What You Should Know Before Bleaching Your Hair
Is it really that easy?
Ever since I was a young teen, I've always wanted to bleach my hair. Sure, I've dyed my hair into lighter shades of brown, and even had red hair, but it was a little hard considering my natural hair color is almost pitch black. Plus, my hair is actually naturally curly (and frizzy). I wasn't sure how that would work considering I was already damaging my hair by straightening it everyday.
It wasn't until I turned 22 did I fulfill my dream of achieving pastel lavender hair color. Or should I say nightmare.
What's been incredibly popular as of today, is bleached hair. And I mean, who can blame them? At some point almost all of us have wanted a hair color vastly different than the one we possess, and mine was lavender.
A friend of mine had come over to my house one day and I remember talking about how she had recently bleached her hair, and how good it looked. I wanted it.
I didn't think about how different our hair texture was, because since we had the same hair color I thought, "Well, why the heck not? I've wanted this for years."
So I went to the store, bought a tub L'Oreal bleach, some toner, and semi-permanent pastel lavender hair color. It costed me quite a bit since I have incredibly thick hair, but I didn't mind. I really didn't take into account how much it would cost me to maintain, and what it could possibly do to my hair.
During the process of bleaching my hair, midway when my boyfriend's mom, sister, brother, and boyfriend himself were all frantically trying to cover my hair in bleach so parts wouldn't lighten faster, I realized I messed up.
The thing about my hair is that it's curly. Really, really curly. It's also incredibly thick, but aside from that, it's dark.
My first mistake was trying to bleach my hair from root to tip. My second mistake was deciding to bleach already dyed hair. My third and biggest mistake was bleaching my hair for the first time with no prior knowledge other than a couple of YouTube videos. By the time I really knew what I was doing, the damage was already done.
I'm not trying to scare you, if you want to bleach your hair and have more patience than me and are less prone to freaking out over breakage, go ahead. Some of my best pictures were when I bleached my hair, but that was hours after maintaining, and straightening because the bleach had not only taken away my curls, but had made my hair into a frizzy unmanageable mess.
However, before you bleach your hair, determine whether or not you want to maintain it, and most importantly, spend an immense amount of money into taking care of it.
1. Go to a Professional: If it's your first time bleaching, I implore you to get it professionally done first, before attempting to do it yourself. The reason being, is you can only get so much knowledge from a YouTube video, and each person's hair is different considering texture, length, hair-care regime, color, and thickness. A professional will understand what your hair will personally need in order for proper maintaining and hair health in general.
2. Bleach: If this isn't your first rodeo, or if you just honestly don't care who does it as long as it's done (like I did), you will need to know what bleach to get, and what not to get. In simple terms, what bleach basically does is it strips away all of the melanin (color) out of your hair. This is irreversible.
There's different types of bleach. There are some that work fast (Quick Blue works really, really fast. I guess hence it's name), and some that are more gentle for hair that's either already been dyed, or is delicate.
The difference between a salon vs discount beauty salon brands are the ingredients, but most importantly, the quality of ingredients. A salon bleach will obviously have more nourishing components, while the cheaper generic brands have, well, cheaper ingredients.
You also need to know how many levels certain brands of bleach can go up to. Just beware of options that will give you faster results, over healthier hair.
3. Developer: You will need a developer to mix in with your bleach. Like with bleach, the type of developer you use is important. Quality is more important than the amount of time you save.
A developer is what will activate the bleach and also open up your hair cuticle so that color can penetrate your hair. There are different levels of hair developer, typically ranging 10, 20, 30, and 40. The higher the level, the stronger.
It's critical that you know how to use this properly just so you don't irreversibly damage your (already about to be damaged) hair and receive chemical burns (the same goes with bleach). 30 and 40 are used for dark hair, but I definitely don't recommend ever using a level 40 unless you have virgin hair. Aside from that, a level 40 is rarely used just because a 20 and 30 are pretty strong already.
