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Hair that has been correctly lifted with bleach

How to Bleach Hair Blonde Without Damage - A Step by Step Guide

Bullet-Point Summary: How to Bleach Hair Without Damage

  • Use a good quality bleach, and 20 or 30 Vol developer.
  • The right bleach to developer ratio is 1:2 ratio.
  • Use 20 Vol for the regrowth area, and when you need to lift by 1-2 levels.
  • Use 30 Vol for the lengths, and when you need to lift by 3 levels or more.
  • Lift to a very pale yellow (level 10). If there is orange in the hair after bleaching, you need to rinse and do again.
  • Ugly Duckling bleaches never require you to use 40 Vol developer. Using 40 Vol developer may compromise hair integrity.
  • How long to leave bleach in hair: Development times for Ugly Duckling Bleach are usually between 15 and 30 minutes.
  • How to bleach evenly: always apply bleach first to the parts that are the darkest or the brassiest so that they get more processing time.
  • For full head bleaching you need to try to get the right development time on every part of the head. It is generally a good idea to start at the back, where the hair is the thickest. Then work your way around.
  • How long to leave bleach in hair: aim to bleach until the hair reaches level 9 or 10. 
  • Hair stylists frequently under-bleach, leaving the hair too brassy. Don't be like this!!


How long to bleach hair - stages of bleaching hair


1. What Products do I Need For Bleaching Hair Without Damaging it?

A good quality Lightener which will lift without breaking or damaging:

In addition you will need the following:

  • 20 or 30 Vol developer, depending on the lift required and the area which you are lifting.
  • Use 20 Vol near the root area and either 20 or 30 Vol on the lengths depending on the degree of lift required.
  • You will also need a toner or a color. This is what will re-pigment or tone the hair after bleaching.
  • This tutorial will take you through some of the toners you can use.
  • Purple shampoo and mask to finish is always a good to have. This will help you keep hair a pure white blonde.
  • Coloring tools: a feather brush, a sectioning brush, a mixing bowl, & crocodile clips. 
  • Rubber gloves to avoid physically touching the product as you apply.

Bond Protect Lightener

Brilliant Blondexx Bleach with Bond Protect

2. How Should I Prepare the Hair for Bleaching?

  • Hair bleach is just like hair color, it is best applied on dry, unwashed hair.
  • Unwashed hair contains natural hair oils & this helps protects the hair during the bleaching process.
  • Before bleaching, brush the hair so that you can then section & apply easily.

3. What Developer Should I Use with Bleach?

The following rules apply if you are using Ugly Duckling bleaches

  • If you are aiming to lift by 1-2 levels, you need 20 Vol developer
  • If you are aiming  to lift by 3 levels and more, you need 30 Vol developer.
  • For the root area, it is better to use 20 Vol developer unless they are super dark.
  • The heat from the scalp will process the bleach faster there.
  • Ugly Duckling bleaches are designed to function very well with 20 and 30 Vol developer.
  • We do not recommend that you ever "bump up the Volume" with our bleaches, nor is it necessary that you do so.
  • In particular, using bleach with 40 Vol developer is not a good idea.
  • Use the level guide below to assess how much bleaching is necessary in your case & which developer you are going to need.
  • Remember, if you are trying to get to ash or platinum blonde, you need to try and lift all the way up to level 10. 

What Developer to Use with Bleach

If you have a dark root regrowth, like this, you can use 30 Vol with Ugly Duckling bleaches. That will enable you to lift it to this:

What Developer To Use With Bleach

This should be the final result after bleaching

Hair Color Levels

Use this chart to determine how many levels you are lifting by. That will determine which developer you need to use with your bleach.

4. What is the Correct Bleach to Developer Ratio? How do I Mix the Bleach With the Developer?

  • The recommended bleach to developer ratio is 1 part Bleach to 2 parts developer.
  • This will give you a fairly runny mix which will be easy and quick to apply.
  • Our recommended "fairly runny" mix will make it easier to cover all the hair evenly, thus avoiding patchy results.
  • It will also allow you to work fast. This also means you have longer to work before the mixture turns dry.
  • The only time you will need a thicker mixture which won't drip is when you are doing a balayage (free painting of highlights) or when you have a small area - for example a dark regrowth which you want to focus on.
  • If a thicker mix is preferred, 1 part lightener to 1 part developer is good.
  • Use the scoop provided in your Ugly Duckling bleach to measure out the bleach. Then you can use the same scoop to measure out your developer.
  • Later, when you are more experienced, you can do it by sight.
  • Mix the bleach with your color brush until it forms a smooth consistency (similar to gravy).
  • Do this in a plastic mixing bowl. Add the developer to the powder bleach a little at a time, stirring as you do.

