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Post Info TOPIC: Bleach - what it is and how to use it.


Mookish Deity Most High

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Bleach - what it is and how to use it.


Before I start, I'm a trained hairdresser but I am not the be-all and end-all for knowledge.  I got this stuff drummed into my head at college and I wanted to do a thread to try and answer all the bleaching questions.

Bleach is a product designed to permanently lighten hair.  It's usually bought in a form of powder which is then mixed with Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2 for the chemists out there).  It can also be bought as a gel or oil which is then mixed with the H2O2.

Some dos and don'ts.

DO
Wear protective gloves when handling.
Protect furniture, wood, material when using.
Use an old towel around your shoulders when applying and during development.
Use in a well ventilated area.
Skin test yourself in case of an allergic reaction.  Some people can be allergic to peroxide.  Minor irritation such as redness, blotching or severe itching is an indication that your skin does not like the product and you should not proceed, no matter how badly you want blonde hair.  Blistered scalp is not sexy!  In some very extreme cases you may suffer anaphylactic shock or death...and noone wants that!

DON'T
Inhale the powder or fumes.
Use product on any body hair unless specifically designed for the area eg NEVER use bleach designed for the hair on your head to bleach eyebrows!
Use metallic bowls, brushes or clips when mixing and applying the product (the metal will react with the product).


Hair
That stuff growing out of your head that comes in a range of colours which most of us like to change now and again.
Made up of a tube (the hair shaft) which is filled with molecules of pigment/colour (melanin) and structural hydrogen and salt bonds which form the cortex.
Protected on the outside by a layer of tile-like cells which make up the cuticle layer.  These cells open and close to allow moisture and products into the hair.

Hydrogen Peroxide
Liquid chemical which forces opens the cuticle layer to allow the bleach to enter the cortex.
It is available in various strengths - 10 vol, 20 vol, 30 vol and 40 vol.  It also can be bought as 60 vol strength but this is never used on hair.

The strength of H2O2 relates to how many levels it can lighten the hair.  Hair colour is based on a scale of Base Colours from 1 to 10. 1 is darkest and 10 is lightest.  So if you are a base 6 (kinda lightish brown/very dark blonde) and you wish to be very light blonde of base 10 then you have to lighten by 4 levels.

It's easy to remember how many levels the H2O2 will lighten
20vol - up to 2 levels
30vol - up to 3 levels
40vol - up to 4 levels

This scale is a guide and bleach will lift a bit higher than just the peroxide levels.  It's worth noting that when bleaching it's best to do two applications of 20 vol than one application of 40 vol.  It just takes longer but doesn't wreck your hair as much.

Bleaching will also remove previous hair colour in order to lighten the hair and allow a lighter colour to be applied.  Applying lighter colour on top of previously coloured hair will not lighten the hair and may result in darker hair.

How it works
When the powder and H2O2 mixture is applied to the hair, the H2O2 opens the cuticle allowing the bleaching agents to enter the cortex and react with the melanin pigments to remove the colour.  Think of it like a tube of smarties, the smarties being the melanin.  If you take out the smarties and suck all the colour off then put them back in the tube that's basically what's happening to your hair (except the melanin molecules don't actually get taken out of the hair, but then you're not sucking the colour off them and they probably don't taste as yummy as smarties anyway).  The "smarties" also shrink in size so dark hair has large melanin molecules while white hair has no molecules at all (smartie tube is empty).  This is why very light hair after bleaching snaps easily - there is no inner structure to provide strength.

Re-applying bleach onto hair that is already bleached to very light blonde will lighten it to white but it will also cause the hair to be completely empty.  The cuticle layer will be extremely damaged which could result in your hair snapping.  The damage to your cortex will allow the hair to stretch - that lovely "chewing gum" effect on over-bleached hair - when it's wet.

If you are naturally very dark haired it's better to lighten using permanent colour mixed with 30 vol H2O2 and THEN bleach it rather than applying bleach several times to your hair.  After all, you're lightening it because you want to show off your lovely hair not because you want it all to end up in the bath!  I would also recommend having a professional hairdresser do this as the professional products are different to the shop-bought ones and can be mixed with different strengths.

Application
Mix according to manufacturers instructions, I'm not going to tell you how and then have someone come back and say they followed my instructions and ended up with the wrong consistency or whatever.

