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Do I need to bleach my hair to dye it dark blue?

Dying your hair a vibrant shade like dark blue can completely transform your look. However, achieving that perfect, rich blue hue isn’t always straightforward. If your hair is naturally dark, you may be wondering whether you need to bleach it first before applying the blue dye.

The Short Answer

Generally speaking, bleaching is necessary if you want the blue color to show up vividly on dark hair. Without lightening your strands first, the dark pigment in your hair will make it difficult for the blue dye to take hold and look bold. Bleaching opens up your hair cuticle so the blue pigment can saturate your strands.

Bleaching: The Pros and Cons

Bleaching does make getting that eye-catching blue easier, but it also damages your hair. Here’s a quick rundown of the pros and cons:

Pros Cons
Allows the blue dye to show up brightly Can cause dryness and breakage
Lifts your hair to a lighter base color Requires waiting 1-2 weeks between bleaching and dyeing
Makes bold hair color changes possible Multiple bleaching sessions lead to more damage

Your Natural Hair Color Matters

Whether or not you need to bleach really depends on what your natural shade is. Here’s a breakdown:

Natural Hair Color Bleaching Necessary?
Black Yes
Dark brown Yes
Medium to light brown Optional
Blonde No

As you can see, black and dark brown hair will definitely need lightening beforehand in order to achieve a vivid blue. For medium to light brown shades, bleaching may enhance the color but isn’t strictly necessary. And blonde hair provides the perfect light base for depositing blue without any pre-processing.

How Light Should You Go?

When bleaching dark hair before dyeing it blue, how light should you aim to lift your strands? Here are some tips:

  • For black hair, lift to a pale yellow or yellow-orange tone
  • For dark brown hair, go for a medium golden blonde shade
  • For medium brown hair, a lighter blonde or pale yellow will work

You don’t need to achieve platinum blonde levels of lift. A lighter level 7 or 8 with some underlying warmth is ideal for maximizing the vibrancy of blue dye. Going too light can actually cause the hair to grab color differently and make the blue take unpredictably.

Preparing Your Hair

Once you’ve bleached your hair, how you care for your strands before dyeing blue makes a big difference. Here are some tips:

  • Wait 1-2 weeks after lightening before applying blue dye. This gives your hair time to recover.
  • Deep condition your hair multiple times to restore moisture after the drying effects of bleach.
  • Use a conditioning hair mask or treatment right before coloring for extra protection.
  • Trim off any split ends, which can grab more dye and lead to uneven color.

It’s also a good idea to avoid washing your hair too much right before coloring. Washing strips your hair’s natural oils, allowing the dye to penetrate quicker and potentially become uneven.

How to Bleach Your Hair at Home

Ready to lighten your strands? Here are some tips for bleaching safely at home:

  • Use a quality lightening kit like Wella Color Charm or L’oreal Quick Blue.
  • Separate your hair into 4 sections and start applying bleach mix at the back.
  • Use 20 volume cream developer for more control vs. 30 or 40 volume.
  • Comb bleach through thoroughly, keeping 1/4 inch from scalp.
  • Set a timer and watch hair closely as it lightens.
  • Rinse when pale yellow for dark hair or medium blonde for brown.
  • Use a good toning shampoo after rinsing to reduce brassiness.

It’s smart to enlist help when bleaching your own hair. Having an extra set of hands makes things much easier!

Maintenance After Dyeing

Once you achieve that gorgeous blue hair, maintenance is crucial for keeping it looking vibrant. Here are some tips:

  • Use sulfate-free shampoo and cool water when washing.
  • Shampoo less frequently, just 2-3 times per week.
  • Use a hydrating hair mask or oil treatment weekly.
  • Avoid chlorine, salt water, and other chemicals that can fade color.
  • Use a tinted conditioner or color depositing mask to refresh color.
  • Plan to re-dye your roots every 4-6 weeks.

With proper upkeep, you can enjoy your electric blue hair for months before having to take more drastic bleaching measures again.

The Takeaway

Getting your hair to a vivid, true blue is challenging but so worth it for the eye-catching effect. For most people with naturally dark strands, bleaching first is a must. But with some planning and TLC, you can minimize damage and keep your color looking rad for as long as possible!