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Home Blog Bleach hair at home & get salon results: a complete step-by-step tutorial

Bleach hair at home & get salon results: a complete step-by-step tutorial


Are you looking to bleach your hair at home and get salon results?

Bleaching your hair is often the only way to achieve a dramatic change in hair color.

Contrary to what some people think, you can get extremely good, professional results doing it at home.

But you need to do it right.

In this tutorial, we are going to break it down for you.

And show you how to bleach as a professional stylist would.

So that you can get salon results.

The key points that you will learn in this tutorial

In this article, you will learn:

  1. What products you need to prepare
  2. Bleaching hair levels
  3. Which developer strength you need to use
  4. How to prepare the hair before bleaching
  5. How to mix the bleach
  6. How to apply the bleach
  7. When to rinse the bleach
  8. Using purple shampoo & mask to tone after and during bleaching.
  9. Toning hair after bleaching
  10. Looking after bleached & toned hair.

1. What products you need to prepare

These are the items you need to assemble:

  • A quality bleach
  • The right strength of developer
  • Coloring bowls
  • Brushes
  • A set of clips
  • Plastic gloves
  • A coloring cape
  • Towels
  • Purple shampoo & mask
  • Toner for use after bleaching

2. Bleaching hair levels

Bleaching hair levels

Bleaching hair levels

As you bleach the hair from a medium brown, you will first see a lot of red.

Keep bleaching, and then you will see copper. Then orange. Then yellow-orange.

Keep bleaching and you will see yellow, and then finally very pale yellow.

All hair behaves like this. It's not just your hair which is "pulling red" or "pulling orange".

In almost all cases your aim should be to bleach the hair until you see very pale yellow

Like the extra light blonde 10 in the chart above.

Now let's discuss how to get there!

3. Which developer strength you need to use

The rules for developer choice with bleach are as follows:

  • If you need to lift by up to 3 levels, use 20 Vol developer.
  • If you need to lift by more than 3 levels, use 30 Vol developer.

You can tweak these rules to a certain extent, but not by much.

You should for example only use 40 Vol when dealing with color buildup and color correction situations.

Also, for the root area it is generally better to use 20 Vol.

And when making fresh bleach mixes as a second application, use 20 Vol.

Whereas on the back and the lengths, 30 Vol can work fine for lifts of 3 levels and up.

Especially so if there is some color build up from previous hair colors.

In practice, it would be a good idea to keep both 20 vol and 30 vol. at hand when they bleach.

That way, you get some flexibility while in the act of bleaching.

4. How to prepare the hair before bleaching

The best preparation for the hair is to do nothing for at least 2-3 days before.

No shampooing, no mask, if possible no blow drying and no back combing.

The reason is that it is important that the natural oils build up on the scalp.

These oils will protect the scalp during the bleaching process and give the client less discomfort.

5. How to mix the bleach

White bleach mix

A mix of Ugly Duckling Brilliant Blondexx bleach mix. Note how creamy and wet it is.

The correct bleach mix ratio is 1 part bleach to 2 parts developer.

You can use the bleach spoon to measure or alternatively kitchen weighing scales.

For a full head medium length hair, you will need around 3 oz.

That means 3 scoops of bleach if you are using Ugly Duckling bleaches.

To that you will need to add 6 oz of developer.

That combination will give you a nice fairly wet paste (like gravy) which can saturate the hair really well.

The above is a picture of Ugly Duckling's bleach with Plex technology.

It produces a particularly creamy mix which is excellent both for the scalp area as well as for the ends.

Mix bleach and your developer in a plastic bowl using a plastic whisk.

Keep stirring until all the powder has been blended in and you are left with a totally smooth mix, as above.

6. How to apply the bleach

Bleach Application on the RegrowthA

Applying the bleach on the regrowth area

That is why the whole art of bleach application is about timing.

Your aim should be to give more processing time to the parts which need to be lifted the most.

That's why you need to start applying on the part of the hair are the darkest or thickest.

If you are doing a regrowth, you will of course apply on that area, as in the picture above.

Start on the area which needs the bleach the most. Then extend elsewhere as required.

Note, if you have parts which are so white that they don't need bleach, you must not apply it there, otherwise you could get major breakage.

If by any chance you do overlap by mistake, just wipe back with a damp cloth during processing and that should be fine.

7. When to rinse the bleach 

Light Yellow level 9 hair

Bleach has no fixed processing time.

It all depends on how much you are lifting the hair, the hair type, and whether it has been previously colored or not.

As you bleach, you will see the hair progressively shift from orange to yellow-orange, then yellow, then pale yellow.

Keep bleaching until you get to the right level.

It should be as in the picture above - or even lighter, if you can: somewhere between level 9 and level 10.

You will need to check as it lifts and keep re-applying as necessary with fresh mix until you see that all parts are uniformly very pale yellow level 9-10.

Rinse when you get the right color.

8. Using purple shampoo & mask to tone after & during bleaching

Purple Mask

Brilliant Blonde Purple Mask

After rinsing the bleach off, it is a very good idea to apply purple shampoo and mask.

Ugly Duckling's Brilliant Blonde Shampoo and Mask are made for this purpose.

They contain very intense purple pigments which will help you reduce the yellow in the hair.

