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Home / Blog/ How do I bleach dyed hair? Use Our Seven Step Routine
Home Blog How do I bleach dyed hair? Use Our Seven Step Routine

How do I bleach dyed hair? Use Our Seven Step Routine


If you have hair that has already been colored and you want to lift it or lighten it, you are going to have to use a professional bleach.

There is simply no other way. Color does not work on color.

Nor does developer!

But using bleach can be a challenge if you are unused to it.

And done incorrectly, it can be stressful on the hair.

But the good news is done correctly, it is possible to lift and lighten previously colored hair.

Without significant damage.

In this blog we will show you how.

Step One - Assessing The Hair

Assessing the hair

Dark Roots successfully lifted using Brilliant Blondexx bleach. Then toned ash blonde.

The first step is always to examine your client's hair (or yours) and check its condition.

What was the previous coloring history?

Has the hair been bleached in the past?

Check the elasticity of the hair. When it's wet, can you stretch it? Or does it break?

Are there any split ends?

Go through these 3 checkpoints:

  • Can you confirm that the hair has never had a full head bleach application previously? 
  • Is the hair is still elastic? And not prone to breakage?
  • Has the hair only been colored with regular oxidising colors? 

If the answer to the above three questions is "yes", then you can safely do a full head bleach operation.

Even if the answer to one of the above questions is "no", you may still get reasonably good results if you use a good technique and quality professional products.

Whatever the answer to the above questions, you must do a strand test using bleach and developer before you do a full head application.

It's what allows you to test the strength and lifting ability of your mix before you go ahead and do a full head application.

Step Two - Preparing the Hair

The best way to prepare for a full head bleach application is to do nothing.

No shampoo, no mask, no conditioning. No coconut oil. No washing.

The oils that will build up in your scalp over time are the best possible protection for a bleach.

So let the oils build up for two to three days.

Then you are good to start your bleach application.

When the time comes to bleach, comb through the hair once and then divide it into four equal sections: left and right and top and bottom.

Clip up three of these sections.

You will find that the hair is thickest at the back of the head.

So let down one of these back sections and get ready to start bleaching there.

Step Three - Choosing the Right Bleach and Developer Strength

Brilliant Blondexx Bleach

Brilliant Blondexx Bleach - with Bond Protect for safe, effective lifting.

We recommend that you use Brilliant Blondexx with Bond Protect.

It's made from brand new bleaching technology, which is proprietary to Ugly Duckling

It contains Maleic Acid. This is what Bond Protect is.

The Maleic Acid helps to build bonds in the hair. Making the hair stronger and in better condition after bleaching.

The other reason why you should use Brilliant Blondexx is that its lifting power is quite unique - up to 7 levels, in fact.

Using only 20 or 30 Vol developer strength.

Which means that the bleach mix does not sit around for ever and ever on the hair.

And that you don't blow up the hair by using 40 Vol developer!

The other good thing about this formula is that it is very gentle on the scalp.

The bleach mix is creamy, white and oil-like. Almost like a color.

And therefore much more comfortable on the scalp than most bleaches.

So less scalp and skin irritation.

Bleach and Developer Mix

Bleach and Developer Mix using Brilliant Blondexx bleach.

Step Four - Choosing Developer Strength, Mixing and Applying.

Developer Choice

It's important to use the right strength of developer.

The rule is: for up to 3 levels lift, use 20 Vol developer.

For anything more, use 30 Vol developer.

Roots always lift faster than anywhere else.

So you may like to make a 20 Vol mix for the root area and use 30 Vol for the rest.

Or give the roots less processing time by applying the bleach on that part only at the end.

It's important to use a good quality developer, just as with bleach.

The best developers are cream based, smell good and fresh - so they contain plenty of oxidizing ability.

Bleach and Developer Mix

The best mix for a full head application is 1 part bleach to 2 parts developer.

That way you get a nice wet mix which will really saturate the hair properly and process fast.

Applying the Bleach Mix

Start applying your mix at the back, where the hair is thickest.

Work fast, because bleach continues to process as long as it is still wet and in contact with the hair.

Go segment by segment, trying not to miss any parts.

When one section is done, let down the next section and continue working around the hair.

Come round to the sides and the front later. The hair is typically finer here and will process faster.

Do the root area at the end because that will process the fastest.

Step Five - How Long to Wait Before Rinsing Your Bleach

Once the first application is done, 15 minutes to 20 minutes will have elapsed.

Now is the time to start checking at the back - where you started to bleach.

Does the hair look like it will be getting to pale yellow in the next 5 to 10 minutes?

Or is it still stuck at bright yellow, or brassy yellow-orange?

Are there parts which are lifting less well than others?

If so, you will need to make and apply a second mix on those parts only.

Use only 20 Vol developer this time.

You should not use anything stronger as you have already applied bleach once.

Use the picture below to guide you as to what the hair should look like after bleaching.

Remember that your aim is to get the hair all the way up to level 10 very very pale yellow.

Rinse with water when the hair is consistently at level 10 very pale yellow.

Level 9 -10

Only rinse when you get the hair to level 9 or level 10.

Step Six - Toning After Bleaching

All bleached hair will need to be toned.

If you have been successful at getting the hair to a true level 10 very pale yellow, we would suggest you use on of Ugly Duckling's demi-permanent toners Blondify.

They have been formulated to complement Brilliant Blondex bleach.

Like all Ugly Duckling toner, they are very intensely pigmented with ash and purple pigments.

And they are ammonia-free.

Blondify toner

Blondify allows you to tone bleached hair in without ammonia in just 10 minutes and using only 10 or 20 Vol developer.

You can use either 10 or 20 Vol developer with them, as they are very intensely pigmented.

They also contain Bond Protect, so they will help build and strengthen the hair fiber.

You can mix them in a applicator bottle and just pour over the hair and rub.

Then rinse after 10 minutes or when you see the hair change color.

Here are some typical results after toning with Blondify.

Toning with Blondify

Hair bleached with Brilliant Blonedexx, then toned with Blondify Natural Ash Blonde Toner

Step Seven - The Secret to Keeping Bleached Hair in a Great Condition

There are 2 hair care routines that we would recommend.

Brilliant Blondexx Bond Protect Hair Care

Brilliant Blondexx Haircare

Brilliant Blondexx Haircare - with Bond Protect

The first is Brilliant Blondexx shampoo and mask.

These products contain Bond Protect and will ensure that your bleached and tone hair stays thick and strong. And protect it from hair breakage.

Brilliant Blonde Purple Shampoo & Mask

Brilliant Blonde Purple Shampoo

An application of Brilliant Blonde Purple Mask - and the Results on Blow Dried Hair

The second is Brilliant Blonde purple shampoo and mask.

This will act as a semi-permanent toner for your hair, and keep the blonde reflects white and yellow free.

All Ugly Duckling hair care products are acidic.

Which mean that they will help close the hair fiber and prevent split ends, static build-up and frizz.

They are also sulfate-free.

Meaning no excessive build-up of chemicals when you use them and a clean feel to your hair after use.

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.