How To Bleach And Dye Dark Hair At Home (2023)

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Did y’all ever watch America’s Next Top Model?They’re about to return for their 90,000th season (only a slight exaggeration…) and the show follows a specific formula. The first or second episode of every season would feature the women being offered FREE(!) makeovers that included hair cuts and color and inevitably one of the women would be asked to cut her hair and as a result FREAK. OUT.

People – it’s hair.When I watched this show back in the day I’d find myself yelling at the screen and becoming a full on stereotype. These women say they want to be models and someone is offering you an awesome cut and color for FREE in order to show off your best features and you start bawling?!?

It’s just hair.It grows back. If you mess something up with your hair you can fix it or pivot to a new plan. With that caveat, let’s dive into the wonderful world of home hair care! If this post had a mantra it would be a giant flashing sign that says“It’s JUST hair!”

I mentioned duringmy interview on the FIRE Drill Podcastthatmy hair is not always purple(blasphemous I know!) – though that is the color I use most often becausePurple speaks to me. Well it’s time to get back to my ‘roots’ (snicker) right in time for my first official personal finance event,FinCon 2019! So let’s get into how and why I do it.

How To Bleach And Dye Dark Hair At Home (1)

Why Do I Bleach And Dye My Hair At Home?

Over the last 15 years, my hair has been bleached and dyed often – both in salons and at home. When I go to the salon, it’s great to have an expert there to walk me through something new, but that hand-holding comes at a premium. For example, my bleach and dye appointments were $300-500 plus a 20% tip.

In contrast, all of the materials I mention below were bought for about $50 and include multiple uses.This cost difference combined with my general “Fuck it – It’s hair” attitude has led me to completely pivot to only bleaching and dyeing my hair at home.

It’s like a fun science experiment and it saves a shitload of money if you get bored with your hair often like I do. If you are worried about bleaching and dyeing your hair or do not have my “It’s just hair” mindset, that’s totally fine and I would suggest you go to a professional. I have yet to mess up my hair in any way, but I go into each session knowing it’s a possibility. Obviously do what you’re most comfortable with – even if it costs more money.

How To Bleach And Dye Dark Hair At Home (2)

I am not a hairdresser or a beauty professional. All of this information is just based on my experience. All hair is different. If you are not open to the possibility of rocking a messed up look while figuring out how your hair reacts to chemical changes please consult a professional.

(Video) Hairdressers Guide To Coloring Your Own Hair And Not Ruining It

The Materials I Use

For those of you brave enough to follow me into the abyss, here’s what I use to bleach and dye my hair at home:

Bleaching Materials

  1. Cold-Pressed Coconut Oil: This is my super magic secret. Using coconut oil before and between bleachings helps to protect your hair from damage. It’s helped me keep my hair luscious and not like the straw it should be after the number of times I’ve put it through the ringer these last 15 years. In that time I’ve only completely cut it off and started over once – and that was just a year ago
  2. Developer: Developer is the liquid that you mix with bleach powder to make ‘hair bleach.’ I have very dark hair so I use30 volume developer. If you have lighter hair I would suggest 20 volume (less strong) developer. If you’re even more wild than me 40 volume is also available if you want to go for it, but I prefer using 30 and just bleaching multiple times if my hair doesn’t become as light as I want.Ion Color Brillianceis the brand I prefer based on my massive amounts of research over the years and self-experimentation. All of their products smell surprisingly good (despite including harsh chemicals) and do not leave my hair feeling as fried as other brands
  3. Bleach Powder: This is straight forward and comes in 1 strength
  4. Aussie 3 Minute Miracle: Bleaching can take a lot out of your hair and it needs to be moisturized to stay healthy. This deep conditioner is the best I’ve found for the job. After I complete all the steps below for my bleaching, toning and dyeing session I use this deep conditioner as my regular conditioner until it runs out. It helps keep my hair luscious and avoid that fried look hair can take on with a lot of bleachings


