How To Bleach Hair At Home – Step By Step Guide With Pictures

Written by Anjali Sayee

Women often feel the need for a makeover. They crave a change that usually begins with their hair. However, dark hair could set a serious limitation if one wants to experiment with different hair colors.

But this does not mean you can never experiment. Bleaching your hair can help. In this post, we have discussed how you can bleach your hair right at home. Keep reading.

Prepare Your Hair


Bleach works by breaking through your hair shaft and oxidizing the melanin granules that give your hair its color (1). This process causes hair damage, and for the same reason, your hair needs to be in a healthy condition to be bleached (1).

If your hair is dry or damaged, try waiting a month or two before you bleach it. In the meantime, you can prepare your hair by nursing it back to health. You can start preparing your hair at least two weeks before bleaching it.

To prepare your hair

1. Work With Virgin (Or Almost Virgin) Hair

Hair gets damaged due to chemicals. Bleaching your hair can lead to more damage, as it makes the hair more penetrable (2).

Do not process your hair for at least three months prior to the bleaching treatment. If you have processed or colored hair, wait for three months before you decide to bleach it. Bleach works best on virgin and unprocessed hair. Your hair is also more susceptible to damage if you re-process it too soon.

2. Take A Hiatus From Styling

Stop heat styling your hair and refrain from using shampoos and products that contain sulfates and alcohol (2). This can help prevent moisture loss from your hair.

3. Condition Like Your Life Depends On It

You need to start conditioning your hair two weeks prior to bleaching it. Instead of using store-bought conditioners, opt for deep conditioning masks at least twice a week (2).

You can make homemade masks using ingredients like coconut oil, egg, olive oil, bananas, and avocados. Ensure you never wash your hair before oiling it first. This can prevent the shampoo from drying your hair out.

4. Coconut Oil Is Your Best Friend

Soaking your hair in oil a night before you bleach it can make a world of difference. Coconut oil forms a protective barrier over your hair shafts and prevents moisture loss. The oil achieves this without hindering the bleaching process (3).

Though bleaching can help improve appearance, the process does have certain side effects.

Side Effects Of Bleaching: When Should You Consult Your Doctor?

Bleach contains an alkaline agent (ammonium hydroxide) and an oxidizing agent (hydrogen peroxide). Both these elements permeate the hair shaft to decrease your natural hair color and break the melanin in your cuticle (4). This results in the not only loss of hair color but also significant hair damage that includes scalp burns, easy permeability of hair strands, significant protein loss, heavy hair damage due to decrease porosity, and skin irritation (2), (5), (6), (7), (8).

Get Your Supplies

Get Your Supplies
  • Bleach Powder

Get bleach powder from a good brand like Wella, Blondor, Matrix, or Salon Care. Compromising on this and using a skin bleach is most likely going to lead to disastrous hair. Opt for a bleach that is blue or purple to help reduce brassiness.

  • Developer/Peroxide

This is the peroxide liquid that activates your bleach so that it can get to lighten your hair. It comes in different volumes: 10, 20, 30, and 40. This is indicative of the strength of the peroxide. With the information given below, pick the ideal volume for your needs.

Developer Peroxide

There are 10 hair levels, with 1 being the darkest – black, and 10 being the lightest – pale blonde. Depending on how much lift you desire, choose the ideal peroxide from the list below.

Vol 10 – This volume will not work for dark hair. It is ideal for subtly fading dyed hair or lifting 1-2 levels of color on hair that is already light.

Vol 20 – If you have hair that is light brown and do not want to lift a lot of colors, a 20 volume developer should do the trick. This lifts about 2-3 levels of color.

Vol 30 – A volume 30 developer will help lift 3-4 levels of hair color, but it should not be left on your scalp for too long as it can cause irritation. If you have sensitive skin, it is best not to let the bleach come in contact with your skin or scalp when using this volume. If you want to bleach your hair to the lightest blonde, it is ideal to use this developer over 2-3 sessions.

Vol 40 – Volume 40 can provide a high lift, but it can also be really damaging to your hair. If you do use it, make sure it does not stay on your hair for longer than 10-15 minutes to minimize damage.

