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Bleach Bath for Hair: Using Shampoo to Lighten Blonde, Black or Red Hair

Many hair dyeing professionals love bleach bath for helping to alter the color of bleached or dyed hair, without damaging its health. You can make your hair lighter in a simple and easy way, without making it dry or brittle. You only need a regular shampoo and simple hair dyeing products.

This technique can make your hair two to three tones lighter! Do you want to know what it is about? Then, keep reading and learn how to do a bleach bath, with products you own, and make your hair beautiful and bright!

What Is a Bleach Bath?

bleach bath for hair

The Bleach Wash is simply a hair-lightening technique which is less aggressive because it’s done only with shampoo, hydrogen peroxide and bleach powder. Also known as Soap Cap, it can be used to repair bleach or dye mistakes. It can lighten your hair up to 2 tones, depending on how long you leave it on the hair.

When using Bleach Bath for the latter goal, in practice, this technique will do a gentle but deep cleansing of the old, unwanted pigments. It will clean off the “old” color so that your hair can receive the new one.

The main advantage of this technique is being able to change or fix the tones of your hair, without damaging the hair fibers. If you chose to do other commonly used chemical procedures for that, you’d damage your hair severely.

Bleach Bath Hair Pros and Cons

Bleach baths serve a specific purpose. Therefore it is essential to understand what a bleach bath is and the pros and cons of using this method. Here is our list of the good and perhaps bad of using a bleach bath to lighten your hair.


  • Gentler on hair than traditional bleach
  • Less expensive
  • Safer to do at home, if necessary
  • Removes old dye
  • Gradually lightens
  • Preps hair for new dye


  • Not for going platinum/bleach blond
  • Only lightens hair 1-2 shades
  • Drying to hair
  • Cannot be used on natural hair

Who can do this technique?

In practice, the Bleach Bath is recommended to ‘cleanse’ the hair. It removes the previous color and prepares the hair for a new one, also helping it stay for longer. That’s why it is usually recommended for blonde hair that became “stained” in green (like after coming into contact with sea water or pool chlorine), purple or grey tones.

It is also ideal for people with dyed hair with none of those issues, who just want to retouch a faded color. Before the retouching, it is a good idea to do a bleach bath to remove the old pigments and make the hair ready for the new color.

Does it work on natural hair?

bleach bath on natural hair

Unfortunately, it doesn’t! Since the amount of powder bleach and hydrogen peroxide in this mixture is very low, it is not enough to lighten natural hair.

If you try to lighten your hair with the Bleach Bath, you will only damage your hair. This technique uses an alkaline pH mixture, which will dry and weaken your hair, without bleaching it.

Instead, people with virgin hair who want to lighten them should do traditional bleaching or toning. Once again, the Bleach Bath can only “cleanse” the color in previously dyed or toned hair. If there is no dye on the hair, the technique won’t work.

How to take a Bleach Bath

bleach bath for natural hair

As we’ve said, the Bleach Bath is very easy and simple to do, since it uses only 3 ingredients:


  • Hydrogen peroxide;
  • Neutral or regular shampoo;
  • Powder Bleach.

How to:

Step 1: Using a measuring cup, add two parts of hydrogen peroxide (the volume is up to you; 10 volumes are ideal for weaker hair and 20 volumes for healthy hair) to one part of powder bleach, in a bowl.

Step 2: Add two parts of shampoo to the same bowl. Mix well.

Step 3: Divide your wet hair into sections. Apply the mixture to each section, massaging them for 15 to 30 minutes. This amount of time isn’t a rule: it may vary according to which hair tone you wish to get.

Step 4: Rinse normally. Finish with a good moisturizing mask, preferably one for chemically treated hair.

Note:  Avoid using anti-residue shampoo for this technique. It might damage your hair.

Using the only shampoo

The Soap Cap can also be done using only shampoo. This is the option for people who don’t want to lighten their hair too much. You will need only an anti-reside shampoo, or any other that doesn’t color-protect.

