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How to Bleach Your Hair With Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is an ingredient that is included in most commercial hair dyes.[1] It is a cheap, easy way to brighten your hair or bring out your natural highlights. However, keep in mind that with any home bleaching or dyeing process, there is a chance of damaging your hair or getting an unnatural looking result. See a professional hair stylist if you are planning on making a dramatic change or if your hair is already damaged or discolored.

Part One of Three:
Getting Ready to Bleach Your Hair
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  1. 1
    Start with healthy hair. Even old hair dye can affect the results. Don't dye or otherwise process your hair in the weeks leading up to the bleaching. Bleaching your hair will work better and cause less damage if your hair is strong and unprocessed. If your hair is damaged or processed, then you are better off going to a salon.[2] Strengthen your hair in the following ways:
    • Use a natural shampoo and conditioner. Avoid products containing sulfates, which dry out your hair.
    • Avoid chemical-laden hair sprays, gels, straightening products, and other hair products.
    • Don't apply heat to your hair with a straight iron, blow dryer, or other heating appliance.
  2. 2
    Gather your supplies. To bleach your hair with peroxide, you'll need the following materials. Gather them together and set them up on a table in your kitchen or bathroom:[3]
    • A 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. Any higher than 3% and you risk hair loss when applying. Not fun!
    • A clean, empty spray bottle. You can buy a new one at the drugstore, or use an old one. If you use an old one, wash it out thoroughly. If you're going to store the peroxide, keep it in a dark bottle and away from light.
    • Hair clips.
    • Cotton balls.
    • A towel.
    • Gloves.
    • Aluminum foil, if you plan to do highlights.
    • Shower cap, if you plan to bleach your whole head of hair.
  3. 3
    Wash and condition your hair. On the day you plan to bleach your hair, wash and condition it as normal to make sure the oils and grime caused by natural wear and styling products don't interfere with the peroxide.[4]
    • Condition well with a good natural conditioner. Bleaching your hair with peroxide can dry it out, and conditioner will protect it during the process.
    • Let your hair air-dry instead of blow drying it. Pat it dry with a towel to keep it from dripping, comb it out gently, and let it dry for about thirty minutes. Hair that is a little wet will take the hydrogen peroxide better.
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Part Two of Three:
Applying the Hydrogen Peroxide
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  1. 1
    Do a strand test. Take a small section from the underside of your hair and use a cotton ball to apply peroxide. Let it sit for a few minutes, then check it. You can leave it in for up to 30 minutes if desired, but rinse it out with cold water when it reaches your desired color. Make sure to pay attention to how much time it takes to reach the desired color and use this time to help you determine how long to leave the peroxide on the rest of your hair.
    • It is important to do a strand test because hydrogen peroxide may result in damage to your hair.[5]
  2. 2
    Section your hair with clips. Once your hair is reasonably dry, section off parts of hair you want bleached with claw clips. Sectioning your hair will help you make sure you treat every last lock with peroxide.[6]
    • If you want a very even bleach, the claw clip method is highly recommended. It takes more time, but it looks more professional and it offers more even highlights.
    • Leave the first section of hair that you want to treat down. You'll unclip further sections as you go.
  3. 3
    Apply the peroxide to sections for highlights. For bringing out natural highlights, apply peroxide with a cotton ball. Pour some peroxide on a cotton ball. Smooth it over vertical sections of hair that are about 14 inch (6.4 mm) thick. Start at the roots and stroke down to the tips with the cotton ball.[7]
    • Wrap each hair section in a piece of tin foil to keep the peroxide from getting onto the rest of your hair.
    • Repeat this process with multiple sections of your hair for all over highlights, or just do a few sections towards the front of your face for face framing highlights.
  4. 4
