Tutorial for Bleaching your Hair Blonde, Platinum or White at Home
Updated on March 16th, 2014: Due to the large volume of emails concerning this post, I am asking that everyone please read this blog post and comments below before asking questions. It may take me up to 7 days to answer your important hair questions. Thank you!
Scroll to the bottom for product updates!
NOTE: A lot of people find this blog through search engines while searching for “Why did my bleached hair turn yellow or orange”? YOU NEED TO TONE YOUR HAIR. If you want bleached blonde hair like Lady Gaga and Gwen Stefani, and me (on the left) Read on….
I am going to post something that a lot of people have trouble finding: info on how to bleach your hair to white or platinum. It has been a bit over a year since I went totally blonde and many years to find this information! So with my findings, I’d like to share my experience with you all! Please note, I am not a licensed beautician. I never went to school for hair, so what may work for me may not work for you. In my experience, most of the salons I’ve visited will not attempt to bleach dark hair platinum blonde. I have been stopped by beauticians many times to ask me how I got my hair so white.. read on and you will know my secrets!
If you have experience in bleaching your hair, these tips will help you give your blonde that extra lightening that you want and reduce the yellowing. A lot of people think that buying a box of blonde hair dye at the drug store is going to make their hair blonde.. unless your hair is already a light shade of blonde, your hair will turn ORANGE if you attempt to use a box hair dye! You need to bleach your hair to a pale yellow (think inside of banana) first, then tone it. You may need to bleach it several times before you are able to tone it to the desired shade of blonde you want. You cannot tone to platinum if your hair is still darker than that pale blonde shade. Toners are usually very pale violet or blue (I’ve even seen brown and greys) and they only add a tiny tint of color. With that said, you cannot tone orange hair to blonde or even remotely blonde. It will still be orange, unfortunately.
First off.. you gotta grab your purse and go shopping. Since I have experience using both public beauty supply products and exclusive high-end bleaching products, I am going to separate both parts of this tutorial so you can decide which route you would like to go. Personally, I think that the higher-end salon products keep your hair healthier in the long run. After bleaching so much at home with cheaper products, I noticed my hair was breaking off rapidly, even with use of high-end conditioners.
The inexpensive Sally Beauty Supply Bleaching Method: Sally Beauty Supply (www.sallybeauty.com) is a public beauty supply store that you can walk into any day of the week and purchase all of your bleaching products. I suggest when you shop in the store, to request a Sally Card (you can also purchase one online now). It will cost you probably about 5 bucks or so, but in the end, it’s worth it! Especially since you will be touching up your roots about every four weeks!
Wella Color Charm Liquid Permanent Hair Color #12A/1210 Frosty Ash – TONER: I use this on damp hair right after bleaching. This translucent, pastel violet toner is used with 20 or 30 volume creme developer, depending on how yellow your hair is. If after I touch-up my roots with bleach and see that they are too much into the yellow stage, I will use 30 vol. with this product for extra lifting.
Manic Panic Virgin Snow Classic Formula Semi Permanent Hair Color Cream – TONER ALTERNATIVE: This herbal and protein-based dye contains no harsh chemicals. If my scalp is too sensitive to use a peroxide-based toner, I will use this. This is basically a pastel-colored conditioner. I use on damp hair with 10 minutes heat. Without heat, I leave on for an hour with a plastic cap on.
NEW !! Manic Panic Virgin Snow AMPLIFIED at BeautyDeals.com – TONER ALTERNATIVE: This is just like the MP Classic Toner above, except I feel like this one has a little more platinum power. See my tutorial on how to use this below!
Ion Color Brilliance Powder Lightener 1 lb. Tub – BLEACH: This is the best inexpensive powder bleach I’ve tried. The consistency is really creamy and does not dry out like other powder bleaches. Read directions carefully and do the strand test!
Ion Sensitive Scalp 30 Volume Creme Developer 8 oz. – PEROXIDE: I use this strong developer every time I do my root touch-ups. Awesome developer that I sometimes mix with the below Clairol 40- vol. Pure White to make it a little stronger for my dark roots.
Clairol Pure White 40 Volume Creme Developer – PEROXIDE: This is the only 40 vol. developer brand I will use. I don’t really use 40 vol. toner since it is very strong (known to melt hair off) I only use it mixed with 30 vol. to dilute it if I need an extra lift of lightening at my root area.
