Are you bored of your hair? Pondering, if it’s stylish to switch up the colours of your fashion, then why not your follicles too? Then considering going platinum.
To save you the embarrassment of trying to style out fluoro-ginger, we’ve compiled the do’s and don’ts of embracing your inner Eminem. This is your no-BS guide on how to bleach hair.
Things to Consider Before Getting Your Hair Bleached
Before getting bleached hair, these are the main things to consider and keep in mind.
It really isn’t just a number. Bleached hair might be more popular than ever, but they’re still a young man’s game. Past your late 30s – 40 at a stretch – bleaching your hair is the equivalent to having a regrettable affair in the backseat of a Maserati you can’t afford. That said, if you just can’t help yourself, go for a steely blond grey that doesn’t so much highlight your age, as complement it.
This is not one for the faint of skin. While darker skin tones pair well with bleached blond hair (as do lighter, even skin tones), very fair, freckled skin doesn’t have the requisite melanin to balance out a bleached style’s strong tones. There are no hard and fast rules of course, but it’s important to know that if you’re fair-skinned, bleached hair, like a pastel polo shirt, has a very good chance of washing you out.
Hair Type & Colour
Think about your overall grooming routine. Are you basically Patrick Bateman? Or more of a shit, shower and shave bloke? If the latter, the maintenance required to keep bleached hair looking its best may prove a pain in the proverbial. Not only can the bleaching itself take multiple appointments, but once bleached, your hair will also require additional TLC including specialist shampoos and deep-conditioning treatments.
Going peroxide might not be the subversive style statement it once was (shout out to Billy Idol), but that’s not to say it’ll wash in every situation. If you work a corporate job in an office with a business-casual dress code, blond bleached hair probably isn’t a vibe. Similarly, if your off-duty wardrobe consists mostly of smart shirts and sensible chinos, then a less eye-catching hairstyle might be a snugger fit for your aesthetic.
What to Do Before Bleaching Your Hair
If you’re ready to take the platinum leap, these are the main things you’ll want to do before going bleach blonde.
Wash Your Hair
“Do this the day before you intend to bleach it, rather than the day of,” says Bayoumi. “Washing your hair the day of can leave your scalp dry and sensitive, which puts you at risk of irritation from the bleach that you could otherwise avoid.” This is especially important if you’re going the whole root-to-tip hog, rather than just adding tips or highlights.
Hold The Product
“Styling products slow the rate at which the bleach takes effect on hair, which can delay the whole process,” says Bayoumi. So, no matter how Sideshow Bob your hair’s disposition, arrive at your appointment sans-pomade.
Ditch Heat-Styling Tools
Straighteners and hair dryers can be hard on hair, leaving it dry and brittle even before any bleaching chemicals have been slathered on. So, to better your chances of a safer and more successful bleach, swerve them for a few days in advance of your appointment.
Cut The Chemical Relaxant
Guys with afro hair, if you’re considering having your natural ‘do chemically relaxed, don’t. “Hair that has been chemically relaxed is already weak, so bleaching it would only result in breakage,” says Bayoumi. This leaves with you two options: have your hair cut, or wait for the relaxant to grow out.
Even London’s best barbers will have a hard job magically transplanting David Beckham’s bonce directly onto yours. That said, arriving at your appointment equipped with references illustrating the look you have in mind can help whoever’s welding the bleach to get a better idea of what you’re after. Remember, they’re stylists, not miracle workers.
How To Bleach Hair Professionally
The bleaching process itself is similar to colouring hair, but often more time-consuming and laborious than a straightforward dye job. Here’s the lowdown, according to award-winning hairstylist Jamie Stevens (who, by the way, is totally worth entrusting your locks to.) The bleach powder and activator (this is usually peroxide, which activates the bleach powder) are mixed. The amount of powder required depends on a few factors including hair type , colour and the look you’re trying to achieve – roots, for example, will require less than a full head of hair.
Step 1: Mixing the ingrediets
The bleach powder and activator (this is usually peroxide, which activates the bleach powder) are mixed. The amount of powder required depends on a few factors including hair type, colour and the look you’re trying to achieve – roots, for example, will require less than a full head of hair.
Step 2: Applying the product
The mixture is applied to the hair. If you have hair longer than an inch or so, the tips and mid-lengths should be painted first, as these take longer to develop than the roots. Once the hair is totally covered, it’s time to allow the bleach to get to work.
Step 3: Waiting for the colour to develop
The colour is left to develop. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the colour of your existing hair, the strength of the peroxide used and the tone you want to achieve.
Step 4: Rinsing
Next, the hair is rinsed thoroughly with warm water and shampoo.
Step 5: Applying toner
Toner is applied, which helps neutralise any brassy, yellow tones in the hair to achieve a cool, white hue. Once applied, it’s left to do its work for around 15-30 minutes.
Step 6: Conditioning
The toner is thoroughly rinsed from the hair, and a conditioning treatment is applied. While not absolutely necessary, a conditioning treatment is advisable as it helps repair the hair after bleaching.