You also need the following tools:

  • Tinting brush
  • Clips for sectioning
  • Plastic/Latex gloves
  • Plastic/Glass mixing bowl
  • Shower cap/ Plastic bag
  • Balancing shampoo
  • Protein balancing conditioner
  • Old towel and clothes
  • Toner (optional)

Bleaching Your Hair At Home

For better results, ensure you don’t wash your hair at least 2-3 days prior to the bleach. Set up in a well-ventilated area with good lighting, a mirror, and a table to place all your tools on.

Step 1: Wear Some Old Clothes, And Put Your Gloves On

Wear Some Old Clothes

Make sure you put on some old clothes that you wouldn’t mind getting the bleach on. Put your gloves on.

Step 2: Section Your Hair

Section Your Hair

Divide your hair so that the crown section is secured away. This way, you can freely work with the back of your hair first. The crown section is hard to reach, so it is best reserved for the last.

Step 3: Mix The Bleach Powder And Developer

Mix The Bleach Powder And Developer

Mix the bleach and developer. You will have to add two parts of the developer for one part of bleach. Ensure there are no lumps, and the mixture is consistent.

Step 4: Apply The Bleach

Apply The Bleach

Once you are done with the bottom sections, undo the section you secured away and start applying. As soon as all of your hair is covered in the bleach, cover your hair with a shower cap or a plastic bag.

Tip: Apply the color first to the tips and mid-lengths of your hair as they take longer to lighten than your roots. Let the bleach sit for at least 20 minutes before you apply the color to the roots. This can ensure even color (and not lighter roots and dark tips).

Step 4: Bleach The Higher Sections

Bleach The Higher Sections

Once you are done with the bottom sections, undo the section you secured away and start applying. As soon as all of your hair is covered in the bleach, cover it with a shower cap or a plastic bag.

Step 5: Sit Back And Wait For The Magic

Sit Back And Wait For The Magic

It is time to sit back and wait for the magic to happen! Do not leave the bleach on for more than 30-45 minutes. Keep checking on the hair periodically to see if the color is lifting to the levels you want. Don’t worry if your hair is turning orange. It is normal for dark hair to turn orange when lightened.

Note: Keep an eye on your hair and the surrounding skin. If you notice redness, itching, or burning after you have kept the bleach on your hair for a while, please wash the bleach off and visit a doctor.

Step 6: Wash Your Hair And Let It Dry

Wash Your Hair And Let It Dry

After 45 minutes, jump into the shower and rinse the bleach out thoroughly. Wash your hair with a balancing shampoo to balance the pH levels of your scalp. Follow with a protein balancing conditioner. Let your hair air dry.

Step 7: Toner (Optional)


If you do not want warm tones in your hair, you can bleach it with a toner. Replace the bleach with the toner and follow all of the steps listed above. Alternatively, you can use a toning shampoo to remove the warm tones from your hair.

Post-Bleaching Hair Care

  1. Minimize Conditioner Usage: Most conditioners have concentrated amounts of chemicals to make your hair better (2). But once you have bleached your hair, it can be more susceptible to damage from chemicals. Cut down the amount of conditioner you use, and don’t apply any conditioner to the scalp. Also, limit your conditioner usage to once per week until your hair regains its strength.
  2. Use Natural/Organic Products: Chemicals cause damage to your hair, and more so after you have bleached it (2). Since your hair is very vulnerable, opt for only natural hair care products. You can either get them at the store or try homemade recipes.
  3. Don’t Use Styling Tools: Styling tools use heat that can damage your hair. This damage could be more aggressive after a bleaching session (2). After you have bleached your hair, stay away from styling tools for at least two weeks.
  4. Oil Your Hair: Research shows that oils (like coconut oil) can permeate the hair shaft and strengthen hair from within (9). Your hair needs this deep nourishment after bleaching. Oil your hair and leave it on for at least an hour. Repeat this twice a week.
  5. Dilute Your Shampoo: Your shampoo contains chemicals that can damage bleached hair. Instead of using it as is, add a little water to it.

Note: Bleaching works best on virgin hair. If you have really dark or color processed hair and want some heavy lift, it might take a couple of sessions before you achieve the color you desire. It is best to space these sessions out every couple of weeks or a month apart. This way, you will not be overprocessing your hair.

If your hair is extremely dark, long, heavily processed, fine, very thick, curly/kinky, colored, permed, or damaged, do not bleach at home. Instead, get it done professionally to achieve the results you are expecting.


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