Then you just follow the steps below:

Step 1: Divide your dry and unwashed hair into sections. Apply the anti-residue or non-color-protecting shampoo to them, massaging well.

Step 2: Put on a cap and leave it for about 40 minutes. Using a hair dryer will help to fade the color.

Step 3: Wash your hair in hot water. Yes! It might sound weird, but the high temperature will open the hair cuticles and speed up the fading of the color.

Step 4: Finish with a conditioner.

Note:  This kind of Soap Cap can be done as often as you want, as long as you don’t repeat the same day. Ideally, it should be done only when you wash your hair, to avoid drying it too much.

When to retouch it?

The maintenance of the Soap Cap is no big deal. Since the roots don’t show as much, it can be retouched in intervals of more than one month. If you’re a fan of ombre roots when dyeing your hair, the Soap Cap can make your roots naturally more discreet.

Bleach Bath Hair Before and After Care

use hair mask before and after bleach bath

Although a bleach bath to lighten hair is less damaging than traditional bleach, you’ll still want to take good care of your locks throughout the bleaching process.

The protocol for taking care of bleach-bathed hair is similar to fully bleached hair. However, you can use less-intensive (and therefore less expensive) products depending on the health of your hair.

Preparing for a Bleach Bath

You can take several steps to keep your hair well-nourished through the bleach-bathing process. Here are our best tips.

  1. The first thing to keep in mind is not to scrub your scalp clean right before a bleach bath. Since the bleach bath uses shampoo, this can cause excessive dryness and irritation.
  2. Replenishing moisture in your hair is an essential step in any bleaching routine. Use your favorite hair mask or leave-in conditioner a couple of days before your bleach bath.
  3. Your hair should be free of any product before applying a bleach bath.
  4. Do an allergy test on your arm before you lighten your hair. This is especially necessary when using new products.
  5. Finally, directly before your bleach bath, dampen your hair with cool water and towel-dry.

Taking Care After Your Bleach Bath

  1. If you are immediately adding color to your hair after the bleach bath, don’t condition it yet. Dye first!
  2. Deep condition your hair after the bleach bath.
  3. Use a conditioner after every time you wash your hair.
  4. Use a leave-in conditioner or a hair mask to replenish moisture once a week or more frequently if you feel your hair is extra dry.
  5. Be conscious of heat. Give your hair a few days after bleach-bathing before using blow-dryers or heat tools. If you must use a straightener or curling iron, use protective products.
  6. Don’t wash your hair more than is necessary. Washing strips hair of its natural oils. This can lead to more dryness.

Bleach Bath vs. Regular Bleaching

Whether you choose to use a bleach bath or regular bleach depends on the results you’re looking to achieve. Here is everything you need to know about the difference between the two.

Bleach Bath

bleach bath for hair

A bleach bath is a diluted, gentler version of bleaching your hair that includes mixing bleach, a developer, and shampoo. You apply this mixture to your hair like any other dye, starting at the tips moving up.

The purpose of a bleach bath is to lift away residual hair dye and lighten hair color 1-2 shades. For a bleach bath, we suggest a 10 or 20-volume developer.

People use a bleach bath when they want a new hair color and need to get a few shades lighter to achieve that color. Since a bleach bath is gentle you can use it repeatedly and with greater frequency than traditional bleach, every couple of days.

Regular Bleaching

regular hair bleaching

Traditional hair bleach is meant to get to extremely light shades of blond or platinum. Bleaching is also popular because it lets funky colors, like purple or red, show up better on your hair.

Bleach-blond is a classic chic look but uses harsh chemicals that can cause considerable damage to hair. Because of this, many are choosing other options such as bleach baths to lighten their hair.

You can bleach your hair repeatedly, but most hairdressers recommend giving your hair quite a bit of time to recover between treatments. At a minimum, you’ll want to wait 2-3 weeks to bleach your hair again, but 8-10 weeks is ideal.