You need to put enough on the hair to coat it, putting too little on will end up giving you patchy areas where there wasn't enough product to work on the hair.  Also, make sure the mixture doesn't dry out, it should usually be thick but moist.  If it looks powdery it needs more H2O2 (if it's been in the bowl for longer than about 20 mins mix a new batch).

Again, don't reapply to already bleached hair!  If you're doing your roots then only apply it to the natural hair.  You could end up with your hair snapping off otherwise (a very slight overlap won't kill it but be careful).

Development

You can do a test piece before committing to your whole head - cut a few strands of hair at the root and apply some mixture to it and check how long it takes to lighten.  This will give you an idea of how long your whole head should take.  The top of your head will lighten more quickly so if you're doing your whole head start at the back.


As your hair lightens you will see various shades of reds and oranges and yellows.  Do NOT freak out when it's a bright orange shade, this is normal and the hair needs more time to process.

The colours it should go through (based on your hair being natural to start with) are as follows...
Red (if you have quite dark hair)
Red/Orange
Orange
Orange/Yellow
Yellow
Pale Yellow
Palest Yellow  (why they didn't come up with better descriptions of the last two I'll never know)

Don't worry if it starts at Orange/Yellow, it's all based on your natural hair colour so you're probably not very dark to start with.

If your hair already has permanent colour on it you might not see the full range of colours but that's ok.

Bleach should not be left on the hair for more than about 30-45 minutes - again, read the manufacturers instructions for recommended development times.  If you're doing a whole head it's better to wash off after 30 mins and reapply where required than leave it for 45 and have some of the hair be over-processed.  Again - best to do two applications of 20 vol than one application of 40 vol.

You can touch up bits as the hair develops - you might spot a bit that needs more mixture applied.

Heat will speed up the development, some guides tell you to wrap your head in clingfilm and then a towel but please read the instructions because some products will tell you NOT to apply any heat.  Your head is where you lose most heat from so your natural body heat will be sufficient.  Patience is definitely a virtue when it comes to bleaching.

Removal
After the development time you should rinse all the product off thoroughly using warm water.  Do NOT pull or rub the lengths of your hair while you do this, the hair is very fragile and can snap!  Gently running your fingers down the hair will be fine. 

Make sure to get all the product off your scalp, you don't want to leave some on and have irritated skin later.  Keep rinsing until all the product is removed, you may want to shampoo your hair (one that has restructuring properties preferably or a moisturising one), rinse and then apply LOADS of conditioner.  If you can, leave the conditioner on the hair for 5 minutes or use a deep conditioning treatment/masque.  Your hair will thank you for this by not looking dull and dry.  Rinse off the conditioner and gently towel-dry your hair.  Again, do not rub the hair!


After-care
Use a heat protector before blow drying and/or straightening the hair - you've got this far, don't wreck it now!

If you go swimming, be sure and wear a cap and use shampoo to get rid of the chlorine otherwise your lovely blonde locks will start to turn a shade of green.  It's not even a nice green!


Bleach Bathing

Ok, so you've got some faded colour on your hair and you'd like to get rid of it but you don't need to do the full bleaching process again (as you've already bleached it and we know that you shouldn't bleach over bleach).

Following all my previous dos and don'ts - mix up equal parts bleach powder, 20 vol peroxide and water.  Apply this to the coloured parts of your hair and watch it develop.  Depending on whether your hair has semi-permanent or permanent colour and how "stuck" it is, will affect the development time.  Once it's gone (or after 20 mins, whichever comes first) rinse it off and check your hair.  If there is still some colour, reapply a newly mixed bleach bath mix and repeat the process.

 

Removing Permanent Colour

For hair that has been coloured several times you can go straight to the normal bleach. 

For hair that's been coloured a couple of times do the bleach bath method.

 

Removing Semi-permanent Colour

Semi-permanents can be faded using a shampoo such as Head&Shoulders or Vosene.  Also useful is the shampoo designed for white hair (usually referred to as silver shampoo but it's actually purple). 

After fading, a bleath bath should remove any that is left. 

Be aware that red/pink on blonde can stick more than blue or green.  This is to do with the size of the molecules in the colour.

 


If you have any questions or comments feel free, I'll edit this as and when it needs done.