  1. Toner: Because I’m using a brightly colored dye and I have dark hair, I want my hair to be as close to white as possible in order to show that bright color at its most vibrant so I useWella T18 Lightest Ash Blonde Tonerto remove brassiness (aka the orange hue that comes out when you bleach dark hair)


  1. Hair Dye: Today I’m using (2) 4oz containers ofManic Panic Ultraviolet paid for with my sweetJob Spotter app money.Personally I have thick and long hair so I buy at least (2) of the 4oz Manic Panic dyes to make sure I can cover my entire head. I’ll discuss what dye brands I like and why below
  2. Vaseline: This is to keep the dye off your skin where it comes into contact with your hair, such as your forehead, ears and neck
  3. After Color Treatment: This helps lock the color into your hair and is very helpful to decrease or eliminate the possibility of your hair dye ruining your clothes and pillows or running down your face when you start sweating at the gym the day after you dye your hair (and yes – all of these have happened to me. Learn from my embarrassing mistakes please!)
  4. Stain Remover: This is a lifesaver! I have stained many a sink, wall and door with my wild hair dye adventures. This is the only stain remover I’ve found that ACTUALLY removes tough hair dye stains from basically anything (skin included). I suspect it has made my current landlord love me and it has definitely helped me avoid looking like I lost a fight with a paint can!

General Materials

  1. Shower Caps: I use shower caps whenever I have something in my hair: be that bleach, toner or dye. It helps keep everything clean and allows you to go about your regular life while waiting for chemicals to do their magic. It also helps when you’re sleeping with coconut oil in your hair if you’re worried about getting it on your pillow case (I don’t usually care personally and at most put a towel over my pillowcase…)
  2. Mixing Bowl: Straight forward – you need somewhere to mix your concoctions!
  3. Mixing Brush:…and something to mix those concoctions with!
  4. Gloves: We’re dealing with dangerous chemicals (bleach) and/or stain-y ones (dye) so protect yo’self!
  5. Hair Ties: I use these to keep my hair on top of my head while I sleep with coconut oil in it or before I put it in a shower cap during bleaching or dyeing. Hair clips are another great option
  6. An Old Shirt: This is going to get messy – dress accordingly!
  7. An Old Towel: When you wash bleach and dye out of your hair your towel will turn interesting colors. You’ve been warned!

How I Bleach My Hair At Home

Common Bleaching Questions And Answers

First, let’s answer some questions:

How Do You Protect Your Hair While Bleaching?

The general advice before bleaching hair is to let your hair oils build up for a bit before slapping the chemical on there. To do this you can refrain from washing your hair for a few days before the process (if you can swing it). In addition to that I use my super secretCoconut Oilmethod. Putting coconut oil on your hair and letting it sit for about a day before bleaching and having it on your hair while bleaching creates a protective barrier and minimizes damage.

How Many Times Do You Need To Bleach Dark Hair?

It depends on the color of your hair to start with, but if you have really dark hair (like mine) and are going for a very bright, unnatural hair color, you will most likely need multiple rounds of bleaching.For my dark hair I have always in the past bleached twice and toned once when going for a bright color, but this time only 1 bleaching was necessary to achieve the level of blonde I wanted because all my hair is new growth (which bleaches more easily). Assess your color after 1 bleaching and decide if you think you need another. Personally, if my hair is more orange than blonde then another bleaching is necessary before toning. Before bleaching a second time, I just go through the same coconut oil preparation steps and bleach again a day, week or month later.

How Long Should You Wait Between Bleaches?

This is a contentious topic.The real answer is “as long as you can.”Bleaching takes a lot out of your hair, so doing it often without giving your hair a lot of time to recover can damage it. Coconut oil helps decrease the amount of damage, but you’re still in essence stripping your hair when you bleach it.

I’ve heard of people waiting a month between bleachings if they’re super cautious or have very fine hair that will break easily. I have waited a week between bleachings at the most and sometimes just wait a day between without any adverse effects, but everyone’s hair is different so ask yourself again how wild you want to be and if you’re worried contact a professional.

