How to Bleach Your Hair From Brown to White

In April 2008, I was dying my hair black. Two years later, I’ve made it through a variety of reds, browns, and blonde highlights, but now I’m ready to go for it. Platinum!

I had never done a blonde a few shades lighter than my own light brown hair because I’ve always been afraid of the chemicals and the damage it will do to my hair. Worst case scenario is I have to cut my hair really short or have a professional fix it!

Before: naturally light brown hair with a handful of highlights

My hair was mostly chemically untreated and light brown, and this is what I did. If your hair is already damaged or a different shade, you’ll have to modify how long you keep in the bleach to get the similar results. I chose Manic Panic toner and dye because they are non-toxic and vegan. As a result, I used their bleach kit, too (which is not non-toxic).

Materials needed:

Prepare your workspace. Remove or cover all fabrics from the room that you don’t want ruined (towels, rugs, curtains). Make sure a window is open, and the room is properly ventilated.
Separate the parts of your hair you want to bleach and cover any parts you don’t want bleached with foil. Put petroleum jelly around your hair and neckline to protect it from chemicals.
Open up your bleaching kit. Put on the plastic gloves. Using the tub provided, mix the developer and bleach powder together. If you think you won’t need all of it, you can save some *unmixed* developer and powder for later. It’s important to try to use the same proportions as you would if you used it all, though.
Apply the bleach to your hair using the brush. You may want to start at the ends of your hair and work your way up towards the roots so it doesn’t get too thick near your scalp. Avoid getting bleach on your scalp (but it will probably happen). I’ve heard that adding some sugar to the mix makes it sting your scalp less. Try to apply the bleach as evenly as possible. You may want to have a friend make sure you covered the back thoroughly (I missed a spot!).
After you’ve got the bleach in your hair, put on the plastic cap and wait. I left the bleach in my hair for 45 minutes, and then I removed the cap and applied heat (from the blow dryer).
Wash out the bleach. Make sure you dry with a towel that’s okay to get damaged. I have a designated hair-dying towel.

At this point, my hair was much lighter but still not quite there:

There’s still some color in there!

I waited until the next day to bleach my hair again, this time only leaving the bleach in 20 minutes. After washing the bleach out, it’s time to tone!

Toning your hair means you’re counter-acting the orange/yellow hue in your hair to make it a more neutral color. It will not lighten it any more, so make sure your hair is as light as you want it to be. I used Manic Panic Amplified Virgin Snow to tone.
Apply the toner to your hair. Because Manic Panic is non-toxic, I left in in my hair for a couple of hours under a plastic cap.
Wash out the toner, and you’re done!
… Unless you’re me. I wanted my bangs to be bright yellow. To add another color, separate the section you will be dying. I pinned back everything except my bangs with bobby pins.
Carefully apply your second color, and let it sit. I covered the yellow dye in foil so it wouldn’t touch the white parts.
Wash out, and you’re really done!
Tip: After bleaching your hair, you realize how damaged it really feels, and it’s kind of a bummer. I use Moroccanoil (vegan, not tested on animals) on my hair after I shower to help give some strength and moisture back to my hair. It’s pricey, but it lasts a long time and is very helpful for restoring soft hair.

The yellow in the photo is Jerome Russell Punky Colour in Brite Yellow. I initially used Manic Panic in Electric Banana, but I didn’t like the fluorescence of it. I’ve had this color for a month now, and I’m so glad I did it. It’s been a fun conversation starter, and I think it helped me get out of a bit of a funk.

After 2 weeks, I touched up the toner white and the yellow, and 3 weeks after that, I got the roots touched put at a salon. You have to be really precise when covering the roots so you don’t end up with dark/light bands in your hair, so I thought I’d leave it to the professionals!


  • brittney

    Please help! I just recently had a baby and I stopped bleaching my hair during my pregnancy so my roots are like 4-5 inches grown out with medium brown and the rest is bleached! It looks horrid I can’t even wear it down…and I’m losing a lot of hair due to the effects of pregnancy i got my hair chopped off to my shoulder length but I cant wait another 9 months for it to grow enough to get the rest of the blonde chopped off I’m tired of feeling self concious about the colors of my hair! I just want it all the same color without having to bleach it anymore what do I do!!!!!

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