Bleach Bath Hair Guide: 5 Easy Steps & Why You Might Want to Bleach Bath Your Hair

You have found the perfect shade of chocolate brown to color your hair. When you get home and put it on, it turns black! Sadly, it happens to all of us and it seems like there’s no going back. However, there is a simple way to fix it. It’s called a bleach bath.

It sounds scary but I can assure you, a bleach bath is one of the least damaging ways to fix your hair. If you follow this tutorial on how to give your hair a bleach bath, you’ll have the hair you were originally wanting in no time. 

What is Bleach Bath Hair?

hair bleaching

A bleach bath is a way to remove hair dye from hair that is less damaging than bleaching your hair the standard way. This is a great way to remove colors that may have gone too dark, remove fashion colors, and slightly lighten your hair.

Bleach baths are a diluted form of bleaching that takes away part of the damaging component of bleaching hair. Instead of mixing bleach with two parts developer and one part bleach, you mix one part developer, one part clarifying shampoo, and one part bleach. You can even use no developer at all and mix two parts clarifying shampoo and one part bleach for virtually no damage to your hair.  

This process is not meant to be a one-and-done process. This is the middle part of a whole color correction. A bleach bath is meant to undo the mess up or redo what’s faded from before. You then go over your bleach-bathed hair with the correct hair dye.

When to do a Bleach Bath

Every hair problem can not be fixed with bleach bathing. They are meant to lift hair a level or two at a time. This means your hair can be lifted from black to dark brown, dark brown to medium brown, and so on. 

Although you can do a bleach bath multiple times and maintain the health of your hair, it is not recommended to do this more than once or twice in a row. You can do a bleach bath again a few days later if it does not lighten as much as you like but the more you do it, the more vulnerable your hair becomes. 

Fashion Colors

A bleach bath is a great way to remove old fashion colors that have faded. Once you get that old color out, you can apply a new fashion color, return it to the blonde color underneath, or color it to whatever color you would like. 

Before you start your bleach bath to remove old fashion colors, try to remove as much as possible with a simple clarifying shampoo. Fashion colors are made so that they sit on top of the cuticle of your hair instead of going in and changing the melanin in your hair. Therefore, it should be fairly easy to remove once faded with a clarifying shampoo.

Slightly Lighten Color

We’ve all been there. Rather you decide you want black hair and instantly regret it or your color ends up being a couple of shades darker than you expected. You can’t lighten the color with another box of color. If you try, you’ll only be adding more color molecules in with the previous color molecules. So you’re left with a bleach bath.

You probably won’t ever be able to go completely back to your natural color after doing this but you can get close. If you somehow get completely back to your natural color, you’re a hair goddess. A bleach bath will only lighten box color a level or two. If needed and your hair still feels healthy after the first attempt, you can apply a second bleach bath.

Make it a Little Blonder

If you already have bleached hair, it is not wise to layer on another regular bleaching session for at least four weeks. With a bleach bath, you only have to wait about a week after a bleaching session to try to lighten it further. Be careful though! Bleach baths are not completely damage-free so if your hair is already very vulnerable, don’t do a bleach bath.

A bleach bath will not make your previously lightened hair a ton blonder. It is meant to be done if your ends didn’t get as light as the roots due to uneven application or underlying color. If you want it all to be quite a bit lighter, it may be best to wait a month to have it all bleached again.

Over Toned Hair

Being blonde is hard. It never stays that exact icy color that you originally got. You have to use purple shampoos, get it toned often, and use all the blonde-safe products. Then there are the few times where your hair takes too well to the purple shampoo and toning. 

Your blonde hair is some shade of blue, purple, or grey. Don’t worry! It’s not ruined and actually really easy to fix. Most of the time you can get this over toned shade out with a clarifying shampoo. If that doesn’t get rid of it, a mild bleach bath will take it out in minutes. 

