Tips and Techniques for Professional Hair Bleaching
Stylists have been mastering the art of lightening hair for decades. Whether it’s using the classic foil technique, or more recent trends like balayage, clients love light options. From creating an icy, platinum blonde look to embracing the pastel color trend, one thing’s for certain: achieving a lighter hair color for your clients will likely require bleach.
But, despite all the transformative opportunities that bleaching allows us as hair color professionals, it also comes with a unique set of essential considerations. Consider, for example, the amount of work involved, the potential risk of hair damage, uneven results, or worst of all—the possibility of an unhappy client. To help give your bleaching skills a confidence boost, we’re brushing up on some of the top techniques and tips on how to bleach hair like a pro. Keep reading to discover how you can achieve flawless results every time and help your clients maintain their gorgeous lightened look at home.
What Should You Consider Before Hair Bleaching?
Bleaching (also referred to as lightening or whitening) is without a doubt one of the most requested color services in salons. For most colorists, it’s not uncommon for multiple clients to walk in on any given day ready to take the plunge into a new style that requires the use of bleach. However, what many people don’t realize is that a number of the hottest color trends include hair bleaching at some point in the process. It’s your responsibility as a color professional to have a meaningful conversation with your client on the process, expectations, and desired result of dyeing their hair.
Before initiating any technical work, you’ll want to consider if the client’s hair is virgin or has been previously colored. This will be paramount in helping you decide whether or not their hair is in a state that’s suitable for bleaching. Additionally, it’s vital to assess the current state of their hair and discuss whether or not the client has done any at-home preparation (such as applying a deep conditioning treatment beforehand).
Hair Bleaching Preparation
Advise most clients to start prepping their hair for bleaching about two weeks before their appointment. The right at-home products will be vital to this step, and should include restorative conditioners and treatments—like the Eksperience™ Hydro Nutritive Hydrating Hair Mask. This intensive conditioning hair treatment provides deep nourishment and hydrating action to help improve elasticity and help reinforce the cuticle.
How To Bleach Hair Safely
Now that you’re aware of the prep work and considerations that should be taken into account before bleaching hair, let’s discuss timing, application, and products. With any color service, it’s essential to consider the optimal time intervals between colorings. For example, appointments should ideally be spaced out by at least 14 days when using chemical products. When it comes to choosing the perfect products for seamless bleach application, there are also many factors at play. Here’s what you need to know to achieve an unforgettable lighter look:
So, how long does it take to bleach hair safely? It really depends! Firstly, if your client has darker hair (up to a level 5), you will need to leave the product on for longer than you would with lighter hair. It’s best not to lighten the hair by more than three tones during each coloring session, in order to avoid potential damage or breakage. If the client dreams of lightening to a tone beyond this range, it will require extra careful attention on the part of the hair colorist. In these cases, always take caution to prevent the mixture from drying out on the hair, and choose the ideal time to rinse it out.
Once you get to this point, it’s time for the fun to begin! Take your Magnet™ Blondes Ultimate Powder 7—an ammonia-free hair lightener with up to 7 levels of lift—and add Magnet™ Blondes Ultimate Oil Developer. This developer lifts with precision and convenience, while respecting the hair fiber, and is available in 10, 20, or 30 vol. (depending on the base color you will be working with). Next, add a bit of Magnet™ Ultimate Technical Additive to your lightening solution to help enhance hair strength. In order to achieve optimal bleaching results without damage, it’s important to always respect the maximum processing time of 45 minutes.
Continue by dividing the hair into four sections and begin applying the mixture at the back of the neck using your chosen technique. This can vary for each client and may include color techniques such as the trendy balayage, babylights, classic foil highlights, and more. Remember to take your time—it’s important to saturate each strand/section thoroughly to allow the product to penetrate the hair fully and deliver perfectly lightened hair.
At-Home Color Maintenance
After bleaching, it’s best to avoid using shampoos containing sulfates or alcohol, and heat should be kept at a lower temperature when blow-drying or straightening hair. This will help retain as much moisture in the hair as possible. For even better results, here’s a little trick from the pros: Use products containing coconut oil, such as Re/Start™ Recovery Anti-Split Ends Sealing Drops, to help seal the hair’s surface and improve shine. Coconut oil is the perfect nourishing ingredient to help protect against hair breakage, since it doesn’t interfere with the bleaching process.
How to Bleach Hair by Hair Type
As you already know by now, bleaching can be a very complicated and in-depth process. A client’s reaction to bleaching can be as unique as the client themselves. Let’s take a look at some of the top tips by hair type and color, to help you avoid any unwanted surprises or bleaching faux-pas.
Black Hair or Dark Brown Hair
If you’re wondering how to bleach brown hair (or black hair) the right way, we’ve got you covered! And although it’s not a simple process, it is possible! In these cases, you will likely have to bleach the hair in a series of at least two sessions—regardless of whether it is virgin hair or previously color-treated hair. But remember: There should ideally be at least 14 days between each color service! For black or dark brown hair, selecting the right toner will be especially important to correct brassy orange or red tones in the hair. We recommend Color Excel Gloss by Revlonissimo™ for exceptional neutralization.
For level 1 hair that is purely black in color, you will need various sessions to lift the hair color to level 7. This is crucial to help ensure that you don’t damage the hair in the process and take every precaution to protect the health of your client’s tresses. You’ll also want to use cool-toned shades to tone after bleaching, and always instruct your clients on the importance of using nourishing and hydrating products at home.
White Hair or Gray Hair
Bleaching gray hair is one easy-to-maintain style option for naturally aging hair. However, natural gray hair needs to be treated with the utmost care, since achieving that perfect snowy white color can be quite harsh on mature hair if not executed correctly. Always choose the processing times and tones very carefully in these cases to avoid leaving bleach on gray hair for too long. For these folks, you may want to recommend fresh and trendy hairstyles and modern styling techniques.
Previously Bleach-Damaged Hair
In the case of hair that has been previously bleached, it’s important to apply restructuring and nourishing treatments before lightening the hair again. Hair that is already damaged requires the right maintenance and post-bleaching care, without exception. For these types of clients, take a look at this article on ammonia-free hair color.
No matter which way you look at it, bleaching is a complex task that requires practice, expertise, and ongoing training. To apply hair bleach like a pro, always remember to analyze your client’s hair, choose your products carefully, and apply your lightening mixture with proper timing and application precision. To learn even more on this topic, be sure to read our Guide to Professional Coloring With Zero Damage.