Given the high cost of salon treatments and coloring, lightening your hair with a developer and baking soda can be a budget-friendly and effective way to achieve a lighter color.
However, this method can damage or cause uneven lightened hair if not done properly.
If you want to lighten your hair at home with baking soda and a developer, it’s essential to know the risks to your hair and what precautions you should take to prevent it from getting dry and brittle.
Can Developer And Baking Soda Lighten Your Hair?
Yes! You can lighten your hair by using a developer all by itself or by adding baking soda. The developer contains hydrogen peroxide, an oxidizing agent that lifts the hair’s natural color.
Both baking soda and the developer can lighten hair. When you mix these two, the process becomes more effective as it allows the developer to penetrate the hair shaft more effectively.
This process is the same as hair bleaching where you add a developer with bleaching agents to lift the hair color.
How Does Developer And Baking Soda Lighten Hair?
Before you begin a science experiment in a bowl, you might be wondering why specifically, the combination of developer and baking soda lightens hair. They work well to lift color together because of pH.
The pH of hair can range from 4.5 to 5.5, which is considered to be slightly acidic. Hair developer is typically slightly alkaline, with a pH range of 7 to 9.
The developer’s alkaline pH helps open up the hair cuticles, and the hydrogen peroxide oxidizes your hair and removes natural pigments from your hair.
Baking soda has a pH of around 8.1. When baking soda is added to a developer, it can increase the alkalinity of the mixture, which can further open up the hair cuticles and boost color lifting.
However, too much alkaline products make hair more porous, which can lead to dryness and damage.
The alkalinity of hair-bleaching agents is around 9 to 11 on the pH scale, so using baking soda and developer causes less damage to your hair than lightening hair with bleach and developer mix.
What Developer Volume To Mix With Baking Soda?
The concentration of hydrogen peroxide in a developer is measured in volume, with higher volumes containing a higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide.
The most common volumes are 10, 20, 30, and 40. The higher the volume, the stronger the developer and the more intense the lightening effect.
When selecting which volume of a developer to use, it’s essential to look at what each does.
- 10 Volume: Weakest and is usually used to color the hair and provide a gentle lift
- 20 Volume: Moderate strength and is typically used for permanent hair coloring
- 30 Volume: Strong strength and is used to lighten the hair by several shades
- 40 Volume: Strongest and is used to lighten very dark or black hair
We recommend lightening your hair by using a volume of 20 or 30. Most professionals agree that you should use less than vol. 40 developer at home. And 10-volume developer may be too weak to see a noticeable lift in your hair color.
How to Lighten Hair With Developer and Baking Soda
After you have chosen the suitable hair developer for lifting hair color, it’s time to lighten your hair. Here are steps to lighten your hair with developers and baking soda:
Step 1: Prepare
Apart from baking soda and developer, you might require some additional items (most of them are probably already available at your home) for smoother application and process. Here is the list:
- Plastic Bowl
- Applicator Brush
- Petroleum Jelly
- Towel and Old Clothes
- Shower Cap or Plastic Wrap (optional)
Protect your skin and clothing by covering your neck and shoulders with a towel or cape. Put petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, on your skin around your hairline and neck to protect your skin.
Step 2: Mix Ingredients
To prepare the mixture, measure and mix equal parts of baking soda and developer in a plastic bowl. For example, if you use 1 oz of a developer, you’ll need to add 1 oz of baking soda.
This will give you a 1:1 ratio of baking soda to the developer, which is recommended for optimal results. Stir the mixture well until it forms a smooth and consistent paste.
Step 3: Test a Strand
Conducting a strand test before applying the mixture to your entire head is recommended to see how your hair reacts to the lightening process.
This will also give you an idea of how long you should leave the mixture on and how intense the lightening effect will be
Step 4: Apply the Mixture
Apply the lightening mixture evenly with a dye brush to clean and dry hair, starting from the roots and working downwards to the tips. Make sure that every strand is fully coated.
It can be helpful to divide your hair into sections, using hair clips or hair ties to separate them. This will help ensure that every part of your hair is evenly coated with the mixture and prevent missed spots.
Step 5: Wait for the Processing
The length of time you keep the developer and baking soda mixture in your hair will depend on your hair type and the level of lightening you desire.
Generally, it is recommended to keep the mixture in your hair for 30-60 minutes for thick hair and not more than 20 minutes for fine or thin hair.
You can cover your head with a shower cap to help speed up the lightening process. Allow the mixture of developer and baking soda to sit in your hair for approximately 30 minutes or more.
If you have fine or thin hair, leaving the mixture on for no more than 20 minutes is recommended to prevent over-processing and potential damage to your hair.
Once you’re ready to rinse, put on gloves and wash your hair with water until all the mixture has been removed.
Step 6: Condition Hair
After rinsing, apply a deep conditioning treatment to your hair to help repair any damage.
If you are not confident in doing this at home, it is best to seek the help of a professional stylist. They will be able to give you a more personalized and safe approach to lightening your hair.
Lightening hair with a developer and baking soda can cause several types of damage, including cuticle damage, protein loss, hydration loss, and color fading. To prevent further damage and promote healthy hair growth, taking proper care of your lightened hair is essential.
Deep Condition Your Hair
Deep conditioners contain more moisturizing and nourishing ingredients, such as natural oils, proteins, and vitamins, than regular conditioners.
Use a deep conditioner once a week to help repair any damage done to your hair during the lightening process(baking soda and developer).
The deep conditioner will provide your hair with extra moisture and nourishment and help to restore its strength.
Apply to damp hair after shampooing. Work it through the lengths and ends of your hair, ensuring it is distributed evenly. Leave it on your hair for 15 minutes to overnight. Rinse the product out of your hair thoroughly before styling.
Protect with Color-Safe Shampoo and Conditioner
Protect your lightened hair using a color-safe shampoo and conditioner specifically designed for color-treated hair, including lightened hair.
- Color-Safe Shampoo: Shampoos that are safe for colored hair have a pH balance and gentle ingredients like sulfate-free surfactants
- Color-Safe Conditioner: Color-safe conditioners contain ingredients that help hydrate and nourish hair that has been recently lightened
Avoid Heat Styling
Heat-styling tools like flat irons, curling wands, and blow dryers can exacerbate damage to lightening hair.
If you use heat styling tools, use a heat protectant spray beforehand. Heat protectant sprays contain various ingredients that protect hair from heat damage, like silicones, proteins, vitamin E, and sunscreen agents.
Spray with Leave-in Conditioner
To prevent dryness and keep your hair hydrated, use a leave-in conditioner. Unlike traditional rinse-out conditioners, these conditioners provide lasting hydration and nourishment to the hair throughout the day.
Leave-in conditioners often contain natural oils, proteins, and vitamins that help hydrate and strengthen the hair.
Some conditioners also have heat protectants that help protect the hair from further damage caused by heat-styling tools.
Now you know how to safely lighten your hair with baking soda and developer and essential post-haircare to keep your hair damage-free. So next time you need to lighten your hair give this method a try!