Everything You Need to Know About Bleaching Black Hair

Written by Arshiya Syeda

They say healthy, shiny hair can boost your self-confidence. In fact, it’s safe to assume that going blonde is the textbook definition of doing something wild and experimental. From Serena van der Woodsen in Gossip Girl to Marilyn Monroe, golden locks are always the rage.

However, few wish to take the salon route, and fewer still end up taking the bold step to experiment with their hair at home. But, what if we told you that you can bleach your dark hair at home in a way that is not shy of professional standards?
In this blog, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to bleach black hair at home. Let’s jump right in!

How To Bleach And Dye Dark Hair At Home: A Step-By-Step Process

First things first, if you’re wondering how to bleach dark hair, let’s understand what the bleaching process entails. Bleaching is an aggressive chemical process that opens the hair cuticles and dissolves melanin. The longer you leave the bleach on your hair, the more keratin bonds get destroyed and the lighter your hair gets.

How To Lighten Dark Hair: The 8 Steps To Black Bleaching Hair

Once you have zeroed in on a hair color, the actual bleaching process begins. Here’s a step-by-step guide that details the process:

Step 1: Apply Coconut Oil/Olive Oil

Prior to the day of bleaching, apply warm coconut/olive oil to your hair as it works as a deep conditioner. Before you start bleaching your hair, apply petroleum jelly along your front hairline, ears, and neckline to protect your skin from the dye.

Step 2: Assemble The Required Ingredients

Assemble all the things you will need in one place. Since your clothes can get stained in the process, wrap a towel around your shoulders or wear an old T-shirt. The things you will need to bleach your hair are:

  • Comb
  • Sectioning clips
  • Hair bleach
  • 30 volume developer
  • Tinting/mixing brush
  • Mixing bowl
  • Old T-shirt/towel
  • Aluminum foil
  • Purple shampoo

Step 3: Divided Your Hair Into Four Sections

As you might have seen in the salon, divide your hair into two sections at the front and two at the back of your head. (You can skip this step if you have very short hair). Make sure you have sturdy hair clips handy to hold the hair in place.

Step 4: Mix the Bleaching Powder

Put on your gloves and mix the bleach with the developer using a mixing brush in a mixing bowl. Carefully follow the instructions as printed on the box or in the instruction manual.

Alternatively, you can go for a 1:2 ratio of 30 volume bleach developer and bleach powder, respectively (3 oz. powder and 6 oz. developer). You can add more powder if the mixture is too watery.

Don’t opt for 40 volume developer as it can cause further damage to your hair. Alternatively, you can go for a 20 volume cream developer if you want natural light blonde hair.

Step 5: Apply The Bleach

Start by doing a test strip with a bottom section of your hair. Once you apply the bleach, keep checking every ten minutes to see how long you’ll have to leave the bleach in to get the desired color. Once you are sure that the process is working smoothly, you can start applying the mixture on the back sections (where the hair is thicker), working your way up from the tips of your hair to the roots. Then, move to the front sections. Make sure you work quickly to prevent the color from getting uneven or blotchy. Wrap each section of hair in aluminum foil as soon as you apply bleach to it. This will help generate heat and make the bleach develop faster.

Handy tip: Start by applying bleach from about an inch below your roots. You can bleach the actual roots at the end as the new hair nearer to the roots tends to bleach faster because of your body heat.

Step 6: Apply Bleach To Your Roots

To bleach your roots, you will need to begin at the back, which is why it helps to place two mirrors while bleaching – one at the front and one at the back. To expose your roots, flip your hair with the tip of your tinting brush. Cover your roots with bleach on both sides of the section of hair you are working with.

Step 7: Let The Bleach Do Its Work

Place a shower cap over your hair and keep checking the level of lightness it has reached. Do the first check after 10 minutes and then repeat after every 5 to 10 minutes until you hit the 30-minute mark. Never leave the bleach on for more than 60 minutes as it can burn your scalp.

Handy tip: Over time, you’ll notice your hair changing color from natural dark to orange to light yellow.

Step 8: Rinse Off The Bleach

Once you see that your hair has reached a light-yellow tint, wash off the bleach with lukewarm water and purple shampoo to complete the bleaching process. Make sure to apply a good conditioner for 3-5 minutes.

When it comes to bleaching, the aftercare ritual is as important as the bleaching process itself. Without proper follow up, your hair is bound to become brittle, dry, and damaged. Listed in the next section are some time-tested tips you can try to rejuvenate your hair and reverse some of the post-bleaching damage.

