Bleaching Dark Hair: How to Go Light With Less Damage

Patience is a virtue.

When it comes to going blonder than blonde, the process can be a whole lot simpler for those with naturally lighter hair. But when it comes to the dark-haired ladies out there, it’s a whole other story. Whereas lighter locks can easily be concealed, bleaching dark hair is pretty tricky. It’s harder to achieve the perfect platinum shade, especially when trying to do so at home. To avoid a real challenge, keep reading to find out how you can make this process more manageable while still achieving healthy-looking (and healthy-feeling!) tresses.

1. Before you begin bleaching, take inventory of your locks.

Have you recently dyed your hair? Is your hair super dry? Do you have split ends? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may not be the right time to expose your hair to the inevitable harsh damage that comes with bleaching. Consider getting a trim and repairing ends with The Good Stuff Complete Repair Balm before bleaching.

2. Pencil it in your calendar.

Bleaching dark hair is much more of a process than bleaching lighter hair—the darker your hair is, the longer it takes to lift. Make sure you have a few weeks to bring the look to life, as the safest way to do this is in multiple sessions (think two to three weeks to make platinum magic happen!). It will take this long because it’s essential to wait a couple weeks between bleaching sessions to let your hair rest from each chemical exposure.

3. Make a beeline for bleach powder and liquid peroxide.

Bleaching dark hair will require the strongest combo on the market, and this is it. To be specific, keep an eye out for 30 volume peroxide and add that kit to your cart. And a word to the wise, if you think that 40 volume will bleach your hair faster so you don’t have to set aside as many days to get lighter, think again: If you try bleaching your full head of hair with 40 volume, it’s very likely that you could burn your scalp. Patience is a virtue!

bleaching dark hair
Don’t forget to do a strip test!

4. Perform a strand test.

As with all hair dying processes, make sure you check the product on one strand of hair before applying it onto your whole head. To get the most accurate bleaching results, dab the formula onto your strand and set a timer for five minutes. Check your strand whenever the timer buzzes and repeat until your desired blonde is achieved.

5. Moisturize your hair.

Bleaching hair in general is super depleting, but it’s especially harsh when you’re bleaching black hair. That said, treat your hair to a mask, like Nexxus Humectress Moisturizing Deep Conditioning Treatment Mask, beforehand. The more moisturized your hair is before the bleaching process, the less damage it will sustain.

6. Section your hair off.

Section your hair into three to five parts. Bleaching hair section by section allows your strands to be fully saturated so your entire head will be evenly dyed, instead of some sections being splotchy or muddy.

7. Protect yourself.

Bleach is some harsh stuff! Make sure to wear clothes that you don’t mind getting ruined, and always do it in a well-ventilated area. It’s also a good idea to use petroleum jelly to protect your forehead, ears and neck to create a barrier between your skin and the bleach, which can help lessen irritation and color staining.

8. Begin bleaching.

After you mix the bleach, apply it evenly from roots to tips, starting at about a centimeter away from your scalp. Make sure each section is fully saturated before moving to the next. Once all of your hair is covered, put on the processing cap (or fold your foils) and wait for the magic to happen. It’s important to check your strands every five to seven minutes. If the maximum exposure time has buzzed, you need to rinse out the bleach. Be sure to give your hair at least a week’s worth of rest before bleaching dark hair again.

9. While you wait, use a toner.

Since you don’t want to expose your hair to too much bleach in a short period of time, toners are here to save the day. Designed to help balance the look of dyed locks, toners will help get rid of the yellowish/orangey pigment that’s left after the initial color lift. We highly recommend using Bed Head by TIGI Dumb Blonde Toning Protection Spray to protect against heat, brassiness and restore your blonde strands.