8 No-Fail Steps for Lightening Hair with Hydrogen Peroxide

Were you one of those naive teenagers or college students who expected your hair would turn out like a blonde bombshell after bleaching it with hydrogen peroxide?

You probably figured out the hard way, if your hair ended up dry and damaged, that even though using hydrogen peroxide to lighten hair is relatively easy, it doesn’t always deliver the luxurious blonde tresses you were hoping for.


Using Hydrogen Peroxide on Your Hair

hydrogen peroxide to lighten hair

Bleaching hair with peroxide may seem like a simple, no-brainer DIY project, but remember, it does involve chemicals. A few simple precautions can improve your odds of getting it right and prevent your hair from ending up looking like a haystack.

If possible, get a friend to help you apply the peroxide evenly to your hair, especially in hard-to-reach areas in the back. If you’ve already got color-treated hair, we recommend going to a beauty salon, because the professionals there can fix and correct mishaps if things go kablooey along the way.


Items You Need to Lighten Hair with Hydrogen Peroxide

If you’re still determined to apply hydrogen peroxide hair bleach on your own, the first step is to have healthy, untreated hair. You might want to rethink your plan and hold off for a few months until new, healthy hair grows in, especially if you’re already battling with split ends and breakage, or if you have brittle, color-treated hair.

If you decide to move forward, then be sure to have all your tools and materials ready. They include:

  • Hydrogen Peroxide 3%
  • An old towel to cover your shoulders
  • Spray bottle (for applying peroxide to large sections of hair)
  • Plastic gloves
  • Comb
  • Clock or watch (to keep track of the time)
  • Small rubberbands (to keep your strand test hairs together)
  • Hair clips (to separate large sections of hair)
  • Hair dryer (optional)
  • Cold water (to stop the chemical reaction once you’ve achieved your ideal color)
  • Clarifying shampoo and deep conditioner (to ensure a clean head of hair when you start)

For Highlights Only (in addition to the above items)

  • Small bowl (to dip a brush in for highlights and for strand test)
  • Small brush or toothbrush (for applying highlights)
  • Aluminum foil (to keep dyed hair separate from other hair.)


How to Lighten Hair with Hydrogen Peroxide

hair lightening using hydrogen peroxide - before and after

lightening hair using hydrogen peroxide – before and after

  • Shampoo, condition, and towel dry your hair, leaving it slightly damp. Place the towel around your shoulders.
  • Put on gloves and pour the peroxide into the spray bottle or the bowl.
  • Dip your hair strands into the bowl of peroxide to do the test sample. The longer you leave the peroxide on, the lighter your hair will become. Fifteen minutes is usually long enough to get an idea.
  • Once you have confirmed, via your strand test, the optimal length of time to keep the hydrogen peroxide in your hair, you’re ready to begin applying the rest. Use clips to section off hair as necessary. If you are just highlighting individual sections, wrap those areas with the aluminum foil to protect the other hair from being lightened.
  • Avoid extended contact with the face or skin. Don’t be overly concerned about getting a few drops on you here and there. After all, hydrogen peroxide is a wound cleaner and disinfectant, so it won’t harm you at all in small quantities.
  • If you’re confident about the results and want to speed up the lightening process, use a hairdryer.
  • Once you’ve achieved the desired shade, rinse your hair thoroughly with cold water.
    Important: Do not use hot water to remove the hydrogen peroxide, as it will further dry out your hair.
  • Immediately after rinsing, apply a generous amount of conditioner to moisturize your hair. Leave it on for at least 5-6 minutes, and then rinse again thoroughly.



When you use hydrogen peroxide to lighten hair, it’s essential to nourish it and keep it healthy afterward. Wash your hair (no more than twice a week) with a mild clarifying shampoo and apply a hydrating conditioner. If possible, also apply a hot oil treatment at least once a week for extra moisture, strength and shine.

Using hydrogen peroxide to lighten your hair color is an inexpensive, quick and easy way to enhance the blonde and copper tones in your natural hair. When you take a few extra minutes to do some preliminary strand testing, you’ll increase your chances of achieving a successful result at a fraction of the cost.

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