How to bleach your own hair at home, with tips from an expert

  • Bleaching hair is a very complicated process, especially when attempting it at home, so we called in hairstylist and curl expert Leysa Carrillo to help us through it.

  • Lots of factors go into the hair-bleaching process, and every person's hair is different. Carrillo highly recommends seeking professional help to guide you through it should you attempt it at home.

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Following is a transcript of the video.

Nic Fernandez: Hi, Leysa. Thank you so much for taking the time to help me bleach my hair at home. I'm kind of really nervous.

Leysa Carrillo: This is something that I would never recommend to do at home. And it's OK to be nervous. And the reason I feel that it can be possible is because I'm a professional and I will be guiding you too. And another thing I want to make clear is that your hair is short. So, shorter hair is way easier to navigate, to section, to get that blond look. OK, Nic. So, before we start, we always analyze the head. So, I can tell already looking at your head and your hair, the front is a little bit finer than the back, and your hair is a little bit lighter there than the back. So what we're gonna do, we're gonna start where the head is darker. So what you're gonna do, you're gonna try to section the hair in two. Starting, I would say, from the top center, all the way to the corner of your eyebrows. And you're gonna clip that up. OK, so now, before we start bleaching, we're gonna need a brush, and we're gonna need the bowl, color bowl, perfect. We're gonna need the bleach powder, and we're gonna need the developer. The developer is gonna be the activator portion of the process. So you're gonna activate the bleach before you put it on the hair. Can I see what number of developer you got?

Nic: I have 20, is that the right one?

Leysa: 20 volume! Perfect. And the reason why, Nic, it's important that you start with 20; so, 20 would be a lower developer and a lower speed. So, the developer, basically what it's gonna give you is the speed. So, what is gonna happen, it's gonna open your cuticle when it's mixed with the bleach, and it's gonna start getting your hair lighter. So I like to do it slower and get more control to the process. So, we talk about, before we start, that he doesn't want to bleach his beard. So what we decide is just to apply some Vaseline on the beard and maybe add a little bit of Saran wrap. So he's gonna basically just add it on top of the Vaseline to block the beard hair, to contact the hair that we're gonna bleach.


Nic: OK, so, I have the powdered bleach.

Leysa: Perfect.

Nic: The line is right there. So I think it's OK. So, you said to fill the container with the developer to the second line.

Leysa: Yeah. Make sure that it gets to the following line. So, we're gonna mix it until it gets to an even consistency and creamy. You see, it's really thick. So now what we're gonna do, we're gonna add more developer. So you're gonna add more developer to get to the following line. So, we trying to make it stay away one or two inches from the root. So, the hair that is close to the scalp is gonna heat up faster. So we're gonna try to avoid applying right on your scalp.

Nic: I'm gonna do the gloves now?


Leysa: Yes. Look at me. So, you're gonna start all around, moving down and moving down until you hit that shorter area. So what you're gonna do, you're gonna section, and you're gonna apply it like that.

Nic: OK. So....

Leysa: Use the comb. Use the comb that had the tail. Without the brush, and put the hair, the hands underneath the hair.

Nic: Like that?

Leysa: Perfect. And then you're gonna apply the lightener there.


Nic: OK.

Leysa: Now, remember, this is something that you're gonna be utilizing all the time. When you apply product, use one side of the brush, and then flip the brush on the other...yes. So you get a even saturation and application. Good job. Let go. Do you feel it was even? Yeah.

Nic: Yeah.

Leysa: OK. So now keep going.

Nic: The back of the head is gonna be a little tricky.


Leysa: So, now you have to kind of feel the back.

Nic: Maybe I can, like, turn around and show you.

Leysa: Oh, my God, you're doing amazing. Yep. You got it. What you're gonna do, you're gonna try to lift the hair up and apply it on the bottom. This way, applying from the bottom, basically what you're doing, you're cross-checking. So you're making sure that the hair is saturated from the top and from the bottom. So, be careful, because you're going too close to the scalp. You notice that?

Nic: Yeah, I see it.

Leysa: Just do what you've been doing, but try to avoid applying on the scalp.


Nic: OK.

Leysa: Keep going around the ear. You see those ends need product? Yep, good job. I know, the lightener is insane.

Nic: Whoo! OK.

Leysa: The smell is strong. I mean, people don't know what we go through at the salon. Imagine three or four clients like that in a day. It's like....

Nic: I would get such a headache. Good for you for being so strong. [laughing]


Leysa: So, now make sure that, with one hand and the brush, you're making sure that every single strand of hair has bleach. And now what you can do, you can put that processing cap as soon as possible. So, we're gonna set a timer for, I would say 30 minutes.