 


-- Edited by Spikeyfaerie on Saturday 5th of November 2011 03:07:00 PM



-- Edited by Spikeyfaerie on Thursday 17th of November 2011 03:01:32 PM

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High Mookish Shaman

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Thanks Spikeyfaeire, this was very interesting and informative. I confess i have been doing unthinkable things to my hair for the past 8 years. My dying regime consists of a bleach every 5 months or so, to properly discolour it, otherwise buying dye is just a waste.

As you advised, I don't bleach my ends, they are blond already. I dye the middle part, keeping well away from the roots and wrap my head in plastic so nothing dries out. I use olive oil to moisturise every few weeks and wash with 2 in 1 so as not to dry my hair out too much. My hair is in good condition thanks to all of this.

It was great to see a professional's advice. I have nothing to add!

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Mookish Deity Most High

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2 in 1s are a bit of an oxymoron since shampoo opens your cuticle to wash off the products and grime while conditioner closes your cuticle...so they are working against each other. Good that you use the oil and stuff to moisturise your hair smile.gif

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High Mookish Shaman

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I read up on indian head oils, since they have such amazing, shiny hair, and turns out its mostly olive oil!

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Honoured Mook

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RE: Bleachinz


Now I'm thinking maybe it's not worth it... hmm... I wish school wasn't so stupid when it comes to rules.

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Mookish Deity Most High

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RE: Bleach - what it is and how to use it.


Thanks for the info Spikeyfaerie! I want to dye/bleach my hair for the first and was just wondering about bleach in general. This post was very informative and I now know to use 20vol or 30vol on my hair.

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Professor Mook (mod)

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This is fantastic. I am not a bleachy person, but I still found it really interesting. Hopefully this will stop some of the repetitive bleach threads. Good work!!! :)

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Runic Mook of the North (mod)

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I would of course not advise anyone to do this, in case they are extremely silly/clumsy, spill bleach into their eyes and go blind, but I bleach my eyebrows while wearing swimming goggles.

What I would advise home-bleachers is to do a little test on your skin the first time, just to check that you don't get a horrible reaction to the bleach. Better a little blister on your arm than blisters all over your head.

And if your scalp starts to hurt while the bleach is on, rinse it out ASAP.

Also, if your are going to dye your hair in a bright colour, do not use conditioner until after you have dyed it. As Spikey said, it closes the cuticles. What you want is to let the dye soak in, but not let it out. Therefore, after dying: Conditioner for at least 5 minutes and rinse with as cold water as you can bear.





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Professor Mook (mod)

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I made this into a sticky by the way, because I thought it was an important thread!

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Regular Crew

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RE: Bleachinz


If your hair is naturally dark, it won't take as long to lighten. You could probably get away with 20 vol.... Just don't do what I did. I bleached my hair 7 times with 30 vol (it'd been dyed black repeatedly for a while, so...). But if it's your natural colour you're trying to lighten, it won't be anywhere near as hard (or take as long) as stripping dark hair dye. 20/30 vol is ideal, and keep in mind that if you do damage your hair too badly, which I don't think you will, looking at your picture your hair doesn't look extremely dark, you can always buy conditioning treatments.

Yes, it is permanent, but like Immi said, you can always dye over it.

Something to keep in mind for next time, this is a much longer process, but you can buy lightening sprays for your hair (or make one). It's basically a conditioning spray with lemon juice mixed in. Lemon juice is a natural bleach. Put it in each morning, and if your hair's getting any sunlight during the day, it'll lighten. Like I said, it's slow and subtle, but doesn't damage your hair at all, and will help the dye catch in your hair.

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Professor Mook (mod)

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have you seen Spikeyfaerie's thread about bleach!? This might answer some of your questions.

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Mookish Deity Most High

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RE: Bleach - what it is and how to use it.


Oh! yay for stickiness! smile.gif

I'm going to add a little bit to the original about chlorine and bleach.

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Mookish Deity Most High

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Bleachinz


Actually, lemon juice does damage your hair...just not as quickly as bleach powder. Since it's pH is way different to that of your hair.

-- Edited by Spikeyfaerie on Thursday 25th of March 2010 06:06:28 PM

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Runic Mook of the North (mod)

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Bleach - what it is and how to use it.


let's just merge it. I need to practice my new mod powers :)


oopsy daisy... I thought it would attach itself nicely after the first thread, but it seems they have just blended in chronological order. Gah, I always mess up in new jobs.. mumble...mumble...

