bleaching processes, a bleach bath is considered to be less damaging because the bleach mixture is diluted with shampoo and water.

This means that the bleach is not as strong and does not penetrate the hair shaft as deeply as regular bleach.

But it’s still important to note that a bleach bath can still cause damage to the hair, especially if it is done too frequently or if the hair is not properly prepared beforehand.

Regular bleach vs bleach bath

How Damaging Is A Bleach Bath For Hair
Regular bleach vs bleach bath infographic: Strength	Very strong, can lighten hair several shades in one session.	Milder, lightens hair gradually and less dramatically.
Damage	Extremely damaging, especially when done repeatedly.	Less damaging than regular bleach, but still has potential to cause harm with improper use.
Application Time	Longer, usually around 30 to 45 minutes.	Shorter, typically takes around 10 to 15 minutes.
Suitable for...	Those desiring a drastic color change.	Those aiming for a subtle lightening effect or color correction.

How to prevent damaging your hair with a bleach bath.

Alright, let’s get down to business. If you’re still considering a bleach bath for your hair, use this guide to help you prevent damage any unneccesary damage to your lovely locks. 

Preparation: Your Hair’s Best Defense 

One way to combat the impending damage? Deep condition your hair regularly in the weeks leading up to the bleach bath. This will help to strengthen your hair and make it more resilient to damage. 

Lower Volume Developer and Shorter Processing Time: Less is More 

Use a lower volume developer and a shorter processing time.

A bleach bath typically uses a 10 or 20 volume developer.

This is less harsh than the 30 or 40 volume developer used in traditional bleaching. Plus, the processing time for a bleach bath is usually shorter than for traditional bleaching.

This reduces the amount of time the bleach is in contact with your hair, and less time means less damage. 

Quality and Proper Mixing: A Bleach Bath’s Best Friends 

It’s also crucial to use a good quality bleach powder and to mix it properly according to the instructions.

Mixing the bleach incorrectly can result in an uneven application and can cause damage to your hair.

Remember, a little attention to detail goes a long way. 

The Aftermath: Rinse and Deep Condition 

Finally, don’t forget to rinse your hair thoroughly after the bleach bath to remove any remaining bleach.

It’s essential to apply a deep conditioning treatment to help restore moisture and prevent breakage.

Watch and learn: How to do a bleach bath for hair like a pro.

Here’s a great video tutorial that shows how to do a bleach bath for hair safely without damaging your hair.

The Pros and Cons of Bleach Bathing

It’s true that bleach baths can be a handy tool in your hair care arsenal but like everything, there are pros and cons to consider.

The Pros 

  • Less Damaging than Full Bleach: A bleach bath is less damaging than a full-on bleach treatment. It’s diluted, which means it’s gentler on your hair and scalp.
  • Color Correction: If you’re looking to fade your hair color or correct a color mishap, a bleach bath can work wonders without completely stripping the color.
  • Conditioning: When done correctly, some people find that a bleach bath can actually make their hair feel softer and look shinier because it strips away product buildup and excess oils.

The Cons 

  • Still Causes Damage: Let’s be real, any form of bleaching is going to cause some level of damage to your hair. It’s a harsh process that strips away the natural pigment.
  • Unpredictable Results: Since a bleach bath is a diluted form of bleaching, the results can sometimes be unpredictable. You might not end up with the exact color you had in mind.
  • Requires Care and Maintenance: After a bleach bath, it’s crucial to take extra good care of your hair. You’ll need to invest in deep conditioning treatments and possibly even protein treatments to keep your hair healthy.

Now, don’t let those cons scare you away! With proper care and techniques, you can minimize damage and achieve pretty amazing results. But remember, your hair’s health should always come first!

Parting words

Well, there you have it! We’ve taken the plunge and gone deep into the world of bleach bathing. We’ve weighed the pros and cons, compared it to traditional bleaching, and hopefully armed you with all the information you need to decide if a bleach bath is right for your hair. 

Remember, it’s all about balance. Bleach bathing can be a more gentle alternative to full-on bleaching, but it’s still quite the chemical process and should be approached with caution. 

  • Prepare your hair: Always pre-condition your hair to ensure it’s at its strongest before subjecting it to a bleach bath.
  • Safety first: Never leave the bleach in for longer than recommended and always follow up with deep conditioning treatments to minimize damage.
  • Professional advice: Whenever in doubt, seek advice from a professional stylist. They know their stuff and can guide you on the best practices for your specific hair type and condition.

Finally, remember why bleach baths are a popular option: they can help strip unwanted color, lighten your locks, and pave the way for new hair adventures. All good things as long as we respect the process and take the necessary steps to protect our hair, right? 

“Bleach baths may be a shortcut to lighter, brighter hair, but let’s not shortchange our hair health in the process. Always prioritize hair health and you’ll be on your way to locks that don’t just look good, but feel good too.”

Here’s to happy, healthy hair adventures!

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.