Do You Have to Bleach Hair Prior to Dyeing It?

by Empire Beauty School
Do you Have to Bleach Hair Prior To Dyeing it

We all have heard the old saying, “Blondes have more fun.” But is it really true? Whether it is or not, most dark-haired women want to try being a blonde at least once in their lives. And why not? We should be able to try any color of hair we want at any age. But how do we get the results we want? Do you have to bleach out your hair prior to dyeing it the color of your choice?

As usual, with most of life’s difficult questions, the answer to our ultimate question is; it depends. There are several factors to consider when changing the color of your hair. Here are a few things to decide prior to answering our bleach vs. no bleach question: 

Do you have dark hair and want to go to a lighter shade?

Coloring dark hair to light hair

If so, you will probably need to bleach out the color in your hair. Think of your hair follicle like a glass of water– when it’s full of water, you can’t add more. Now think of the water in the glass as the color in your hair. We need to remove the water or the color before you fill it with something else (a new color). The only way to change your hair color to a lighter shade is by emptying the glass and starting again. 

Or if you have colored your hair a darker color, just putting a light color on top won’t make it go any lighter. If you want a red color and have dyed it dark, it won’t look any different unless you lift the color out.

Do you have light hair and want a darker shade?

Coloring light hair to dark hair

In this case, do not have to bleach your hair prior to coloring it. Your water glass (or your hair) does not have to be emptied. Your hair will take the darker shade over your lighter natural color.

If you have never colored your hair, and you want it just a few shades lighter:

If you’ve never colored your hair and have virgin hair that you would like to be just a couple levels lighter than your natural color, you can use permanent color with a higher developer to bump your level up a few shades. Your hair should not need to be bleached prior to coloring. 

So now that you know if you need to bleach your hair or not, if you do require bleaching, it is important to know if your hair can handle the process of bleaching without ruining your hair.

Is Your Hair Healthy Enough to Bleach?

Coloring blonde hair

Prior to starting any hair color process, especially bleaching, you need to assess the condition and health of your hair.  If your hair has been colored or bleached several times in the past year to 18 months, you should probably wait until your hair has had more time to heal from all the stress that coloring and bleaching causes. Or if your hair is having any issues, such as frizziness, dryness, and breakage, it is best to wait or to leave the bleaching to your professional colorist, who can look at your hair and tell how well it will take the bleaching process.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How hydrated is my hair? 
  • Is it coarse? 
  • Does my hair feel dry and brittle?
  • Are my ends split?
  • When was the last time my hair was colored, bleached or received an in-salon service?

Your answers should determine whether or not to move forward with coloring your hair, calling your stylist for an appointment or waiting until your hair is healthier.

Maintaining your Hair After Coloring and/or Bleaching

Maintaining colored hair

One of the most important parts of coloring/lightening your hair, whether you do so at home or at a salon, is how you treat it after the fact. If you want to keep coloring your hair, you must follow all that processing with special care to heal the damage it causes your hair. 

“Haircare is key, both pre and post-color,” says Shvonne Perkins, Madison Reed expert colorist. Perkins is also a fan of deep conditioning, and says that if a hair mask isn’t doing the trick on its own, “Hit it with a blow dryer to ensure the hair cuticle is soaking up all the nutrients to rehydrate your hair.”

Perkins is also a fan of hair glosses to keep color looking brand-new. “People often color their hair too frequently because they see it getting dull when they don’t necessarily need a permanent color,” says the expert colorist. “Glosses are a great way to freshen up your color without causing any damage.”

Here are a Few More Tips to Keep Your Hair in Top Shape After Coloring:

Hair Care products for colored hair

1. Use shampoos and conditioners for color-treated hair

Using a sulfate-free shampoo for color-treated hair and/or formulated for damaged hair can decrease some of the damage from coloring your hair. 

2. You should also try to avoid frequent shampooing. 

You can try using dry shampoo on the second or third day after you wash your hair. Abstaining from washing helps to restore some of your hairs’ natural oils & keeps your color from fading too fast. 

3. Use hair masks and deep conditioning treatments

These products can restore moisture to your hair. This helps with the straw feeling your hair gets when it is over processed and dried out. You don’t have to visit a salon to purchase one. Your local drug store probably carries many different types of hair masks and deep conditioning products.

4. Watch the heat settings on your styling tools.

Styling colored hair with an iron

Any kind of heat can cause excessive damage to your hair. Using your curling or straightening iron and a blow dryer daily can dry your hair out, causing it to be brittle and feel like straw. So it is important to watch the heat settings on the tools you use. 


So now that you know whether or not you should bleach your hair prior to coloring and how to take care of your hair after the coloring process. 

But the most important thing to remember is taking care of yourself should be a priority to you. You cannot be there for everyone and everything in your life without making your own care a precedence. This includes taking care of your hair. So don’t skip coloring and caring for your hair because you feel it is a luxury you shouldn’t indulge in. Consider it paramount for your own self care!

Learn more about what color does to your hair on our 8 commonly asked questions about coloring your hair post.

November 29, 2021

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *