Bleaching vs Dyeing
So I reached my one year hair-versary in July of last year and began to feel quite fed up with my plain black afro. It’s been growing and glowing, but I decided that I needed a bit of colour to brighten up my life… and what better time to do it than right as we stepped into the new year! You might wonder why I chose to bleach rather than dye my hair – isn’t bleaching too harsh for our type of hair?
Well firstly, I knew that I probably wasn’t going to get the colour that I wanted by applying hair dye straight onto naturally black hair – I would primarily need to lift the colour off of my hair before I would be able to get the desired hazelnut brown tones I was aiming for. Bleaching was the most practical option for this.
Secondly, dyeing your hair can be a very lengthy, unsatisfying process. Semi-permanent to non-permanent dyes may be less damaging for hair, but do require constant application (ain’t nobody got time for that) to keep the colour from fading back to its natural state, which is, in the long-term, damaging! And then you get permanent dyes, which, for me, were a non-starter. Permanent dyes are extremely harsh and contain much stronger chemicals and need to be left on the hair for longer periods of time. Basically, I wasn’t trying to risk all that.
Prior to the bleaching process, I made sure to adequately prepare my hair to avoid having major damage or fallout. I did my usual pre-poo and deep-condition, and followed through with the Leave-in, Cream, Oil method (LCO) for moisturising my hair before braiding it. I wore it in cornrows underneath a wig for a couple of weeks, during which I would spritz it daily with water or my Crème of Nature leave in conditioner. Before I took down the braids, I made sure to spray them generously with water, which made the unbraiding process much easier as the hair was not dry and brittle. I then used my afro comb to pick out the hair right before we began.
Because I LOVE my strands I got my aunt to do the bleaching for me, lol. We mixed a 30 volume developer along with the bleaching powder in a plastic container used only for hair purposes. The 30v was just right for me because I have the feeling that if I used the 40, I might have ended up bald; but, simultaneously, if I had used the 30, that would have required a much longer processing time – no thank you. I highly recommend wearing a cape of some sort to protect your clothing from the bleach, and always, always wear gloves if you or somebody else is doing the application!
Rather than part the hair into large sections and apply the mixture with an application brush, my aunt decided it would be best to use her fingers to open up sections in the hair and massage the bleach into the parts that I wanted to be coloured (since I didn’t want the colour to start right from the roots). This made the process a little simpler and quicker, which is an important factor to consider as the bleach usually starts to work really quickly, and you don’t want some parts to come out with more colour than others because you moved too slowly around the head. We set a timer at the beginning of the whole process to be able to keep track.
I would suggest starting with the hair at the front. We didn’t do this and we later figured that it would work better because you want the colour to show out the most in the front, rather than in the back where nobody really sees it. In any case, thankfully, the hair turned out to be an even shade of the colour in the front and the back. After leaving the bleach in for about 15-20 minutes, I washed it all out, starting first with the back, which had been processing the longest.
My hair was quite hard and had a rough texture, as was expected. I was honestly expecting handfuls of it to start falling out LMAO!! I was prepared for anything y’all. Thankfully that wasn’t the case! I used purple shampoo to do an initial wash and make sure that all of the bleach was out. Then I applied some more and left it in my hair for about 10 minutes to make sure it removed any brassiness.
I followed with a deep condition which I kept in for a few (3-4) hours to try to restore some of the moisture and strength to my hair, which I knew would be thirsty after what it had been through! This is what it looked like at that point:
I later washed it out, and voila!
I couldn’t wait to do a twist out and see it flourish once styled. I moisturised diligently and twisted it up, rolling each twist into a bantu knot. The final results are below.
I couldn’t have been happier with the colour! It wasn’t too bright (I was nervous for this because bleaching dreams can quickly turn into bleaching nightmares) and neither was it too dull. And the best part is, I had very little to no fall out, whoot!! So overall, this bleaching process was a total success. From here on, I know I will have to take extra care to make sure my hair is moisturised and cared for, and will be doing a couple of hot oil treatments to it, particularly because it’s also the winter. Would you like to see some follow up posts showing how I care for my hair post-bleaching? Have you ever dyed or bleached your natural hair, and if not, would you consider it?