    Apply peroxide to the bottom half of your hair for an ombre effect. If you want an ombre look, start applying the peroxide near the ends of your hair. Use a cotton ball to apply peroxide to the bottom half of your hair all around your head.[8]
    • To avoid a blunt, horizontal line through your hair, apply the peroxide to a different spot on each strand of hair. You should still aim to apply it somewhere near the middle of the strand.
    • You can go as far up the strands of hair as you want, but make sure to begin the application at your ends. This way the tips will be a brighter blonde and the color will fade to a darker shade as you move up towards your roots.
  5. 5
    Use a spray bottle to apply peroxide to your whole head. To bleach all of your hair, use a spray bottle to spray the entire section of hair you left down. Spray it thoroughly and run a comb through your hair multiple times. Repeat with the remaining clipped sections of your hair.[9]
    • After you have finished applying the peroxide, put on a shower cap to keep the peroxide from dripping or touching your clothes.
  6. 6
    Leave the hydrogen peroxide in your hair for about 30 minutes.[10] Depending on how dark your hair is, how light you want it, and how much irritation the chemical may cause, you'll want to experiment and play around with it.
    • Use your strand test to help you determine how long to leave the peroxide in your hair. You may only need a few minutes, or you may need the full 30 minutes.
    • When you are ready to rinse, remove the tin foil or shower cap if you used them.
  7. 7
    Wash your hair thoroughly with cold water and apply conditioner. Shampoo your hair to remove the peroxide, and rinse with cool water to add shine. The conditioner will help to restore some of the lost moisture.
    • Add another coat of deep conditioner to your hair. Massage it into your scalp to ease any dryness or irritation the peroxide might have caused. Rinse it out with cool water.
    • Allow your hair to air dry, then style as desired.
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Part Three of Three:
Perfecting Your Bleached Look
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  1. 1
    Repeat the process to lighten your hair further. The first time you use the peroxide treatment, your hair may get just a little lighter. If you want to lighten your hair more, then you'll have to repeat the treatment one or more times.
    • Your hair will become much lighter if you repeat this process in smaller doses every day for a week than if you use a whole bottle of hydrogen peroxide on your hair one night.
    • The final color also depends on what color your hair was to start out with.
    • If your hair is very dark, your peroxide-saturated hair might seem a bit more orange at first. Keep continuing the treatment and your hair should seem blonder.
  2. 2
    Apply gentle heat to speed up the process. Using a hair dryer on a low setting to gently heat your hair can help to speed up the lightening process. Turn on your hair dryer to a low heat setting and move it from root to strand all over your head. Do this until your hair reaches the desired lightness.
    • It is best to use heat if you have bleached your hair with peroxide before and have a good idea of how it will turn out. If you are not sure, then avoid using a hair dryer. Go slow instead and see how the peroxide affects your hair as it air dries.[11]
  3. 3
    Wash your hair less often. Don't wash your hair every day. Washing your hair daily strips out natural oils that protect your hair from breaking. Try shampooing your hair only once or twice per week and use a dry shampoo (a powder you comb into your hair) to keep it looking fresh between washes.
  4. 4
    Use a violet-tinted conditioner once or twice a week. This will control any yellow tones in your hair. You can buy a violet conditioner at a grocery store or beauty store.
  5. 5
    Cut back on heat treatments. Don't blow dry or straighten your hair too much. These heating tools can exacerbate the damage caused by the peroxide, so only use them once a week or less. Try using heat free styling methods, or use a hair dryer on a lower setting.
  6. 6
    Handle your hair gently. Let your hair air dry as often as possible, and don't wring it out or rub it with a towel after showering. Just give your hair a gentle squeeze with the towel, and then leave it be for a while. Also, make sure that when you brush your hair, you start from the ends and go slow to avoid breaking your strands.
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Community Q&A

