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Home Blog Best Hair Bleach & Developer Combo - Our Recommendation for Your Hair Type & Target Color

Best Hair Bleach & Developer Combo - Our Recommendation for Your Hair Type & Target Color


What is hair bleach?

Hair bleach is essentially lightener in powder form. Hair bleaches are made from persulfate salts. Hair bleach is what is used to lighten hair any time you need to lift by 3 levels or more.

Hair bleaches vary in their lifting capability. Their lift can be anything from 3 levels all the way up to 7/8 levels.

Hair Bleach Application

A typical bleach application on the root area.

What is developer?

Developer is essentially hydrogen peroxide in a cream base.

It is typically used in various strengths depending on hair type and desired lightening level:10 Vol (3 percent hydrogen peroxide), 20 Vol (6 percent), 30 Vol (9 percent) & 40 Vol (12 percent).

How do the 2 work together?

The combination of hair bleach and developer create a highly alkaline formulation which is very effective at penetrating the hair cutucle and lightening the natural melanins present inside the hair cortex.

They will also lighten (although less easily) previous color applications. In other words, artificial color pigments previously inserted into the hair cortex.

Bleach & Developer

How Bleach Works: the bleach & developer mix penetrate the hair cortex and lighten the melanin (color molecules) present.

Aren't bleaches bad for the hair?

It really depends on how you do it. Ugly Duckling's recommendation is to bleach any given piece of hair once in its lifetime only.

Do it once & do it right is our motto.

Once you have lightened a hair shaft, keep it blonde & do not be tempted to tone it back down again.

Remember, when the new growth comes out you will only be bleaching that part (the virgin hair part) again.

Plus of course, use quality bleaches which lift easily using low strength developer. Which is key and very often overlooked.

The models whose hair we bleach, lighten & tone in our videos all have excellent hair condition.

What type of lighteners does Ugly Duckling have?

Ugly Duckling has 2 lighteners:

Brilliant Blonde 8 Level Lightener for Ultra Dark Hair

Brilliant Blonde Bleach

Brilliant Blonde 8 Level Lifting Bleach

This is a blue based dust-free lightener for very very dark bases. It's called Brilliant Blonde.

It can lift up to 8 levels using just 20 and 30 Vol developer.

If you have clients with ultra dark hair, Asian hair, very thick and resistant hair, plus hair which has been colored heavily in the past and has a lot of color build-up, you should use this bleach

Brilliant Blondexx Bleach with Bond Protect 

Bond Protect Anti-Breakage Bleach

Brilliant Blondexx with Bond Protect

This is a white dust-free lightener with Bond Protect.

It produces a creamy, oily white mix which is very comfortable on the scalp compared to most hair bleaches.

It prevents hair breakage and can be used for on-scalp applications.

It can lift up to 7 levels using 20 and 30 Vol developer.

If you have near scalp bleaching to do, you should use this.

Also, most common bleaching applications can be done very effectively with this bleach.

This is the bleach to use if you are concerned about hair damage when lifting.

What are some of the Application & Mix & Timing Secrets to getting a good bleach result?

The No 1 Thing About Bleach is this

The most important thing to remember about bleach is that the mixture only works when it is wet and fully in contact with the hair shaft.

So when you bleach, you must bleach with conviction. Don't be a nervous stylist.

Whack the mixture on and make sure you. are really smothering the hair. That's the only way.

Segment the hair finely and be very systematic so that you don't miss any parts. Otherwise you will be left with un-bleached areas.

Timing is Key When you are bleaching

Then once you have got the application right, next is timing. You need to watch and check because the time taken to lift hair is variable.

It will depend on hair thickness, the amount of color and the intensity of color previously on the hair (virgin hair is always much easier to lift).

So you need to peel back the mixture and check the level after, say 15-20 minutes.

Do Not Under-Bleach

Given that most clients these days are looking to go white blonde or cool blonde, you must really make sure not to under-bleach.

That is the most common mistake we see nowadays. Stylists who think they have lifted to level 9/10 when actually they have not.

Be prepared to stretch out the processing time as long as necessary and if the mix is not lifting enough (meaning, you are seeing plenty of orange and yellow even after 20 minutes of bleaching) you know that it is time to make a fresh mix and re-apply.

How to do a Second Bleach Application

If you can see that the bleach mix is drying up, and your target level has not been achieved, you should do a second application.

For second applications, use only 20 Vol.

Ugly Duckling bleaches lift very well that way.

Using Foil

You can by all means use foil. Foil keeps the heat in and allows for faster processing and lifting of bleach applications.

