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How to Bleach Wash Hair

Bleached blonde 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, meaning that the lift from the treatment is less, but so is the potential of damage. 

There are a few reasons why you'd specifically want to use a product like this depending on the results you want to achieve and the present condition of your hair.

What is a Bleach Wash?

To bleach wash hair, you need to use 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 also needs to be damp during application and this added water further dilutes the preparation to produce a very mild form of hair bleach that is quite gentle on your hair.

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, which gives you a total of 3 parts. To this, add 3 parts shampoo for a total 6 parts. This simple recipe can be varied in a few different ways to change the way the bleach works, and it's important to understand how varying each component affects the outcome. 

Adding less shampoo will decrease foaming and ease of application but it will also boost lightening because the formula is less diluted. Conversely, adding more shampoo 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 some of 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 12 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. The weaker you can make the product while still getting enough strength out of it, the less likely it is that you'll be causing any noticeable damage to your hair at the same time.

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 regular bleach is thatapart from the gentleness of the preparationit is also easier and quicker to apply, and gives very even results without needing a great deal of application skill.

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 small areas that you may have missed—that's if the lathering effect hasn't already taken care of it prior to this.

These qualities of gentleness, ease of application, and even results make a bleach wash great for general use, but often even preferred for a few main tasks. These include:

  • Lightening a colour that has turned out too dark
  • Removing a reflect from your hair
  • Lightening hair 12 levels
Pale blonde hair

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 because of the very low processing time with a mild formulation, and it is also incredibly simple to do.

Lightening Hair 12 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 12 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—or at least, not without multiple applications

For slight lightening however, the wash can be a quick and easy way to achieve your desired result with minimal risk of damaging your hair in the process.

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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.


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