Bleaching your hair can be a scary process, and even if you followed the instructions exactly, and stayed completely vigilant during the entire process, your hair can still come out uneven and brassy. In this post, I’ll be looking at how to fix uneven bleached hair.
Ending up with unevenly-bleached hair can be the result of one of many minuscule details within the bleaching process that are often overlooked or unforeseen.
If you’re coping with a bleaching disaster, then don’t panic because we are here to help!
There are a lot of facets to properly bleach your hair. These range from prepping your hair before the application, sectioning your hair, and properly applying the bleach, whether to use foils or not, and what you should do during the time it takes to process.
There are also factors you may not think so much about, like how porous your hair is, whether it has been dyed before, and your hair type and texture.
All of these can have some sort of impact on the outcome.
What happens to your hair during bleaching?
There is a reason why there is a bad reputation surrounding lightening and bleaching your hair.
These processes can cause dryness and damage if you are not careful and do not take your hair type into consideration.
When you bleach your hair, you are actually causing the chemical reaction of oxidation to occur in your hair.
For the first part of this process, an alkaline agent opens up the cuticles in your hair.
This allows the chemical to enter the hair follicle more easily and fully saturate it.
Next, the bleaching agent oxidizes which works to dissolve the actual color pigment out of the strand.
As the pigment dissolves, it lifts through the tones in your hair which is why bleached hair sometimes looks brassy orange or yellow.
Since the chemicals in the bleach have opened up the cuticles in your hair, the texture, porosity, and curl pattern of your hair may be affected.
When your hair is more porous, which is often the case after bleaching, then it can be more prone to damage and breakage.
Causes of uneven bleaching
Before starting to research how to fix uneven bleached hair, you need to know what exactly made you end up with unsatisfactory results.
There can be several factors that have caused your bleach job to come out spotty and uneven.
These include: having a dark base color, improperly mixing the product, missing spots, failing to completely saturate your hair, the porosity of your hair, and exposure to heat.
Having a dark base or previously dyed hair
Dyed hair will lift differently from natural hair, which is something that needs to be taken into account when you go through the bleaching process.
This is especially important if you are bleaching your hair when you have dyed hair and natural growth grown in.
You should always be upfront and honest with your hairdresser when you discuss what you have done to your hair.
They are not there to judge you, instead, they need this information so that they can give you the results that you want.
Dark hair is notoriously hard to lift and it contains a lot of red and orange tones, which is why bleached hair can come out orange.
It is unrealistic to expect to go from dark brown or black hair to platinum blonde in one round of bleach or even one day.
Improperly mixing the bleach and missing spots
This is pretty self-explanatory, as only the hair that is saturated with a well-mixed bleach, for the intended amount of time will process correctly.
When you want to bleach your hair, it is essential to measure the developer and the bleaching powder.
However, more than the measurement, the mixture must be homogenous.
If it is not mixed correctly, the result could be uneven bleaching.
Here is a quick run-down on why it is important to properly mix your product:
The bleach works with the developer to infiltrate and lift your hair color.
Each part has a role and they depend on each other to cause the needed reaction.
Meaning, if your hair only gets one or a significant imbalance of the products due to improper mixing, then the reaction that needs to take place cannot happen.
You failed to apply it evenly and consistently
It is possible to mix the product the way you should and fail to apply it evenly through your hair.
So, did you apply it to every part of your hair?
You need to cover the entire length of the hair.
I recommend that you start from the ends and work your way to the roots.
This process allows the bleach to settle in and create an even coloring.
Heat from the scalp
Heat is also a factor.
If you start the application at your roots, the heat from your scalp is going to process the bleach faster than the rest of your hair, which means your roots can turn out two levels lighter than the rest of your hair.
You didn’t leave the mixture long enough
The bleaching mixture will be as effective as how much time it had to sit in your hair.
Hence, if you got rid of the solution too early, some parts of your hair might not be fully bleached.
You will then have patchy color.
The porosity of your hair
If your hair is more porous in some areas, then those will tend to take to the bleach more efficiently than less porous areas.
Generally, mid-shaft to your ends tend to be more porous since they have by default been exposed to more damage and elements than your new growth.
How to fix uneven bleached hair
Let me start by saying: if you feel ill-equipped to fix your hair at home, your best and safest course of action is to head to a salon for the help of a professional.
You can always get a consultation first, so your hair colorist knows what they’re getting into and you won’t have any surprise costs.
Just remember, honesty about past processes and dye jobs is the best policy.
As for pointers on how to fix uneven bleached hair, here are some things a salon might do or recommend and that you can do at home.
Having orange or yellow “brassy” tones throughout your hair after bleaching is quite common.
This is due to the lifting process, and the undertones in your hair.
The best way to correct this is by using a toner and developer.
Follow the instructions for the toner in regards to the mixing ratio and what volume developer to use (Usually 20 or 30 volume,) and the processing time.
As for what toner to use; it depends on the tones in your hair.
A blue toner will minimize an orange color, and a purple toner will minimize yellow tones.
When in doubt, you can use a color wheel to match your tones to a color.
Then you want to move directly opposite that color on the wheel to find the toner color that will cancel it out.
Dyeing your hair darker
This is a good choice, especially if you were intending to dye your hair a little darker than you bleached it.
The best way to go about this is to find the darkest color in your hair, and use a dye to match it.
You can also generally go two levels (or more) lower than your current color.
Depending on how bleached some spots are, and if there are a lack of tones throughout your hair, you may need to use a filler first, or partake in several rounds of dyeing.