Brilliant Blondexx Bleach Mix

What a bleach mix should look like - runny, but not too runny.


Hair by Ashley Betancourt @hairfactorynyc

5. How Long Should I Leave the Bleach on the Hair?

  • If your client's hair is blonde (level 7 and higher) aim at between 15-20 minutes using 20 Vol developer.
  • If your client's hair is dark blonde/light brown (level 5-6), aim at around 30 minutes using 30 Vol developer.
  • If your client's hair is brown/dark brown (level 4-5), aim at around around 30-40 minutes using 30 Vol developer with fresh mix added in during processing time.
  • The above indications apply to Ugly Duckling bleaches only. Not all bleaches have the same lifting property.
  • More important than the time is the target color that you are aiming for.
  • You need to keep watching and rinse only when the hair has been sufficiently lifted.
  • To go blonde, you need to try & achieve is a very pale yellow - level 9 or 10. See pictures below for what level 9 and 10 look like.
  • You need to check that the hair is lifting every 10 minutes. 
  • If there are parts which are drying out and still not lifted to very pale yellow, make some more fresh mix and add it in.
  • Don't rinse too early - this is the number one mistake that stylists make! Take it to level 9 at least (see below).
  • After 40 minutes, rinse whatever the level. It will be dry anyway, and will have stopped working. (Bleach stops processing when it turns dry).
  • If you have not attained level 9/10, and provided the hair is still in good condition (check by pulling a strand that it's still elastic and strong) you can do a second application.
  • Asian hair, Hispanic hair, other dark hair may require a second bleach application to take it to level 9 or level 10.
  • Hair that has been box dyed dark or colored with a vibrant color in the past will also require a second application.
  • When you are doing a second application, it should not be necessary to use 30 Vol. This time use 20 Vol.
  • You need to get rid of all the orange pigments and also most of the yellow pigments before you rinse. 
  • When you get to your target level, rinse using an acidic shampoo. This will close the hair cuticle after the bleaching process. 
  • You can also use purple shampoo. This will help neutralize the color and take away some of the yellow.


Always check your hair in this way and rinse only when it is this color or lighter

Bleaching hair


Correctly Bleached Hair


Hair Color After Bleaching


6. Only My Client's Regrowth Needs Lifting. How do I apply the bleach on the roots? And how long do I leave it in on the roots?

  • If your client's ends are perfectly light and only your regrowth is dark, then you only need to apply bleach on the regrowth area.
  • How long you leave it in will once again depend on how quickly that part takes to get to level 9/10.
  • Generally speaking, virgin regrowth near the root will process and lift fairly quickly due to the heat of the scalp.
  • 20 Vol developer is what you need for the regrowth area near the scalp. Never use anything stronger there unless you have some color removal you need to do.
  • Once again, Brilliant Blondexx is a great lightener to use for a near root application - it's more comfortable.
  • Note that you don't actually need to deposit the bleach mixture on the scalp: we recommend you stay 1/8 inch away from the root area.
  • The mixture will travel up, and the heat from the scalp will take care of the rest.
  • Section the hair finely when you apply your color, using a "pasting" motion with the brush.
  • Then flick over a new section with your tail-comb and continue in this way.
  • The finer and more consistent your sections, the better a lifting result you will get.
  • If your lengths are very white, you need to be careful not to overlap the bleach onto the white parts.
  • Otherwise you will get breakage. So be careful about this!
  • If you have overlapped by mistake, you can always wipe back the mixture during processing and you should be fine.
  • If on the other hands, you have lengths which also need some lifting, you can of course extend to those areas once you have taken care of the regrowth.
  • As usual, check carefully and rinse when the regrowth and brassy areas have all lifted nicely to a pale yellow.

Near Root Application of Bleach

Near Root application with Brilliant Blondexx Bleach

Bleach Processing on Scalp

Brilliant Blondexx Bleach processing for 35 min near the root.

7. I need to bleach my client's entire head. How do I apply the bleach?

  • If your client's entire head is dark, or brassy you will need to do a full head application 
  • Section the hair into 4 large sections with sectioning clips.
  • Then unclip one section and create mini half-inch sections using your tail comb.
  • Start applying bleach in the back of the head where the hair is usually darkest and thickest, working your way round to the front sections, in half-inch sections.
  • Work fast so that that you can give the whole head an equal amount of processing time.
  • Keep the root area to the last unless the hair is very short: it is going to process faster there, so you need less processing time.
  • If you have been using 30 Vol developer for the lengths, it is a good idea to make a fresh mix, with 20 Vol this time for the root area.
  • Make sure that you saturate the hair properly with the product mixture. You need to literally smother the hair with bleach.
  • Watch carefully and rinse when done, and rinse anyway after 30-35 minutes.
  • If after rinsing you see that the hair is still not a pale yellow level 9/10, so a second application, using 20 Vol developer only this time.

