Hydrogen Peroxide Hair Lightening: How does it work?

Hydrogen peroxide and hair bleaching is a talk that pops very often in online hair styling forums. The fact is, no one wants to stick with same hair color for the rest their lives and this exactly why this chemical is popular.

Hydrogen peroxide is an important ingredient when it comes to hair lightening. Here is a detailed discussion on how it does work, steps to use H2O2 alone and with baking soda for dark, red hair plus before and after results and possible damaging effects

Does Hydrogen Peroxide Bleach Hair?

On its own, hydrogen peroxide is a perfect bleaching agent that gets rid of your hair’s natural pigment, usually found in the cortex. This then makes it possible to replace the original hue of your hair with a new color.

What does hydrogen peroxide do for your hair? How it works
A bottle of hydrogen peroxide

Along with other chemicals such as ammonia and lead acetates, hydrogen peroxide is among the most regular ingredient in hair dyes. It the chemical that discolors your hair color!

At least, you now know that the hydrogen peroxide sitting around in your house in brown bottle is not only effective for treatment of cuts and mildew but can also be used to bleach the hair. And if you didn’t know, hydrogen peroxide bleached hair is also often referred to as peroxide blonde.

How to Lighten Hair with Hydrogen Peroxide

Using hydrogen peroxide is a great way to lighten your hair. It is not only pocket-friendly but also easy to use and readily available.

When used properly, the results are almost immediate compared to other home remedies for lightening your hair such use of honey.

Here’s how to use hydrogen peroxide to bleach hair and give it that sun-kissed summer look any time of the year or give your hair those red and blonde highlights that you have always admired on your neighbor’s hair.

1. Prepare your hair for bleaching

Before lightening your hair with hydrogen peroxide, you should first ensure that it is clean. Shampoo and condition the hair to get rid of natural oils and grime as well as traces of chemicals from hair products.

Make sure to use a natural conditioner. Some hairstylists also suggest that you combine the conditioner with a sulfate-free shampoo

Once done, pat the hair with a towel to remove excess water, but keep it a little damp to enhance the uptake of hydrogen peroxide.

Comb the hair well to get rid of tangles and allow it hair to dry in the air for 30 minutes.

Before starting the dyeing process protect your skin. Cover your hairline with petroleum jelly and a cotton strip (if you have one), and wear gloves.

2. Do a strand test before bleaching

It is advisable to do a strand test to see the results of hydrogen peroxide on your hair – since everyone’s hair is different

To do this, snip a small section of hair from your crown and tie it with a thread or tape before applying 3% hydrogen peroxide with cotton ball . Allow the peroxide to sit in for 30 minutes before rinsing it with cold water.

3% hydrogen peroxide solution is generally recommended as a higher concentration can lead to hair loss and damage.

3. Bleach the hair safely

If you like the results achieved from the strand test, it is time to apply the peroxide on your entire hair. Using a spray bottle gives the best results if entire head is to be lightened but if you wan to give your hair natural highlights, you should consider using cotton balls to apply the peroxide.

Start by combing the hair and section it off into small parts using claw clips. With a towel tied around your shoulders and neck, apply the hydrogen peroxide to the clipped hair sections one at a time.

Allow the peroxide to set for 15 to 30 minutes (depending on the degree of lightening desired) before rinsing your hair with cool water. Finish by conditioning the hair and allow it to air dry.

That is all it takes to lighten hair with hydrogen peroxide. You may want to repeat the process 2 to 3 times a week to achieve the desired results.

Hydrogen Peroxide and Baking Soda Hair Bleaching Fast

To make the bleaching faster and more effective you can combine hydrogen peroxide and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate).

Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide for fast hair lightening
Baking soda

So, what does the baking soda do to your hair? Sodium bicarbonate, is an alkaline that aids in opening up the cuticle. This then makes it possible for the peroxide to easily penetrate into the hair cortex. The combo also helps in dissolving the dark pigment(melanin) that is found in hair.

