How To Lighten Hair (2023)

How To Lighten Hair (1)

Looking for the best way to lighten hair? Whether you are a natural beach blonde or a brilliant brunette, every now and then it feels good to experiment with your color. Using hair bleach to lighten your hair is a great way to bring a new look and feel to your style without making any drastic changes. Perfect for summer but equally as fun in winter, give your hair a fresh, light update and bleach your hair at home to get the change you are looking for.

Alternatives to hair bleach: The different ways to lighten hair

There are numerous chemical and natural ways to lighten hair. The best method for you will be determined by a number of factors, most importantly: what your natural hair color is, and whether you already have color treatments in your hair. What’s always important to remember when considering changing your hair color and wanting to bleach hair at home is the ultimate health of your hair. Even using natural ways to lighten hair can have a damaging effect when used too often, so don’t assume that staying away from the bleach will mean you are guaranteed beautiful, healthy hair. Below, we share with you the essentials for making hair lighter in a modern and responsible way.

Going from dark to light hair with hair bleach

How To Lighten Hair (2)

Lightening your hair isn't half as difficult as it sounds

Realistically, anyone looking to dramatically lighten dark hair is going to need some kind of bleaching product. These applications lighten your hair by up to eight shades whether your natural hair color is medium blonde or light brown. Specially formulated applications for very dark hair (medium brown to black) still lighten dark hair by two or three shades without creating any undesired red tinges. This is how hair bleach works:

  • First, the hair’s cuticle layer is made permeable to the lightening solution. This allows the hydrogen peroxide to penetrate deep into the hair shaft where it oxidizes the existing pigments, rendering them colorless.
  • Different lightening solutions contain their own concentrations of hydrogen peroxide and therefore bleach the natural pigments to various degrees. It’s therefore important to ensure you select the correct formula when you’re going to bleach hair at home.
  • You should always adhere to the prescribed leave-in times (generally 30 to 45 minutes). Hair will be left with a reddish or yellow tinge if the process is interrupted prematurely, while leaving the lightening agent in too long will damage the hair and leave it straw-like and porous.

How often to chemically lighten your hair

Have you recently chemically straightened or gotten permed hair? If so, you should plan to wait at least two weeks before choosing to lighten your locks with hair bleach, as otherwise it could become very over-processed. If bleaching is part of your regular routine, you shouldn’t always apply it to your entire head: instead, using it only on the roots is much gentler and will prevent excessive damage to the tips.
Hair highlights are a far gentler way of lightening dark hair. The streaks can be bleached two to six shades lighter than your natural hair, and also let you experiment with caramel tones. What’s more, roots are far less visible than when lightening your entire head, so you don’t need as many salon visits.

Aftercare tips when you bleach hair at home

Part of knowing how to lighten hair is also knowing the appropriate aftercare routine to follow. Without follow-up care, your hair will quickly become dry, damaged and susceptible to breakage. If you use hair bleach at home to lighten your hair, it’s especially important to follow these routines.
Be sure to apply a rich conditioner to your freshly bleached hair for 3 minutes immediately after rinsing the solution out of your hair. The nourishing ingredients strengthen the hair and provide it with a silky luster. Continue to use a rich conditioning treatment at least once a week and consider even using a purple or blue shampoo depending on the extent of your blonde coloring and use of hair bleach.

Natural ways to lighten hair

Subtle nuances can have the most amazing effects. If you are content to go blonde in baby steps or just aim to add some dazzling brilliance to your hair, then you can opt for more natural methods of home hair lightening. There are a number of products you will have in your kitchen that can offer a natural and gentle lightening effect. These include:

  • Lemon juice
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Chamomile
  • Cinnamon
  • Honey
  • Sea salt

Mixing any of these to form a solution with warm water and leaving it in your hair prior to sitting in the sun will help to lighten your hair. For an even simpler option, consider a home hair lightening spray. These sprays lighten hair by a quarter of a shade with every application. Heat or the sun’s rays intensify the effect, meaning that they even work under a blow dryer. Even these sprays, however, are not meant for continuous daily use but rather for use over a limited period.

Of course, Schwarzkopf has many hair bleach products to try at home if you want a fast and guaranteed lightening solution for your hair.

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How can I lighten my hair that won't lighten? ›

How to Correct Hair That Won't Lighten
  1. Step 1 Using Keratin Complex It's A Blonde Thing and 20-volume developer, apply to four slices back to back close to the front perimeter. ...
  2. Step 2 Warm up with a blow-dryer for speed for three to five minutes.
  3. Step 3 Wipe lightener off and see what type of a journey you'll have.

