GOOD MORNING MIDNIGHT

HOW TO: BLEACH YOUR HAIR AT HOME

SO! After years of people asking me weird questions about how I do my hair/my friends’ hair/etc, here we go, at long last, a tutorial: how to go platinum blonde at home. 

Introducing Roxie again! Look at how epic that ice blonde is! I do this! At home! It is very cheap and takes about 90 minutes total! You can do this too!

Disclaimer time: If you want to go entirely platinum and if your hair is anything other than medium-to-light and relatively short, thick, and healthy — so, if your hair is very very dark, heavily processed, very fine and prone to breakage, very thick and curly, already 4 different colours, permed, otherwise damaged, very long, etc — you should suck it up and go to a salon. Then learn how to touch up your roots at home (like this) and do that — but don’t try to do your whole head the first time, because it is going to look terrible.  But if your hair is relatively short, healthy, does not have a lot of colour on it now — go for it, you can probably do it yourself instead of throwing down the $200+ it will cost to get double-process ice blonde at a salon.

With that said, you will need:

  • A powder bleach such as L’oreal Quickblue. This stuff is cheap and comes in huge bins — I bought this eight months ago and use it once every six weeks and still have maybe two more bleach jobs left in it.
  • Developer, preferably of the same brand as the bleach, which is the liquid stuff that reacts with the powder bleach to strip the colour out of your hair (or, alternately, with colour dye to deposit the colour.) It comes in different strengths - 20, 30, 40, etc. I use 40 to take a brunette to platinum — this is stronger than the box will tell you is recommended for on-scalp (non-foiled, that is) lightening, and is pretty serious stuff. You would have to leave 20 on for quite a while to cause significant damage, but 40 will burn your hair pretty fast. It also will actually lift it without turning bright orange or needing to repeat a billion times, but it’s nothing to fuck around with. If you’re nervous, use 30 instead as it’s better to have not quite the colour you wanted than to fry your whole head off.
  • Toner: I’m a fan of Manic Panic “Virgin Snow” for ice blonde: you don’t have to mix it with anything, it smells nice, it’s easy to work with, and it makes hair softer. I’m not into the Wella toners since while they look great, mixing up the developer and ammonia-based colour always feels really harsh to me on freshly bleached hair.
  • A plastic mixing bowl. (Do not use anything metal.)
  • A plastic spatula
  • A plastic rat tail end brush (of the paintbrush-looking variety)
  • A few packs of deep conditioner (brand doesn’t matter, just get stuff that’s designated for damaged/course/dry hair. Hi Pro Pac Keratin masque is great, but there’s a billion varieties.)
  • A few pairs of gloves for your hands (important: getting bleach under your nails REALLY HURTS)
  • Some old towels you don’t mind getting messed up, and some old clothes
  • A friend, unless you are ridiculously flexible and meticulous and can do this to yourself, which is unlikely. 

All of this stuff (except the friend) is available at beauty supply stores like Ricky’s or Sally. The whole pile of it will be around $40-50 and you should get a few jobs out of it.

We are starting here featuring me as the bleacher and with my willing victim, who as you can see has very short, relatively dark brown hair which has been bleached before with about 3/4 inch of roots.

So. Get yourself all set up: Put on some gross clothes you don’t mind getting bleach on, put a towel around the neck of your victim, put your gloves on, clear off a space on a table (put some paper down if you’re prone to being messy) and lay out all your materials…. rest after the jump.  

1.) Mix the bleach.  Quickblue calls for 1 scoop of bleach powder to 1.5-2oz developer; I double the mix just to make sure I have enough and used 2 scoops of powder and 4 oz creme 40 developer. Pour the developer in the mixing bowl first since you’ll need to measure it using the graduated lines on the bowl (4oz is just shy of 120 ml, if your mixing bowl, like mine, insists on metric), which gets a little challenging once there’s already powder in there. Stir it up with the plastic spatula — it should start getting kind of weird and mousse-like.

