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Zac Efron with bleached hair

How to Bleach Your Hair Safely at Home

“How do you bleach your hair at home?” you casually ask your barber or hairdresser, sneaking in the question. He or she smirks before answering firmly: “You don’t.” That’s because bleaching your hair at home can go all kinds of wrong, even if it saves you a few bucks. But you know what? We’re going to dive into the best ways to bleach your hair at home, anyway. You’re a grown man, after all, who can take responsibility for his own actions. If you want to go all DIY on hair bleach, then who are we to stop you? By the way: please don’t sue us if anything goes awry.

Related: Our complete guide to the best haircuts for men is your reference point for hairstyles.

Male Celebrities with Bleached Hair

Before we go into the best ways to bleach your hair, allow us to provide a little inspiration. Here are some male celebrities who bleached their hair at one point or another (presumably not at home, but one never knows):

Justin Bieber with bleached hair
Justin Bieber | Image: WENN

1. Justin Bieber

The Biebs is always mixing things up in the hairstyle department, and he’s gone through some intense bleached hair phases.

Pete Davidson with bleached hair
Pete Davidson | Image: GQ

2. Pete Davidson

In the midst of his short-lived romance with Arianna Grande, SNL star Pete Davidson went into “bleach overkill” mode. To gaze upon his platinum blonde hair was kind of like staring into the sun.

Ryan Gosling with bleached hair

3. Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling bleached his hair for his role in “The Place Beyond The Pines.” What? It still counts.

Adam Levine with bleached hair
Adam Levine | Image: Today

4. Adam Levine

Last year, the Maroon 5 frontman reverted to platinum blonde because his wife was a big fan of the look.

Charlie Puth with bleached hair
Charlie Puth | Image: Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times

5. Charlie Puth

Viral sensation Charlie Puth put his social media skills to work when he debuted his new bleached blonde look on Instagram last year.

Why Bleach Your Hair?

If you’re wondering how to bleach hair, then you’re most likely in pursuit of some platinum blonde follicles. However, that’s not the only reason to bleach your hair. Another reason could be that you have dark hair and want to achieve a pastel tone. In this scenario, you’ll have to bleach your hair first before applying another colour. As such, bleach serves as a bridge of sorts, providing a foundation for a variety of lighter tones.

Lucky Blue Smith with bleached hair
What Does Bleach Do | Image: Getty

What Does Bleach Do?

Odds are you first heard of bleach as it pertains to laundry, i.e. as a powerful stain remover that can also leave white splotches when applied accidentally. Well, it works more or less the same way on your hair. When activated by peroxide, bleach penetrates the hair shaft, oxidising the melanin molecule and causing an irreversible chemical reaction. In turn, the bleach removes both natural pigment and artificial colour, rendering your hair in a much lighter tone.

As you can probably guess, there’s a direct correlation between the strength or amount of bleach you use and how much colour you lift from your hair. Along similar lines, the darker your hair, the more bleach you’ll need to apply to achieve a uniform shade of platinum blonde.

Hairdresser bleaching customer's hair
Risks of Bleaching Your Hair at Home | Image: Oksana Kukuruza

Risks of Bleaching Your Hair at Home

Before we go into how to bleach your hair at home, we should offer some words of caution. First and foremost: using chemicals can be dangerous in and of itself. Secondly, every time you apply bleach you are damaging your hair, period. For that reason, you should not bleach your hair if the follicles are already dry, coarse, or damaged. And if you recently coloured or processed your hair, wait at least three months before bleaching it.

Also, avoid cheap “miracle” products. Yes, we know you’re trying to save some money by taking the DIY hair bleach route, but cheap products are cheap for a reason. Instead, go with a high-quality bleach that contains healthy additives, as this will reduce the risk of damage and preserve the strength of your hair. Last, but not least: if you’re having any doubts, forget bleaching your hair at home and go visit a salon.