Note to Wella Color Charm users: Many names and dyes have changed in the Wella line due to declining sales. If there was a blonde toner you were using in the past that you cannot find, it might have a different name. Contact Wella to ask.
Scroll down for information about shampoos and conditioners/treatments.
The “a little more expensive” Goldwell Oxycur Platin Lightening Powder / Redken Shades Method:
This method is a professional salon method I learned from someone in the bleaching biz. The products can still be purchased online, but are hard to find. (Try Amazon.com) This method is a little more expensive than the Sally’s method, but will be better for your hair long-term. The end result will look the same as the Sally’s method, except your hair will be healthier. There is no such thing as a healthy bleach..as far as I know.. and if there is, please let me know!
Developer/Peroxide: Goldwell Topchic Developer Lotion – 30 Vol. on Sleekhair.com (I wouldn’t go higher than 30 volume with this. Please do not use any heat with the Goldwell products! I burned my scalp!)
Toner : Redken Shades EQ Equalizing Conditioning Color Gloss on Amazon.com – Click here for the Redken Shades Color Chart. There may be a better color reference elsewhere on the web. Let me know if you find one! These toners are gentle and were used on me after bleaching on damp hair. (Platinum Ice mixed with Chrome is what was used on me.) This was left on for only about 15 minutes. You could see a dark hue forming as the dye developed. Don’t get scared! I also saw some patches of gray/lavender, but after my hair was dry, they disappeared.
Toner Processing Solution : Redken Shades EQ Processing Solution on Amazon.com – You need this to use with the Redken Shades Color Glosses.
UPDATE: The “Cadillac” Bleaching Method: L’Oreal Professionnel Platinum Ammonia Free Lightening Paste
This is the mother of all bleaches, or so I’m told, the L’Oreal bleaching PASTE is supposed to be the best you can buy. I paid a whopping $70 for a 17.5 oz jar of this paste on Amazon.com. Normally, you’d have to purchase this through a professional store, and I’m sure it is cheaper there. I purchased the paste along with the L‘Oreal Platinum Developer in vol. 30 for about $20, also on Amazon.com. With $90 worth of products before me, I had high hopes that this ammonia-free product line would work miracles. Just like the reviews I saw online, these products delivered results. The paste is really thick, so it doesn’t run into other lengths of your hair. It stays on the roots where you need it when doing touch-ups. My scalp did not burn one bit, not even as much as a tingle. The product works rather quickly, so my bleaching time was cut in half. My hair was shiny after washing and hardly felt as if it had been bleached at all. After about one month since I’ve bleached, I went in for a hair trim. The stylist was in awe of the outstanding condition of my hair. There were a few dry spots in the bangs area, but I had not had those trimmed in about 6 months, so I think I did pretty good. Since I am now using Manic Panic “Pretty Flamingo” hair dye over the bleach, my hair stays conditioned and hyrated. I no longer worry about hair breaking off or becoming “mushy” when using this bleach. In my personal experience with this product, I only needed to leave it on for 30 minutes (Note that I have to use other bleaches on for more than 1 hour).
I wanted to note before I finish this review that 30 volume peroxide has become a bit of a controversial item. I have been using that volume of peroxide on my hair since I was 16 years old, and I have only had problems with it when used with cheaper bleach products. With over 20 years of bleaching experience on my own head of hair, I think I have a handle on what I can and can’t use. Again, if you aren’t sure, you can have a professional do it the first few times and then repeat the process at home if you feel comfortable.
Removing Hair Dye Color
I went from dyed black hair to white platinum blonde and it wasn’t easy. If you have dye in your hair, whether it’s black, red or blue, You need to use a color remover like L’Oreal Effasol (must have pro Sally’s card to get this), or Color Oops Extra Strength, to get rid of the hair dye first. You can’t just put the bleach over your dyed hair, although I know people who have done this and they wished they used a color remover first! Here is a bleach stages chart to help you with your lightening process:
Yes, your hair will most likely turn orange when you use the color remover as shown in the picture here. Yes, you will have to deal with orange hair for quite some time, but it’s worth it in the end. I left the color remover on for an hour, and I went to a dark reddish color that went from bright orange at the roots, to dark red at the tips– a rainbow effect. This could have been minimized if I would have only applied the color remover to the tips of my hair first, but I was alone, impatient, and tired! If you can get a friend to help you, that’s great–they can help you with your lightening process!