The Step-By-Step Bleaching Process

Step 0. The night before you plan to bleach, apply liquidcoconut oilto your hair, put on a shower cap if you’re worried about staining your pillow case and sleep on it. If your coconut oil is in a solid state when you’re about to apply it, I like to scoop some into a small bowl and microwave it so it becomes liquid and is easy to spread throughout my hair. It doesn’t take a lot of coconut oil – I use about 2 TBSPs and I have a lot of thick hair

Step 1. Put on ashirtyou don’t care about that will be dubbed your “hair experiment shirt!” Then put onglovesandmix your bleach and developerper the instructions on the bottle into a mixing bowl with a mixing brush. I personally use a 1:1 ratio of 30 volume developer and bleach powder and mix 6 TBSP of each into my bowl to cover all of my thick hair

Step 2. With the coconut oil still in your hair, applybleachto your hair! I’m bleaching my entire head so I start applying the bleach to my roots and move down to the tips of my hair. For the roots I use my mixing brush for precision, but afterwards find it easier to use my hands. Do whatever is most comfortable to you.Please notethat more serious bleach enthusiasts suggest actually starting to apply bleach about an inch past your roots and then circling back at the end to apply bleach to the actual roots. Your roots bleach relatively quickly because they are new hair and the heat from your scalp speeds up the process so doing that creates a more even color, but to be honest I’m too lazy for that and I’m covering the bleached hair up with dye so any slight difference in color won’t be visible anyway

Step 3. Put on a shower cap andwaitthe amount of time indicated on the packaging. My package instructed me to wait a max of 50 minutes so that’s what I did (can you tell I like to flirt with danger?). Feel free to use the time to clean all of the materials you used to bleach your hair

(Video) hair colours to do without bleaching your hair - 1

Step 4. After the allotted time is up,rinsethe bleach out of your hair in the shower with shampoo

Here’s what my hair looked likebefore and after bleaching:

How To Bleach And Dye Dark Hair At Home (3)

How I Tone My Hair At Home

Common Toner Questions And Answers

If you’re wondering what the heck toner is anyway, let’s take a quick step back first:

Do You Need To Tone Your Hair?

So hair dye is basically paint and when you put it on your hair you are mixing the ‘paint’ colors of the dye and your hair color. If you want clear, bright colors to show up as advertised, toning can be important. This is especially important on dark hair, which turns orange after bleaching (the ‘brassiness’ I was talking about earlier). I would say toning is a requirement when putting very cool colors (such as blue) onto bleached dark hair because blue + orange = green as I discovered the hard way (picture below). Once again, learn from my mistakes please!

How To Bleach And Dye Dark Hair At Home (4)
What Toner Do I Use?

From my research and experience, I prefer the Wella brand of toner. TheirT18 Lightest Ash Blonde Tonerallows me to get the whitest hair possible that provides a blank canvas for my dye. For example, this is the whitest I’ve ever gotten my hair and I only could have done it with toner:

How To Bleach And Dye Dark Hair At Home (5)

The Toning Process

Now it’s time for toner!Toning your hair is really simple – just follow the instructions on the toner box, which usually includes mixing it with an amount of developer in your mixing bowl, applying it to your hair and waiting the time allotted on the box. Feel free to use the wait time to clean all of the materials you used to tone your hair. Easy!


And here’s what my hair looked likebefore and after toning:

How To Bleach And Dye Dark Hair At Home (6)

How I Dye My Hair At Home

And now the moment we’ve all been waiting for:DYEING!…that sounds morbid.

What Type And Brand Of Dye Do I Use?

I prefer semi-permanent color (instead of less permanent wash out) because personally I want the color to stick around indefinitely. As for brands, there are two I love for very different reasons.Ion Color Brilliancehas a fantastic full line of hair products and their dye has an awesome firm texture that makes it really easy to apply and not splatter everywhere, BUT their colors are more professional and less punk rock. And I’m obviously all about that Rockstar life 😉 .