Ingredients Needed for a Bleach Bath

There is no kit to do a bleach bath at home. This process takes a little more knowledge and is not a standard form of coloring. Below I’ll list all the things you need to do a bleach bath. There is no certain brand that goes with another brand or anything like that. You can use any combination of these products and get the same result. 

Bleaching Powder

wella colorcharm

Obviously, we need bleach to do a bleach bath. Not the regular bleach you find in the cleaning section of the grocery store. The bleaching powder for hair. This is going to be the main ingredient that removes your color.

Below is a list of great bleaches to use for your bleach bath:

WELLA Color Charm Powder Lightener | Amazon
$27.49 ($1.72 / Ounce)

With its controlled and reliable lightening action, the Powder Lightener is ideal for all on- and off-scalp application techniques. It has a protecting oil system to help lock in moisture.

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03/10/2024 10:59 am GMT


l'oreal developer

You won’t need a developer for every instance. To find out if you need a developer, scroll to the next section. There are four different levels of developer ranging from ten-volume being the weakest to forty volume being the strongest. 

It’s best to use the same brand developer as your bleach but it doesn’t make a huge difference. It affects the consistency of the product more than anything. Here are some developers you can use:

Clarifying Shampoo

nexxus shampoo

Clarifying shampoo is the ingredient that dilutes your formula to make it healthier. You want a clarifying shampoo because it is made to pull out things that are not meant to be in your hair. This will also make it easier and quicker to apply to your hair.

Your Chosen Color

wella colorcharm permanent color

As mentioned above, a bleach bath is not the end process of a color correction. It will lift to a warm color that you probably don’t want. The color you put over your cleansed hair should be ashy to counteract the warmth from the lightning. Unless you want a warm color. Then you can choose a neutral color to let the warmth come through.

Mixing the Bleach Bath

Depending on your hair type and your end goal, there are different ways to mix up your bleach bath. You can mix it with ten to forty volume developers or with no developer. The more developer you put into your mixture, the stronger and more damaging it will be. 

Determine Your Hair Type

You can determine your hair type by going to this article. Figuring out your hair type before mixing your bleach bath keeps your hair from getting damaged. For instance, someone with thick, coarse hair will withstand a stronger mixture versus thin, fine hair.

  • Fine Hair is the most vulnerable hair texture. You will want to start with a mixture of 2 parts clarifying shampoo and one part bleach or a mixture with a ten-volume developer. If this still doesn’t remove your color, you can then boost it to a twenty-volume mixture but don’t do any more than that.
  • Medium Hair has the most versatility. If your hair feels porous and unhealthy, you should use a ten to twenty-volume developer with your mixture. However, if your hair is on the healthier side, you can boost your developer all the way up to forty-volume if necessary.
  • Coarse Hair is the most resistant to color changes. You shouldn’t use any less than a twenty-volume developer when trying to lift out a color with a bleach bath. Again, if your hair feels healthy, you can use it all the way up to a forty-volume developer if you have a color that won’t budge.

Determine the End Goal

On top of your hair type, what you want your hair to do will determine how to mix your bleach bath. If you are wanting to lift quite a few levels, you are going to want a stronger bleach bath compared to simply lifting your hair one shade. On top of that, more resistant, dark colors are going to take a stronger mixture than faded, lighter colors. 

  • Removing fashion colors should be fairly easy. First, you will need to wash your hair with clarifying shampoo a few days prior to make the color fade as much as possible. Once faded, you can then do your bleach bath with a milder mixture.
  • Slightly lightening hair color that went too dark is one of the most common reasons to do a bleach bath. You aren’t going to go from black to blonde with a bleach bath but can get a few levels of lift. This process requires the strongest bleach bath your hair can handle.
  • To make it a little blonder you can do a bleach bath instead of re-bleaching your whole head. As mentioned above, this will not make your whole head blonder. It is meant for darker spots in your blonde. You want a fairly strong bleach bath for this process.
  • Your hair is over toned and you want it to be a different tone. This is the easiest fix you can do with a bleach bath. Most of the time, you don’t need any developer. Your over-toned hair should be back to a nice blonde in about five to ten minutes.