How To Lighten Dark Hair: After-Care Tips

  • Go for a trim within seven days of bleaching as this helps seal up the ends.
  • Wash your hair a little less frequently (a maximum of 2-3 times a week).
  • Condition your hair both before and after bleaching. You can also apply argan oil, olive oil, or coconut oil.
  • Opt for a post-color treatment such as Olaplex to repair the damaged hair.
  • Invest in a nourishing and hydrating hair mask.
  • Use a blue or purple shampoo occasionally to keep brassy and orange tones at bay.
  • Always apply a heat protectant when blow-drying or heat-styling your hair.
  • Use a hair serum daily.
  • Remember to condition your hair after every shampooing session.
  • Always brush your damp hair with a flat brush in soft and gentle strokes.
  • Use a hair reconstructing product (as suggested by your hairstylist).
  • It is recommended to wait at least 6-8 weeks before bleaching your hair again.

You cannot go from black to blonde hair in a single session. So, let’s answer the big question.

How Many Times Do You Need To Bleach Black Hair?

Like everything related to hair care, the frequency of bleaching sessions depends on the natural color of your hair. If your natural hair color is dark and you want to go light, chances are you will need to go through multiple rounds of bleaching.
Typically, black hair needs to be bleached at least twice. That said, the number of bleaching sessions also depends on how light you want to go.

Here are a few handy tips for bleaching black hair:

  • It is easier to bleach virgin hair, i.e., hair that has never been bleached or colored. Make sure to account for that when figuring out whether you should bleach more than once.
  • As a thumb rule, review your color after one bleaching session to see if you need to go in for another one. For instance, if your hair comes out with a more orangish tinge than blonde, you will definitely need another bleaching session before toning.
  • Before every bleaching session, make sure to apply coconut oil and leave it on for 24 hours. Applying coconut oil can protect your hair from damage.

How Long Should You Wait Between Bleaching Sessions?

Wondering how long you should wait between bleaching sessions? It is a good question, but one with no standard answer. That said, hair care professionals advise that you wait for “as long as you can” simply because excessive bleaching can damage your hair.

It is necessary to allow your hair to recover between sessions. Use extra virgin cold-pressed coconut oil to repair some of the damage. While some people wait at least a month between bleaching sessions, others wait for a week.

Everyone’s hair is different, so make sure to consult a hair care professional to understand the ideal frequency of bleaching based on your hair type and quality, as well as your requirements.

Ever wondered about what happens when you bleach black hair with hydrogen peroxide? Find out in the next section!

What Happens When You Bleach Black Hair With Hydrogen Peroxide?

Here’s what you should expect: From the names themselves, you can understand that hydrogen peroxide and bleaching powder are strong, aggressive chemicals. Besides hydrogen peroxide, ammonia is also used as an oxidizing agent. You need to follow a special hair care routine to counteract their after-effects and prevent your hair from becoming weak, dull, and brittle.
Here, we have outlined the key hair bleaching tips for dark hair to adopt when using hydrogen peroxide:

  • Do a strand test to understand how your hair reacts to the product. If it works, your hair is ready to be bleached.
  • Next, mix the hydrogen peroxide with the bleach powder in a plastic/glass container.
  • Apply the mixture to your hair following the same method listed above.
  • Set a timer for 30 minutes. Then, wash your hair with a balancing shampoo. Go for a cold shower to prevent further damage to the hair strands.
  • Finally, apply a deep conditioning mask to restore moisture back in your hair.

Now, let’s answer the most important question.

How Long Does It Take To Bleach Black Hair?

The time it takes to bleach your hair depends on your existing hair color, the color you wish to achieve, and your hair texture. It can take anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes.

Here’s a quick table for your reference. However, don’t consider this to be the standard time durations. Make sure to consult with a hair specialist before you proceed:

Hair Color And Texture TypeTime Duration And Application
Blonde15 to 20 minutes
Dark30 minutes (Ideally, try to split the process into multiple sessions.)
Coarse30 minutes (Most challenging hair type which may need a minimum of two sessions.)
Fine10 to 15 minutes (Thinner cuticle layer that tends to bleach faster.)

Bear in mind a few important pointers if you end up leaving the bleach on for more than 30 minutes:

  • Your hair strands can become brittle and weak after bleaching (1). Your bleach-exposed skin can be affected, too.
  • Your hair can turn completely white, losing all the pigment.
  • Your hair can lose its ability to retain moisture as it becomes more porous.
  • Your hair can lose its keratin, which is a protein that is essential for the health of your hair.

