The different ways to lighten hair
There are numerous chemical and natural ways to lighten hair. The route most applicable for you will be determined by a number of factors, most importantly: what your natural hair color is, and whether you already have color treatments in your hair. What’s always important to remember when considering changing your hair color, no matter how subtly, is the ultimate health of your hair. Even using natural ways to lighten hair can have a damaging effect if used too often, so don’t assume that staying away from the bleach will mean you are guaranteed beautiful, healthy hair. Below, we share with you the essentials for how to make hair lighter in a modern and responsible way.
Going from dark to light hair
Realistically, anyone looking to dramatically lighten dark hair is going to need some kind of bleaching product. These applications lighten your hair by up to eight shades whether your natural hair color is medium blonde or light brown. Specially formulated applications for very dark hair (medium brown to black) still lighten dark hair by two or three shades without creating any undesired red tinges. This is how they work:
- First, the hair’s cuticle layer is made permeable to the lightening solution. This allows the hydrogen peroxide to penetrate deep into the hair shaft where it oxidizes the existing pigments, rendering them colorless.
- Different lightening solutions contain different concentrations of hydrogen peroxide and therefore bleach the natural pigments to different degrees. It’s therefore important to ensure you select the correct formula for your hair.
- You should always adhere to the prescribed leave-in times (generally 30 to 45 minutes). Hair will be left with a reddish or yellow tinge if the process is interrupted prematurely, while leaving the lightening agent in too long will damage the hair and leave it straw-like and porous.
How often to chemically lighten your hair
Have you recently chemically straightened or permed your hair? If so, you should plan to wait at least two weeks before choosing to lighten your hair, as otherwise it could become very over-processed. If bleaching is part of your regular routine, you shouldn’t always apply it to your entire head: instead, using it only on the roots is much gentler and will prevent excessive damage to the tips.
Hair highlights are a far gentler way of lightening dark hair. The streaks can be bleached two to six shades lighter than your natural hair, and also let you experiment with caramel tones. What’s more, roots are far less visible than when lightening your entire head, so salon visits do not need to be as frequent.
Part of knowing how to lighten hair is also knowing the appropriate aftercare routine to follow. Without follow-up care, your hair will quickly become dry, damaged and susceptible to breakage. If you are lightening hair at home, it’s especially important to follow this routine as you will not be able to enquire for advice while at the salon.
Be sure to apply a rich conditioner to your freshly bleached hair for 3 minutes immediately after rinsing the solution out of your hair. The nourishing ingredients strengthen the hair and provide it with a silky luster. Continue to use a rich conditioning treatment at least once a week and consider even using a purple or blue shampoo depending on the extent of your blonde coloring.
Natural ways to lighten hair
Subtle nuances can have the most amazing effects. If you are content to go blonde in baby steps or just aim to add some dazzling brilliance to your hair, then you can opt for more natural methods of home hair lightening. There are a number of products you will have in your kitchen that can offer a natural and gentle lightening effect. These include:
- Lemon juice
- Apple cider vinegar
- Sea salt
Mixing any of these in a solution with warm water and leaving in the hair prior to sitting in the sun will help to lighten your hair. For an even simpler option, consider a home hair lightening spray. These sprays lighten hair by a quarter of a shade with every application. Heat or the sun’s rays intensify the effect, meaning that they even work under a blow dryer. Even these sprays, however, are not meant for continuous daily use but rather for use over a limited period.