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How to Bleach Dark Brown or Black Hair to Platinum Blonde or White

For those with merely brown hair, bleaching isn't always a serious thing. But if you have dark brown or black hair, getting the perfect shade of platinum blonde or white can be a real challenge. With a little bit of toning mixture and bleach, however, you just may pass as a natural.

Part One of Three:
Planning Ahead for Beautiful Results
Edit

  1. 1
    Check if your hair is healthy enough to withstand bleaching. There is no way to avoid the serious damage to hair that this amount of bleaching incurs. Some stylists won't bleach hair that has already been color-treated or processed. Check with your hairdresser in advance to avoid disaster.[1]
  2. 2
    Set aside an adequate amount of time. Bleaching dark hair to blonde, especially platinum blonde or white, requires repeating the bleaching process multiple times with several days of rest in between.[2] Don't expect to have gorgeous blonde locks immediately: you'll need to do this gradually.
    • Since there will be intermediate stages when your hair is orange-tinged, coppery, or other not-quite-blonde colors, be ready to offset or mask these shades with hats, scarves, and other hair accessories.
  3. 3
    Choose the right bleach. There are several choices in hair dye, and it is important that you choose the right one for your hair color.
    • Look for a bleach kit, which contains bleach powder and liquid peroxide. This is a stronger formula suitable for dark hair.
    • Peroxide comes in different strengths, ranging from 10 volume to 40 volume. Note that 40 volume is too strong for general bleaching as it could burn the scalp. It is only used for tipping dark hair, in which case it does not come in contact with the skin. 30 volume will work more quickly than either 20 or 10 volume. [3]
  4. 4
    Perform a strand test before starting. This is crucial: it lets you see how long you need to let the dye sit in your hair to achieve the desired shade. Always read and follow the manufacturer's instructions for a strand-test included in the bleach kit. In general the steps are as follows:
    • Snip a few strands of hair from an inconspicuous place at the back of the head. Tie the strands together with a bit of string or tape them together at one end.
    • Mix a small amount of the bleach powder and liquid peroxide per manufacturer's instructions.
    • Dip the strands into the bleaching mix so that they are completely saturated.
    • Set a timer or keep track of how much time passes during the test.
    • Every five minutes, check the strands by wiping away the bleach with an old cloth.
    • Reapply the bleach again, and repeat the process until you have the desired shade of blonde. Now you know how long to leave the bleach in your hair. [4]
  5. 5
    Soak your hair in melted coconut oil overnight. Before you bleach, massage unrefined coconut oil into your hair and scalp. This helps protect your hair from excess damage during the bleaching process. Leave it in for 14 hours for maximum benefit.[5] You don't need to rinse the oil out before bleaching.
    • To protect your pillow from oil stains, wrap a towel around your hair or braid it and put on a shower cap.
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Part Two of Three:
Bleaching Your Hair
Edit

