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What is the Best Bleach for Black Hair?


  • Black Hair, whether it is dyed black or naturally black has its own challenges when it comes to color changes.
  • Particularly when it comes to significant lifting & lightening.
  • In this blog tutorial, we will try and give you some advice on what products to use and how best to use them for dark and black haired customers.

Which Bleach should I use if my client has Black Hair?

  • Contrary to popular opinion, not all bleaches have equal lifting capabilities.
  • We would recommend Brilliant Blonde 8 level bleach.
  • It is a blue based dust-free lightener specifically developed to lift dark bases.
  • As such, if you or your client has African American hair, Asian hair, extremely dark Hispanic hair you should use this bleach.
  • This bleach, when used properly, will allow you to take your client all the way to pale yellow.
  • No irritating situations such as when the bleach runs out of power and the hair is still orange!

Which Developer strength should I use with this bleach?

  • For black hair looking to lift 3 levels or more we would recommend 30 Vol developer.
  • It is more than enough when used correctly to give you the lift that you are looking for.
  • We don't recommend 40 Vol developer with Brilliant Blonde.
  • It isn't necessary, & will cause long term damage to your hair.

What is the correct mix ratio for black hair?

  • The correct mix ratio is 1 part bleach to 2 parts developer.
  • You need the mixture to be fairly runny when doing black hair for two reasons.
  • Firstly, you need to saturate the black hair really well and you won't be able to saturate if the mix is too dry.
  • Secondly, having a relatively runny mix allows you to work fast.
  • And with bleach, which is active as long as it is sitting on the hair, it is important to work fast.
  • Otherwise you won't be able to give equal processing time to every part of your hair or your client's hair.

What is the best way to apply the bleach on to my client's black hair?

  • Start from the back.
  • That is where the hair is thickest.
  • By starting there, you are basically giving more processing time to that area.
  • Segment finely, and really saturate the hair really well with the bleach mixture.
  • You literally need to whack on plenty, and I mean plenty of product. The hair needs to be literally drenched in bleach.
  • You will need plenty of product. So don't hesitate to make more mix as you go.
  • Have someone standing by to make more mixes is a great idea if you are new to bleaching black hair.
  • We recommend you use foil for black hair.
  • Placing hair in foil keeps the heat in and allows for faster processing.
  • Once you have done all the foils, you can place the hair under a hood dryer for 10 minutes to go faster with the lifting.

How long should I leave the bleach in the hair?

  • This is the number one question we get when it comes to bleaching dark hair!
  • The answer is not a fixed time. It is determined by visual inspection.
  • When bleaching black hair, you need to keep checking by peeling back some of the bleach (see visual below).
  • As you lift black hair, it will go red, then orange. This is totally normal.
  • You need to keep bleaching.

When do I do the Second Application of Bleach?

  • After you have done the first application on the entire head, working your way around from the back to the sides and front and putting everything in foil, use a little heat using a hood dryer for around 10 minutes.
  • Then open up a foil or two from the back and see where you are at.
  • You will probably be around orange yellow color.
  • Now you need to make fresh mix. When using Brilliant Blonde, use Ugly Duckling 20 Vol Developer for the second application.
  • Once again, Brilliant Blonde is fast acting and lifts a lot. So you will not need 30 Vol (nor should you use) 30 Vol for the second application.
  • To do the second application, you will need to take of all the foils one by one and re-apply fresh mix.
  • This time, using gloves, you may like to rub in the mixture for better penetration.
  • Once again, work fast and go progressively from the back round to the sides and the front.

When do I rinse?

  • Rinse when the hair gets to level 10.
  • The no 1 mistake that stylists make when bleaching black hair is to rinse too soon - don't be like that.
  • Make sure the hair is truly at level 10 before you rinse.

What do I add during rinsing?

  • Very often hair that has been taken all the way from black to level 10 will have some yellow still left in the hair.
  • It is a good idea to use purple shampoo and mask when rinsing to take this yellow away in order to better prepare it for toning.
  • Ugly Duckling's Purple Shampoo and Mask are very intensely pigmented and are designed to work well for this kind of application at the back wash.
  • They are also sulfate free and acidic. Acidic means that they will help close the hair cuticle after the bleach process. Important!

How do I tone the hair afterwards?

  • Use Ugly Duckling's intense toners afterwards.
  • These toners are among the most fast acting in the market and contain a special "booster" which lifts up the hair one more level.
  • They are also very intensely pigmented in blue and purple pigments which are excellent for toning.
  • Use intense pearl blonde for a super white/grey white color result.
  • Use intense silver blonde for a more silver blonde/natural white color result.
About the author

Sally has been a hair colorist and trainer for many years in both the US & Europe. She currently does hair color training for Ugly Duckling. She also helps develop new & awesome products for the brand.