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How to use bleach like a professional


What you will need to bleach your hair

  • Bleaching powder
  • Developer - 20 or 30 volume
  • Mixing bowl, brush and a whisk.
  • Sectioning clips
  • Cape and apron - for your client and for you.
  • Gloves
  • Toner for after bleaching
  • Suitable haircare for after bleaching

Ugly Duckling sells the coloring tools and accessories in addition to bleaches, toners and developers.


Conduct a Strand Test

Before proceeding with a full bleach application, it is essential to perform a strand test. Choose a small section of hair that is not easily visible and apply a small amount of the bleach mixture. This test will help you gauge the processing time required for your hair and check whether the bleach and developer combination that you have chosen are actually going  to work!

Check for Hair Health

Ensure that your hair is in good condition before bleaching. Check the overall hair quality, strength and porosity. Now check the elasticity.Wet a strand of hair and and take a section from both ends, try stretching it to see whether the hair has good elasticity. If the hair is elastic, that’s good.

Choosing the Right Bleach

The choice of a good quality bleach is critical. We recommend you use Ugly Duckling’s Brilliant Blondexx or Ugly Duckling’s Brilliant Blonde. Both are top-selling bleaches with excellent lifting properties. And they don’t require excessive developer strength. Brilliant Blondexx contains Plex (Bond Protect) and can be used for on scalp as well as for off-scalp. It is very safe and very powerful (7 levels lift).

Choosing the Right Developer Strength

The rule is to use 20 Vol for the root area and for lifts of up to 3 levels. Use 30 Vol for lifts of greater than 3 levels.

Why is this? It's because the root area typically lifts faster than the rest due to the heat coming from the scalp.

Mixing your bleach

The bleach mix ratio we recommend is 1 part bleach to 2 parts developer. Use a plastic bowl and a plastic whisk to create a totally smooth gravy-like mix. This will give you excellent product saturation.

For Full Head Bleaching, Do This

When doing a full head bleach, you will need to divide your hair into four to six sections using sectioning clips. This division will help ensure even application and consistent results. Sectioning needs to be done before you prepare the mix. Then let down one section at the back (which is typically where the hair is the thickest) and start work there. Then work your way around. 

For Bleaching the Roots, Do This

For dark roots, use Brilliant Blondexx bleach with Bond Protect. It has been designed for on-scalp bleaching. Apply with your brush, taking  care to place the mixture gently on the root area and poking the scalp as little as possible.

Watch the root area as it lifts. When it is approaching yellow you may like to make some fresh mix and extend it to the lengths where the hair is very brassy. Avoid bleaching the ends if they are already white. And avoid overlapping onto parts that clearly don’t need bleach. You could cause hair breakage by doing so.

Watch & check

The clock is ticking as soon as you apply your first bleach so be aware that you need to move fast and be reactive. Monitor your hair carefully during the processing time. The processing time will vary depending on your hair type, current color, and desired level of lift. When appropriate, make fresh mis (use 20 Vol this time always) and re-apply to parts that are not lifting.

When to Rinse 

Rinse when the hair is level 10 and looks something like this: Be aware that under-bleaching is one of the most common mistakes that hairdressers make. And this leads to unsatisfactory results.

Toning the hair

Now that you have bleached the hair, you will need to tone it.

Ugly Duckling has 3 types of toners:

  • Liquid ammonia-free toners for natural blonde results
  • Regular cream-based toners for very ashy blonde results
  • Intense cream-based toners for extra lift (when the hair is still very very yellow after bleaching).

We have a lot of write-ups on toners. Go through these and make the appropriate choice.

Aftercare for Bleached Hair

Bleached hair requires excellent post-bleaching care. You should always use sulfate-free haircare to avoid stripping out the hair everytime you wash.

In addition, try and use acid-based products because these will return the hair to its natural acidity and help close the cuticle and avoid excessive frizziness.

We recommend you use Ugly Duckling’s Brilliant Blondexx with Bond Protect on a regular basis.

It will strengthen the hair and protect it.

You should also use Ugly Duckling’s Purple Shampoo & Mask (alternate this with Brilliant Blondexx mentioned above).

This will help keep your hair yellow-free.

All Ugly Duckling hair care products are 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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