Bowl with peroxide and brush
How to Bleach Your Hair at Home for Men | Image: Photopixel

How to Bleach Your Hair at Home for Men

So we’ve gone over the risks and you’re forging ahead anyway. Good for you! A quick word of advice: don’t wash your hair for 2-3 days before you bleach it, as this will yield optimal results. Also, be sure to perform the routine in a well-ventilated area with strong lighting and plenty of room for your things.

Here are the supplies you’ll need:

  1. Bleach Powder – Get a quality product from a brand you can trust. Try to use bleach powder that’s either blue or purple in colour.
  2. Developer/Peroxide – When mixed with the powder, this liquid activates the bleach. It comes in a variety of volumes, ranging from Vol. 10 to Vol. 40. Vol. 10 is the weakest and Vol. 40 is the strongest. Darker hair requires stronger peroxide.
  3. Tinting Brush
  4. Clips For Sectioning
  5. Plastic/Latex Gloves
  6. Plastic/Glass Mixing Bowl
  7. Shower Cap/Plastic Bag
  8. Balancing Shampoo
  9. Protein Balancing Conditioner
  10. Towel (which you’ll throw away)
  11. Mirror

Step One: Put on Gloves

You should be wearing throwaway clothes when you step into the bathroom or wherever it is you’ll be getting your bleach on. Now, put on your plastic or latex gloves.

Step Two: Prep Your Hair

Partition your hair and tighten it in bunches as if you were straightening it. Make sure you can get to every area with ease.

Step Three: Mix the Bleach Powder with the Developer (Peroxide)

In a non-metallic mixing bowl, add two parts of developer for every one part of bleach powder. The consistency should be like whipped yoghurt, with no lumps.

Step Four: Apply the Bleach

Using the tinting brush, apply the bleach to your hair as quickly as possible. Go from front to back and consider leaving your roots for last. When you’re done bleaching every last follicle, cover your hair with the shower cap.

Step Five: Wait

Leave the bleach in your hair for 30-45 minutes, and not a minute longer. Keep checking your hair in the mirror as you wait, to make sure the colour is lifting properly. If you have darker hair, don’t worry if you notice an orange tone developing, as this is a normal part of the process.

Step Six: Wash Your Hair

After 30-45 minutes have concluded, hop into the shower and rinse out the bleach. Use a balancing shampoo and follow that up with a protein balancing conditioner. Let your hair dry.

Hairdresser mixing dyes in plastic bowl for hair colouring
How to Apply Toner | Image: ActionStore

How to Apply Toner

After your DIY bleach session, you might notice that your hair is left with brassy, copper, orange, or yellow hues. Enter toner, which converts any of the remaining pigments into a more natural colour. Using toner is basically the same as using bleach, and the risks of damage or undesirable outcomes are just as great.

Should you want to apply toner, be sure to seek out a quality product, and read every last detail on the label. When you’ve landed upon the right product, follow the same steps listed above, using the toner in lieu of bleach, and waiting 20 minutes before rinsing instead of 30-45 minutes.

For a list of other great hair related products, hairstyle and grooming tips for men, check out the list of content we’ve put together below:

Best Hair Products

Best Men’s Haircuts

General FAQ

What do you need to bleach your hair?

To bleach your hair at home, you'll need the following supplies: bleach powder, developer/peroxide, tinting brush, clips for sectioning, plastic/latex gloves, plastic/glass mixing bowl, shower cap/plastic bag, balancing shampoo, protein balancing conditioner, towel, and a mirror.

Is it safe to bleach your hair at home?

Generally speaking, there are ways to safely bleach your hair at home, but the process will always involve risks. The best thing to do is to have your hair bleached by a professional. If you insist on doing it yourself, read up on everything that can go awry.

Will hair fall out after bleaching?

While safely bleaching can dry out or damage your hair, it has not been associated with immediate or long-term hair loss. If the wrong chemicals are exposed to your roots, however, it can lead to long-term hair loss.