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Home Blog How to Bleach Hair: The 13 Steps to Blonde Success - With Pictures & Detailed Explanations

How to Bleach Hair: The 13 Steps to Blonde Success - With Pictures & Detailed Explanations


Follow the 13 Steps Below & You Can Bleach Your Way to Blonde Success Every Time:

Hair Bleached with Brilliant Blondexx with Bond Protect.

Toned with Intense Pearl Blonde Toner 100V

Hair by Elias

1. How hair bleach works 

Hair bleach levels

Hair bleaching levels

When you bleach hair, the combination of bleach and developer reacts with the melanin inside the hair cortex.

This removes its natural color through an irreversible chemical reaction. 

As long as the bleach mixture is moist, it will continue to lift out the melanin from the hair, and the hair will keep getting lighter.

And as you do this, the hair will go progressively from orange-yellow to yellow to pale yellow and then finally to very very pale yellow.

When it is very very pale yellow, the hair has reached level 10. This is when you rinse.

2. Determine your client's current hair color level

First you need to determine what color your client's hair is right now.

Use the chart below to determine what this level is.

Hair Color Levels

The Hair Color Levels - Natural Hair

3. Determine how many levels you are going to be lifting the hair by

First, determine your target color.

If your client is looking to go blonde, ash blonde, platinum blonde, silver grey etc, then your target level in most cases is going to be 10.

If your client is only looking to go medium blonde, and she is coming from a dark base, then you can aim for level 9.

Now subtract this target color, 10 or 9, from the current color.

This gives you the number of levels that you need to lift by.

4. Multiple hair bleaching levels

What is the level of this hair?

Client with multiple levels in her hair

Be aware that customers may have different hair color levels going on in their hair at the same time.

Look, for example at the client above. What level would you say her hair is?

It's level 6/7 at the root area.

It's level 8/9 at the mid-lengths.

And it's level 10 on the ends.

So clearly, in this case you would need to apply bleach to the root area and also extend to the mid-length area.

Which is what we did, as you can see in the picture below.

We did not, however, apply bleach to her ends.

It was already level 10 and did not need any further bleaching.

Hair bleaching levels in practice. Note that the hair is level 6 at the root area, level  8/9 on the mid-lengths and level 10 on the ends.

Our client - during bleaching

During bleaching 

After bleaching & coloring

After toning with 10.1b Blue Based Extra Cold Ash Blonde

5. Choosing the right bleach

It's important to use a quality bleach which has effective lift and which is gentle.

This will enable you to get good results even working with a low developer strength.

If your client has very dark hair, Asian hair or hair that has been previously colored dark, we recommend that you use our blue-based bleach Brilliant Blonde.

This bleach can lift up to 8 levels. 

For all other cases, we would recommend you use our white Brilliant Blondexx.

It has Bond Protect built in and thanks to that it is very gentle.

It also has excellent lifting capability - up to 7 levels.

It can be used both on-scalp and off-scalp.

Ugly Duckling Bleaches

6. Choosing the right developer strength

Use 20 Vol developer for 1-2 levels lift and for the near-root area.

Use 30 Vol developer for 3 levels lift and more.

Ugly Duckling's bleaches lift very well & we do not recommend you to ever use them with 40 Vol developer.

7. How to prepare your bleach mix

Our recommended mix is 1 part bleach to 2 parts developer. It is important that the bleach mix should be fairly moist.

This will enable good product saturation on the hair.

However, it should not be so moist that the mixture is going to drip off the brush.

So 1 part bleach to 2 parts developer is about right.

This mix will enable you to work fast, which is important with bleach.

That way you can give the hair as equal a processing time as possible.


Ashley Betancourt

8. How to apply your bleach

If it's a re-growth application (as in the 3 pictures at the top of this page) then you should apply on the regrowth area only and rinse when lifted.

If it's a full head bleach application, always start on the part which needs it the most. Generally this will be at the back. Then work your way around.

In both cases, you need to segment the hair finely so that you are rally saturating the hair very very well with product.

Don't be nervous, and don't be tentative.

Your goal has got to be to really saturate the hair with your mixture.

There is no way you are going to get the hair all the way to level 8 or 9 or 10 until it really comes into contact with the bleach mixture.

So no poking around with your tint brush please!

9. Making a second application of bleach while the first mix is still processing

Check the hair as it is lifting by peeling back some of the mixture.

If necessary take a few strands in your fingers and rub as the stylist is doing here.

Be aware that with the mixture still on the hair it sometimes look whiter than it actually is.

The picture below shows hair which has still a lot of yellow - this is not yet level 9/10.

If the hair is like the picture below and the mixture is drying out, you need to put some more mixture in.

When putting in additional mixture, always use 20 Vol developer.

You should not need anything stronger at the second application stage.

Checking hair levels

Bleach processing on the hair. This is not level 9/10 yet!

10. How long should I leave the bleach in the hair?

It needs to get as close to level 10 as you can make it. See below for how the hair should look after rinsing. This is level 10.

Bleached Hair after Rinsing

This is a true level 10. Always aim to get the hair to this level when bleaching. 

11. Are there any products I should put in after washing at the back wash?

Yes there are. We would recommend a very thorough application of Ugly Duckling Brilliant Blonde purple mask.

This will help get rid of any traces of incremental yellow left.

See picture below for a shot of Ugly Duckling's purple mask being applied.

Purple Mask at the back wash

Brilliant Blonde Purple Mask applied at the backwash after bleaching

12. How do I tone hair after bleaching?

Tone the hair with any of wide range Ugly Duckling's toners. This will get rid of any remaining yellow and take hair to a stunning white blonde.

Use intense pearl blonde or intense silver blonde if there is still some yellow left and you want to push the hair to level 10 white blonde.

Use no-lift pearl blonde or no-lift silver blonde if the hair is already very light. Also if this is a repeat application on the hair and no further lift is required.

You can also use silver greyextra cold ash blonde 10.1 or extra cold violet based blonde 10.2

You can also use Ugly Duckling's new 10 minute ammonia-free gloss toners.

Blondify Natural Ash Blonde 010A or Blondify Natural Violet Blonde 010V

All Ugly Duckling toners are very intensely pigmented and should give you excellent results.

How to tone with Intense Pearl Blonde 100V - Watch Video

How to tone with Blondify 10 minute Gloss Toner - Watch Video

13. How do I look after & maintain bleached hair?

Use Ugly Duckling's Purple Shampoo & Mask at least once a week to maintain the reflect and fight yellow.

Use Ugly Duckling's Brilliant Blondexx Shampoo and Mask with Bond Protect to strengthen and condition bleached or fragile hair.

How to Use Brilliant Blondexx Bond Protect Mask - Watch Video:

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.

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