Does hydrogen peroxide bleach hair

By: | Last Updated: April 11, 2022

Lightening your hair is a fun option if you want to change your look. What makes it not fun is the scary stories associated with bleaching disasters.

But what if you can lighten your hair without using harsh bleaching solutions? 

While bleaching is a surefire way to lighten one’s hair, it isn’t your only choice. Wouldn’t you go that route if there’s a less damaging way to lighten your hair?

Luckily, there is. And it might be right within your reach!

We’re talking about hydrogen peroxide.

Most, if not all, households store hydrogen peroxide because of its many uses. 

This wonder product that people usually apply as a mild antiseptic can also lighten one’s hair. But does hydrogen peroxide bleach hair?

Short answer, yes!

Let’s take a deep dive into the hair brightening effects of hydrogen peroxide below!

How to bleach hair with hydrogen peroxide

How to bleach hair with hydrogen peroxide

Cheap, easy to use, and accessible. 

You can use hydrogen peroxide alone. But the results might not be very satisfying.

For better hair brightening effects, use it with baking soda. It is alkaline and a natural cleanser, making it the perfect base for hydrogen peroxide.

Whatever you choose, proper application is the key to achieving your desired results. 

Here’s how to brighten your hair with hydrogen peroxide alone or with baking soda:

Step 1: Before application

For the best hair lightening effects, prepare your hair days or even weeks before. Here’s what to do:

  • Avoid hair treatments weeks before lightening with hydrogen peroxide.
  • Avoid hairspray, mouse, gel, and other chemicals on your hair.
  • Avoid heat. Don’t use a hairdryer, heating iron, and hair curler days before.

Not necessary, but it will be helpful; get help. Getting help from a friend will speed up the process. It will make the solution easier to apply. Plus, you’d get a second opinion immediately.

Step 2: During application

Is your hair permed, color-treated, or damaged? If not, you can proceed with using hydrogen peroxide to lighten it. 

On the day of the application, prepare your hair. Apply a natural shampoo and conditioner. Make sure your hair is free from dirt, natural oil, and chemicals.  

Pat the hair dry with a towel. Comb hair and let it air dry until it’s damp.

Before applying the solution to your entire head, do a strand test first. 

How to bleach hair with hydrogen peroxide alone

Are there no allergic reactions? Do you like the results? Then you’re ready to proceed.

What you’ll need:

  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Spray Bottle for an entire hair bleach or toothbrush for creating highlights
  • Hair Clips
  • Comb with a pointed end for parting your hair
  • Gloves
  • Shower Cap

What to do:

Applying hydrogen peroxide to all your hair

  • Wear gloves to protect your hands
  • Comb and section the hair using hair clips
  • Using a hairspray, apply the hydrogen peroxide one section at a time
  • Let it sit for 15-30 minutes until you get your desired results
  • Rinse with cool water
  • Condition the hair and let it air dry

Creating hair highlights with hydrogen peroxide

  • Dip the small toothbrush into the bowl of hydrogen peroxide
  • Use a comb with a pointer parting end to grab a few strands of hair
  • Apply the hydrogen peroxide using the toothbrush
  • Wait for 15-30 minutes until you achieve the light hair that you’re going for
  • Rinse with cold water

Bonus tip: 

  • Use cold water to rinse your hair. It will remove the peroxide on your hair without drying it.
  • Use hair oil before washing hair to reduce hair dryness and damage.

If you want to go lighter than the initial result, re-apply the hydrogen peroxide. Just repeat the above process until you achieve your desired outcomes. Do this every other day or up to three times a week to prevent severe damage to your tresses.

How to bleach hair with hydrogen peroxide and baking soda

Now, you already know how to bleach your hair using hydrogen peroxide alone. If you’d like to speed up the process, might as well add some baking soda to your peroxide. 

Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate is an alkaline substance. It will activate the hydrogen peroxide and aid in opening up the hair shaft. This will allow the peroxide to enter the cortex.

The combination of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda will do wonders in your tresses. It will dissolve the dark pigments in your hair. With proper and continuous use, it will lighten your dark hair, even turning it blonde.

You’d need:

  • Baking Soda – 1 Cup
  • Hydrogen Peroxide – 3 tablespoons
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Shower Cap
  • Gloves
  • Spatula
  • Bleach Brush


  • Mix the cup of baking soda to 3 tbsps of hydrogen peroxide
  • Apply the mixture to damp hair using the bleach brush. 
  • Cover bleached hair with a shower cap.
  • Let the natural mixture do its wonders for 15 to 40 minutes, depending on how dark your base hair color is.
  • Rinse with water. You can use shampoo and conditioner.
  • Let your hair air dry then apply a moisturizing oil of your choice.

Step 3: Aftercare

Are you enjoying your lighter hair color? For sure you’d want it to last longer. That said, nourish your hair with the right products. It will lengthen the lifespan of your bright hair while keeping your tresses healthy.

Also, avoid heat styling tools weeks after the treatment. Protect your hair from direct sunlight to prevent damage to your delicate tresses.