Choose Your Developer (If Any)

Based on the information you just read, you should be able to make an informed decision on your developer. Just in case though, here is a little more information on the different types of developers you can use with your bleach bath.

No developer

The only times you should not use developer in your bleach bath is if your hair is very fine and fragile or for over toned hair from purple shampoo. A developer is an ingredient that opens the cuticle of your hair and eats up the color molecules inside. So this should only be used for color that sits on the outside of your hair.  

Ten volume

This is the weakest and safest level of development. Always start with this if you must use a developer on fine or compromised hair. This will give it just enough power to eat up color molecules with the least amount of damage.

Twenty volume

Twenty volume developer is the universal developer. It has just enough power to lift your hair color a level or two while being gentle enough to still use on fine or compromised hair. On thicker, strong hair, you can start with this and move up in developer with a second application if the color doesn’t budge.

Thirty volume

Anything over twenty-volume developer cannot be used on fine or unhealthy hair. Thirty volume is the developer that really starts eating away color molecules at a rapid rate. This can be used for medium to coarse hair that has dark color on it or splotchy blonde spots. 

Forty volume

Nine times out of ten, you will not use forty volume developer in your bleach bath. This really should only be used if you are trying to remove black hair color on healthy, coarse hair. Make sure to watch your hair carefully when using forty volume as it is the most damaging developer.

Mix the Ingredients

Once you have decided what formula you need, mixing your ingredients is the easiest part. You either need a bleach bath with a developer or without a developer. They are mixed up a little differently so we will go over both mixtures.

There are a few different ways you can measure your mixture. Overall your mixture is going to be a ratio so you can basically use whatever measurement you want. Rather it is ounces, grams, or cups. Typically the hair world uses ounces, so that is what I will use in these instructions.

Without Developer

In a bowl, you are going to put in one part (ounce) bleach powder and two parts (ounces) clarifying shampoo. Mix this with a whisk or hair color brush. If you have a lot of hair, you may need to use more bleach powder and clarifying shampoo to fully saturate.

With Developer

In a bowl, put in one part (ounce) bleach powder, one part (ounce) of your chosen developer, and one part (ounce) clarifying shampoo. Mix this with a whisk or hair color brush. You may need to mix more than this if you have a lot of hair to fully saturate.

Applying the Bleach Bath

wet hair

The best way to prepare for a bleach bath is to hop in the shower with a mirror. Your hair will be wet the whole time so it is likely to get everywhere. Make sure you have clips and combs with you throughout the process.

Wet Hair

The first step is to wet your hair thoroughly like you are about to wash your hair. You can either do this over the sink or hop in the shower. I find it easier to get the whole head wet by simply hopping in the shower with the bleach mixture ready.

Apply Bleach Bath

Applying your bleach bath is kind of like doing a really extensive shampoo on yourself. I like to do bleach baths with my hands rather than a coloring brush. Make sure you have clips and a wide-tooth comb around.

Start by sectioning your hair into three sections. A top horseshoe section, a middle section from the top of the ears up, and a bottom section from the top of the ears down. Start with the bottom section by scooping the bleach mix into your hand and lathering it in from the ends to the middle of your damp hair. Work up in sections until all of your mids and ends are saturated.

Once all of your hair is saturated except for the root, go ahead and lather in that bleach bath to your roots like shampooing your hair. Don’t be afraid to scoop more of the bleach mixture into your hands to make sure everything is fully saturated. Clip this up and let it process UNCOVERED.


There is no specific processing time that a bleach bath needs to sit for. Since you are simply trying to take the color out, you need to watch your hair and rinse it when the color has been removed enough for your liking. Don’t leave it on any longer than 45 minutes though.

A friendly reminder that a bleach bath will lift your hair to an undesired warm tone. Do not freak out and rinse your hair early! You will need to break through those warm tones until it has been lifted light enough that your new color can cover it. For reference, below is a chart to see what your hair could lift to.


