Oct 9, 2014

How to bleach wash hair

A bleach wash is an alternative way to lighten your hair using bleach. This kind of formulation is milder and gentler on the hair than a full bleach, but because you are still using bleach, you still have the dependability that it offers.

What is a bleach wash?

To bleach wash hair, you will be using a diluted form of hair bleach. This is accomplished by mixing the bleach powder with a lower volume of developer than usual, and then diluting it down further with shampoo. Your hair will also be damp during application and this added water further dilutes the preparation to produce a very mild form of hair bleach.

The bleach wash formula

A bleach wash can be made in several different ways depending on the consistency and strength you desire from the product. However, the most common way to formulate it is to mix the bleach powder with developer in the ratio recommended by the brand of bleach you're using, and then add an equal volume of shampoo. This means that if your bleach powder requires a 1 : 2 mixing ratio, you need to use one part bleach powder to two parts developer, followed by 3 parts shampoo.

This simple recipe can be varied in a few different ways to change the way the bleach works. Adding less shampoo will decrease foaming and ease of application, but boost lightening because the formula is less diluted. Adding more shampoo, however, will make it easier to apply and gentler on your hair, but will also dilute down the product and decrease lightening. If you're trying to strip out previous hair dye, additional shampoo will also increase this effect to an extent. This is because it helps to emulsify the artificial pigment as it lightens.

Overall, lightening is dependent on a combination of the amount of shampoo you add to the formula, and the volume of developer used. For a stronger formula, or to lighten hair 1 - 2 levels, use 20 vol developer. For a milder formula that can be used to correct dark dyed hair or remove toner, use 10 vol developer.

Why bleach wash hair?

Considering that a bleach wash is just a dilute form of bleach, it may seem strange that you would use it at all. Wouldn't it be just as simple to mix the bleach with a low volume of developer and use it that way? The main factor behind why you would bleach wash your hair instead of using a full bleach is that, apart from the gentleness of the preparation, it is also easier to apply, quicker to apply, and gives very even results.

This is mainly because your hair is already wet when you apply the bleach wash, and the shampoo creates a runnier mixture that foams up and can be massaged through the hair easily after application is complete. A regular bleach on dry hair needs to be applied very carefully and quickly by brush to ensure it turns out even, and the dry hair itself soaks up the product so that it is more likely you will miss a spot. Wet hair doesn't have this problem because the product readily mixes in with the moisture in your hair and blends into other areas.

These qualities of gentleness, ease of application, and even results make a bleach wash great for a few main tasks. These include:
  • Lightening a colour that has turned out too dark
  • Removing a reflect from your hair
  • Lightening hair 1 - 2 levels

Lightening a dark colour

If your new hair colour has turned out slightly too dark and you need to correct it quickly, you can bleach wash it to remove some of that darkness without lightening it substantially. In this case, the mild formulation is all that's needed for this, and the ease of application of the wash means that it is simple to achieve and offers dependable results.

Removing reflects

If your hair has a slight tone to it that you don't like, you can use a bleach wash to remove it. This is a great option when your hair has been over-toned. Some of the other situations where you may want to remove a reflect or harsh tone from your hair include mahogany and burgundy shades that look too violet, or even to correct hair that looks orange, prior to toning.

You can bleach wash hair to fix these kinds of problems. Applying a bleach wash for 10 minutes is usually enough to strip out an excess of ash tone or any other over-processed toner shade. Then you can dye your hair the shade you actually want to finish the correction. This process causes almost no damage and is both quick and simple.

Lightening hair 1 - 2 levels

You can also bleach wash hair to lighten it, just like when using a full bleach. This should only be done when you need to lighten your hair 1 - 2 levels though. If you're hoping to bleach wash your hair from black to blonde, you're not going to be able to do this. For slight lightening however, the wash can be a quick and easy way to achieve your desired result.

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  1. In your answer to what is a bleach wash you say you mix bleach with a lower developer and further dilute it with bleach. I think you mean further dilute it with shampoo.

    1. Typo corrected. Thanks for pointing that out.