Section the hair, then start applying the bleach from the back.

Bleaching Dark Hair - Full Head

8. How do I bleach hair evenly & consistently?

  • Very often clients have hair which is different colors. 
  • They could have, for example (a) a regrowth area which is dark virgin hair (b) mid-lengths which have been colored one color and are now orange and (c) ends which have been lightened several times and are really pale white blonde.
  • In such cases you as the hairdresser will need to have a clear bleaching strategy.
  • You will need to figure out which areas need the most lifting and apply bleach first on those areas.
  • You may need to divide up your client's hair mentally into 3 different sections and apply bleach at different times to each section.
  • You may also need to keep watching as your customer's hair develops and then add more bleach onto sections which are not lifting fast enough.
  • When you are doing this, you should make separate mixes as necessary, using either 20 or 30 Vol. 
  • You should not attempt to tone until you have brought your client's hair to one consistent color level and the hair has been bleached evenly.

9. How do I Tone the Hair After Bleaching?

  • You will need to tone the hair with a good quality toner. Otherwise there will always be some yellow left.
  • Ugly Duckling toners are very fast acting & they remove any remaining yellowness in the hair. They act in 10- 15 minutes. They can be applied on wet hair which has been towel dried after bleaching.
  • Use Intense Pearl Blonde 100V or Intense Silver Blonde 100B if your are looking for ultra white results and your hair still has a fair amount of yellow. 
  • Use Pearl Blonde Toner 10V or Silver Blonde Toner 10B if you are have already achieved a true level 10 and you are looking to do a refresh toning applications.
  • Ugly Duckling has other colors such as the blue based ash blonde series which also work very well for toning applications.
  • Silver Grey and Smoky Blue Grey also work very well.
Intense Pearl Blonde Intense Pearl Blonde 100V Intense Silver Blonde Intense Silver Blonde 100B Pearl Blonde No-Lift Pearl Blonde Toner 10V Silver Blonde No-Lift Silver Blonde Toner 10B
Silver Grey Silver Grey Smoky Blue Grey Smoky Blue Grey Extra Cold Ash Blonde (Blue Based) Extra Light Cold Ash Blonde 10.1B Very Light Cold Ash Blonde Very Light Cold Ash Blonde 9.1B

10. What Hair Care Should I Use After Bleaching and Toning?

  • First rinse with water.
  • Then use Ugly Duckling Purple Shampoo or Mask for additional toning.
  • Purple Shampoo and Mask can also be used as a maintenance treatment to keep your color white and ashy.
  • Ugly Duckling's Purple Shampoo and Mask contain very intense pigments which help fight yellow.
  • They are also low pH formula and wil help close the cuticle after bleaching and restore it to a healthy condition.
  • See pictures below.

Purple Shampoo

Purple Mask

Learn More About Purple Shampoo and Mask Here.


Hair by Elona Taki.

  • Our model had previously lightened blonde hair with a dark regrowth. 
  • It was also rather fragile.
  • We used Brilliant Blondexx Bond Protect Bleach with 20 Vol Developer and lifted her root area all the way up to a level 10.
  • The processing time for the bleach was approximately 35 minutes. This was done with 20 Vol developer.
  • Then we toned with Pearl Blonde toner and 20 Vol Developer once more.
  • Finally, we did one very vigorous and thorough application of Brilliant Blonde Purple Shampoo. 
  • The result was a perfect white blonde result - no hair damage and no breakage!

Watch the Video Now!


  • Brilliant Blondexx Bond Protect Lightener
  • 20 Vol Developer
  • Pearl Blonde Toner
  • Brilliant Blonde Purple Shampoo


11. How long should I leave bleach in hair when I am using 20 Vol, 30 Vol & 40 Vol Developer?

  • First of all, we do not recommend you use 40 Vol developer with bleach.
  • If you are using a good quality bleach, (and this includes Ugly Duckling bleaches of course) it will work and lift very well with 20 or 30 Vol Developer.
  • For 20 and 30 Vol developer, the time taken can vary from 15 minutes up to 30 minutes.
  • Please note, however, there is no fixed development time with bleach - you need to check every few minutes and rinse when the hair is lifted.
  • If you see that certain parts of the hair are drying out during processing time or not lifting fast enough, you need to use your judgement and add in more fresh mix of bleach

12. Which Ugly Duckling Bleach is Right for Me?

  • If you are looking for a very gentle bleach and you are looking to lift 2-7 levels, we would recommend our new Bond Protect Brilliant Blondexx.
  • It's got a special ingredient which contains anti-breakage properties, it's very comfortable on the scalp, and mixes to a color-like consistency.
  • If you have ultra dark Asian hair, or if you have already box colored your hair and you need a super strong bleach to remove the color, then we would suggest Brilliant Blonde 8 Level+ Bleach.
  • It's a blue anti-dust bleach. It can lift up to 8 levels and it has been specially formulated for dark Asian hair which is the hardest of all to lift.