  1. 1
    If you have long hair, section into four parts. Use the pointed end of the tint brush to make a part from the center of your forehead to the nape of your neck. Next, divide each section in half from the tip of each ear to the top of your head.
    • It’s important to use non-metallic pins or clips to secure each of the four sections. This is so the clips don’t react with the chemicals in the bleach.[6]
  2. 2
    Protect your skin, eyes and clothes. You’ll want to use basic precautions when working with bleach. Put on plastic gloves and protect your eyes with goggles. Also, wear old clothes and consider putting something on the floor to protect from spills.
    • You can also rub a thin layer of petroleum jelly onto your forehead, ears and neck. Petroleum jelly isn't necessary for bleaching in the same way it is for dyes, to avoid stains. But it can protect against irritation in case the bleach gets on the forehead, ears, and neck.
  3. 3
    Mix the bleach. In a non-metallic mixing bowl, combine equal amounts of lightening powder and developer. Mix until creamy.
  4. 4
    Apply mixture. With your tint brush, starting 1/4-1/2 inch (about 1 cm) away from the scalp, begin applying bleach mixture.
    • First do one thin section from one of the back quarters, making sure it is totally saturated before moving on to the next. Clip the section back into place before moving on to the next one.
    • Do the two back quarters first, then the front quarters.
    • Work in the direction of hair growth, i.e. from roots to ends.
    • Work as quickly as possible: you want the hair to bleach roughly the same amount of time to achieve an even result. You can use different volumes to achieve this, as well: for example, using the quicker 30 volume up front and a 20 volume developer in back.
    • Once hair is saturated, put on the processing cap.
  5. 5
    Keep track of your progress. Check every 10 minutes until the desired result is reached.
    • Check the color by removing the bleach from a small section with an old cloth. If you choose to continue, remember to re-saturate this section with bleach first.
    • It may help to set a timer for 10 minutes to ensure consistency.
  6. 6
    Consider applying heat with a blow dryer to speed up processing time. Do note, however, that any heating process is likely to increase damage, so don't do this unless you're in a hurry.
    • This isn't recommended if it's your first time bleaching, when it's important to get a sense of how long the process takes on its own. If you choose to repeat, you can try to speed it up with heat.[7]
  7. 7
    After 10-20 minutes, apply bleach to the roots. The hair at the roots process faster than the rest because of the heat of your scalp, so the bleach will work faster - so if you're opting to dye your roots, it's best to do so towards the end of the process. Use the same sectioning technique described above, this time adding the mixture to the roots only.[8]
  8. 8
    Rinse out the bleach. Once your hair has reached the pale yellow stage - or you've left the product in for the maximum time recommended by the manufacturer - rinse your hair of all bleach with lukewarm water.
    • Shampoo lightly, preferably with a shampoo specifically formulated for bleached hair. A shampoo that contains purple toner, for example, will help eliminate brassiness and yellow tones.[9]
    • Towel dry your hair and style as usual. If you can, avoid using heat products to style, as they will increase the stress and damage to your hair.
  9. 9
    Once hair is dry, assess the results. Only when your hair has dried completely will you be able to really see how well the bleaching session has gone. Remember, it's probably going to take at least two or three sessions within a month to transform dark hair into pale blonde or white.
  10. 10
    Let your hair rest for two to three weeks between sessions. Bleaching is tough on your hair. Resist the urge to bleach again immediately if you don't like what you see! Instead, use a toner after each session (see below) to balance out your color as it gradually makes its way from dark to pale.[10]
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Part Three of Three:
Toning Your Hair
Edit

  1. 1
    Choose a toner. This is a crucial step for achieving a beautiful, balanced finish. Bleaching removes the color from hair's pigment, and eventually what remains is a yellow tinge - this is the natural color of keratin, or the hair's protein.[11] Most of the time, this is not what we're after. That's where toners come in: these colors help balance out undesired tones, adding subtle nuances to your hair color and helping you get just the blonde you want.[12]
    • Dark hair usually has red or orange undertones, so bleaching tends to turn it orange. Blue toners balance orange, violet toners balance yellow, and blue-violet balance orange-yellow. In short, you want a toner that contains the color opposite to your undertones on the color wheel in order to neutralize. If in doubt, take a look at a color wheel to see where you fall.[13]
    • For white hair, choose a toner that is specified for white. You cannot bleach your hair white: you have to tone it.[14]
    • If you have any question about which toner to pick, you may want to go to a beauty supply store for professional advice, or consult a hairdresser.
  2. 2
    Prepare and apply the toner. The following are general guidelines, but be sure to follow manufacturer's instructions.
    • Mix 1 part toner to 2 parts 10 or 20 volume developer. If you have black hair consider using 40 volume; however, keep in mind that the strength of 40 volume developer may be very harsh, and will severely burn if it touches your skin. Please seek medical attention if you receive a chemical burn!
    • Apply toner evenly from root to tip, using the same sectioning technique described above for bleaching.
    • Many toners require only 10 minutes, so apply as quickly as possible and keep close track of time.[15]
    • Check your progress every 5 to 10 minutes using the same strand technique described above for bleaching.
    • Be careful not to overtone white hair, which can result in yellowish or grey color.
  3. 3
    Rinse your hair. Shampoo and condition, then style as usual.
    • Remember to discard any unused bleach and toning mixture when you're finished.
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Community Q&A

