Are you the type who loves to experiment with your hair colors? Do you love following new trends — from pastels to neons to bold, bright shades?
Well, if you don’t already know, one of the best things you could have in your arsenal is a good, trusty semi-permanent hair dye.
Among the 3 main types of hair dye — permanent hair dye, semi-permanent, and demi-permanent colors — the semi-permanent kind is your best friend when it comes to quick changes and preventing damage.
Unlike permanent and demi-permanent hair dyes, which change the structure of your hair, leaving it vulnerable to damage, semi-permanent colors just fill in the surface and act as a strong stain on your hair.
Usually, if you let time and regular washing take their course, semi-permanent hair dyes should fade gracefully within a month or a month and a half.
This leaves you with a new opportunity to change colors.
But what happens if you want a change pronto? What if you don’t want to wait for the fade to come in before switching it up? Can you bleach over already dyed hair?
In this article, we’re going to tackle what happens when you bleach over semi-permanent dye. So, first, be sure that the last color you used isn’t a permanent or demi-permanent hair dye. If you want to bleach correctly, those will have a different course of action.
The answer is yes, as a total last resort. You should give other lightening options a try first before having to grab the bleach and using it to remove the semi-permanent dye.
So, does bleach take out semi permanent hair dye?
While bleach is a great eraser for virgin hair, you do have to know that it does this best because bleach is meant to break down melanin, also known as our natural hair color.
And it doesn’t work quite as well on synthetic dyes as it does with natural color. So, this means it’s a different story for semi-permanent dyes.
By definition, bleach, or lightener, works by lifting and opening up the outermost layer of your hair. Then, once your hair is opened up, it reacts with pigments and breaks them down, leaving the hair a lighter color.
But bleach can do quite the opposite when using it on semi-permanent hair dye. Developer, an important component of lightener, opens up the hair's cuticle. That’s where semi-permanent dye usually stays.
So now, because of the developer opening up the hair, allowing the pigment from semi-permanent dye to reach parts of the hair it couldn’t go before, it could just force the color further and deeper into your hair instead of removing it.
If you have no other choice, or if alternatives still leave stains that don’t budge, only then should you try and use a lightener to remove semi-permanent dye.
Use bleach only when the color has already faded quite a bit. This just lessens the amount of color that runs the risk of staining your hair deeper.
It’s best to use a 20-volume developer for good results without causing too much damage or risking having the color be pushed in deeper when the developer opens up your hair shaft. A 30-volume developer in your lightener may work faster but will definitely be a lot harsher and more drying.
So, now that you know all that let’s recap: Can you put bleach on top of semi permanent hair dye? Yes, but only if you absolutely need to. Some alternatives you can try first are:
But here are a few helpful tips and steps to take to make sure you keep your hair healthy while getting your desired results if you really had no other choice than to use lightener:
A lot of semi-permanent dyes come out on their own after 20-30 washes. So, if you can wait, hold off on the lightener for a bit. Your hair will thank you for it later!
You can even try using a clarifying shampoo to speed up the process.
Especially if you’ve bleached before, it’s crucial to know if your hair is healthy enough to withstand another round of the chemical treatment.
Just mix a little bit of your bleach together. Prepare it according to the instructions, and apply it to a loose lock of hair, around an inch or half an inch in thickness.
Then, leave it on for 20-30 minutes, observing it carefully all throughout.
If that strand shows any sign of damage, stop right there! It won’t be worth it. Signs of damage include gumminess or excessive stretchy-ness without bouncing back. It can also come in the form of unnatural roughness or extra fragile breakage.
But if your test strand survives unscathed, then you’re well on your way to bleaching.
It’ll always be better to do multiple sessions, lifting the color slowly and gradually rather than letting your hair fry if you’re in a hurry.
Also, be sure to use the right product. A 20-volume developer should be more than enough to remove semi-permanent color.
Another alternative you can explore is a bleach bath. It’s almost exactly like direct bleaching but with a few tweaks to make it a little less damaging to your hair.
When should you use a bleach bath?
Well, it’s recommended that the best time to use a bleach bath is when you’ve already faded most of the color but just want to get rid of difficult stains. This isn’t the method to use if you want to lighten your hair color significantly.
All you have to do is prepare your bleach with a 10-20 volume developer and mix it with equal parts of shampoo. You can also add more shampoo to dilute the lightener or less if you feel you need it stronger.
Then, apply it to wet hair, working from the middle to the end, ensuring you avoid your scalp.
You can let it soak in for 20-30 minutes, but keep an eye on it! You can wash it all out as soon as you’ve achieved your desired faded color. Since you’re only trying to lift out staining, this might take less than the maximum of 30 minutes.
This method is a gentler way to deal with stains but might not work in one go if you have more color.
Bleaching is a very harsh, drying process. Your hair will need all the TLC you can give once it’s done.
Voila, you’re back to lighter hair! Now, you have a completely blank canvas that you can tone to your liking if you want to keep it blonde.
If you want some color back in, stick to semi-permanent colors for now, especially if your hair has already been through the bleaching wringer a few times. Then, just make sure to keep a good hair care routine focused on hydration and nourishment to keep your hair as healthy as possible.
Manic Panic advises explicitly against using bleach. Because of the intense pigment in this brand’s line, it’s more likely that the color will seep deeper into your hair because of the developer.
Therefore, it’s best to go the healthier route and just keep washing it out if you have the time.
Usually, they last up to 6 weeks in your hair, but clarifying shampoos and washing more frequently can speed it up.
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The best part about semi-permanent dyes is that you get to have all the fun without much commitment. If you can wait, it is best to let your washing and shampooing do the heavy lifting to fade out the color.
But remember that there are safe ways to bleach out there too! Just make sure to keep your hair health top priority.