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  • How will peroxide affect graying hair? Will it turn the darker hair yellow?
    Answered by Laura Martin
    • Peroxide can cause yellowing on gray hair. You should perform a strand test to see how it reacts with your hair.
    Thanks! 22 1
  • Does it wash out or fade away after a while?
    Answered by Laura Martin
    • Lightening hair is permanent. It is a removal of color, not an addition, so it will not fade (though it may get brassier over time).
    Thanks! 39 5
  • Can I dye using peroxide over pink hair?
    Answered by Laura Martin
    • Unfortunately, no. The type of stain used for crayon box colors is not removable with hydrogen peroxide. In fact, using peroxide can actually push the stain deeper into the hair, making it harder to remove.
    Thanks! 29 6
  • How long do I have to wait in between bleaching applications?
    Answered by Laura Martin
    • You should wait at least 2 weeks between bleaching applications, and you should never bleach over the same area more than twice.
    Thanks! 24 5
  • Can I bleach it after I just dyed it?
    Answered by Laura Martin
    • It's better to wait a few days if you can, but yes, you can bleach it right away. Just be aware that it will put added stress on the hair.
    Thanks! 23 5
  • Does it work on previously dark dyed hair?
    Answered by Laura Martin
    • Hydrogen peroxide should lighten the color of previously dyed hair as long as the dye used was permanent hair color and not henna, vegetable dye, or some kind of stain. However, the effect will be more subtle than on natural color.
    Thanks! 25 6
  • Can I dye my immediately hair after bleaching it with Hydrogen peroxide?
    Answered by Laura Martin
    • You can, but I would recommend waiting for at least 48 hours to minimize damage. The peroxide will make your hair more porous so you should use a color 2 shades lighter than you want the end result to be.
    Thanks! 26 7
  • Can I just pour the peroxide on my head?
    Answered by Laura Martin
    • No. You will end up with an uneven result.
    Thanks! 35 11
  • Is it easy to bleach the roots once they grow in?
    Answered by Laura Martin
    • Root touch ups can be challenging. Wait until you have at least 1/2" of outgrowth and apply retouch with the edge of a color brush, dabbing instead of swiping. Use neat 1/4" sections. A friend will be able to see more clearly and apply the touch-up more neatly.
    Thanks! 21 6
  • What happens if you put hydrogen peroxide in your hair and you leave it in overnight?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • There is a chance it can severely damage your hair.
    Thanks! 196 17
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Quick Summary

Before you bleach your hair, wash it with shampoo and conditioner and let your hair air dry for 30 minutes. Then, section your hair using hair clips so it's easier to bleach. Once your hair is sectioned, fill a spray bottle with 3-percent hydrogen peroxide and spray each of the sections one at a time until they're completely covered. In order to get the full bleached effect, put a shower cap on and wait 30 minutes before washing your hair thoroughly. To learn how to get highlights or an ombre effect with hydrogen peroxide, keep reading!

TipsEdit

  • Since hydrogen peroxide can leave your hair with an orange or brassy tone, try washing your hair with a violet shampoo that is made for this purpose.
    1 Helpful?  0
  • A quality deep conditioner is a must whether you are bleaching your hair at home or professionally. Make sure you massage your conditioner into your scalp (it won't make your hair greasy if you rinse well).
    0 Helpful?  0
  • When bleaching your hair make sure that you do not spill or it will stain.
    0 Helpful?  0
  • If you get any on your skin, wash it as soon as possible.
    0 Helpful?  0
Add

WarningsEdit

  • Hydrogen Peroxide isn't safe to use around children as it will burn and be very painful if it gets in your eyes or if you swallow it. Be careful and use common sense.
    139 Helpful?  42
  • Don't rub your scalp too hard when washing it.
    117 Helpful?  41
  • Don't just pour the bottle of peroxide over your head. Use a medium, like a cotton swab or spray bottle.
    142 Helpful?  59
  • Don't wash it out quicker than the instructions say or you won't get a good result.
    126 Helpful?  53
  • Keep an eye on the bleach, as it can affect one person's hair quicker than others.
    12 Helpful?  5

Things You'll NeedEdit

  • 3% hydrogen peroxide solution
  • Cotton swabs and/or spray bottle
  • Deep conditioner
  • Running cold water
  • Brush or comb

Expert Review By:

LM
Licensed Cosmetologist

This version of How to Bleach Your Hair With Hydrogen Peroxide was reviewed by Laura Martin on September 22, 2017.