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Add New Question
  • How many minutes will it take to bleach black hair to white?
    AA
    Answered by Ashley Adams
    • This is not achievable in one sitting and is too harsh on the hair. Bleaching black hair to white would take a few sessions over several weeks.
    Thanks! 26 4
  • Is it necessary to use toner?
    Answered by Laura Martin
    • If you lift hair with bleach, you should always use toner. It not only refines the hue, it also adds shine and smooths and seals the cuticle.
    Thanks! 16 3
  • What toner should I use to add beige highlights to my hair?
    Answered by Laura Martin
    • You can't add highlights with a toner, only shift the hue of existing ones. For a beige result, you'll want to use an ash toner with a blue or violet base.
    Thanks! 6 1
  • How much Wella Blondor cream would I need for my shoulder length, medium thickness hair?
    AA
    Answered by Ashley Adams
    • The directions on the packaging should state how much product is needed. If not, consult a Wella distributor or the seller of the product, perhaps.
    Thanks! 11 5
  • How long do I have to wait to bleach my hair again if I'm going from black to blonde hair?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • I would wait a week. Make sure you do deep conditions with coconut oil to repair your hair a bit and prevent it from any further damage. Your hair will thank you.
    Thanks! 15 1
  • How much does everything cost roughly?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • While the cost really depends on what you buy and how much, and localized costs in your country, here are some guesstimates: The bottles of developer around USD$4 each; bleach powder about USD$2 a packet; toner maybe USD$10; shampoo can be pricey, like USD$15-30 for a good bleached hair shampoo; gloves and brushes no more than a couple of dollars. With long hair you may need two packets of powder, or if you're doing it more than once as well. You can get two bleaches out of one bottle of developer, but you need a separate bag of powder each time. In all, guess around USD$30-35 for everything if you buy it at a beauty store. At a salon, it could cost USD$70-150 depending, but they're professionals so they can do it all in one day and will probably do less damage.
    Thanks! 46 9
  • How do I keep the color from fading?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Wash your hair in cool water, never hot. And visit a beauty supply store for a shampoo and/or conditioner with a tone or color of your hair. This will keep the color vibrant.
    Thanks! 13 2
  • How long does it take to bleach black hair to white?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • It generally takes six hours of bleaching, but keep in mind those hours should be broken into chunks of less than one hour apiece.
    Thanks! 9 1
  • Do I shampoo after bleach, but before the toner?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • After bleaching, just condition your hair. Shampooing would remove more natural oils from your hair which help protect it from damage and drying.
    Thanks! 22 8
  • Do I put on toner after I bleach my hair?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Yes. First, you remove the color from the hair's pigment, and eventually what remains is a yellow tinge. Now you need to follow up and tone it to give it that color you would like it to have.
    Thanks! 22 9
Show more answers
  • My toner has taken the blonde from my hair leaving it with a grey tone can I bleach it to get it back white?
  • Is there a way to turn my hair permanently platinum blonde or white?
  • Should use coconut oil before bleaching previously dyed hair?
  • Would it make any difference if I apply the lightener in highlights rather than a block colour to more subtlety lighten my hair?
  • What toner or bleach should I use if I dyed my hair bloody red and it has mostly washed out and I want to bleach it?
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Quick Summary

If you have dark brown or black hair and you want to bleach it platinum blonde or white, be prepared for the process to take several days. Section your hair into 4 parts and apply the bleach mixture about a quarter of an inch away from your scalp, starting in the back and working your way forward. Check your hair every 10 minutes until you reach the desired result, but remember, you will not achieve platinum blonde on the first bleaching. Let your hair rest for 2-3 weeks before bleaching it again.

TipsEdit

  • Do not process any longer after your hair has reached the pale yellow stage
    0 Helpful?  0
  • If you have short hair (say, shoulder-length or shorter), consider getting heavy highlights rather than bleaching - this way you can better avoid the risk of burning your scalp.
    0 Helpful?  0
  • It is best to bleach when hair is unwashed
    0 Helpful?  0
  • Having an extra set of hands can be very helpful, especially the first time you bleach - see if you can recruit an assistant to help make sure the bleach is evenly distributed throughout your hair
    0 Helpful?  0
  • Color gloss, toning shampoo and color care shampoo can help keep your blonde balanced and lustrous[16]
    0 Helpful?  0
  • Deep condition your hair between bleaching sessions to restore natural oils and proteins
    0 Helpful?  0
  • Shampoo as little as possible between treatments, since it strips hair of the oils it needs to stay soft and protected[17]
    0 Helpful?  0
  • Keep heat styling (hair dryers, flat irons, curling irons) to a minimum if you can, as this adds stress to hair that's already weakened
    0 Helpful?  0
  • Coconut oil or argan oil treatments once every two weeks are an excellent way to maintain bleached hair
    0 Helpful?  0
  • Don't directly put heat when bleaching hair. Once bleach is dry, it stops working. Use a plastic bag, shower cap, or even tin foil over your hair. THEN use your hair dryer on LOW to speed up the process while hair is covered.
    0 Helpful?  0
  • Start with applying bleach to the ends of your hair before your scalp, because the heat of your scalp will process the bleach quicker than the rest of your hair.
    0 Helpful?  0
Add

