Is Bleached Hair Permanent? Does The Bleach Fade?

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If you’re thinking about bleaching your hair, or if you’ve already bleached it and you’re wondering – is bleached hair permanent? – In short, Yes. It’s permanent.

Get used to it!

In this article we are going to take a look at bleach, what it is, how it works, how your natural color affects bleaching, how to get rid of bleached hair, and the best way of bleaching your hair without damage.


What Is Hair Bleach And How Does It Work?

If you are considering bleaching your hair, it’s important to know how it works and what it will do to your hair.

Hair bleach  comes in powder form and needs to be mixed with a developer of some volume. It’s a mixture of ingredients including persulfates which have an oxidizing (bleaching) effect. It’s not Clorox!

Using bleach without a developer will not lighten (or “lift“) your hair, as the bleach is unable to penetrate the hair cuticle without it.

Using bleach without a developer will not lighten (or “lift”) your hair, as the bleach is unable to penetrate the hair cuticle without it.

Hair bleach  is a product that’s mixed with bleach to activate it and enable it to penetrate the hair cuticle. 

Hair bleaching is a chemical process that strips color from your hair.

Not only does it strip any hair dye in your hair, but it uses a lightening agent, usually peroxide or ammonia, in an alkaline solution (a.k.a. a developer) that opens up the hair cuticle. The open cuticles allow the bleach to enter where it bonds with melanin (pigment) molecules. It oxidizes them, which strips your hair of its natural color. 


Is Bleached Hair Permanent?

Yes, hair bleach is permanent. Because the bleach penetrates into the hair shaft to strip your hair of its natural color, there’s no getting your natural color back after you’ve bleached it.

An important thing to note is that bleach will only affect the hair it comes into contact with. So although it is permanent on the hair you’ve bleached, your regrowth will grow in as your previous natural color.

Bleach will only affect the hair it comes into contact with. So although it is permanent on the hair you’ve bleached, your regrowth will grow in as your previous natural color.

How do you get rid of bleached hair?

The only way to get rid of bleached hair and restore your hair back to its pre-bleached, natural state is to cut it off and wait for your hair to grow back.

Then, it will be healthy, virgin hair again, even after bleaching.

Of course you can dye your hair a color close to your natural color, but that’s not the same as letting your hair grow.


How Your Natural Color Affects Bleaching

Your natural hair color is a combination of the visible color and the underlying pigments. Each individual hair shade will have different levels of pigment. How quickly and easily hair is bleached is dependent on the condition and type of hair, as well as how dark the natural color is.

The darker your hair, the more pigment it contains.

All hair has a red shade within its base color. Black has a large quantity of dark red base pigment and brunettes have an orange base pigment. When you bleach your hair, you are stripping away the different colored pigments one layer at a time.

Cool-toned color pigments are smaller molecules and the first to be lifted out of your hair during the bleaching process. The warmer-toned pigment molecules (red & orange) are larger, so they are the last (take longer) to be lifted out of hair. There are also more warm colour molecules than cool colour molecules. This is why often after bleaching, hair is left with a yellow or orange hue as there are still leftover warm pigment molecules.

The darker the hair, the harder it is to bleach. If you are trying to bleach very dark hair, it may require several bleaching sessions. Dark hair has a tendency to turn orange after bleaching.

If you are doing it at home, then you should invest in a hat because you will have to wait at least 10 days before repeating the bleaching process. And that’s only if your hair is in good condition after you bleached it the first time.


Does Bleaching Ruin Your Hair?

Bleaching is a strong chemical substance that, if not done right, can most definitely cause irreparable damage and ruin your hair.

When we say ‘irreparable damage’… like curled up in the fetal position in your tub sobbing as you watch your crispy fried bits of hair break off and get rinsed down the drain, kind of damage.

This is the worst-case scenario which only happens when people are bleaching their own hair at home without knowing how to use the products.

This is the worst-case scenario which only happens when people are bleaching their own hair at home without knowing how to use the products.

You only have to look at Hair Bleaching Fails on youtube to see that most of them are a result of a combination of using the wrong strength developer and bleach bathinging more than once without waiting enough time in between.

Bleaching, even when you’ve followed the directions properly and used the right developer, can make hair dry, brittle, and prone to breakage and split ends.

Going back to how bleaching works, it uses a developer to open up the hair’s outer cuticle to penetrate the shaft. Once done, it can oxidize those color molecules to remove them from your hair.

Repeated bleaching can also permanently keep your hair’s outer cuticle open, resulting in a continuous and rapid moisture loss.

Bleached hair is also more porous, which makes it more vulnerable to other chemical and environmental factors, as well as heat-styling tools. Things like sun, hard water, and sulfates in your shampoo can worsen the condition of your hair.

Blow dryers, curling irons, and flat irons can be drying and damaging to healthy virgin hair, but even more so to bleached hair.

Bleach has a damaging effect on your hair’s protein structure, this damage is compounded every time you bleach it again. In other words, the more often you bleach or highlight your hair, the more damage is being done.

It is incredibly important to give your hair plenty of moisture and hydration after bleaching.


How Can I Bleach My Hair Without Damaging It?

Seeing a professional colorist is your best bet to safely bleach your hair without damage.

This is not the time to be cutting corners or trying to save money and trying a DIY project. You’ll most likely cause a lot of damage to your hair that you will end up spending way more money on, trying to fix it, and still not getting the result you wanted.

The problem with home bleaching kits is that the instructions are standard and don’t take into account your specific hair type.

For the 99% of us who didn’t go to cosmetology school to learn how to properly use professional hair products, like hair bleach and developer, this is something that’s best left done by professionals.

A professional colorist can not only adjust the bleach and developer specifically to suit your hair type and the end result you want to achieve, but get that result without damaging your hair.


Take Away

Is bleached hair permanent? Yes…. until you grow it out and cut off the bleached portions. Your regrowth will grow back in your natural color, but that could take a while.

Once you bleach your hair, there’s no going back! So if you are considering bleaching your hair, get it done by a professional to make sure you aren’t stuck with an end result you are going to have to live with for a while.

Written by Kayla Young

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