Following are steps to lighten your hair with hydrogen peroxide and baking soda

  1. Combine one cup of baking soda with three tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide
  2. Mix the two ingredients into a paste,
  3. Spread it evenly throughout your hair.
  4. Leave it on for 15 minutes to an hour, depending on how dark your hair is.
  5. Rinse it out with cold water.

Combine one cup of baking soda with three tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide, mix it up and apply to your hair. Leave the mask on for 30 to 60 minutes (but no more than 60 minutes) and your hair will turn out 1-2 shades lighter!

Before and after Pictures

Following before and after pictures of peroxide on hair.

Before and after
Before and after pictures peroxide hair
results picture

Hydrogen Peroxide on Black & Red Hair

Hydrogen peroxide can be used to bleach literally any type of hair. Following is a video on how to use it on black hair

Red Hair and other Hues

When peroxide is used on red hair, it turns to an orange before moving onto strawberry blond. Depending on the nature of your hair, the results maybe different. Apply a solution of peroxide with a spray bottle (entire head) or cotton balls for streaks of highlights.  Refer to the procedures above.

It however needs to be mentioned that you may have to wait a bit longer for the peroxide to set in and give your hair significant lightening effect. You should ideally wait for one hour if you have dark hair before washing the peroxide off.

Some people might also require more than one treatment with hydrogen peroxide for optimum results. This can lead to damage to the hair if proper aftercare regime is not practiced.

In addition to the deep conditioning treatment after bleaching the hair, you should also avoid daily washing of the hair, avoid harsh chemical-laden shampoos and gels, and avoid heat treatments such as blow drying as much as possible.

An extra stealth tip to lighten your hair with peroxide: Resting in the sun after the peroxide treatment can help to boost the lightening effect.

Above all, don’t forget to preview the lightening effect of the hydrogen peroxide for your specific hair color. Orange, gold and red tones are generally expected for brunettes and should orange shade occur, subsequent bleaching sessions might help to achieve the desired shade.

Adding Hydrogen Peroxide to Dye

As mentioned earlier hydrogen peroxide is already added to many hair dyes especially the blond types. This therefore means that you will not have to add it. If you want to have the peroxide in a dye, simply just go and get the peroxide dyes.

If directly added to regular dyes, based on its properties, peroxide would most likely discolor the dyes. Adding peroxide to any other dye is something you should stay away from at all costs. Depending the type of dye, the reaction and results may be disastrous. Seek professional advice before trying it.

Does Hydrogen Peroxide Damage Hair?

Depending on the condition and health of your hydrogen peroxide can have damaging effects to your hair strands if you DO NOT;

  • Prepare your hair properly,
  • Apply the appropriate amount and let sit for the right duration of time
  • Carry out the proper aftercare routine

Some of the hair damaging effects that are associated with peroxide include;

Peroxide and Hair Loss

Excessive use of peroxide can eventually ruin the look and health of your hair. Hydrogen peroxide is a type of oxidative hair coloring agent that causes a chemical reaction in the hair cortex.

Research shows that oxidative dyes are usually more permanent than other dyes, implying that they too cause oxidative stress for your hair. It is this stress ages your hair and can cause hair loss.

Breakage from damage to the hair cuticle can also lead to hair loss. There are in fact, proven dye-induced hair loss cases

Skin Issues

When used inappropriately, hydrogen peroxide, may result in skin inflammation, rashes or allergic reactions. It can also result in scalp burns which may add up to irritation.

What to remember…

Avoid treating your hair in the week preceding the actual bleaching with peroxide. You should in particular avoid heat treatments such as blow drying and avoid using shampoos with sulfates.

It is also great to stay away from chemical-laden gels and straightening products. This ensures that your hair strands are strong.

Always have an expert bleach your hair, especially if it is weak or over-processed. This way, it is done with extra care and you achieve the right color.

Where gloves and protect the skin around your hairline

Always pay attention to hair dye usage instructions and warning labels.

If you have to lighten your hair at home, ensure it is healthy and that the peroxide is of the right amount (3%) as excess of it can mess your hair. Also remember not let the peroxide stay in your hair for too long.

If you’re thinking of alternatives that are peroxide-free try any of the following

More on Bleaching and Hair lightening

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