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Home Blog Step by Step Guide - How to Bleach & Tone Your Hair

Step by Step Guide - How to Bleach & Tone Your Hair


Looking to bleach and tone hair for the first time?

Follow our eight-step technique.

It's what all professionals use.

Do it and you will get excellent results every single time you bleach hair.

Step One: Prepare the hair for bleaching

Hair in need of bleaching

Hair which will need bleaching at the regrowth area

Bleaching involves stripping the hair of its color pigments. 

And the mixture of bleach and hydrogen peroxide (developer) can be quite irritating on the scalp.

So both hair and scalp need to be in good condition prior to bleaching.

For this reason, it is important that the hair has some of its natural oils present when bleaching.

The best way to ensure that is not to shampoo and not to condition it for at least 48 hours prior to bleaching.

Pre-treatments such as coconut oil, as sometimes recommended, do not really help.

They may even interfere with the bleaching process.

Step Two: Figure out your Bleaching Strategy

Dark Roots Need Bleaching

Dark Roots in Need of bleaching

As a professional, you need to have a look at your client's hair and figure out the correct bleaching strategy.

Don't forget that the longer you process bleach on the hair, the more it will lift.

So you need to use that factor when you determine your bleaching strategy.

A very common case is a very dark root regrowth - see the picture above.

In such cases, you will will need to first lift the darkest areas.

Remember: your aim should be to get one consistent color from roots to ends.

No wishful thinking that your toner will do it if you leave it on long enough!

Step Three: Prepare your Bleach and Developer Mix

Creamy white mixture

A mix of Brilliant Blondexx and developer

We really recommend that you use a very good quality bleach and the right developer strength.

Ideally, use Ugly Duckling Brilliant Blondexx.

It's one of the very few bleaches on the market that contains Bond Protect.

It also has very good lifting capability, meaning that you won't need to bump up the developer volume unnecessarily.

The rule for all Ugly Duckling bleaches is use 20 Vol developer when you need up to 3 levels.

And use 30 Vol developer for more than 3 levels lift.

You should never require developer strength stronger than that if your bleach formula is a good one.

Brilliant Blondexx Bond Protect Bleach

Brilliant Blondexx Bond-Protect Bleach

The correct mix for Ugly Duckling bleaches is 1 part bleach to 2 parts developer.

This gives a nice wet mix, a little bit like a gravy.

This is what you will need to achieve excellent product saturation on the hair.

Keep stirring until you get a nice creamy mixture as you see above.

Step Four: Apply the bleach

Bleach application on the root area

Bleach application on the re-growth area

Now that your mix is ready, apply to the darkest part first. This could be the root area in the case above.

If on the other hand, you are doing a full head bleach, then you need to start from the back, and moving gradually around to the sides.

Try and work fast, but try and make sure that as much hair comes into contact with the product as possible.

The hair needs to be fully saturated with the bleach mixture to lift nicely & evenly.

Step Five: Re-apply when necessary & Rinse when done

Correctly Bleached hair

Correctly bleached hair level 10

Once you have done your first bleach application, you should start checking how much the hair has lifted on the part that you applied first.

In general, your aim will be to get the hair all the way up to a very very pale yellow - almost white-yellow, in fact.

See the picture above. This is the correct level that you need to take the hair to.

If after 15 minutes you can see that the hair is still a very bright, brassy yellow, make some more mix and re-apply.

At this stage you may also want to extend to other parts which are not dark but still brassy and could do with some more lift.

Keep working in this way until you get the whole head to where you need it.

Then rinse with water.

Step Six: Toning the hair After Bleaching

Now that the hair is a consistent level 10 very pale yellow, you can tone it.

Given below are some very popular Ugly Duckling toners.

You can use them with 10 or 20 Vol developer depending on how much lift you want.

The first 2 below are "intense", meaning that they do contain some extra lift.

So use these when you are still not satisfied that your hair has been really fully bleached (this happens).

Or when you are going for a full root - to - end platinum or stunning white blonde.

Intense Silver Blonde

Intense Silver Blonde 100B

Intense Pearl Blonde 100V

Intense Pearl Blonde 100V

If the hair has been very well bleached, you can also use Ugly Duckling's ammonia free-toners.

These don't contain lift, but they do tone exceptionally well, thanks to ash and purple pigments.

Natural Ash Blonde

Blondify Natural Ash Blonde Toner

Natural Violet Blonde Toner

Blondify Natural Violet Blonde Toner

Step Seven: Applying Purple Shampoo & Mask

After toning, we would recommend that you use Purple Shampoo and Mask.

The intense purple pigments will help neutralise any yellow produced after bleaching the hair.

They will help you get rid of any remaining yellow.

So it's a good last step to take to take hair all the way to pure white blonde.

Purple Shampoo

Purple Mask

Purple Mask applied on the hair at the back wash.

Purple Mask applied on the hair

Brilliant Blonde Purple Shampoo & Mask.

Step Eight: Maintaining & Looking after Bleached & Toned Hair

To maintain the quality of the lifted blonde hair, we recommend that you use Brilliant Blondexx Hair Care.  

This will help strengthen your hair and keep it healthy.

Brilliant Blondexx Mask

Brilliant Blondexx Bond Protect Mask - low pH & sulfate free.

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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