Soap Cap on red hair

bleach bath on red hair

This technique isn’t only for those who want blonde hair: it can be used to make red tones become more orange, closer to natural red hair.

To do that, you will need:

  • 30 volume hydrogen peroxide (90 ml);
  • 90 ml of shampoo.

How to:

Divide your dry and unwashed hair into sections. Apply the mixture, massaging well. Let it stay for 10 to 30 minutes, or until you notice it’s reached the right tone.

Soap Cap in dark or black hair

bleach bath on black hair

Black or darker hair can reach a medium brown after the first Soap Cap. However, you may need to neutralize the color later. In this case, you can use neutral or moisturizing shampoo, depending on your hair.

Bleach Bath on blonde hair

bleach bath on blonde hair

Bleach Bath can also be used on blonde or light-colored hair, to achieve a platinum effect. You will need:

  • 20g of blue powder bleach;
  • 40ml of neutralizing or anti-yellow shampoo;
  • 20ml of 20-volume hydrogen peroxide;
  • 20ml of water or liquid Bepanthen.

How to:

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Then divide your wet hair into sections and apply the mixture. Let it stay for about 10 minutes. Pay close attention to the lightening process, on a mirror. That way, you can wash your hair as soon as you see it’s at the desired tone. Finish by applying a neutralizing hair mask and it’s done!


We’re here to bust all of your questions about successfully bleach bathing your hair.

Can I bleach bath hair without a bleach developer?

This may be possible, but it is not recommended. If you do a bleach bath without a developer, you might damage your hair.

How long do I leave a bleach bath on?

A bleach bath only stays in the hair for about five minutes.

Should I rinse after a bleach bath?

Definitely yes! The bleach is usually mixed with shampoo. So you need to rinse it.

Will a bleach bath get rid of orange hair?

A bleach bath will lighten orange hair, so you might end up with an orange-ish blond color.

Can I use any shampoo for a bleach bath?

Not really. You’re trying to strip the hair. So it’s best to use a shampoo that contains sulfate-based ingredients or a clarifying shampoo.

Should I shampoo or condition a bleach bath?

The bleach is added to the shampoo for a bleach bath. You will need to condition your hair afterward.

Can I use purple shampoo in a bleach bath?


Can I use coconut oil with a bleach bath?

Hair that’s already been bleached or dyed might be highly porous. If you would like to avoid having your hair absorb too much water and break off cuticle shingles because of that, you can pre-shampoo with coconut oil. Leave it in for two hours, rinse it, then do the bath.

How can I do a bleach bath with conditioner?

It’s not recommended to use conditioner as a bleach bath because conditioner coats the hair instead of stripping it.

Can I dye your hair after a bleach bath?

Yes, you can. Many people use this method to remove the old dye and lighten hair enough that it will take a new color better. You may want to let your hair fully dry to make sure you have the correct shade before proceeding.

Should I do a bleach bath on wet or dry hair?

For best results, do a bleach bath on damp, towel-dried hair. You can give it a little air-dry time if you prefer to work with drier hair.

How damaging is a bleach bath?

Any chemicals that work inside the hair shaft are damaging to a degree. The process remove residual color and are mildly damaging to the hair. Make sure not to leave it on for more than 45 minutes.

What volume developer should I use for a bleach bath?

Use a 10 or 20-volume developer for a bleach bath. A higher developer will be too harsh.

How many levels will a bleach bath lift per wash?

The bleach bath will lift your hair 1-2 levels.

Can I bleach bath my hair twice?

Yes, you can do the baths frequently, just not twice in one day. To be safe, leave 24-48 hours in between the process!

Will a bleach bath lighten my hair?

Yes, it will remove color deposits from hair that’s already been dyed.

Is a bleach bath better for my hair?

Yes, it is less damaging than bleaching the hair to remove the color.

How can I do a bleach bath on African American hair?

You can do a bleach bath in the same manner, however, it’s not meant to lighten virgin hair–only hair that’s been previously colored.

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