To bleach or not to bleach wet hair? While this might seem like a trivia question, the truth is, getting the bleaching wrong could spell terrible side effects, like skin burns, scruffy dry hair, and in worst cases loss of a huge chunk of your tresses.
My guess is, you don’t want that for yourself, if not you wouldn’t be on this page reading this article right now.
It’s also safe to guess that you are contemplating changing your hue at home – well, considering just how expensive having a color job in a salon can be – you’d rather not sink in thousands to create a blond and go at it yourself.
Sure, there’s going to be someone disagreeing – even experts and professional colorists would frown at the idea of do-it-yourself strand lightening – but, it’s doable!
Don’t feel bad about going this route alone. With the right information, appropriate supplies and preparations, a dose of self-belief and skills you can pull this off successfully on your own.
If it’s of any consolation, know that you are not alone. There are also tons of other people grappling with the same dilemma – wondering if they should bleach their hair wet or dry it out first.
And perhaps, they’re also worried they might ruin out their hair. But, regardless of their concerns, people still go ahead to brighten their strands to the desired shade and tone.
However, just as you would have realized, there is conflicting information online – some strong opinions about recommending applying the bleach on a freshly washed damp hair, while others swearing by dry hair.
So, can you really bleach wet hair?
The simple, straightforward answer is certainly yes. You can bleach damp hair. However, depending on your goals for bleaching – whether you want a lighter strand or just to add a touch of shine – could determine whether to brighten a wet hair or not.
To help you understand which decision is best for your goal, it is crucial you appreciate what goes on when you bleach it.
First, bleaching your strands works through a chemical process called oxidation. When you apply bleach, the developer often formulated with Hydrogen Peroxide dislodges the pigments, giving them a lighter hue.
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Now, the developer is already mostly made of water with the addition of other ingredients and conditioning agents with a small part constituting hydrogen peroxide. The implication of this is that the bleaching solution is mostly water and 10-30 percent by volume peroxide.
So, when you apply bleach, you are in reality, wetting it.
However, remember, that the effectiveness of the solution is dependent on the amount of water it contains. The less water it contains, the stronger the bleaching power.
The difference between bleaching wet or dry hair
Now imagine, if your hair is damp, you are actually adding extra water to the bleach thereby diluting it significantly.
The result is that you get an otherwise weaken bleaching solution. This could be a problem if your goal is to have lighter strands.
That said, if your goal isn’t to lighten it significantly, this is where bleaching a wet hair comes in handy.
Bleach washing is actually the technique most suitable for those times when all you want to do is to either color correction or a soft lightening.
You see, when applying bleach on a wet hair, the shampoo added to the bleach formula is better absorbed thereby stripping the strands of the stubborn dye faster and more effectively.
So in a nutshell, if you are only interested in soft lightening or for a color correction job, then bleaching a wet hair is appropriate. However, if your goal is to get a decent lightening, it’s better to lighten it while dry.
How to bleach your hair the right way
At this point, it’s obvious you are ready and gearing to go lighter. However, keep in mind that going blonde is a risky business! Yes, so many things could go wrong – you could suffer a scalding scalp burns to having damaged hair to a stranded-in-the-desert kind of dry out. But, pull it off, and the results can be amazing.
To achieve your desired shade, think rose gold, violets, platinum, silver opals tones, you definitely have to bleach. However, before you go ahead to lighten your mop of hairs, there are certain things to keep in mind including:
Don’t wash your hair 24 hours before bleaching
Now, some experts would even recommend not washing it two days before the day of the bleaching. Dry ‘dirty’ hairs do better when bleaching. They absorb more of the developer more effectively, and the extra oil and grim provides an additional layer of protection for the scalp.
Condition your mind for some discomfort
It’s going to burn especially if you’re going for a full, direct to the scalp bleaching. So, it’s advisable to keep rinsing water within reach, so you can quickly wash off the bleach when it becomes unbearable.
Your freshly bleached hair is going to feel differently
You’re not only going to have a new look, but it’s also going to feel a bit different too. You’d notice that the texture of your strands would have changed.
You’re going to need a new set of care products to help maintain and make it feel beautiful again.
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So, how do you actually bleach your hair?
- Step 1: Prep it in the weeks leading to the bleaching – this may include deep conditioning to repair and get it in the best possible shape.
- Step 2: Decide on the bleaching powder and developer to use – scoured the market for the best product. Keep in mind also, that developers come in different hydrogen peroxide concentration (volume).
- Step 3: Mixing ratio – You have to mix the bleach powder with the developer before you use it. Also, it’s important to take note of the mixing ratio to the volume of developer used for the formulation. For a consistent, best results use a 2:1 ratio of developer to powder.
- Step 4: Section it and apply bleach – don’t use the bleach without first sectioning it as this would allow you to work faster, apply consistent bleach to all sections, and ensures a beautiful, even outcome. To section it, split it from front to back; then divide into half again from ear to ear to have four quadrants. Use a clip to hold each section separate while working on others. Apply bleach to each layer, one by one, until you have gone around the four quadrants. Leave it closer to the scalp for the last minute, as the heat from your skin makes it develop faster.
- Step 5: Leave it for about 40-50 minutes – the processing time for most bleach brands is between 40-50 minutes.
- Step 6: Rinse thoroughly – once you’re done with the processing, rinse your bleach thoroughly with water, and then use shampoo to wash off any remaining product.
Bleaching dries out the hair, makes it feel rough, prone to frizz, and split ends, so to combat this, use deep conditioning to trigger the process of normalizing the moisture. It could take anywhere between one week to get things feeling normal again.
Apply toners and allow to sit for about 20 minutes. Also, you can apply protein treatment to speed up the recovering process.
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Wrapping it up
Bleaching is almost the only way to achieve a lightened shade of color and can be done either in a salon by a professional colorist or at home.
Regardless of where you choose to do it, keep in mind that your hair is unique and will react to the bleaching process in a unique way as well. One thing is for sure. If done correctly, the outcome should be pretty impressive!