To get the wild color I want,Manic Panichas been my go to and has never led me astray. The bright pop of their colors makes up for the fact that splatter is real. It can be a messy process, but that’s whatStain Removeris for!

The Step-By-Step Dyeing Process

Step 1. Putvaselinearound your ears, your neckline and where your forehead meets your hairline to help protect it from the dye

Step 2. Put on your hair dyeingshirtand yourglovesand then put your color of choice into your (clean)mixing bowl

Step 3. Apply thecolorto your hair from the roots to tip. I like to use my (gloved) hands instead of a brush to do this because once again – I’m lazy 😉 and also because it helps me work the dye into my hair more thoroughly than a brush could

Step 4. Put on a new shower cap andwait. The longer the color stays in, the stronger it is. I kept mine in 2 hours this time, but have previously gone much longer

(Video) How to FADE BLACK hair... fix a bad hair job. Hair dye job? fix your damn hair sis.

Step 5. Put on yourglovesto protect your nails from changing color andrinseyour hair out withcoldwater in ametalsink. This tip is a lifesaver because a lot of tubs are very porous (guess how I figured that out…) so if you rinse off dye in them some tubs absorb it so the tub becomes dyed that color too. UH OH! So use a metal sink if you can and rinse with cold water for seemingly forever until the water runs clear! If you don’t have a metal sink and only have a porous tub to wash your hair in, white vinegar has been known to get dye stains out of tubs

Step 6. Then I suggest using thisAfter Color Treatmenton your hair because it locks in the color and reduces the chance of it running later and causing a mess on your towels/pillowcase/clothes/forehead at the gym tomorrow morning

Step 7. Then useStain Removeron any skin that got stained and any parts of the bathroom or kitchen you accidentally dripped dye on (my bad…)

And here’sthe final product!

How To Bleach And Dye Dark Hair At Home (7)

Andall the steps I took to get there:How To Bleach And Dye Dark Hair At Home (8)


  1. Protect Pillowcases And Clothes From Wet Hair: This is for all of you wet hair sleepers! If you go to sleep with wet hair, I would recommend putting a towel you don’t love over your pillow case for the first few days after dyeing just in case there’s leakage. I personally sleep with my hair dry to avoid this issue. Also be careful with white clothes if you’re putting them on when your hair is wet during the first few days for the same reason.
  2. Cold Water is Queen: Wash your hair in cold water whenever possible – it helps keep the color longer. Though if you’re like me and prefer showers as hot as the sun, just go for it and know you’ll need to re-dye sooner OR just do what I usually do and watch to see what the color does. Always a fun adventure!
  3. Stay Out Of The Sun: Similar to the hot shower, if you’re looking to maintain your current color you’re going to have to hide your hair from extended sun exposure, vampire style. If you don’t heed this warning be prepared for some of this action:
How To Bleach And Dye Dark Hair At Home (9)

And that’s how I bleach and dye my hair at home! I personally find it really fun and obviously it helps me look fly whilesticking to my budget. Thank you for following along. And now – watch out becauseIT’S PURPLE TIME!

Have you ever bleached or dyed your hair at home? What are your favorite hair hacks?

(Video) How to go from BLACK to LIGHT BROWN | Bleaching BLACK box hair dye | Hair TRANSFORMATION!



How do you bleach dark hair without turning orange? ›

A blue shampoo will neutralize orange tones. For hair that has been bleached blonde, use a specifically purple shampoo, and for hair that has been bleached to a lighter brown, use a blue-tinted purple shampoo. Purple shampoos work by balancing out yellow tones, since purple and yellow are opposite on the color wheel.

How many rounds of bleach do I need for black hair? ›

Often, black hair will require two to four rounds of bleaching in order to achieve your desired color. It's recommended not to start the second round too soon for fear of causing more damage to your hair than necessary. Salons usually advise an interval of at 1-2 weeks before your next appointment.

How long does bleach take to work on dark hair? ›

Wait for the bleach to work – Place a plastic bag over your hair and wait for around 40-60 minutes, while checking the colour once every 10 minutes. When bleaching black hair, you'll see your hair transition from its natural dark colour to orange, before finally turning light yellow.