Below are photographs of my hair when I decided to place a rather large chunk of blonde, removing permanent black hair dye using Effasol, bleach, and then the Manic Panic Virgin Snow toner. I did have to cut the orange ends off of my hair since they were resistant to bleach. I HIGHLY recommend about a 3 inch or more trim after you bleach. Not only will your color look more even, but your ends will be healthier than what was there before. I trim my hair every month or so.
When I first bleached my hair, I used 30 volume peroxide mixed with Clairol Kalidecolors violet toned bleach (the Blue toned bleach is best for higher lifting, I’ve found) , I was very careful and tried to bleach the ends first and work my way up to the roots. I left the bleach on for about 30-40 minutes, with 10 minutes of using a heat bonnet, checking it as I went along.
You want to get your hair to that very pale yellow stage, like the color of the inside of a banana. If you don’t get it light enough, the toner will NOT work. If you need to spot bleach parts of your hair that stayed orange after your first bleaching, you can do so, I used 40 volume peroxide on areas that I needed to touch up quickly. You want to give your hair a rest for about a week or so if you want to bleach again.
Orange – yellow hair may be unsightly to some, but I rocked it by wearing a bandana for a few days! You can wear your hair in a top bun or something cute until you give your hair enough time to gather up natural oils again. It took my hair probably two bleachings and two spot bleachings until I got it to a shade that I liked. I still had to keep cutting inches off my hair to remove the orange tips.
Product Note: I no longer use Clairol Kalidecolors bleach. That bleach did not lift high enough for me to get to platinum blonde.
Toning : Wella Toners, Redken Shades, Natural Toners, Roux Leave-in Toners
I use several different toners depending on how my hair is looking or how much time I have. Right after bleaching, if my scalp feels sensitive, I’ll use the Manic Panic Virgin Snow AMPLIFIED peroxide-free toner since it is free of chemicals and will not burn my scalp. Basically, the M.P. toner is like putting conditioner in your hair that has a purple tint in it. Virgin Snow will only work if your hair is perfectly within the palest yellow stage. You will use this product alone, do not add any other product in with this.
After bleaching, rinse out your hair VERY well, shampoo, and pat dry. Do not use conditioner or the toner will not penetrate well. I dip my tinting brush right into the jar of toner and quickly dab it on all of my hair. You can already see the yellow starting to “disappear” as you work the toner into your hair. The scary thing about the toner is that it may turn your hair a light shade of purple. I only leave it on for about 10 minutes, with a conditioning cap on, with heat under my bonnet. If you do not have a heating bonnet, you may wear the conditioning cap (it’s like a very lightweight disposable shower cap) for about 15 minutes and rinse well with cool water.
If you find your toned hair is a bit too purple, you can step right back in the shower and shampoo gently and condition again until you get the purple out. Sometimes even if my hair looks slightly purple, after it dries the purple goes away. My secret is to take a small mirror into the shower and check out how the toner turned out.
If after I bleach and my hair looks too yellow, I’ll use the peroxide-based toners (which chemically lift your hair color a level or two) and I always mix a TINY amount of the peroxide-based toners and touch it to my scalp to see if it will burn or not. Sometimes it does, sometimes not… sometimes I just grin and bear it and the burning goes away within a few minutes. I leave these toners on (full head application on damp hair) timing depending on the directions on the box. If you just want to touch-up your hair if it is yellowing a few weeks after bleaching and toning, you may tone your roots first (30 min – but read the directions first for timing) which will not turn blonde since you are not bleaching, but doing this WILL lighten your roots a few levels and make them less noticable. Then, after the 30-40 minutes is up, you may comb through and apply more of the toner to the rest of your hair and wait about 10 minutes and rinse well, condition and style.
You may experiment around with different peroxide-based toners, like the popular Wella White Lady and Wella Frosty Ash hair color. (Wella White Lady is now called : Lightest Ash Blonde) (Sometimes I mix them together since White Lady is very, very purple-toned and sometimes leaves a stain on the hair – which is removed after your next shampoo) It’s all about experimentation. If you are too scared to apply a toner to your entire head, you may do a test spot (I test about a 2 inch across chunk) to make sure it’s a color you can live with. I used to use the awesome Clairol Creme toners, but they have been discontinued!