It's recommended that you use a level 20. If you're just starting out, and your hair is dark(naturally), go for the 30. A 10 can be used if your hair is light, but maybe not light enough.
4. Toner: Surprisingly, a lot of people have no idea what a toner is, even after bleaching their hair. I've also witnessed toner and dye getting mixed as being the same thing. I've even seen people get angry with their stylist, or the brand of bleach they used, because of the brassy color that comes after bleaching.
It's important to understand that this has nothing to do with the competence of you, or your hair stylist, but rather, the chemistry of your hair.
When you finally get the light shade you desire, you might notice your hair isn't exactly what you expected it. Maybe there's various shades of yellow, or maybe there's a variety of not only yellow, but orange.
Depending on the type of color you want, you may or may not need a toner. For example, if you want an ashy, cool tone, then you will want, no need, to use a toner to neutralize any orange, and yellow. If your goal is to simply go a warmer blonde, a toner might not be necessary.
A toner is what will basically even out the brassy tones in bleached hair, and give your hair a glossier look. It does not penetrate the hair, and will fade after about six to eight weeks. Be sure to ask a professional, or do research on the type of toner, and even the brand, you need for the hair color you're trying to achieve.
5. Hair Dye: Unlike toner, bleach, and developer, hair dye will penetrate the hair cuticle give you color. Keep in mind that coloring your hair is also damaging, and this color will, for the most part, be permanent. So make sure that you do strand tests first before coloring your hair fully, just to make sure you will be getting your desired results.
If you're worried about your already damaged hair by this point, there are safer dyes out there rather than your cheap generic brands.
6. Upkeep: Depending on how fast your hair grows will depend on how much upkeep and touch-ups you'll need to do. This can get quite costly especially if you have thick hair like mine.
7. Damage: Buckle your seat belts people, and listen closely. You can invest in the most expensive bleaching products, and even use the best conditioners, but your hair will be damaged. Bleaching strips away melanin, and even moisture, making your hair a bit crispier than before. Your hair tried to suck up whatever it could to get moisture and you gave it toner and hair dye.
It's important by this point to use deep conditioning products. It's also best if you don't do what I did, and style your hair using heat. It's also crucial that you try your best not to wash your hair so much.
Before bleaching my hair, my hair would easily get oily, so I would shower every day. After the bleaching process, my hair was so dry, I didn't have to wash it every day, but rather every three days.
When washing your hair, under no circumstances should you use shampoo right after a bleaching session. Trust me, it's not good. I learned the hard way when I was told exactly this, and let curiosity get the best of me. I put a glob of shampoo in my hand, and lathered it in my hair. Almost instantaneously, my hair said, "I can't believe you did that." It bunched together like I had gelled it to my head, and felt almost hard as little twigs. Just, believe me. No shampoo.
Along with dry hair, be prepared for your hair to come out in clumps weeks after bleaching it. It doesn't matter how much conditioning you use, you cannot get rid of the damage unless you cut it all off. You will go through a period of your hair just falling out, either while brushing it or showering even after taking the best care of it. However, to lessen the effects of damage, do deep conditioning as much as needed.
Despite all of this trouble, I really enjoyed the color of my hair (for the most part). It's important that through all of this, you be patient especially if your hair isn't naturally light. Bleaching your hair is a process. It took me two months before I got the desired color.
Aside from being a process, it'll be trial and error especially if you're a beginner. Like I said, everyone's hair is different, and requires specific things.
Even if you don't like the color, or if you damaged your hair, just remember that your hair will grow out, and one day, you'll be able to either start again, or look fondly at your mistakes and decide to never touch bleach again.
If you're anything like I was and want to bleach your hair, go for it. Hair is hair and if you don't like it, just wait for it to grow back out. And remember the most important part: Have fun with it!
I loved the pastel lavender I went with, and even after all the damage and trouble, and heartache, I'll probably go back in with more knowledge and confidence and come out with even better results than the first time.