I think I'm just going to delete the oldest posts here.. yes... nice and tidy...


-- Edited by Irilar on Thursday 25th of March 2010 06:23:34 PM

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Mookish Deity Most High

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I'll post in here and not start a new thread. I have some 40vol peroxide and bleach powder. I need to bleach my roots, but I don't need them to go blonde, just a gingery colour to dye my red over, by the time my friend finishes doing my hair, the bits she did first are too light.

Someone mentioned to me that I could water down the bleach, how would I do this, if it can be done?

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Runic Mook of the North (mod)

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I mixed the tiny little leftover of bleach with water and put in my mother's hair the other day, and it seemed to slow down the bleaching process considerably. On the other hand, it also got very runny, which wasn't a problem with her short hair, but it might be messy if you are only bleaching the roots?

Other that, my experience with my dark red manic panic dyes (vampire red mostly) is that it doesn't matter if some bits are orange and some are white. It all turns out the same red shade in the end. Lighter colours on the other hand...

To be on the safe side, I always put the bleach on in symmetrical order: in parting, in fringe, along the sides of the face(I often wear my hair up), bits between ear and parting, back of head and finally neck. Thus, if I have a light colour and don't leave the bleach in for all the time, I get a nice effect of the hair gradually getting darker towards the back.

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Mookish Deity Most High

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If you just need them to go a little bit then you're probably only wanting 20vol peroxide.

20 is 1/2 of 40. Whatever amount of peroxide you need eg 50ml mix half and half so 25ml water with 25ml of your 40vol peroxide.

Irilar is right, it is a bit runnier but it shouldn't be too bad.

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Mookish Deity Most High

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I shall try that! thank you =) and buy 20vol next time!

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Regular Crew

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bleach and drastic dye job


hmmszorry if this has already been asked but i cant find anything quite right... i have fine wavy naturally mid/dark hair currently a faded red colour. i would love to go pink or bright bright red or whatever but i  guess i have to bleach it .....eeekkkkkkk...... i have never bleached my hair and my hairdresser doesnt want to wreck my healthy shiny hair so is not to keen on doing it sooooo how do i do it myself for best results please

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Professor Mook (mod)

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So is your hair naturally auburn or ginger then?

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Mookish Deity Most High

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There is a sticky topic at the top of the topics page about bleaching :) If you want to dye it a red ask your hairdresser as there are some colours they can use where you don't need to bleach your hair.

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my hair is a sort of coppery brown colour .... i have had my hair dyed red at 3 different hairdressers and it just doesnt seem to hold or come up very bright...... will my fine hair fry if i bleach it or is it ok if im careful??

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Regular Crew

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oh for god sakes i just noticed the sticky bleach duh im a dumb ass

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Mookish Deity Most High

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Buy some mega intense conditioner, Aussie 3 Minute Miracle works for me, and smother your hair in it, wrap in clingfilm/a towel most night for about a week before bleaching, and the same after too, to make sure your hair is in it's best condition.

And use low factor bleach.

Coincidentally, I have two tubs of Manic Panic Vampire Red and 1 closed and another mostly full but opened tub of Directions Poppy Red if you're looking for bright reds, I was going to stick them on ebay ;)

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Professor Mook (mod)

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I just got some Manic Panic Hot Pink, and I am going to try it out on part of my hair... Mine is ginger, so I guess I will just have to see.

My aunty Manic Panicked my hair with a bright purple when I was 15. I wanted pink, but she did it with purple. We didn't bleach it, and my hair went greeny browny purple. It was bad...

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Mookish Deity Most High

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^^ Go Candi!

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Mookish Deity Most High

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If she's not after them picklechops then I'll buy them off you sometime soon.

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Regular Crew

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ooo yes picklechops that would be great but gothgirl i dont want to nick em if you want it :)

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Mookish Deity Most High

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Nah hun, Ive got mine green at the mo, I was just thinking I'd get them if she was selling them to go red again in a few months as I like to change my hair lol, so if you're after them ask picklechops, I can get some more later when I'm actually after it.

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Mookish Deity Most High

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Yeah just drop me a message!

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