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It seems like everyone is either cutting bangs or going blonde during the pandemic. If you’re feeling braver with bleach than you do with scissors, there are still a few things you need to consider in order to avoid becoming part of a TikTok fail compilation.

First, you have to know what you have in your hair. If you have never colored your hair before, you have virgin hair (this applies to roots as well). If you’ve used box color or henna, be careful going forward. Bleach can react negatively to certain ingredients in drugstore or vegetable dyes, and can either severely damage your hair or even melt it off. They can also make it challenging to get an even result with the bleach, and can leave bands of unwanted color in your hair.

If you are bleaching your hair for the first time without any other color history, you are going to be following the process of a virgin bleach application. 

Before you begin – glove up! It’s safer to use gloves when bleaching your hair – and also remember to wear clothes that you don’t mind getting bleach on. Your hair should also be dry before you begin.

⭐ Virgin Hair

When applying bleach, paint product on thin sections of hair – you want it thin enough that you can see through it. Focus on the middle part of your hair sections, painting bleach so it’s about an inch from your ends and about a half inch from your scalp. The closer to your scalp, the quicker the hair lightens – which is why you want to wait and apply there last.

Once you have each midsection saturated with bleach, put cotton on top of the section to make sure everything has the space to process evenly. Start at the back of your head and work your way up to the front sections, making sure there are no dry spots.

After you finish your mids, go back to your original starting point, now painting your bleach on your ends and finally your roots. Be careful not to overlap the bleach or you could cause breakage to your hair! When you have every part of your hair saturated with the bleach, give your hair some time to process – between 20-45 min, checking back every ten to fifteen minutes to make sure everything processes evenly. 

Once your hair is at your desired lightness, rinse and shampoo; don’t use conditioner until you’re done applying a toner or fashion color and ready to rinse everything out. Make sure you get all the bleach out with your shampoo.

Non-Virgin Hair

If you already have color in your hair and are planning on using bleach, there are other things to consider. If your ends already had bleach on them, you might just need to apply bleach to your roots to get everything even. Be careful not to overlap bleach over previously lightened hair. If you made a mistake with your color and you’re trying to use bleach to fix it, you might be looking at a color correction.

🎨 Color Correction

Color correction territory can get dicey if you try to navigate it yourself at home. The process to fix whatever happened can take hours, lots of money, salon color, and professional expertise. One of the best ways to avoid this is to not color your hair if you are uncertain of what you need. Take this time to give your hair a rest from heat, use protein masks, use detoxifying shampoo to help strip any unwanted color. Then when salons open and you feel comfortable, you will have the best canvas possible to get the look you want.

💈 After-care

Bleaching your hair is stripping your hair of its natural color – which in turn can make your hair weaker. The best thing you can do is make sure you are using shampoo and conditioner that are formulated for processed hair. You want to make sure you avoid products that contain sulfates or parabens because they will dry your hair out. You can use special treatments with protein and arian oil to help nourish and moisturize.

The most important thing is to avoid heating your hair. Straightening, curling, or blow-drying your hair will cause breakage – so avoid those for a bit after bleaching your hair.

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