At-home bleaching is impossible to do without the right tools at hand. Some brands do offer all-inclusive bleaching kits for dark hair. However, they can be expensive.

Listed below are all the tools you will need to create your own bleaching kit for dark hair. Do note that this list is not exhaustive!

Top 14 Tools For Bleaching Black Hair

  • Disposable plastic gloves and protective eyewear: This helps protect your hands and eyes from the strong chemicals.
  • Glass/plastic bowl: Avoid metal bowls at all costs.
  • Hair bleach powder
  • Tinting brush and rat-tail comb
  • Shower cap: Make sure that it fits your head.
  • Toner: It is extremely important to tone your hair after bleaching to eliminate any brassiness and orange hues – a common occurrence when you bleach dark hair. A 10 volume toner works best.
  • Developer: The liquid that you mix with bleach powder before you apply it to your hair. For people with dark hair color, a 30 volume developer is recommended, whereas, for people with lighter hair, 20 volume is ideal.
  • Vaseline: It helps keep the dye off your skin, especially your forehead, ears, and neck.
  • An old T-shirt and towel
  • Cold-pressed coconut oil
  • Stain remover
  • After color treatment: It helps lock the color into your hair.
  • Front and back mirrors

By now, you know that bleaching dark hair is easier than the long ordeal that it is made out to be. To that end, here are some useful do’s and don’ts to keep in mind as you proceed if you wish to know how to bleach black hair to blonde.

Important Do’s & Don’ts For Bleaching Dark Hair

Top 4 Do’s

  • Nail Your Hair Color, Texture, And Tone:

One of the basics of bleaching dark hair at home is understanding your current hair color, level, and tone. You can browse through the brand’s website, which typically has a hair level chart comprising of color names and corresponding pigment numbers.

Also, determine your hair type as bleaching is not recommended for relaxed, straightened, or chemically-treated hair.

  • Figure Out The Right Blonde Tone

Next, you need to focus on choosing the shade of blonde you want. Remember that there are many options – from beige and ash to golden and platinum. Every color is accompanied by a different tone.

  • Take Extra Care Of Your Hair

The real work begins after you bleach your dark hair. Yes, we are talking about establishing a hair care routine, including using color-protect shampoo and conditioner and indulging in a deep conditioning treatment to hydrate, nourish, and restore the hair fibers.

  • Let Your Hair Down (Literally)

Let’s face it. Bleaching your hair from black to blonde damages and dries out your hair. So, refrain from dyeing your hair too often and give it time to recover. If need be, you can touch up your roots.

Top 3 Don’ts

  • Don’t Forget To Read The Instructions

Whether you are a seasoned bleacher or a beginner, make sure to read the instructions carefully. And, always start with a strand/patch test to understand how long to leave bleach on black hair and to check whether your hair is too damaged for bleach in the first place.

  • Don’t Lose Track Of Time

When it comes to bleaching black hair at home, people tend to leave the bleach on their hair longer than intended – a big mistake. Over-bleaching can damage your hair and even burn your scalp.

  • Don’t Apply Bleach In Harsh Lines

Typically, this happens during at-home hair bleaching sessions. To avoid creating a harsh line between your bleached and unbleached hair, make sure to blend the bleach all over your hair properly.

Here’s another handy tip: Keep in mind that the ends of your hair absorb bleach faster.

Wrapping Up: To Bleach Or Not To Bleach?

To wrap up, remember these three pointers when bleaching your hair at home:

  • Don’t leave the bleach on more for than 60 minutes as it can seriously damage your hair and burn your scalp.
  • Before starting your bleaching process, speak to a hair professional for better guidance on how to bleach your hair at home.
  • Always do a patch test to determine whether you are allergic to bleach.

Bleaching your hair at home is not a Herculean task. However, it requires a lot of research, the right knowledge, and some preparedness. So follow the guidelines mentioned above, and you’re golden (quite literally!).


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Arshiya Syeda is an editor and certified counselor. Ever the lover of the written word, she served on the editorial boards of her school and college newsletters. Writing articles on hairstyles, hair care, and nutrition helped her combine her love for reading, writing, and research. As an editor, she helps her team members deliver polished and meticulously researched content. Arshiya is fluent in English, Urdu, and Hindi and aims to become a multilinguist by learning German and teaching herself American Sign Language (ASL).