Definitive guide to white hair.
1. Introduction and important information
2. Tool kit and things you will need.
3. How to maintain the condition of your hair whilst achieving white hair.
4. How to bleach hair and How to do a bleach bath
5. White hair for those with hair already dyed with vegetable dyes
6. White hair for those with hair dyed with box dyes
7. White hair for those with virgin hair
8. Toning, the last step in white hair (no matter the original color)
Helpful tips will be marked in yellow and recipes will be marked in green.
This will be a tutorial of sorts, but more than anything, its a guide. It will include FAQs and how tos for techniques and tips that I get asked about again and again.
This piece is for those that want to attempt white hair at home. I always say that if you can afford it, please go to your local salon.
If you are thinking about starting the journey to white hair, you must understand that it is not a light task to undertake. White is not like a box dye you can plonk on your noggin and in half an hour have a brand new look. No. White hair will take months of hard work and careful preparation. Ultimately our hair is not supposed to be white, and whether its a colour you want to maintain or something you would like to achieve so as to then dye lilac, silver or a similar pastel shade.
Certain things must be considered before attempting to go white, these include:-
The condition of your hair
This is the most important factor when deciding to go white. If your hair is already very heat or chemically damaged then going white will not be a good idea for you. Going white will require you to put your hair through some very intensive chemical treating, which no matter how careful you are, will damage it.
If you have virgin hair, this process will be much easier for you than if you are trying to lift layers of colour build up.
The current colour of your hair
The current colour of your hair will directly dictate how easy going white will be for
You. If you have red or black hair, for example, you will be in the most difficult category, whereas if you hair is already light blonde, going white will be a straight forward enough task for you. Again, I stress that if you have a great deal of colour build up (many previous colours layered on top of one another) you will have a longer road ahead of you.
The two aforementioned factors must be taken into consideration and taken heed of. I really do understand more than most the desire for that perfect hair colour, but sometimes it really is not possible. You are literally taking the life of your hair in your hands if you think that you can take this transition against recommendations of either colour, condition or time restraints.
If you have dark hair that is already over processed, or hair that is already very bleach/chemical or heat damaged, I advise you now, turn back. Give your hair some months to recover, get haircuts, protein treatments and conditioning. If when your hair is healthy you still want to carry on, then come back to this tutorial and read on.
If you still want to continue there are three main avenues I will write on.
Hair that has already been bleached and that is dyed with vegetable dyes.
Hair that is dyed with a colour containing a developer, either by the hairdresser or with a box dye.
(you can use the ctrl+f function to jump to your required section)
Whilst I shall cover the differences on lightening hair to make it white depending on your current hair condition, all tools and products mentioned will be the same.
You will need the following:-
Blue Bleach powder. Blue bleach helps tone as it lifts.
Crme Peroxide. Peroxide comes in various volumes, those readily available are 10 (3%), 20(6%) and 30 volume (9%). The percentage refers to the amount of oxygen found in a given amount of peroxide. The more the developer can oxidise, the faster and more violent the reaction. You will need to choose your peroxide depending on the amount you want to lift. 30 vol peroxide will lift 3 levels but is more damaging than a 10 vol which will only lift one.
A non-metallic mixing bowl and brush. Bleach is much easier to apply with a brush than with your fingers. Any metallic instruments or equipment can be corroded by the bleach and can deposit unwanted colour into the hair.
Non metallic hair clips
A showercap (or plastic bags)
Latex (or similar) gloves- it helps to have a large supply in stock.
Shampoo (does not matter which brand, though clarifying shampoos are preferred)
A deep conditioner. I recommend Aussie three minute miracle reconstructor
A protein treatment. My favourite is red ken deep fuel.
Some kind of oil for the hair. You can literally use any oil from olive to the more expensive Moroccan. I recommend for a cheap alternative and as a very good oil, coconut oil. I also love The One n Only Argan Oil.
A dedicated towel. Always best to have a towel just for bleaching and dying your hair, so as you dont accidently leave orange bleached marks on mums best.
I always find when lightening the hair that its best to buy your bleach and peroxide in bulk. Dont bother with the one application sachets that you need two of for long hair anyway. It will cost you a great deal more than it need. Instead, buy a litre of developer and a 500g box of bleach powder on ebay or from a salon supplies store. You can expect to pay around 3 for the peroxide and around 10 for the bleach powder, instead of paying 5 a time for the individual amounts. If you are lucky enough to live in a city, then ethnic hair shops often carry these cheaper and bulk alternatives.
When attempting to heal the hair, argan oil and coconut oils are best as it is found that the molecules resemble that of sebum in the hair, this means that they can penetrate the shaft and actually help rebuild the hair from the inside out rather than just smoothing damaged ends like most conditioners.
Maintaining the condition of your hair.
The following information applies to all bleaching techniques and processes and I will refer only in passing to deep conditioning or protein treatments from here on in. You should be careful at all times to keep up a rigorous hair routine and keep a close eye on the condition of your hair through the lightening process.
Things you will need:-
Note:- Images are for reference of my preferred products, feel free to use your own!
A conditioner containing an oil that can be used as a deep conditioner. I recommend Aussie three minute miracle deep reconstructor.
A type of oil. Any oil can be used to help condition the hair but the best are coconut oil and an Argan oil.
A showercap, plastic bag or cling film.
A wide toothed comb.
A leave in conditioner.
A protein treatment
Maintaining the condition of your hair can be involved process during the journey to white hair but it is of maximum importance. It is likely you will need to bleach your hair more than once to achieve white, and as such, you need to make sure you have healthy and strong hair. Bleach does cause damage to hair, no matter how to tackle it, you are putting a chemical on your hair that changes the fundamental structure. It is how you deal with that damage that counts.
It must be noted before I go on, that every persons hair is different and what may work for some will not for others. It may take some experimentation and patience for you to find your perfect conditioning routine. The one I will outline here is what works for me, and in my experience, for many others with chemically processed hair.
It is likely that you already condition your hair after every wash, this should be continued with your preferred product (my own favourite is Dumb Blonde by Tigi Bed Head as it is formulated especially for chemically damaged hair. I purchase large salon bottles for cut price on amazon). On top of your regular conditioning, whilst attempting to achieve white hair, once or twice a week you should indulge in a deep conditioning. Deep conditioning should be attempted with a product specifically branded as such, I use Aussie. The conditioner should be applied as normal to wet (but wrung out) hair and covered with plastic or a showercap and left for twenty minutes. The heat from your scalp will allow for a more efficient conditioning process. After twenty minutes rinse the conditioner as normal.
On wet hair it is advisable to spray or apply a leave in conditioner to assure maximum support to your hair. Also make sure that you never brush wet hair, rather use a wide toothed comb to separate tangles. Chemically treated hair can become very fragile and pulling a brush through tangles can cause a great deal of breakage. By using a wide toothed comb you are minimising damage to the hair.
You can also condition your hair using coconut oil. This should be applied to damp hair, wrapped in plastic and left for any amount of time between twenty minutes and two hours. Coconut oil is an incredible way to condition your hair since it is made up of small fatty acids which can actually penetrate the shaft of the hair in ways that other oils may not. This is key since it can then help to repair the hair from the inside and also prevent protein loss.
Oils are essential for chemically damaged hair since the main reason your hair becomes dry, brittle and frizzy is because the natural sebum is stripped from the hair during the chemical process