If you came here looking for a quick answer to the question: “How long to wait between bleaching sessions?” you may be a bit disappointed as there is no easy one-answer-fits-all for everyone.
It will depend on a number of factors, including the hair color you’re starting with, hair type, the overall health of your hair, and what color you want to end up with.
Though it may not be a simple answer, this article will help you sort through all these considerations so you can figure out how long you have to wait to bleach your hair again.
How Bleach Works and What It Does To Your Hair
If you know how bleach (like the Manic Panic Blue Lightning shown above) works to lighten, and what it’s actually doing to your hair, you will have a better understanding as to why there is no easy answer as to how long to wait before you bleach it again.
The bleach reacts with the melanin in the hair, stripping the color through an irreversible chemical reaction.
There’s no going back.
A Little Science
The bleaching agent is used in an alkaline solution, which opens the hair shaft to allow it to react with the melanin and bleaches the hair by breaking down the melanin (color) molecules when they oxidize.
Hair bleaching can make your hair a rougher texture because bleaching changes the porosity and elasticity of the hair. When your hair is more porous, the hair cuticle is more open, and will continue to open. It will become a split end and eventually break off if left untreated.
Bleaching also breaks down natural fatty acids, which results in a weaker hair strand.
Bottom line – bleaching is a chemical process that is rough on your hair and could potentially cause irreparable damage and even breakage if you’re not careful.
This is why you need to make sure you don’t bleach your hair a second time before your hair can handle it!
Considerations in Bleach Timing
How long you have to wait to bleach your hair depends on the following considerations:
1. Your Hair Color
If you have lighter hair, then chances are one bleaching application will be enough. Darker hair will usually require more than one bleach application because darker hair has more pigment.
Bleaching your hair is the process of breaking down color pigment (melanin) molecules. The smaller cool pigment molecules will break down first, leaving the larger warm-toned (yellow & orange) molecules remaining.
This is why you are often left with a yellow tint if you have lighter hair, or brassy red or orange tones if you are bleaching darker hair.
The darker your hair, the more melanin it has and the longer it takes.
2. Hair Type and Texture
Fine hair is more fragile and prone to breakage than thicker hair. So it’s very important not to bleach your hair again too soon — especially if it shows any signs of damage from the first application.
If you have low-porosity hair, common in African American hair, it has a cuticle that lays very tight against the hair shaft.
Bleach has a harder time penetrating it and may need multiple bleach applications.
Though it might be harder to bleach, low-porosity hair tends to be stronger than other hair types.
3. Hair health
Ultimately, the health of your hair after your first bleach application will be one of the most important determining factors for how long you need to wait between bleach applications.
If your hair started out strong, healthy, and moisturized, it should be in better condition after you bleach.
If you did your first bleach on already damaged hair, bleach will have only made it worse. So the last thing you want to be doing is putting on more bleach before your hair has had a chance to repair itself.
How Long To Wait Between Bleaching Sessions?
Like we said before there is no one right answer for everyone – everyone’s hair is different. But here are a couple of guidelines that can help you figure out what’s best for your hair.
For hair that started out strong and healthy and seems to have come through the first bleaching process relatively unscathed – you should wait at least a week to 10 days (2 weeks if you have very thin hair) before bleaching again.
If your hair shows any signs of damage, depending on the extent of the damage, wait at least a month before bleaching again.
Between Bleach Hair Repair
During that wait time, before you bleach again, there are a few things you should be doing to help repair the damage done by the bleaching process to help it recover faster and get it ready to bleach again.
Use a deep conditioner after you shampoo. Shampoo only once or twice a week, as shampoo will strip out your scalp’s natural oils and slow down the healing process.
Hair masks help rebuild the protein bonds in hair that are broken during the bleaching process. Used once a week, they will help strengthen the hair and prep it for the next time you bleach.
Leave-in treatments penetrate the hair shaft and retain moisture. You can use a leave-in conditioner after you’ve deep conditioned your hair if it’s really damaged, but as your hair gets healthier, you can switch to just using one or the other.
Should I Bleach My Hair Again If It Turned Orange?
Orange roots from bleaching will not fade to your desired color on their own. The only way to get rid of orange roots is to color correct the unwanted shade – but that does not necessarily mean bleaching it again.
If it’s really dark orange and you were trying to go platinum blonde, then you will have to bleach it again.
But if you think the color is light enough just with unwanted orange undertones, you probably won’t need to bleach again.
For example, you were going from dark to a warm caramel brown or a dark ash blonde, rather than bleaching it again, you can opt to use a toner or pigmented shampoo to neutralize those unwanted orange tones if you think that you’ve achieved the right shade.
Toners with a blue base neutralize the orange tone. Do not use a purple shampoo if your hair is orange!
You are the one who knows your hair best. The guidelines we gave above are just that – guidelines.
If you’ve waited a month and your hair still feels really damaged, don’t bleach it again right away!
Applying a harsh chemical to damaged hair will make it even more damaged. You need to give your hair time to heal in between.