beauty hair

A Beginner's Guide to Bleach and Hair Dye

November 18, 2012Saskia C.

Before I start with the practical side of the story, you should know this: I am in no way a professional nor do I know everything about dyeing and bleaching your hair. The 'Beginner's Guide' in the title does not only refer to those of you who have never bleached/dyed your hair before, but also to yours truly; it is literally a guide written by a beginner. These are simply a couple of things I wish I'd known before I started bleaching and dyeing, some I found online, some I learnt from friends with more experience than me. The website that helped me the most was, they offer some very useful advice and I bought my dye there.
I hope this post helps you in your hair dyeing journey.

Supermarket dyes
When I was fourteen years old I bought my first packet of hair dye, one of those 'funky colours' L'oreal had at the time that were discontinued not too long after. The effect on my naturally dark brown hair was minimal and it didn't last long either. After that I got my hair done at the hairdresser's several times, though that soon got too expensive to my liking. I then started using 'supermarket hair dyes'. I never had a really bad experience with those, I'm even quite fond of the Schwarzkopf Live Color XXL series. The black one is quite long lasting and the red one turns into a deeper and brighter red every re-dye.

 Source: Google Images

So if you're simply looking to do something else with your hair but don't want to go through the entire bleaching process, I definitely recommend this brand. They also have purplish and bluish dyes but I have no experience with those. 

 The first time I dyed my hair red it looked like the top left picture. Considering that I used the dye over dark brown hair with partially black hair lengths, it took pretty well. In the picture next to it was about the third or fourth time I re-dyed it. As you can see, a pretty vibrant colour without having to bleach my hair. The last picture is the colour it fades to. Orangey, but definitely not too bad.

If you want a brighter colour and your hair is not light blond, you will have to go a couple of shades lighter. I used to be very biased concerning hair bleach but in the end, it's really not that bad. Your hair won't fall out as long as you're responsible, careful and you don't overdo it.
I used Directions volume 40 bleach, because my hair was red when I started and red/orange tones are very hard to get out of your hair.

Source: Google images
Here's a couple things I learnt, some I read about before I started, some I learnt the hard way:

  •  If your hair is dark, you need to use a higher volume than if it's lighter. I had to use volume 40, but a volume 30 could work just as well if your hair is, say, dark blonde or light brown.
  • You don't have to use the applicator brush included in most bleach packages. If it works for you that's great, but personally I found it impossible to work with, as did my boyfriend (who helped me bleach my hair twice). I only found it useful for touching up my roots. The rest is easier when done by hand.
  • Ask a friend to help you. No matter how many mirrors you use, it's harder to see the parts you already did and those who could still use some bleach on your own.
  • Don't bleach your roots and hair lenghts at the same time. The roots will be lighter much, much faster because they're affected by the heat of your scalp. First apply bleach to your hair lenghts, keep the roots for last. 
  • Having bleach in your hair is not a pleasant feeling. Your hair seems stricky and extremely dry. Don't let this scare you, your hair is not falling out, it's completely normal.
  • It's possible that bleaching your hair once isn't enough. If you want to bleach your hair a second time, first make sure it isn't extremely dry already. Even if it seems perfectly healthy after the first round, wait a couple of weeks before going for round two.  
  • Bleach baths are brilliant. If you don't want to full-on bleach your hair, you can mix your bleach (3 tbsp cream peroxide - 1 tbsp powder) with shampoo (2 tbsp) and conditioner (4 tbsp). Apply to wet hair, leave it in for about 15 minutes (10 or less if your hair has been bleached before) and your hair will be slightly lighter. Don't expect any miracles though, it won't remove all of the colour from your hair. And be careful, you're still working with bleach so don't overdo it.
  • The lighter the shade you want, the lighter your hair will have to be. If you're going for a pastel colour, you'll need almost white hair. However, after bleaching your hair will probably still look slightly yellow. I personally don't have any experience with this, but a toner gets rid of those yellowy stains.

This is what my hair looked like after:
  • Round one of bleaching (which pretty much failed as my hair was yellow at the roots and very orange at the lengths)
  • Round one of purple dye (which did not turn out how I wanted it at all)
  • Round two of bleaching
  • Round two of purple dye (better, but still not really purple)
  • Purple dye fading

And to get this colour, I added:
  • Bleach bath
  • Bleaching roots
To the process. As you can see, a bleach bath does not work wonders, but it definitely helps.