How do you prepare dark hair for bleaching? ›

Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize

Bleaching hair is an extremely drying process, so it's important to infuse as much moisture into your hair ahead of time as possible. If your hair is already dry, brittle and weak, bleaching is likely not a good idea. Most hair professionals won't bleach damaged hair.

Why does black turn orange when bleached? ›

Although your clothes appear black, the dye used to make them that colour is actually made up of a mixture of navy, red, and yellow. When the fabric is exposed to bleach, some of this dye is stripped from the material, causing it to turn orange.

Does bleach always turn hair orange? ›

Darker hair is made up of several underlying pigments which give your brown, dark brown or black hair depth and dimension, and red and orange are the most dominant undertones. So if your at-home bleaching didn't remove enough of these red and orange pigments, the end result is orange hair.

Will my hair turn orange if I bleach it? ›

An at-home bleach-job can result in orange hair or even brassy hair. Perhaps you have dark hair making it harder to achieve a lighter color or you may have blonde hair that became brassy or over-bleached and is showing a yellow tone.

What are the 7 stages of bleaching hair? ›

The seven stages of lightening dark hair are as follows:
  • Stage 1: Black/Brown. ...
  • Stage 2: Dark Brown. ...
  • Stage 3: Light Brown. ...
  • Stage 4: Dark Blonde. ...
  • Stage 5: Medium Blonde. ...
  • Stage 6: Light Blonde. ...
  • Stage 7: Icy Blonde/White: Almost an invisible blonde; hardly any pigment should remain at this stage.

How many sessions does it take to bleach dark brown hair? ›

From a strand test, you should also get a better sense of how many sessions you'll need to make the full transition. For example, going from dark brown to light blonde hair may require three to four sessions.

How long should bleach sit on hair? ›

How long do you need to leave bleach on hair to color it?
Hair color and textureHow long to leave on
blonde hair15 to 20 minutes
dark hair30 minutes; it's recommended you split the process into several sessions
fine hair10 to 15 minutes; this type of hair will process faster since it has a thinner cuticle layer
1 more row
Sep 21, 2020

Is it hard to bleach dark hair? ›

Bleaching dark hair is much more of a process than bleaching lighter hair—the darker your hair is, the longer it takes to lift. Make sure you have a few weeks to bring the look to life, as the safest way to do this is in multiple sessions (think two to three weeks to make platinum magic happen!).

Do you shampoo after bleaching? ›

After the first week, you can introduce shampoo back into your life. Use a gentle low lathering, sulfate-free shampoo the first week after bleaching. Make sure your shampoo does not contain sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate; these are powerful degreasers and are just too harsh for over processed hair.

Does leaving bleach longer lighten hair more? ›

How long you leave the bleach on your hair can affect its lifting capacity. Longer time means lighter results. If you already have blonde hair, 15 to 20 minutes is enough for bleaching. On the other hand, you can bleach darker hair for up to 30 minutes.

How do you bleach dark hair without ruining it? ›

Finally, how can I prevent damage when I bleach my hair?
  1. Apply conditioning hair treatments and masks before and after the process to keep your hair moisturized. ...
  2. Use a low-volume bleach developer, never higher than 20 volume, and ensure it doesn't sit on your head for too long to prevent breakage.
Jun 30, 2020

How long should you leave bleach in your hair if it's brown? ›

You might need to reapply bleach to get the desired color sometimes. But, even then, it is recommended that you do not exceed the 30-minute mark. Bleach takes about 10-15 minutes to lighten fine hair, 30 minutes for dark or coarse hair, and 15-20 minutes for blonde hair.

Can you dye your hair black and bleach it at the same time? ›

You can, but it'll be difficult. It also depends what colour you want to bleach it to. If you have thin or frail hair, it'll be a long, difficult and expensive process to get to blonde, to make sure your hair doesn't break off or suffer serious damage. If you have thicker hair, it'll withstand more.


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