Lastly, don’t forget your conditioner. Your hair deserves some TLC every day!

How long does it take for hydrogen peroxide to lighten hair?

How long does it take for hydrogen peroxide to lighten hair

Unlike bleaching, you can’t expect drastic hair lightening results with hydrogen peroxide. You may need to repeat the hair-lightening process several times to get the results that you want.

Also, not all hair types are the same. The lighter, the thinner, and the more porous your hair is, the easier it will be to lighten it.

For some, it can take 10 minutes. For others, it can last for 30 minutes to an hour. This also depends on how light you want your hair to be.

What does hydrogen peroxide do to black hair?

Hydrogen peroxide does not only lighten already blonde hair. You can also use this hack even if you have black hair. 

You can’t expect your dark hair to turn blonde with one bleaching session, though. Lightening dark hair with hydrogen peroxide requires several hair lightening sessions.

Here are the possible results that you can get by using hydrogen peroxide on your hair:

Current Hair ColorPossible Results
Black HairReddish-Brown
Dark BrownGolden Brown
Medium BrownLight Brown
Light BrownBlond
BlondLighter Blond

You can repeat the process 2 to 3 times a week until you get the blonde hair color that you want.

Why won’t hydrogen peroxide bleach my hair?

Hydrogen peroxide, when used alone or combined with baking soda, can lighten your hair. It might not be an instant change of color. But you can expect your hair to be lighter for up to two levels when properly applied.

Did you follow the instructions mentioned above? If yes, and your hair didn’t lighten, there might be something wrong with the products that you used. 

Expired Hydrogen Peroxide

Just like any product, hydrogen peroxide has an expiration date. It can last for up to 3 years if unopened. But once opened, it will only be good for up to six months.

Low-Level Hydrogen Peroxide

Sure, you might have watched a lot of videos about using hydrogen peroxide. The 3% hydrogen peroxide that they used in their hair might have lightened their hair. But it might not be the same for your thicker, less porous, and darker hair.

In that case, you need stronger concentrations of hydrogen peroxide. But don’t go over 30% volume developers as it can already be damaging to your tresses.

Of course, you should observe proper precautions to prevent severe hair damage.

Your Hair

Not all hair types are the same. There’s just hair that’s too hard to lighten.

Both very dark virgin hair and over-dyed hair, for example, can be resistant to the hair lightening effects of your hydrogen peroxide.

Either the hair fibers are too thick and strong or the peroxide can’t open the cuticles to get rid of the pigment. 

Is hydrogen peroxide more damaging to hair than bleach?

Is hydrogen peroxide more damaging to hair than bleach

Hydrogen peroxide is safer and more eco-friendly than bleach. That’s what makes it a good alternative when lightening hair. 

But any chemical applied to hair can cause damage if you don’t follow proper precautions.

That said, prevent damage by:

  • preparing your hair for the hair lightening session
  • applying the right mixture 
  • letting the mixture sit at the specified time
  • and, following a proper hair care routine

If you fail to do that, you can expect problems like:

Damaged Hair Cuticle

Hydrogen peroxide is an oxidizing agent. Excessive use of peroxide will ruin your hair’s cortex by causing oxidative stress to your hair. 

This can lead to split ends, frizz, breakage, and even hair loss. 

Deep condition your hair to reduce damage to the cuticle.

Scalp irritation

You can use hydrogen peroxide on the skin as a disinfectant. But too much of it can irritate your skin.

The same goes when applying peroxide to your hair. It can cause irritation on your scalp. It can cause a burning sensation on the skin around the hairline if not applied properly.

To prevent that, apply petroleum jelly to those areas. Protect the hairline with clean cotton as well. Avoid the scalp as much as possible. 

Other Natural Hair Lightening Alternatives

Are you worried about the hair damaging effects of hydrogen peroxide? Perhaps, your hair color won’t lift using hydrogen peroxide and baking soda? If so, you can find these other natural hair lightening hacks interesting:


Honey has enzymes that produce traces of hydrogen peroxide. While it’s not as effective as other hair-lightening products, it’s safer and easier to apply. 

Combine honey with warm water. Apply the mixture to your hair. Cover your hair and let it sit for 2 to 8 hours. 

You can safely leave honey on your hair overnight. Rinse it out the next morning. And expect to have lighter, smoother hair.

Lemon Juice

Citric acid is a bleaching and oxidizing agent. And lemon is rich in citric acid. That makes this citrus fruit a good hair-lightening alternative.

In fact, lemon juice can lighten hair with darker hues like brunettes, brown, and even black. 

Mix lemon juice with water and apply the mixture to your hair. 

To activate the lemon juice, let it dry in the sun. Wash it out after. Condition as usual.

CHECK OUT: Best Lightening Shampoo

The Takeaway!

While hydrogen peroxide mixed with baking soda or even used alone can absolutely change the color of your hair, it can still be damaging to your delicate tresses just like regular bleach if not properly applied. 

Proper hair preparation, correct application, and the right aftercare will definitely make a huge difference in how your hair will react to the hydrogen peroxide.

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