WarningsEdit

  • DO NOT use bleach to dye your eyebrows or eyelashes
    156 Helpful?  29
  • 40 volume developer is extremely harsh - only use it if necessary and never mix 40 volume with a toner
    125 Helpful?  29
  • Read and follow the directions included in the product packaging very carefully
    116 Helpful?  34
  • Do not apply bleach directly onto the scalp
    182 Helpful?  62
  • Full-out bleaching all in one day is not recommended, as it is too damaging
    123 Helpful?  40
  • If you begin to experience burning or irritation while processing, rinse your hair immediately and consult your physician
    150 Helpful?  52

Things You'll NeedEdit

  • Coconut oil
  • Gloves
  • Safety Goggles
  • Bleach or Lightening Powder
  • 30 or 40 Volume developer, though 40 is not highly recommended
  • 10 or 20 Volume developer for toning
  • Blue or Purple base toner
  • Non-metallic mixing bowl
  • Non-metallic hair pins or clips
  • Tint brush
  • Processing or shower cap
  • Blow dryer

Expert Review By:

AA
Licensed Cosmetologist

This version of How to Bleach Dark Brown or Black Hair to Platinum Blonde or White was reviewed by Ashley Adams on July 24, 2017.

1 votes - 100%
Co-authors: 23
Updated:
Views: 940,476
Categories: Coloring Hair

Reader Success Stories

  • VM

    Vera Mayanne

    Mar 12

    "I loved this method, and it worked so well!"
  • MW

    Monica White

    Sep 4, 2016

    "The whole article was of great help. It showed me steps to do that my beautician didn't know. After doing my hair myself, I was able to get the platinum color that my beautician didn't achieve. Thanks for this informative article."..." more
  • JW

    Janet Williams

    Sep 6, 2017

    "Great article! My problem is getting that white, light silver tone. Based on the article, there are a couple of options that should fix my problem. Now I am joyfully off to try the tips given here. Thanks, folks."..." more
  • SK

    Sami Kane

    Jun 27, 2016

    "Thank you so much for putting your experience online. It massively helped me. I dyed my hair from dark brown with red tones to platinum blonde. It is well worth the taking the plunge if you're brave enough."..." more
  • TB

    Tiffany Brooks

    Oct 19, 2016

    "Very informative without being deceptive of the risks involved, also liked the explanation of following with toner and how toners work."..." more
  • BJ

    Belinda Jackson

    Jun 2, 2017

    "It is good to educate yourself before getting a bleaching treatment. This article has good information."
  • JH

    Jessica Hernandez

    May 17, 2016

    "Great advice! I'm trying to go from dark brown to white and had no idea how to do so! Thank you."
  • ST

    Sue Taylor

    Aug 3, 2016

    "I bleached my hair then I put color in after. I have very short hair but it turned out well."
  • KC

    Kiley Callahan

    Jul 1, 2016

    "This was extremely helpful, and so detailed! I wish this were the first article I had read!"
  • JP

    Jacqi Pickernell

    Jan 20, 2017

    "Loved the very specific step-by-step instructions, very helpful."
  • TD

    Tracie Davis

    Mar 22, 2016

    "Great detail and tips make all the difference. Thanks!"
  • HL

    Hilda Leffew

    Jul 23, 2016

    "Everything helped me in one way or another. Awesome!"
  • SD

    S. D.

    Jun 4, 2017

    "Clear, simple and very helpful instructions. "
    Rated this article:
  • LH

    Lydia Herrera

    Aug 18, 2016

    "Found this to be very helpful. Thanks!"
  • KK

    K. Kaiser

    Oct 19, 2016

    "Very detailed instruction, thank you!"
  • AW

    A. W.

    Oct 24, 2016

    "All really helpful advice. Cheers!"
  • TS

    T. S.

    Aug 19, 2016

    "Truly helpful, thank you!"
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