What Is Bleaching Your Hair?

Find out how hair bleach works to remove the color from your hair. Safety tips for home bleaching are included.

Hair bleaching can be done at home or in a hair salon. People bleach their hair for a variety of reasons. Some wish to have stark white hair, others wish to color their dark hair a lighter color, and some want highlights to add dimension to their natural hue. If you wish to add a striking color such as red, blue, or purple to your hair, most often you should bleach it first to get true and vibrant color.

Hair bleaching is the process of removing the pigment from the hair strand. Quite often hydrogen peroxide or ammonium persulfate is used as the main ingredient of hair bleach. These are called oxidizing agents. These bleaching agents must enter the hair and reach the melanin in the core of the hair to change its composition. These agents use oxygen to accomplish this and the resulting melanin is white or colorless.

Along with the oxidizing agent, an alkaline solution is used. This lifts the cuticle of the hair, which in turn allows the oxidizer to reach the melanin. If this process is done to the hair too often the cuticle will fail to lie back down over the hair shaft properly and the bleached hair may look dull and lifeless.



If you have brown hair the bleaching process should be done in several steps to lessen the damage to the hair shaft. Hair passes through many shades of color before it reaches the desired white color. Brown first turns to red. It then passes through an orange stage and on to brassy yellow. Then the yellow hair finally turns white.

The same rules apply if you are highlighting strands of hair rather than the entire head. Most home highlighting kits come with the essential ingredients that are mixed right before the bleach is applied. Many kits come with a cap that is placed over the head. The kit should also include a hook for pulling the strands you wish to highlight through holes in the cap.

If you have a darker shade of hair and wish to bleach it, it is strongly advised that you go to a salon for the entire process. This will cost you more money and time but will leave your hair in better condition then if you are doing it yourself at home. Quite often a toner is applied after the bleach to rid the hair of some of the brassiness that might occur.

There are some tips to remember when bleaching hair. Hair bleach is hard on your hair. If you bleach your hair remember to get your mane trimmed at least once a month. Use a quality conditioner that is made to help the health of dry and processed hair. Damaged hair will eventually break off if not cared for properly.

If you choose to bleach at home always take safety precautions. Do not allow the bleach to sit directly on your skin. Keep bleach away from eyes, nose, and mouth. Do not attempt to bleach your eyebrows on your own. See a professional if you wish to do so. Bleach will discolor clothing and towels. Use old towels and wear clothing that is dispensable. Never use metal bowls or stirrers when working with bleaching products.

If you have hair that has been chemical straightened, permed, or recently dyed you should not use bleach. These processes also damage hair. The bleaching process may totally fry your locks.

Hair bleach is toxic. Consult with your doctor before bleaching your hair if you are pregnant. Remember to always do a strand test to test for allergic reactions. Repeated inhaling hair bleach can lead to damage to the airways. Always bleach in a ventilated area if possible.

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