122 votes - 89%
Co-authors: 147
Updated:
Views: 4,107,840
Categories: Coloring Hair

Reader Success Stories

  • CD

    Cody Dulis

    Mar 29

    "The steps were specific enough that it was easily understood, but not too lengthy. Quite helpful as I'm trying to figure out what to do with my hair!"..." more
  • CG

    Crystal G.

    Nov 29, 2017

    "This helped a lot, thank you!"
  • JH

    Jo Hartley

    Jun 6, 2016

    "Worked great. Lightened my hair just like I wanted. Took about 45 minutes to do my hair. I have very thick hair, and it was easy to do. Will not be having it done and paying for it again."..." more
  • SL

    Sabrina Love

    Aug 15, 2017

    "Thanks for this, it helped me a lot. I'm doing the strand test now. If it works, I will ask my mom if I can ombre my hair. Hope it works. Good to know it stays forever. :)"..." more
    Rated this article:
  • A

    Anonymous

    Aug 25, 2016

    "I had never heard of this. I had always used whatever the boxed hair color supplied. What a great way to save money and still look like a million bucks!"..." more
  • AF

    Amanda Ford

    Apr 5, 2016

    "I loved the step-by-step instructions! I think the 3% is very important not to overlook, and the cotton ball suggestion is great! Thank you."..." more
  • JB

    Juanette Berry

    Jun 21, 2017

    "Koolaid hair dye was very easy to follow. I never did this but I am going to try it. I don't want any more chemical treatments to my hair."..." more
  • GA

    GeGe Ajul

    Nov 10, 2016

    "This article helped me understand what did wrong and how to improve. Now I walk around with beautiful highlights! Thanks!"..." more
  • MM

    Mia Myers

    Jun 24, 2017

    "Accidentally dyed my hair the wrong color, this has helped me remove the dye without damaging my hair."
  • JT

    Juanita Trice

    Aug 17, 2016

    "It teaches you not to dye your hair. Just go with the hair the God gave you. Don't change it."
  • JR

    John Andrei Roquero

    Aug 2, 2017

    "It helped me very much. Now I'm confident with my newly bleached hair with peroxide!"
    Rated this article:
  • SH

    Steph Hale

    Jun 18, 2016

    "This information was very helpful. Especially the rinse with cold water step."
  • MY

    M. Y.

    Nov 13, 2016

    "I am thinking about doing this, and the instructions were simple to follow."
  • NS

    Nikki Smith

    Aug 15, 2016

    "Very helpful information as I'm trying to decide what to do with my hair! "
  • SP

    Searra Paige

    Mar 8, 2016

    "This article was great. I'll be sure to try it out! Thanks so much!"
  • RP

    Ruth Pasca

    Aug 9, 2016

    "I loved how accurate they were, and the results came through!"
  • JM

    Jeska Mota

    Sep 27, 2017

    "I can see that I'm not the only one making dramatic errors."
  • AB

    Angela Brown

    Jul 21, 2016

    "Very helpful, and I would use this page again. Thank you. "
  • A

    Anonymous

    Sep 24, 2016

    "Excellent. Did not know if it would work. Thank you!"
  • JG

    Jimena Garcia

    Jul 25, 2017

    "This helped to know if it dyes my hair well!"
    Rated this article:
  • KH

    Kate Haynes

    Aug 31, 2016

    "It's very specific and helps a lot."
  • SB

    Shemar Bartley

    Dec 27, 2016

    "It was the steps and precautions."
  • TW

    Tori W.

    Jun 6, 2016

    "Great tips! Easy to understand."
  • SH

    Stephanie Hamilton

    Nov 5, 2017

    "Knowing how much to use."
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