The Bleach Mix

For most bleach applications, a mix of 1 part bleach to 2 parts developer is appropriate.

This gives a gravy-like texture which will saturate the hair properly and at the same time not fall off the brush when you apply.

When to Rinse

Rinse when you get to level 10....white yellow, with minimal quantities of yellow. This can take 30 minutes or more, so be patient.

Get the hair to this level & you will truly get fantastic results when you tone or color afterwards.

When to Rinse

Rinse When You Get to a Consistent Level 10 as in this picture

How do I choose the right bleach and developer combination for my hair?

Choose the case which applies more closely to you from the ones given below.

1. Very Dark hair - Full Head Application

Bleaching Very Dark Hair

An application of Brilliant Blonde blue bleach.

Use Brilliant Blonde 8 Level lifting bleach. You will need to keep at hand both 30 Vol and 20 Vol. developer.

Start off by using 30 Vol on the lengths. Use foil if possible, as this will allow for faster processing time.

Start at the back and work your way round to the sides as quickly as possible.

After 20 minutes of application, check by opening up a foil. 

If still very yellow (or worse: yellow-orange) make a fresh mix, this time with 20 Vol and re-apply wherever the hair needs it (most probably this will be everywhere).

Remember, at this stage we are still just bleaching the lengths only, leaving the root part un-bleached.

For the second application, you will need to open up the foil and apply on the loose hair. Wear gloves as inevitably there will be a lot of contact with the hair.

Check the hair as it lifts.

Rinse when the entire lengths are at a consistent level 10

Now you need to do the root area. Make a mix with the 20 Vol (roots always lift faster than the rest).

Similarly, check after 20 minutes.

Keep processing until the roots have reached the same level as the lengths.

Then rinse.

2. Very Dark Regrowth, Blonde or Lightened Lengths

Very Dark Regrowth

This girl's ends were super white, but she had a level 2 dark regrowth. We applied Brilliant Blondexx on the root area to lift it up to level 10

Use Brilliant Blondexx Bond Protect Bleach. This works very well for on-scalp operations and is extremely comfortable on the head.

Use 20 Vol and apply.

If the lengths are already as blonde as they need to be, make sure not to overlap. If by chance you do, wipe back with a wet cloth during processing time & you should be fine.

If on the other hand the lengths need some more lifting (for example, if they are brassy or yellow) you can extend to the lengtsh using fresh mix during the last 10 minutes.

Rinse when the root area is level 10. 

3. Brunettes and Blondes - Full Head

Use Brilliant Blondexx Bond Protect Bleach with 20 Vol.

Apply to the lengths first and wait 15 minutes. You can use foil to process faster.

After 15 minutes, by which time the lengths should be lifting, apply on the root area making a fresh mix, also with 20 Vol.

Keep checking and re-applying on areas which look too brassy.

Rinse when the whole head is a consistent level 10.

4. Brunettes and Blondes - Root/Regrowth Application

Use Brilliant Blondexx Bond Protect with 20 Vol and apply to the root area.

The mixture is an oil based one and is quite comfortable on the scalp.

Rinse when the root area has lifted to level 10.

Regrowth application on a blonde

The processing shot after we applied the bleach on the regrowth area of this blonde is shown at the top of this page.

Toning After Bleaching - What Should I use?

Ugly Duckling has a wide range of blonde hair colors, toners as well as fashion colors.

We are listing some of the most popular ones below:

For use if the hair is still very yellow after bleaching, in order to achieve total blonde transformation

Intense Pearl Blonde 100V

Intense Silver Blonde 100B

For use if the hair has reached level 9 or 10, for white blonde results

Pearl Blonde 10V

Silver Blonde 10B

Silver Grey

10.1 (102)


For use for intense purple pigmentation (mix in with any of the above toners)

Purple Grey

Intense Violet Blonde 7.22

For use in quick gloss toning, refresh toning applications

Blondify Natural Violet Blonde

Blondify Natural Ash Blonde

Hair Maintenance after Bleaching - Brilliant Blondexx 

Brilliant Blondexx

Use Brilliant Blondexx Shampoo & Mask. These products are low pH (acidic) and will help close the hair cuticle - necessary after bleaching & toning.

In addition, they contain Bond Protect, which will help strengthen the hair fiber and make it thicker and healthier looking.

They are also sulfate free, and can be used as often as you like.

Hair Maintenance after Bleaching - Purple Toning 

Purple Shampoo & Mask

An application of Purple Shampoo & Mask at the back wash after bleaching

In addition, use Brilliant Blonde Purple Shampoo & Mask. These contain purple pigments which will help keep the hair white.

They are also sulfate-free and acidic.

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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