What’s the easiest way to give yourself a dramatic makeover without doing much? Change your hair color! Experimenting with bold and vibrant colors is fun. However, those who have dark hair find it difficult to get a good color payoff. Bleaching your hair is the easiest solution. If you are not planning to hit the salon anytime soon and want to take the DIY road instead, go for a hydrogen peroxide hair bleach.
In this article, you will find a step-by-step guide to bleach your hair with hydrogen peroxide and an insight into the underlying mechanism. Let’s get started!
Table Of Contents
What Is Hydrogen Peroxide?
Hydrogen peroxide is an oxidizing agent known for its antibacterial and antiviral properties. It is also widely used as a bleaching agent to lighten the hair color and be found in most commercially available hair dyes (1). This readily available chemical works by penetrating the hair shaft to release oxygen that combines with the hair pigment to lighten the hair color.
If you plan to bleach your hair with hydrogen peroxide, the following tutorial might help. Listed below are the things you may need.
Items Needed To Bleach Your Hair
- 3% hydrogen peroxide solution
- Baking soda (if mixing with hydrogen peroxide)
- A clean empty spray bottle
- Hair clips
- Cotton balls
- A dry towel
- Hand gloves
- Aluminum foil
- Shower cap
- Natural shampoo and conditioner
Once you have gathered all these things, follow these steps.
Bleaching Hair With Hydrogen Peroxide: A Detailed Tutorial
1. Wash Your Hair
Before bleaching, wash your hair to remove excess oil, grime, and dirt from the scalp. Use a natural shampoo with botanical ingredients for deep cleansing and removing excess sebum. Opt for a hydrating and nourishing conditioner as bleaching tends to dry out the hair strands.
2. Air-Dry Your Hair
Avoid blow drying. Instead, air-dry your hair. Using a blow dryer may speed up the drying process, but it may damage the hair. Pat your hair dry with a towel, comb it gently and let it air-dry for at least 30 minutes before applying hydrogen peroxide.
3. Do A Patch Test
Hydrogen peroxide may cause allergic reactions like itching and burning. To avoid this, do a patch test. Apply 3% hydrogen peroxide to a section of your hair and leave it on for at least 30 minutes before washing.
4. Apply Hydrogen Peroxide
- Section the hair with clips or tie it in knots.
- Dab a cotton ball with 3% hydrogen peroxide and apply it on a section, leaving an inch from the scalp.
- Work down the section and wrap it with a piece of aluminum foil.
- Repeat the process on all hair sections.
- Once done, leave them for 30-45 minutes.
Adjust the time, depending on your natural hair color and the result you are expecting. For instance, if you have dark hair, you may have to leave the solution on for at least 30 minutes or more to lighten it.
If you want to bleach your entire head, mix equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and water in a spray bottle. Spray it on your hair and secure it with a shower cap. Leave it on for 30-40 minutes to get bleached hair.
5. Wash Your Hair Thoroughly
Rinse your hair thoroughly with a mild shampoo to remove all the chemical deposits. Use cold water to restore the shine and minimize the damage. Finish off with a conditioner to soften your hair.
6. Avoid Blow Drying Or Using Heat
Towel-dry your hair and avoid using heat as it may cause further damage. If you are blow drying your hair, use the lowest temperature setting or the cool-shot. It is best to dry your hair naturally to reduce damage and restore moisture and shine.
You may use only hydrogen peroxide to bleach your hair or combine it with baking soda. Here is how to do that.
How To Bleach Hair With Hydrogen Peroxide And Baking Soda
Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda lighten hair faster and give more effective results than hydrogen peroxide alone. Baking soda is alkaline and a natural cleanser. It acts as a base for hydrogen peroxide, and the mixture sits easily on the hair.
You Will Need
- 1 cup baking soda
- 3 tablespoons 3% hydrogen peroxide
Follow this ratio and adjust the quantity of the mixture as per your hair length.
- Apply the mixture to the hair and work down the strands.
- Leave it on for 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the desired intensity.
- Rinse with cold water and wash thoroughly with a mild shampoo.
- Apply a hydrating conditioner to restore shine and lock-in moisture.
Caution: Baking soda may damage your locks, leaving them dry, brittle, and dehydrated. Apply a conditioner or a hydrating hair mask to restore moisture, softness, smoothness, and shine.
Here’s a video to help you understand how to go about it.
If you are wondering how hydrogen peroxide lightens your hair, scroll down to the next section for the answer.
How Hydrogen Peroxide Lightens The Hair Color
Hydrogen peroxide tones down or lightens the natural hair color by oxidizing the hair pigment (melanin) and keratin (the hair’s structural protein).
The cortex (the innermost part of your hair) contains the color pigment or melanin that gives your hair its natural color. Hydrogen peroxide penetrates the hair cortex and releases oxygen to break down the melanin pigment, lightening the hair (2), (3).
Before bleaching your hair, you should be aware of the possible side effects.
Side Effects Of Using Hydrogen Peroxide For Bleaching Your Hair
- Hair Loss
Using hydrogen peroxide may cause oxidative stress in the scalp, leading to hair loss. A study conducted on mice found that hydrogen peroxide mixed with other chemicals caused dermatitis and hair loss (4).
- Damaged Hair Cuticles
The oxidation process caused by bleaching breaks down the disulfide bonds between hair proteins present in the cuticles. This damages the cuticles, making the hair brittle, fragile, and prone to breakage, and causes split ends (5).
- Scalp Irritation
Hydrogen peroxide is a potential irritant. It may cause a burning sensation on the scalp. A study done on human hair and rat skin showed that 6% to 9% hydrogen peroxide solution damaged the human hair cuticle and caused swelling on rat skin (6).
Another case study published in Annals of Burns and Fire Disasters showed that 9% of hydrogen peroxide caused a chemical burn on a 16-year-old girl’s scalp (7).
Bleaching breaks apart the hair protein and removes the pigments, leaving your hair fragile and weak. Hence, you need to be extremely cautious when using hydrogen peroxide on your hair. Do a patch test and consult a doctor in case you experience any skin irritation. Also, do not forget to moisturize your hair with nourishing oils to help it rebuild the cuticles.
Expert’s Answers for Readers Questions
How long does it take for hydrogen peroxide to lighten hair?
It takes at least 30 minutes to an hour to lighten hair with hydrogen peroxide. However, the time depends on the thickness and the color intensity of your natural hair.
Is hydrogen peroxide better than the normal bleaching process?
No. Bleaching causes damage to the hair, and all hair dyes contain hydrogen peroxide. However, if you are using bleach (both commercial and DIY), ensure that the percentage of hydrogen peroxide is not more than 3%.
Will peroxide turn my hair orange?
It depends on your hair color. Usually, peroxide turns the hair a shade or two lighter. Natural brown hair runs the risk of turning orange. Here is how you can fix it.
Stylecraze has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Bleaching Human Hair
- The mechanism of hair bleaching
- Hydrogen peroxide and monoethanolamine are the key causative ingredients for hair dye-induced dermatitis and hair loss
- Dissimilar effect of perming and bleaching treatments on cuticles: advanced hair damage model based on elution and oxidation of S100A3 protein
- Significant damage of the skin and hair following hair bleaching
- Hair bleaching and skin burning
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