NB. Bleaching is less an instant style switch-up as a dedicated lifestyle. If you want to go whiteout blond, there’s a good chance you’ll need to pay your colourist at least one more visit, and possibly two.
How To Bleach Hair At Home
Don’t. At least, don’t unless you absolutely have to. “I would never recommend bleaching your hair at home,” says Stevens. “Whether you’ve bought products on the high street or even invested in some from a salon, it can end in disaster if not used correctly and carefully.” Bleaching your hair DIY-style is like sleeping with someone you work with: not (usually) lethal, but seriously ill-advised. But if you can’t be dissuaded, follow these steps to minimise the risks. And don’t say we didn’t tell you so.
Bleached Hair Tool Checklist
To have the most smooth experience when it comes to bleaching your hair at home, these are the essential items you’ll want to gather beforehand:
- Deep Conditioner: Prior to bleaching your hair, you’ll want to ensure that it’s properly hydrated. Use deep conditioner frequently for the two weeks leading up to when you want to bleach your hair. Conditioning masks also work wonders and can be used every other night prior to bleaching.
- Old Clothes: Wear a shirt you don’t care about in case in comes in contact with bleach.
- Old Towel: After rinsing the bleach out, you’ll want to dry your hair with an old towel in case there’s any residue leftover. If you’re concerned about spilling or dripping bleach, you can also lay an old towel on your bathroom floor.
- Hair Bleach: This one is pretty essential to the process, and you’ll have no shortage of options to choose from.
- Hair Clips: If you have longer locks, you’ll benefit from some hair clips to separate your strands during the bleaching process. This ensures you don’t miss any, and you can also clip your hair up while it sets to prevent bleach from seeping into your clothes or skin.
- Shampoo: You’ll need to shampoo your hair before and after bleaching, so having this on hand is a must.
- Gloves: Always wear gloves while applying bleach to your hair as it can irritate skin if it comes in contact.
A Step-By-Step Guide to Bleaching Your Hair at Home
Once you’ve gathered all your tools, here’s a step by step guide for how to get a perfect bleach job in your very own bathroom.
Step 1: Wear the right clothes & protect your hands
When bleaching your hair at home, wear clothes you don’t mind ruining and always protect your hands with plastic gloves as bleaching powders are strong and irritating to the skin.
Step 2: Do a patch test
It’s advisable to do a patch test first. Mix a small amount of the colour and use a cotton swab to apply it to the inside of your elbow. Wait at least 24 hours, if there’s no irritation, you’re good to go.
Step 3: Start mixing
Follow the instructions and mix the developer and bleach powder at the correct ratio for the planned effect.
Step 4: Applying the bleach
Step 5: Wait until your hair turns light yellow
Leave the bleach in for the recommended time until your hair is a light-yellow colour. Dark hair may require several treatments, but leave two weeks between each to minimise damage.
Step 6: Use toner
Follow up with toner to get the exact colour you want before rinsing twice.
Step 7: Hydrate
Finish off with a hydrating hair mask to keep the hair from getting brittle.
Home Hair Bleach Products
How To Look After Bleached Hair
Bleached hair takes little to look after, but it’s important to keep these tips in mind to maintain your bright blonde look.
Wash Your Hair Less
Because bleach tends to strip the hair and scalp of sebum (the oily substance that keeps it from drying out), it’s worth skipping a wash every now and then to prevent your scalp becoming irritated and your hair extremely dry and brittle.
Use Purple Shampoo And Conditioner
“Blond doesn’t fade as such, but it does tend to turn a brassy gold due to factors such as air pollution or chemicals in swimming pools for example,” says Bayoumi. “A good purple shampoo and conditioner will help neutralise any yellow tones so that the hair keeps its platinum shade for longer.”
Just as it’s important to go easy on the straighteners and hair dryers before you get your hair bleached, it’s crucial you avoid them as much as possible once it’s bleached too. That’s not to say you need to boycott them entirely, but it’s worth assessing your hair’s condition before using a straightener, and remember to always use a hair dryer on a cool setting where possible.
Use A Mask Or Treatment Conditioner
“If your hair is longer than a short crop, swap purple conditioner for a nourishing treatment conditioner twice a week to keep it strong, healthy and looking its best,” says Bayoumi.
3 Celebrity Bleached Hair Styles To Try
Need some bleachspo? We asked Joe & Co’s Bayoumi to weigh in on some of the best celebrity styles, and why they work.
“The platinum blond effect here really shows off the silhouette of Zac Efron’s parted hairstyle. It also complements his blue eyes and the naturally cooler tones of his facial hair.”
“Thanks to his skin tone, Zayn Malik is as suited to warm blond tones as he is to cool ones. Here, his hair colour sits somewhere between. The tone of his hair has a warmth, but it’s also got a distinctive iridescent finish.”
“Miles Teller’s hair here is perfect for someone who’s looking to go blond but doesn’t want to commit to a lot of maintenance. The warmer, golden tone at the roots suits his eye colour and skin tone well, and won’t clash harshly with his hair’s natural colour as it grows out. The ends, which are bleached lighter, are a nice contrast and brilliantly highlight the style’s texture.”