Bond Protect Bleach

New Brilliant Blondexx with Bond Protect: The only lightener in the US with Bond Protect built in. Recommended for most bleaching cases, especially for near scalp and root applications.


Brilliant Blonde Lightener: 8+ Level Lift. Recommended for dark bases & where ultra high lift is needed.

13. What is the best bleach for black hair?

  • There is no such thing as naturally black hair.
  • Virgin hair is generally level 2/3 at its darkest. This applies to Asian hair & African hair also.
  • For natural dark hair, use Brilliant Blonde with 30 Vol developer on lengths. Use Brilliant Blonde with 20 Vol on the root area.
  • Also use 20 Vol for a second application if the hair has not lifted enough.
  • Brilliant Blonde has a 8 level lift and will give you good results on very dark hair if you apply correctly. Without damage.
  • If your hair has been box-dyed black, it may require several applications. Be patient. Don't bump up the developer level and don'yt use cheap bleach. You will only end up causing irrevocable damage.



How to Bleach & Tone Hair

A Step-by-Step Guide to Double Process Blonding

What You Will Need

A. Ugly Duckling’s New Bleach with Bond Protect

  • Lifts gently by 7 levels without breakage
  • Builds bonds in the hair to make it stronger

B. 20 or 30 Vol Developer

  • When lifting by 1-2 levels, use 20 Vol
  • When lifting by 3 levels and more, use 30 Vol
  • For the near root area, always use 20 Vol

C. Ugly Duckling Toner

D. Coloring Tools and Rubber Gloves


How to Mix Bleach

  • Mix 1 part bleach to 2 parts developer
  • Be ready to make fresh mixes in case you run out of product during the application
  • If one part requires more lift than another, make one mix with 20 Vol and another with 30 Vol
3 A

How to Apply Bleach

Full Head Application

  • For a full head application, start applying bleach from the back, working in sections
  • If the hair is very long, first do lengths. Then rinse. Then do a separate application for the root area. You will get better control that way.
3 B

How to Apply Bleach

Regrowth Application

  • If it’s a regrowth application, make sure not to overlap - otherwise you could cause breakage.
  • If you overlap by mistake while applying bleach, just wipe back during processing.

How long should I leave the bleach in the hair?

  • Get the hair to a level 10 - very pale yellow, almost white.
  • If there is a lot of yellow left, it means you need to lift more.
  • With Ugly Duckling bleaches, typical lifting times are from 15 to 30 minutes.
  • For Asian girls and very dark bases, you may need to add fresh mix and extend the lifting time by another 15 minutes


  • Rinse with warm water.

Toning with Ugly Duckling Toners

  • Ugly Duckling toners are packed with violet and blue pigments to neutralise any remaining yellow in the hair and produce perfect ash blonde results
  • If the hair still has some yellow, use Intense Pearl Blonde Toner 100V or Intense Silver Blonde Toner 100B
  • If the hair has minimal yellow, use No-Lift Pearl Blonde Toner 10V or No-Lift Toner Silver Blonde Toner 10B
  • Use toners with 20 Vol
  • Rinse when you achieve the color you are looking for
  • Don’t leave these toners in too long

Finishing with Purple Shampoo & Mask

  • After bleaching and toning, rinse and then massage in purple shampoo or mask - or both!
  • These will help get rid of the final traces of yellow

Well Done!
You got the Ultimate Ash Blonde Results!

  • Give yourself a pat on the back.
  • It’s not every stylist who can do double process blonding and get great results like you just did.
  • Use these techniques and achieve results like these every time!
Silver Gray

Other colors you can use for blonding:

  • 10.1b Extra Light Cold Ash Blonde
  • 10.2 Extra Light Cool Blonde
  • Silver Grey
  • For these colors, the mix is 1+1
  • They should be left on for 30 minutes
  • They are regular colors & will give rich & vibrant blonde results.
Hair Color Results & Processing Shots by @elonataki and @hairfactorynyc