Once you've finally finished the bleaching process, it's time for the fun part: find the dye you want! I personally recommend Special Effects dyes, they're absolutely fantastic. I had Directions' Violet first but it washed out almost immediately and didn't apply well to my then yellowy-orange hair. Special Effects' Pimpin' Purple is the dye I used the second time and it ended up looking way better and infinitely more vibrant.
Also know that lighter shades generally wash out pretty quickly, so if you want a long-lasting colour that doesn't require much work, you'd better get a slightly darker dye.

  • Most dyes suggest you use an applicator brush. Again, I find it way easier to dye with my hands (wearing gloves of course). 
  • Before you start dyeing, wash your hair with shampoo (don't use conditioner). It depends on the brand whether the dye has to be applied to wet or dry hair. For instance, for Special Effects your hair needs to be entirely dry.
  • Use petroleum jelly to protect your forehead, neck, ears... It makes it easier to remove stains afterwards. Nevertheless, if you don't remove the stains soon after dyeing it will get very hard to do it afterwards, petroleum jelly or not. 
  • Don't forget to protect your environment. Hair dye stains can be pretty hard to get rid off.
  • Ask someone to point out whether there's parts that still need (more) dye. As for me, I didn't have anyone around at the time so I used a camera to take pictures of every part of my head. The flash made it very obvious where there were parts that still needed work.
  • Put a showercap and a towel over your head, protect your pillows with a couple of old towels and sleep in your dye. Unlike bleach, dye stops working after a certain time so it's safe to keep it in.
  • When washing the dye out of your hair the next morning, do it with cold water. 

After round one of bleaching and round one of dyeing, this is what my hair looked like. Bright red roots, reddish hair lengths. Not what I wanted at all.
I hadn't bleached my roots and hair lengths seperately and I suspect the Directions dye was too light for my hair colour at the time. 
After the second go of bleaching and dyeing, it looked pretty much the same.

And this is what my hair looks like now, after using Special Effects Pimpin' Purple. So much better. 
The entire bleaching-dyeing-bleaching-dyeing-bleach bath/bleaching roots-dyeing process happened over a course of four months so my hair is still pretty healthy. I did get it cut shorter but that was not a necessity, more something I've been wanting to do for a while. I can't comment on the lasting of this dye yet since I've only just dyed it but I have heard some very good things about it.

So now you have pretty dyed hair! I still have a few tips to keep your hair happy after this entire process.
  •  Many dyes still 'bleed' a while after dyeing. Keep that in mind and avoid white towels or pillows.
  • An obvious one: don't wash your hair too often, it'll make the colour last way longer.
  •  Whenever you wash your hair, use cold(er) water. This is also good for undyed hair, it's simply healthier.
  • Use shampoo and conditioner for dyed hair. It makes a difference.
  • Keep taking good care of your hair, it's not because the bleaching/dyeing process is over that you can stop treating it well: conditioner is necessary, a mask every now and then definitely doesn't hurt either.
  • You can add a bit of dye to your conditioner to keep it vibrant.

I hope this post has been of use to you, if you have any questions or suggestions, do let me know!

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  1. I have a few things that I find useful too when dying my hair. First is actually something you touched on, the volumes of bleach. Just want to make a quick comment on the bleach volume. If you have medium to dark blond hair you can actually get away with using volume 10 bleach. also never leave your bleach in for longer than 30 minutes.

    And one thing that is helpful if you are like me and need to wash your hair on a daily basis because it gets greasy quickly, adding a bit of dye into your shampoo can help keep the colour looking fresh.

    Ps this does have some great tips and your hair looks fabulous :)

    1. Those are some very useful suggestions, thank you! And thanks for the compliment :)

  2. Thank you for your information! ^^

  3. I love the red eyeshadow in the redhair pics! Gorgeous~!

  4. Nice Post.Thanks for sharing this valuble information and it is useful for me and who are looking for Permanent Hair Reduction Delhi

  5. Get the knowledge about your personality by giving simple answer about yourself. Find latest white hair dye, entertainment videos and more about latest information from the world.

  6. I am wondering if I want to dye my roots (level 5) and also want to bring my already bleached hair (level 8) up to a level 9/10, should I bleach the roots first, then do a bleach bath, or just bleach bath the whole thing, then see if the roots need extra bleach?



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