The good news is, dyeing your hair a darker color is far less damaging than bleaching your hair is.
Bleaching your hair again
This option will take the longest since it is essential that you allow your hair to rest and pamper it to regain moisture and minimize the damage.
This will bring all the uneven dark spots up to the level of the rest of your hair, and give you a better canvas to work with if you plan to dye it afterwards.
It is best to spend a week or two nourishing your hair before you attempt to bleach it again.
However, taking the time to assess the condition of your hair, any breakage, health, and brittleness can allow you to do so sooner if you feel as though your hair will be able to withstand it.
Putting another round of bleach on your hair too soon can cause your hair to break off and fall out which demonstrates severe damage and can be rather alarming to watch.
If you are unsure, a professional can easily assess your hair and let you know if you should or should not proceed with another round of bleaching.
Problems and damage caused by bleaching
When you apply bleach to your hair you are forcing the cuticles to open.
This allows moisture to escape, and makes your hair feel more brittle and vulnerable to more breakage.
Bleaching also takes all the moisture and natural oils out of your hair making it feel dry and straw-like.
All these factors can cause breakage, or encourage existing breakage to worsen.
A bonding agent such a Olaplex can help to close your hair cuticles, while a deep conditioning mask will help hydrate your hair.
Correct bleach application
Bleaching is a very intensive process and even the most meticulous people can make a mistake, so you shouldn’t feel badly if one happens.
Almost all hair mistakes can be corrected in some way, shape, or form.
When it comes to bleaching your hair at home, this guide will be useful to grasp the basics and avoid the common mistakes that can happen to the best of us.
When you bleach your hair, you should refrain from washing your hair a few days beforehand, and you want it to be dry.
The natural oils in your hair will help to protect it, and the bleach will take better to unwashed hair.
You never want to skip the initial strand test, no matter how tedious and time consuming it may seem.
Ideally you should block out a big part of your day to do your hair, and if you decide you do not have time for a strand test, then you should save the hair bleaching for when you do.
Pick a small strand of hair from a section of your hair with low visibility.
Testing a strand allows you to see just how your hair is going to react to the bleach and what you can expect for an outcome.
If you have an allergic reaction to any of the products you are using, or they end up causing a lot of damage, a strand test will minimize the reaction and let you know that you should not apply this all over your head.
Sectioning your hair and where to start
To section your hair, you want to make four even sections to start with.
First, you should evenly part your hair in the middle so you have one section on each side.
Now, for both of these two sections, you want to divide them into two.
Start at the highest point on your head, above your ear.
Bring your comb handle down past your ear so you have one section at the back of your head and another in front of your ear at the side.
Repeat for the other side.
The first section you want to work with is one of the two in the very back of the head.
You should work in smaller sections from that larger quarter section.
I recommend working with strands that are about ¼ of an inch wide.
To start applying the bleach, it is best to work bottom up to the top.
That way you can just set the strands you apply the bleach to, on top of the ones you already did.
This helps to keep you organized, is less messy, and you are able to see any missed spots more easily.
Mixing your product
Mix, mix, and mix!
Make sure your mixture is completely blended, and be aggressive if you have to.
A poorly mixed product will not do its intended job, and cause your coverage to be uneven and blotchy which is exactly what you are trying to fix.
Depending on what you are comfortable with, there are different techniques.
You can use a brush and foils, as the foils can help trap the heat which helps with processing, and you can clearly see whether you are getting an even coverage or not.
You do not need to use foils.
Also, you can use a gloved hand to apply and comb it through with your fingers.
You just want to be as thorough and as quick as possible.
Do not start at your roots!
This is a very important detail when you are applying bleach.
Your scalp gives off a lot of heat which will process the bleach faster.
If you start with your roots, not only will the bleach be on there the longest, but the heat will also speed up the processing time.
You will end up with roots that can be two levels or more lighter than the rest of your hair.
In reality, with natural growth, roots are generally darker.
You want to start about ⅓ of an inch down from your root in the middle of the shaft, and work the bleach down towards the ends.
Save your roots for last.
Some even let the rest of their hair process for ten minutes before even applying the bleach to their roots.
Once you apply the bleach to your head, it is normal to feel some burning on your scalp and heat.
The bleach will work best in a humid, and steamy environment.
The best thing to do is take a shower cap or a plastic bag, and generously spritz the inside of it with water, and then place it on your head.
Every ten minutes or so, you want to check on a few individual strands to track the processing and make sure your hair is lifting as it should.
Rinsing and aftercare
You want to be gentle when rinsing out the bleach and use lukewarm water, as well as a sulfate-free shampoo.
It is also a good idea to use a deep conditioner or a hair mask that is made for bleached hair, to help with rehydration.
If you notice orange or yellow tones in your hair, a toner will help to mute those.
For the following weeks you will want to regularly partake in deep conditioning treatments and hair masks, and looking into a silver shampoo will be a good idea, if you plan on keeping platinum blonde hair.
If you have made it through life and different hair routines without any significant disaster, then you are luckier than most.
You may not know it, but most people experience hair color failure more than they like to admit – unevenly-bleached hair being one of them.
The tips discussed in this post will come in handy if you’re wondering how to fix uneven bleached hair.
So, when your hair turns out blotchy and uneven after a bleaching attempt, there is no need to panic.
Take time to assess your hair and pinpoint what happened and keep your options in mind.
A professional will always be willing to help you out as well, if you decide it is way out of your expertise.