Super Secret Revealed!!! Daily/Weekly Toning : Yes, people stare at my hair, people ask how I achieved the bright white look, even professionals! One of my best-kept secrets is using the Roux line of temporary toners, found mostly at Sally Beauty Supply. I use Roux White Minx Temporary Color Rinse, which is a light gel-like formula that is very easily applied to damp hair and combed through for INSTANT brightening. Only use a little because it does condition your hair a bit as well. I also use the Roux Fanci-Full Color Styling Mousse, also in White Minx, which I have great success with and sometimes use on dry hair if my roots are starting to yellow.
Maintenence : Root Touch-Ups and Platinum Shampoos & Conditioners
Root touch-ups can be a pain in the ass and sometimes takes me a few hours to complete. Currently, I use 30 volume peroxide for the back of my head, working my way to the crown and switch to 40 volume peroxide. I try not to get any bleach on my scalp, but it’s very difficult. I place a conditioning cap on and use heat for 10 minutes, then set the timer for about 70 minutes — NOTE that this timing will be different for everyone!!! With almost 2 years of bleaching my roots every month, I finally know how long it takes to bleach my roots to pale yellow, and this timing is a lot longer than most since my hair is naturally dark red.
To maintain my hair color and to keep the yellow tinge from returning, I use the very amazing Healing ColorCare L’Anza Silver Shampoo (found at Planet Beauty). I use this shampoo every single time I wash my hair. This is another trick to my white hair and how “beyond unnatural” white it looks after shampooing. Some have said they only need to use it a few times per week, but it depends on how your hair behaves. The shampoo is very dark purple, nearly black in color and it will stain your hands temporarily. I apply lotion to my hands frequently to keep my hands from getting dry, so that the staining is minimal. It will surely stain artificial nails. Been there, done that! Wear gloves if you are scared of that happening to you. I’ve heard other toning shampoos like Schwarzkopf Bonacure Color Silver Shampoo are good too. A lot of people ask me about Clairol Shimmer Lights Shampoo and Conditioner – I do not like this shampoo at all. It is very drying and ends up ruining my hair after many uses. I stick with Sulfate-Free shampoos. If I find that my hair is catching too much of the purple tinge, I will mix a little bit of the L’Anza Silver Shampoo (pictured on left) with sulfate-free Pureology NanoWorks Shampoo or its less-expensive cousin, L’Oreal EverPure Smooth Shampoo. These silver shampoos are also excellent to use on those with blonde highlights who want to brighten them up. If you want to find a good sulfate-free shampoo, visit a Planet Beauty store. They carry a lot of great sulfate-free shampoos that will keep your hair color from fading.
My conditioner, which is really important for keeping the ends of my hair from breaking, I use the Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Blonde Conditioner. A few times per week, I use a heavy cream conditioner, which is actually the free conditioner you get in the box of L’Oreal Excellence Cream Hair Dye. My mother dyes her hair with that product quite often, so she gives me the conditioning tubes and I’ve been using it for over 10 years. I can’t exactly suggest anything else because it is wonderful, but I’m sure there is something similar out there you can try.
After my shower, I use several products to keep moisture in my hair. I absolutely LOVE the Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum on damp hair after my shower. Before I use that, I spray on a little of the Ojon Revitalizing Mist, which is a super detangler that smells so good. I don’t use any hot oil treatments.. I probably should, but I just don’t have the time. After using the conditioning products, I will use the Roux White Minx Temporary Color Rinse in White Minx and comb well.
Bleaching your hair is a long and experimental process, and sometimes I have to bleach my roots twice because I didn’t process them enough. Anyway.. have fun experimenting, I’ve never found a salon that will bleach hair to white, so you may want to try it on your own and start out with streaks and highlights first. Start with streaks in the front and work your way to the back, taking more chunks of hair as you go. I had dyed black hair before, as mentioned above. It took a really long time to actually get my hair white, and it takes a lot of patience. It doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t happen in a week, either.