Will Dawn dish soap lighten hair color? ›

Key Takeaways. The actual purpose of the Dawn dish soap is to clean utensils and remove grease from them. However, this soap can also remove dandruff, grease, and oil from your hair. The dish soap also acts as a mild bleach and can remove or lighten hair color on your hair.

Will 40 volume peroxide lighten hair? ›

40 volume developer (12% peroxide)

Serves only for lightening. Up to 8 levels of lift. Ideal for a super platinum blonde result. It is used together with a lightening cream or powder.

Does purple shampoo lighten hair? ›

Purple shampoo is for already bleached hair, so if you're hoping to lighten brown hair with purple shampoo, you'll be disappointed. This is all down to the fact that purple shampoo isn't lightening. Instead, it brightens blondes by canceling out yellow tones, which just happen to be opposite purple on the color wheel.

How do hairdressers lighten hair? ›

Bleach is painted by hand onto strands throughout the hair for a well-blended result that mimics the way hair lightens naturally in the sun. Balayage make it possible to lighten hair by one or two tones. It creates soft, natural looks that grow out with less noticeable regrowth lines than with traditional highlights.

Why won t my hair bleach past orange? ›

Unfortunately, orange roots from bleaching will not fade to your desired color on their own. You can't hope that the orange will fade over time. The only way to get rid of orange roots is to color correct the unwanted shade. You can do this by using a toner or pigmented shampoo.

How do you fix too dark hair color? ›

Bleeding the color out is the optimal solution providing that you have the right product on hand. A regular or clarifying shampoo would be the best product in this situation, and ideally, you should keep washing it until enough dark dye has bled out of your hair that you're happy with the resulting hue.

What happens if you put dawn in your hair? ›

Dish soap will strip your hair of oils, naturally occurring and not. That will not benefit your natural hair. In fact, it could make your curls prone to breakage. It could set your hair growth journey way back.

Will Dawn and baking soda lighten hair? ›

Since baking soda is a scrubbing agent, washing your hair with it can gradually strip the dye from your locks. Baking soda can lighten all hair colors, but it might take a few washes to get your hair to the desired color.

What happens if you put Dawn dish soap in your hair? ›

"[Dish detergent] is formulated to simply cleanse by using the harshest sulfates and preservatives which will strip your hair and scalp of moisture and throw off their pH balances, causing irritation and dry-looking hair over time," says trichologist and hair health expert Shab Reslan.

Why won't peroxide lighten my hair? ›

On its own, regular hydrogen peroxide from the drugstore won't lighten your hair because it will dry before any chemical reaction can take place. Combining hydrogen peroxide with baking soda, though, creates a paste that can sit on your hair and work magic, lightening it by one to two shades.

How long should you leave peroxide in your hair to lighten it? ›

Leave it in for 1 hour if you have dark hair or 30 minutes if you have lighter hair. Rinse your hair with cold water.

Can peroxide alone lighten hair? ›

You can use hydrogen peroxide alone to lighten your hair color. However, when the chemical comes as an ingredient in hair dyes, it gives a permanent result. If you want to get a light blonde color, you should only apply hair dyes that contain hydrogen peroxide.

How long should I leave purple shampoo in my hair to lighten it? ›

Purple toning shampoo is an easy addition to your blonde hair care routine to help brighten your shade and help cool your hair color. To use purple shampoo, wet hair, and lather on your hair. Depending on your hair's level of brassiness, leave the purple shampoo on for two to three minutes.

How long can you leave purple shampoo in your hair to lighten it? ›

Unless you have white hair or gray hair, you shouldn't leave the purple shampoo on for longer than 15 minutes at a time. If you're already leaving the shampoo on for less than 15 minutes and you're noticing a purple tone, then try leaving the product on for even less time.

What happens if a brunette uses purple shampoo? ›

Purple shampoo works the same way to eliminate brassiness on brown hair as it does on blonde. It helps to prevent color fade, while emphasizing shine, keeping brown hair vibrant and rich. Using purple shampoo on brown hair regularly will take out any unwanted warm tones in your strands.

Will toner lighten hair? ›

“Toners work by depositing color, so they will only enhance the current level or go darker, says Papanikolas. “Toners will not lighten hair, so if your desire is to make your highlights brighter, then a toner is the wrong approach.”