Nic: 30 minutes. Got it.

Leysa: So, now what we're gonna do, we're gonna do everything again. So you have to rinse, you're gonna towel-dry the hair, and you're gonna blow-dry a little bit. You have all those tools?

Nic: I don't have a blow-dryer.

Leysa: I forgot to tell you that. Do you wanna take the cap off so I can see it?


Nic: Sure. Oh, God. I'm scared. Oh, my God, it's blond! Amazing.

Leysa: OK, so you're gonna go ahead and rinse it really good. Don't leave anything there.

Nic: Ooh, wait, I have a fan. I'm gonna sit in front of the fan for a minute.

♪ Hey, Jessie ♪ ♪ Ooh ♪ ♪ It feels like a party every day ♪

Leysa: So, try to look and see what are the darkest area of your hair and what are the lightest. You know, now we're reapplying, so you don't have to be extremely, extremely, extremely, like, precise. Now you have to feel the bleach on the scalp. Now instead of doing, look at me, the brush like this, this is how you're doing. The emulsion is applied on the base. Don't run it through the hair. The motion is like this. Look at me. Section, section the hair, divide it. Help the other hands to divide the hair so you can see what's going on. And literally, like, just focus right there. If you roll, if you move or you slide the brush, you're not putting the bleach where it needs to be. And now what you have left is putting everywhere. Cannot be any place missing. When I say any place, it means that you have to put it on the scalp. Let's do 30 more minutes, but we're gonna kind of check in a little bit to see what we see, OK? Let me see on the back. OK, everything's good. So, sometimes the hair lifted in a color that you feel that it's too warm. You can tone it down with something a little cooler that can make it more on the neutral side. Does that make sense? But what I want to make sure that you guys understand, that just picking whatever toner at home is not the regular solution or what I would do as a professional. You have to understand; depends the level of the hair that's been left. That means the level that the hair looks like is the toner that you pick. And another big tip: Toners are not meant to fix problems. So, sometimes we have orange hair, correct? And we want to put a purple shampoo or a lilac toner thinking that it's gonna solve the problem, but it's not really. So that's the only thing I want to put up there. Toning are something that is meant to enhance the color, add a different tonality to it, but it won't change the way the color looks. So now are you ready to mix?


Nic: Yes, let's do it.

Leysa: So, what do we have there? We have there platinum.

Nic: Platinum and sand.

Leysa: And we have also, I cannot see without my glasses, but the other one is what?

Nic: Sand Dunes.


Leysa: Sand Dunes. OK. So, what we're gonna do, we're gonna mix equal part of those, because they're gonna give you, like, a good balance. It's gonna be really liquidy. It's not gonna be like the bleach. So, if I were you, I would start here, the same area. The crown, center of the head, and just move as fast as you can. This is not gonna hurt. So just move as fast as you can. A lot, a lot, faster, faster, [harried music] faster. Get more product. [harried music] Look down. Don't even look at me. Everywhere. Fast, fast, fast, fast. You got it, Nic, you got it! Nic: Oh, my God! Leysa: Fast, fast, fast, fast! You got it! Don't go to the front! Don't go to the front! The back, the back, the back! Just add it! Just add it! More, more, more! Get more product! More product from the brush! Tick, tick! Faster, faster, faster! Like that, yep. Yep. Faster, faster, faster, fast-

[music cuts off]


Leysa: I can see that white hair coming. Ooh! OK, now is the time to make sure that you're not missing any spot. Remember, just trying to fill it everywhere in here. All the little details. I'm thinking we should leave it eight.

Nic: OK.


Leysa: So, what you can do, Nic, you can do the same thing, just, like, a lighter shampoo. Don't shampoo too much, and conditioner again, and we good to go! Nic, you did so good!

Nic: I wouldn't have been able to do it without you. There's so many little things and so many little details that go into this that I never, like, thought would make so much of a difference.

Leysa: And this is important that you say this, because sometimes I get questions and I'm like, oh, how did I do this? So, what toner do I use? How did I do my hair at home? And it's just like, you need this amount of hours. So, I would recommend you to avoid shampooing your hair too often. I would also recommend you to add a little more of a leave-in conditioner. That will add more hydration. Because, once again, you're extracting the pigment from the hair, but you're extracting all those natural oils and nutrients too. So if I were you, and you're home and stuck at home and you want to get your color done, just call your stylist and ask her to phone you or ask her if she can help you somehow.

Nic: I think it looks awesome. And I love the color that it came out to be. I love this, like, almost-platinum look. Like, it looks so good.