Lightening 101: What Is Bleach?

So you want to dye your hair.  If your goal is vibrant color, you're most likely going to need to lighten your hair. So let's talk about bleach!

So you want to dye your hair.  If your goal is vibrant color, you're most likely going to need to lighten your hair. So let's talk about bleach!

Permanent dye penetrates deeper into the cortex of the hair and permanently alters the color and structure of your hair. In contrast, semi permanent dye acts more like a stain that sits on top of your hair. Its molecules are small enough to somewhat penetrate the hair shaft, but it doesn't change the chemistry of your hair the way permanent dye does. 

Think about semi permanent vivid hair dye like markers on paper. The darker the paper, the less the color of the marker is going to show up. Depending on the shade of the marker and the darkness and color of the paper, you might get a little bit of color, but it's always going to be brighter and truer to tone the closer to white the paper is.  

There are two parts to bleach, bleach and developer. Developer opens the cuticle of the hair and activates the bleach so that it can lift pigments from the hair. There are different kinds of bleach and developer. Our lightening kit uses a dust free powder lightener and a 25 volume cream developer. 

There are different levels of developer ranging from 5 to 40. We chose a 25 volume developer to protect the integrity of the hair, while ensuring a strong enough lift. To prepare for our ultra vibrant color, if your hair is dark, you may need to do several rounds of lightning depending on your goal color.

 It might be tempting to use a stronger level developer such as 40 and lift your hair an extreme amount in one go, but if you're doing your own hair at home, it's much safer to do several rounds with a lower volume developer. The stronger the developer, the more the hair cuticle opens and with a super high level developer, it's way easier to do serious irreversible damage to your hair. Never use 40 volume on your scalp. 

Speaking of your scalp, when lightening your hair for the first time, make sure you save about an inch of your roots for last.  The heat from your scalp causes lightener to work faster, and will lift your roots quicker than the rest of your hair. Save those roots for last to ensure an even lift so you don't get hot roots, which is when your roots are significantly lighter than the rest of your hair. 

Another thing to note about bleach is not only does it lighten the hair so vivid color can show up, It also opens the cuticle up so that semi permanent dye can stick. What this means is that putting semi permanent dye over unbleached hair may work in terms of color theory depending on your starting shade and what color you use, but it won't last as long.

If you have white or silver hair, you may think this is the perfect canvas for some vivid color. However, because the cuticle isn't as open as it would be if you bleached it, the color isn't going to take as well and will wash out a lot faster. For some people, this may be ideal, but if you're looking for really vibrant, long-lasting color, we always recommend lightening your hair first.