You can apply them after bleaching and rinsing.

You can even apply some shampoo or mask into the actual bleach mix itself.

That tends to work very well.

9. Toning Hair After Bleaching

Neutralizing Colors

Purple & Blue Based toners are good at eliminating yellow and orangeish tones from bleached hair.

Even if you have used purple shampoo and mask, you will need to tone the hair to achieve an attractive, finished result.

Which products should you use?

We are going to assume that you have lifted correctly to level 9/10, and the hair is now pale yellow as in the image of the rinsed hair above.

Purple based and blue based toners will be your best choice in this case, as you can see in the chart above.

So today, we are going to suggest 3 different toners you can use at home or indeed at the salon, in ascending order of lift.

1. Blondify Natural Violet Blonde 010V

Blondify Natural Violet Blonde

Blondify Toner - Ammonia-Free, PPD-free, 10 Minute Gloss Toner

Blondify Natural Violet Blonde is a liquid toner. It's perfect for toning hair that has been well lightened to a level 10 very pale yellow.

It contains purple pigments and it will tone the hair ash blonde in just 10 minutes.

Mix with 20 Vol developer in a 1+1 mix ratio. You can use an applicator bottle to shake the mix together.

Then pour all over the hair and rub in very well.

Leave for 10 minutes, then rinse.

Hair Toned with Blondify 010V

Hair toned with Blondify Natural Violet Blonde 010V

Hair by Elona Taki

2. Pearl Blonde 10V

Pearl Blonde 10V

Pearl Blonde Toner

Ugly Duckling's 10V

The second toner we would suggest is a cream based toner rather than a liquid.

It's 10V.  It's also purple based. 

It will give regular lift when combined with 20 Vol developer.

The mix for this toner is 1 part toner to 2 parts developer.

This toner will need to be applied in a mixing bowl and applied with a brush.

Process for around 20 minutes.

You should see a greyish blonde result when using this.

Pearl Blonde Toner 10V

Pearl Blonde 10V

Hair bleached and toned with Pearl Blonde 10V

Hair by Elona Taki

3. Intense Pearl Blonde 100V

Intense Pearl Blonde 100V

Intense Pearl Blonde 100V

Our last purple based toner is our most powerful, fastest acting toner.

Use this when you really want to push the hair to the whitest, result possible.

Also to be mixed with 20 Vol developer, in a 1 part toner to 2 parts developer ratio.

Also to be left on for around 20 minutes.

Intense Pearl Blonde 100V

Hair bleached at the root and toned with Intense Pearl Blonde 100V

Hair by Elias

10. Looking after bleached & toned hair

Brilliant Blondexx

Brilliant Blondexx Shampoo & Mask

Ugly Duckling has a shampoo and mask range enriched in Maleic Acid, or Bond Protect.

It's called Brilliant Blondexx.

We do recommend that you use these products, at least once or twice a week after bleaching and toning.

It will strengthen the hair, prevent breakage and make it healthier.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bleaching

1. Which Ugly Duckling bleach should I use?

Brilliant Blondexx is a white bleach that contains Bond Protect (Plex Technology).

It gives an excellent combination of lift and protection.

It can be used on scalp and off scalp.

It is what we would recommend for most cases.

Brilliant Blondexx

Brilliant Blondexx Bleach with Bond Protect.

Brilliant Blonde, on the other hand, is a blue bleach designed for dark bases.

Asian, Hispanic, African hair as well as hair that has been colored with box-dye in the past.

Use this when very very powerful lifting is required.

Brilliant Blonde

Brilliant Blonde - Designed For Dark Bases

2. Do I need to add any additives into my bleach mix to protect the hair as I bleach?

As long as you have used Brilliant Blondexx Bleach with Bond Protect, no further additive is required.

Bear in mind that some additives slow down the processing time, and actually require you to bump up the volume of the developer strength.

Which is not really something that we recommend!

Also, do use the Brilliant Blondexx haircare range for afterwards.

You will be surprised how useful it is, and how immediate its results in terms of hair condition and quality.

3. How can I bleach dark hair without it turning orange?

Hair turning orange is just a natural stage before it turns yellow.

When it's orange, it simply means that the hair is not bleached enough.

If you are nearing the end of 15 minutes and the hair is orange, you can be sure you will need to make a fresh mix and re-apply.

Once again, you do need to get to that "happy" bleaching level of pale yellow.

Otherwise, the results will not be good.

4. Can I Use 40 Vol developer with my bleach?

What bleach are you using? And why are you not getting your lift with 20 and 30 Vol developer?

As we said before, the choice of a good bleach is really key.

And using 40 Vol developer to compensate for a mediocre bleach is unbelievably lame.

No colorist should do that to her own hair or to her client's.

Only use 40 Vol if the hair is ultra, ultra resistant to bleaching.

5. Why does my hair turn so yellow after bleaching?

You can’t get platinum blonde hair just by bleaching.

Bleach removes pigments from hair, but to get to a nice blonde, you do need to use some purple shampoo and also a toner.

As we discussed, a toner is generally needed to tone the hair fully after you have bleached. 


Hair by Elona Taki


Hair by Elona Taki


Hair by Ashley Betancourt

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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