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Hair bleach: a first timer's guide to getting it right


Hair bleaching involves breaking down the melanin pigments that give your hair its color.

The process generally follows these steps:

Hair Preparation

Preparing your hair

Before applying bleach

The best preparation for bleaching is to do absolutely nothing for a few days. The oils that will build up in your scalp and hair will protect the hair during the bleaching process.

Sectioning your hair

Divide your hair into manageable sections and use petroleum jelly or a protective barrier cream along your hairline, ears, and the nape of your neck to prevent skin irritation.

Choosing your bleach 

All bleaches are not the same and they don't all have the same lifting power. We recommend you use Ugly Duckling bleaches when possible, because they give you the possiblity of lifting the hair safely and effectively without using strong developer strength. For most cases, Ugly Duckling Brilliant Blondexx with Bond Protect (Plex) is the best. It will help keep the hair strong during the lifting process and prevent hair breakage.

Choosing your developer

Use 20 Vol for 2-3 levels of lift and 30 Vol for more than 3 levels of lift.

Note that if you follow our products and technique, you can bleach twice without damaging the hair.

But always use 20 Vol developer only the second time you do so.

Mixing the bleach

Our recommended mix with all Ugly Duckling bleaches is 1 part bleach to 2 parts developer. Use a weighing scale if you are new to bleaching.

The idea is to get a really wet gravy-like mixture which is completely smooth.

This will allow you to smother the hair and really saturate it, segment by segment.

That is how we at Ugly Duckling get the kind of lift that we do in our makeovers.


If this is a full head bleach, start applying from the back, segmenting finely and work your way around the sides.

If this is a dark regrowth, however, then you start on the regrowth area, extending as necessary to any orange or very brassy hair.

Never place bleach on parts of the hair (for example, ends) which are already white level 9/10.

You will risk hair breakage that way.

Safety Measures

Always do a patch test on the skin with a small amount of bleach mixture. This will test your sensitivity to bleach and developer.

In addition, always do a strand test. This will allow you to be sure that your bleach strategy works.

Toning After Bleaching

Ugly Duckling has a wide range of toners. Consult the appropriate guides in order to select the one best suited for you.

Healthy Blonde Hair after Bleaching

Use sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners: Sulfates can strip the hair of moisture, leading to dryness and damage. 

We recommend Ugly Duckling Brilliant Blondexx Shampoo and Mask. It is sulfate-free and also contains Bond Protect (Plex Treatment) to keep hair strong and in good condition.

We suggest you alternate that with Ugly Ducking Brilliant Blonde Purple Shampoo and Mask. This will keep the hair yellow-free. It is also sulfate-free.

All Ugly Duckling hair care is acid-based and will help keep the hair cuticles closed and prevent frizziness.

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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