Rinse and Blow Dry

Once your hair has been lifted to the desired tone, rinse your hair thoroughly. Shampoo your hair with a damage-friendly shampoo. Do not condition your hair yet. The conditioner could alter your final color application. 

Proceed to rough dry your hair with a brush and blow-drier. Your hair will feel sticky and tangly but don’t worry. This does not mean your hair is damaged. It’s just the way a bleach bath makes your hair feel directly after without conditioner.

What to do After the Bleach Bath

We aren’t finished yet. Once you have removed your hair color. You are usually left with a brassy, unflattering color. Unless you were simply removing an over-toned color. Then you may not need to do anything else to it.

Determine How Light it Has Gotten

Based on the chart above, you need to see how light your hair has gotten with the first bleach bath. If it has not gotten as light as you were wanting, you may need to do the bleach bath again. You must analyze your hair to see if it’s healthy enough before applying a second bleach bath.

You can not color your hair with a lighter color than your hair has lifted. It will not turn out as expected. You either need to purchase a color that is the same level that your hair is lifted to or a darker color. 

Counteract Any Unwanted Brassy Tones

Hair color almost never turns out the exact tone that it says it’s going to be. That is because of underlying tones already in your hair. For instance, if your hair is bright orange, you need to put a very ashy color over it to counteract the orange hair and make it neutral.

In most cases, you are going to want to put an ashy color over your freshly bleach bathed hair to neutralize the warm tones. However, there are instances where you may want some warm tones to come through, like a chocolate brown. You can then put a neutral brown over your hair and the warm tones will come through.

Apply Color as Instructed

Finish off your hair by applying your new color as instructed. Blow-dry and style your hair however you would like and you’re done! Your new color may fade faster than usual due to it being applied over bleach-bathed hair. It is recommended to refresh color with a demi-permanent color. 

After Care

One of the most important parts of preserving your hair health and color is the products you use on it. Without using good products, all the hard work you put in to get this beautiful hair color will be gone in a matter of weeks. Below are some of the products that you should use after coloring your hair.

Damage Care Shampoo and Conditioner

matrix total results

Color Safe Leave-In Conditioner

amika vault

Heat Protectant

morrocan oil

Moroccanoil Perfect Defense | Amazon
$30.00 ($5.00 / Ounce)

A dry aerosol spray that protects against thermal damage up to 450⁰F/230⁰C. Weightless formula infused with nourishing argan oil and panthenol helps promote healthier, looking hair.

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03/10/2024 01:05 pm GMT


Question: How damaging is a bleach bath?

Answer: Bleach baths are the healthiest way to remove the color from your hair. The damaging part of the bleaching process is the developer used with it. Bleach baths are a diluted form of lightning that uses either no developer or half the developer mixed with a clarifying shampoo.

Question: Can you do a bleach bath twice?

Answer: Yes, you can! You want to be careful doing it more than once though. If you have used a low developer or no developer with your bleach bath, you can do it a second time right away. However, it is not recommended to do it more than twice a day because it is more likely for you to get damaged or dry hair. 

Question: Will a bleach bath get rid of orange hair?

Answer: The straightforward answer is no. Bleach baths lighten color out of hair, which results in warm, brassy tones like orange and red hair. You can use a bleach bath to lighten your hair slightly more and then tone the brassiness out with an ashy color. 

 Question: Do you do a bleach bath on wet or dry hair?

Answer: Bleach baths are done on wet hair. You basically apply it like you are applying shampoo to your hair. You want to wet it down, wring out excess water, and apply your bleach bath like you’re shampooing your hair, thoroughly spreading it roots to ends.

Question: How light can you go with a bleach bath?

 Answer: You can get one level or two lighter with a bleach bath. That means if your hair is a medium brown, you may be able to get it to a light brown to dark blonde. If you are looking to go lighter, you can do multiple bleach baths over a few days.

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