My current regimen:
I have been currently seeing a beautician for root touch-ups, which saves me a lot of time, but not a lot of money. I haven’t yet decided if this is the right thing for me to do. It seems like most salons want to get you out the door, so they will put you under heat with the bleach, which doesn’t work for me since my scalp burns. You have to be very specific and straightforward with the salon and let them know what you want and that you want to minimize burning and scabbing on your scalp. I have been to high-end salons where my scalp started bleeding due to the use of 40 vol. peroxide and heat, they pulled me under the water to rinse and my hair was still yellow. Toning it did not help! Keep this blog bookmarked and check back for my updates!
– Root Touch-up without Toning: Ion Color Brilliance Powder Lightener 1 lb. Tub with Ion Sensitive Scalp 30 Volume Creme Developer 8 oz. and/or Clairol Pure White 40 Volume Creme Developer (half 30 vol and half 40 vol) on roots for 70 minutes (varies). Rinse, use L’Oreal EverPure Shampoo or Pureology NanoWorks Shampoo, rinse, then use the Healing ColorCare L’Anza Silver Shampoo. Rinse well. Apply heavy conditioner, wait about 5-10 minutes and rinse.
– Root Touch-up with Toning: Same as above, except do not apply conditioner until AFTER you wash out your peroxide-based or vegetable dye-based white/platinum toners.
Manic Panic Virgin Snow Amplified formula Photos
- After washing my hair with my Terax Latte Clarifying Shampoo, I towel-dried my hair lightly.
- The jar of Manic Panic AMPLIFIED Virgin Snow. Semi-permanent, no chemicals!
- This toner is a very translucent lavender shade, which means your hair needs to be very light before you apply this. It cancels out the yellow tones left in your hair after bleaching without chemicals. You can use this as often as you like, as long as you like. I have not yet tried this on dry hair or with heat, but I will next time I use this.
- As you can see, the lavender tones are already going to work on the yellow in my hair. I put on a plastic shower cap and left it on for one hour.
- After the hour is up, my hair is very juicy with the product. The front of my hair has absorbed more product than the back, which is okay. After the hair is dry, it blends together.
- I rinsed my hair with cool water to close up the hair shaft and add shine. I rinsed for about 5 minutes to make sure the remaining product was rinsed out well. I applied my Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Hair Serum.
- Before and after! Yes, your hair may vary in shades of white, gray, silver, platinum, etc. My hair was an even shade of lightest yellow before I started, so it worked well and turned out even for me.
- After your hair dries, you will notice how soft it is.. and light in color. Try this product and let me know how you liked it by filling in a comment in the box below!
The Bleaching Archives: Oct. 23rd, 2010
I decided to try a new bleach called Ion Powder Lightener, found only at Sally Beauty Supply. I heard very good reviews from both newbies and experienced hair dressers, so I decided to try it. I actually was pleased with the product and seem to like it better than the Clairol Kaleidocolors Blue Bleach. For the back of my head (I process both the back of my head and top/front of my head separately) I bleached with Ion and Clairol Pure White 40 volume developer. I did not use heat with this since the bleach directions say to not use it. I put on a plastic processing cap and waited 50 minutes… I checked my root progress and they were still too yellow, so I set the timer again for 20 minutes to complete the processing time at 70 minutes total. I rinsed it out and did not condition.
As you can see from the picture above, the roots turned out very good.. just a tad yellow, but I plan on toning it several times. I dried my hair and moved onto bleaching the top of my hair. For the top of my hair, I decided to try the Ion Sensitive scalp developer in 30 volume. I used the measuring cup in the Ion Bleach to measure both products. I used 1 cup of bleach and 1 1/2 cups of developer. The consistency of these products together is very creamy and easy to work with. I found the coverage to be excellent and I ended up not using that much product. The bleach did not dry out at all. I left this product on for 50 minutes (checking after 30 minutes) and I wished now that I would have waited maybe 20 more minutes. My scalp still did burn with this Ion developer, but not as bad as it usually does. I rinsed and washed my hair with my new Rene Furterer Okara Mild Silver Shampoo, towel dried my hair and then applied the Wella Frosty Ash toner with Clairol Pure White 30 volume developer (on damp hair) . I left that on for 20 minutes, rinsed then applied a mixture of both my conditioner and Clairol Shimmer Lights Conditioner (toning), left on for about 5 minutes, rinsed and then applied the Ion Color Brilliance After Color Treatment to seal in my color. I love how my hair turned out.. still a little yellow on the roots to work on with 2x weekly shampoos of the Rene Furterer Silver Shampoo, but very good, indeed!