2.) Use the rattail end of the brush to section off hair and the brush end to apply.  Sections should be VERY THIN to ensure even application — think of how this looks at the salon when they do this with foils. Make a small part in the hair, spread the bleach on it in both directions like so, and then make another part directly behind the one you just made (in this photo I am lifting the hair up to do that.) Imagine it is the page of a book — you are turning the page and the two ‘already bleached’ pages will now be touching, and you have a fresh section to work with. Do the same thing there — bleach on both sides — and continue. I usually start at the crown of the head and work down through the sides, front, and back, and as the hair starts to lift (fancy hair terms for “lighten”) go back over and add more to the spots that I’ve missed.

Bleach is heat-activated, so if you are doing more than an inch of roots, the bits near your scalp will bleach MUCH more quickly and lift a few more levels than the rest.  To deal with this, put the bleach everywhere but on the roots for the first 20 minutes, then go back over the head and add a bit more at the roots and blend into where you already applied.  Again, this also lets you see parts that aren’t lifting as quickly or that you missed, so you can fix your mistakes as you go.

If your hair is already bleached and you are filling in roots, avoid getting too much bleach on the already-dyed sections as it will damage it. This is going to look pretty funny, see?

3.) Now is the fun part where you should give your victim a snack or an ice pop or Netflix instant or a beer or something, because their head is going to be very itchy for a while and they’re just gonna sit there.  I usually push developing time to around 45 minutes, but if your head starts burning too much, give up.  It should sting a little and get real itchy and feel hot - literally, the chemical reaction produces heat - but if you’re seriously in pain just rinse it out and deal with paying to get it fixed rather than actually burning up your scalp.  Alternately, sometimes I’ve used a foil-lined cap or some heat to speed up the process, but you probably shouldn’t do this until you’ve seen how your hair and head react to bleach.

Check in on the hair periodically; you will be able to watch it as it lifts and let it get to the level you desire. It will still be yellow: pay attention to the lightness, not the colour, since you’re going to tone it next. Yellow is fine, orange is not. If it doesn’t lift enough after 45 minutes or so and is still a nasty orange, wash it out, deep condition, and either 1.) go to a salon and tell them you followed some moron instructions on the internet or do what I usually do and 2.) wear a hat for a few days, deep condition like crazy, and repeat the process.  Do not try to do it again right now or leave the bleach on for longer, your hair will be fried. But generally if you wait a few days, take care of your hair, and re-bleach, it’ll fix the problem. 

4.) Jump in a cool-ish shower and rinse the bleach out and wash the hair with a little bit of a very mild shampoo.  Condition. Rinse. Towel-dry.

 

5.) Have your victim sit down again. Their hair should be very light by now but probably is a disgusting neon yellow, which is what you’re going to deal with now.  Virgin Snow is super easy to work with and gets that ice-blue silver-blonde thing really well. Slap on another pair of gloves, slather a ton of the nice lavender goo all over their hair but not on the roots just yet, and then comb it through to the roots and ends for a while with a wide-tooth comb until it also turns into kind of a weird mousse texture.  Have another ice pop or beer or watch another TNG episode on Netflix or whatever. I usually leave it in around half an hour; again, check in on the colour and follow the instructions on the box. Rinse again and deep condition (yes, again) and you should be set!

Quick disclaimer again: this is what exactly the same level and time of bleach did on my hair, which while naturally very blonde is a.) long and b.) has been dyed near-black about four times on the ends here.

You’ll notice that the streak is a brassy copper — which, unless you want your whole head to be that colour, is why if you want to go really light on already-darkened hair, you should suck it up and pay for it. 

But! Look what happens if you have the right hair and do this all right!

Perf! You should use some kind of blonde shampoo of course, condition a lot, and you can always re-tone without bleaching a week or two later if it starts getting yellowy again. If you missed a few spots (it takes a while to get the hang of applying it evenly) just wait a day or two, mix up a lil’ batch of bleach and touch up the weird bits, you’ll only need to leave the bleach on for 15 minutes probably… rinse, condition, and tone again and you should be fine.

Using a violet or blue shampoo is really helpful too — Shimmerlights is great, but smells like a damn grandma.  A secret trick of mine is that Manic Panic mixes up just fine with most conditioners.  Dump a bunch of the Virgin Snow into your conditioner and mix it up and bam, you’re re-toning every time you shower!

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