How long does it take to lighten hair? ›

How long do you need to leave bleach on hair to color it?
Hair color and textureHow long to leave on
blonde hair15 to 20 minutes
dark hair30 minutes; it's recommended you split the process into several sessions
fine hair10 to 15 minutes; this type of hair will process faster since it has a thinner cuticle layer
1 more row
Sep 21, 2020

How does hydrogen peroxide lighten hair? ›

Colorist Kathy Debski says hydrogen peroxide lightens hair by penetrating the strands' cortex and breaking apart the melanin inside and stripping dark color. Yes, this does cause a lightening effect, but it essentially corrodes the strand to do so — leading to frizz, breakage, and split ends.

How many levels can you lighten hair without bleach? ›

Box or professional color can lighten your hair 1-2 levels without the need for bleach. This is because you often use a developer along with these colors, which can lighten your hair even without the interaction with bleach. Keep in mind that color matters even when using box dye or professional color, however.

How many shades lighter can you go without bleach? ›

If it is under five levels of lift, then you can bypass bleach and go in with a high lift blonde shade," says Ian Michael Black, the Global Artistic Director at Aveda. "These typically lighten up to five shades, so if you are a medium brown color, they can take you to a soft golden blonde.

Does apple cider vinegar lighten hair? ›

Apple cider vinegar to lighten hair

It can reduce dandruff, encourage growth, and remove oil build-up, making it a wonder treatment for hair. For lightening, mix one-part apple cider vinegar with six-part waters and spray across the hair. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes before washing it out.

Why is my hair still orange after bleaching and toning? ›

Orange hair after bleaching happens when bleach fails to remove darker pigments in your hair.

What cancels orange out of hair? ›

As it turns out, you can use a blonde hair dye to neutralize your orange hair — the secret is to look for a shade that's ashy. Ashy, cool undertones are the key to canceling out the warm, unflattering orange tones that currently adorn your strands.

Does Ash blonde cancel out orange? ›

Using a medium ash blonde hair dye is another good way to tone down the orange in your hair to a cool light brown shade. Using an ash blonde dye on dark orange hair will neutralize the orange while not lightening your hair too much, leaving you with a nice light brown shade.

How can I lighten my too dark hair color at home? ›

One of the easiest ways you can fix your too-dark hair dye job is by washing your locks. Shampoo, specifically, can help bleed the color out of your hair — and the trick can be even more effective if you use a clarifying shampoo.

Which hair dye is best to lighten dark hair? ›

Product Information

Garnier Nutrisse Ultra Color B3, Café con Leche, is a high lift shade with ultra reflective warm tones designed to lighten dark hair up to 3 levels with out any bleach. Is This Shade Right For Me? B3 is best for anyone with natural hair between medium brown and black.

How can I make my dark hair less dark? ›

Mix a teaspoon of baking soda with water, and use it as a rinse once a month (after you shampoo and before you condition your strands) to gradually brighten your color. Baking soda is an alkaline ingredient, and this will lift the cuticle of your hair, the part that protects your hue.

Does baking soda damage hair? ›

Regular use of baking soda in your hair can eventually turn your locks dry and brittle, leading them to break, while it can also irritate the skin, according to Kindred.

How long do you leave Dawn dish soap in your hair to get rid of lice? ›

If you've tried over the counter lice treatments recently and feel it's not effective, try alternative methods: Apply mineral or olive oil to hair, leave on 30 minutes, wash out with Dawn dish soap. Apply white vinegar, leave on 30 minutes, rinse out. Continue to pull or combs nits out.

Does dish soap strip hair color? ›

Use Dish Soap…

Using a detergent that is meant to get tough grease out—like dish soap—works well to remove any color that can't hold on. If you color your hair and immediately hate it, an immediate shampoo with some dish soap will strip a lot of the color away.

How many shades can you lighten your hair? ›

Realistically, anyone looking to dramatically lighten dark hair is going to need some kind of bleaching product. These applications lighten your hair by up to eight shades whether your natural hair color is medium blonde or light brown.

Can you safely lighten your hair? ›

The safest way to lighten your hair is at a salon. However, you can safely use hydrogen peroxide to lighten your hair at home — you just need to be careful. Make sure you dilute the hydrogen peroxide, protect the skin around your hairline, and go slowly to get the right color without irritating your skin.

Does baking soda lighten hair? ›

Baking soda can also lighten hair that isn't dyed, but not when it's used by itself. To lighten nondyed hair, you have to use baking soda as a base with hydrogen peroxide. This is a bleaching agent that lightens hair.


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