So, you’re going to lighten your hair! Whether you’re attempting full-on blonde, lightening a few shades, or adding highlights, if you’re going to do it yourself, you need the best hair bleach.
I encourage you before you take this on that you read my other posts about bleaching hair so that you’ll do it in a safe and effective way. After all, I do not want you to wind up with orange hair or hair that’s so damaged; it breaks off when you brush it. I want you to look your most fabulous!
That’s why I’ve composed this guide to give you helpful hints on which of these hair bleach products is best for the intentions you have.
So, here’s a list of the best hair bleaches for 2021:
- Manic Panic Hair Bleach Kit: best bleach for highlights and ombré
- Wella Blondor: best overall hair bleach
- Schwarzkopf Professional BlondeMe: best bleach for dark hair
- Jolen cream bleach pot: best bleach for unwanted face and body hair
- L’Oréal Quick Blue Powder Bleach: best no-smell bleach
- Clairol Bw2: best bleach for resistant hair
- L’Oréal professional Blond: best ammonia-free bleach for blond hair
Before I trot those out though, I can’t let you move forward without important things to think about before you mix things up and slather it on your head. So, please read on to find out everything there is to know about when getting ready for bleaching your hair, and then you’ll find my top recommendations for the best hair bleach.
Things you should consider when bleaching your hair
In other posts, I have covered extensively why it’s so important to understand how bleach works on your hair. Depending on your current hair color, texture, and thickness, your results will vary. While deciding to go blonde on a whim surely is fun, unless you’re a colorist, just jumping right into it without knowing what’s up can cause you to make a horrible hair mistake.
Even before you get down to my list of the best hair bleach products, you should know some things about buying hair bleach. Here’s what’s up!
– Buy de-dusted bleach
Bleach comes in powder form, and that powder is extremely fine. You can’t just dump it into a container, for if you do, the dust from that powder will rise. When that happens, it can get into your nose and mouth, and into your lungs. Totally gross. So, when buying hair bleach, buy a brand that is de-dusted. This reduces the fine dust that will waft into the air. You should probably wear a mask to be on the safe side (don’t we all have those lying around now?!?) or cover up with a t-shirt.
– Or go with a kit
When you get a kit, you get bleach, developer, and toner. But if you have long hair, you’re going to need more than one of these kits because the amount of bleach powder included is small. This is why you might want to go ahead and buy all three of these items separately. If your hair isn’t that long though, a kit might be helpful, but you won’t be able to choose what you want.
If you buy everything separately, you can get a bigger container of the bleach and choose an awesome purple shampoo. Plus, you can use all these other things the next time you bleach. It becomes less expensive by buying things separately. I do realize there’s a convenience factor for the kit, especially if you’re not sure of what you need. But there is wisdom in choosing your own for bleach, toner, and developer.
– Your current hair color
If you’ve colored your hair another color from your natural shade, you’ll need to remove it. That calls for a stripper, and not the sexy kind that struts around for bachelorette parties, my friend (though that can’t hurt, right?).
But if your hair is your natural color, you have to choose a bleach based on that color. So, for example, if you have brown or red hair, you’re going to need more bleaching than someone with dark blonde hair would. Oh, and black hair, girl, you are going to need to do more bleaching than everyone else. Again, read my posts on not overdoing it and going a few shades lighter at a time every couple of months to get to your desired shade of blonde.
– Know how much lightening you need
When you take away any artificial color you’ve previously added, you need to think of lightening. Bleach tends to lighten about 7 to 8 steps above your current color. As I’ve mentioned, you might not be able to get to your desired color in one go. You will have to do it in separate sessions. Leaving it on too long is not an option. You will damage your hair tremendously, and you will cry. Please don’t do this! Read my other post about that to avoid hair disaster!
– Know your hair color level
You have to know what your hair color level is before you attempt to bleach it. If you have black hair, you are level 1. So, if you’re trying to go light from that color with bleach, you’re going to wind up with an awful brownish orange. You can only lighten a certain amount with bleach before it destroys your hair and scalp. That’s why I said you should prepare to lighten in stages.
And I have to be honest…if your hair is really dark and you want it blonde, you might want to go to the salon to start this lightening process. You can then take it over without turning your hair some vile shade.
If black hair is level 1, then level 10 is light blonde. There are even levels 11 and 12 which go beyond that. If you have light hair already, bleaching time is very short because the lightening you need is minimal.
– Damage control and how to care for it
Prevention is always best with hair care. You can damage it beyond repair by bleaching it. The less you know about bleaching, the more likely you are to destroy your strands. I have some great tips on what to do to nourish hair prior to bleaching, which is extremely important. But after the fact, you need to keep loving on your hair.
If you’re lightening in stages, you must wait at least 2 weeks before going forward to lighten it further. In those weeks, you should use hair oil or conditioner to moisturize and pamper your hair. Purple shampoo and the right conditioners and oils are essential to keeping your bleached hair in healthy condition.
Ok, so if you have read my other posts and you’ve read all this, then you’re ready to go shopping for the best hair bleach! Yay! Let’s do this! Keep reading!
Best hair bleaches
I’ve hand-picked 7 of the best hair bleach products for you guys, rating them for what they are best for. Depending on what you’re trying to accomplish, you might find one better suited to your needs than another.
1. Manic Panic Hair Bleach Kit: best bleach for highlights and ombré
If you want to go the way of a bleach kit, Manic Panic has one for you. This one presents a 40 volume developer for mega-lift. The idea behind it is that it will help get your hair ready to pick up the brightness of its famed hair dye colors though you could use it for simply bleaching as well.
For highlights and ombre though, it’s a great choice. The bleach powder is dust-free, so you can feel safer using it. In the kit, you get the powder, the developer, a mixing tub, a plastic cap, a tint brush, and plastic gloves, so you have everything you need all together.
The formula is completely vegan and never tested on animals, which is great if you want to do the right thing. If you have natural medium brown hair or darker, this kit can take you to medium blonde and beyond to exceptionally light blonde with ease.
As I mentioned, this kit is ideal if you’re going to forage onward to vibrant colors. You always have the option of dyeing your brown hair pink with Manic Panic’s dyes, but you will get the most vivid results if you bleach it first.
Keep in mind, you’ll only have to lighten your hair again for new rainbow colors on the portions of new growth so every following touch-up will be easier.
If you have previously colored your hair with a permanent black though, it’s not advised you use this lightening kit by Manic Panic.
Actually, I wouldn’t advise any type of lightening in that situation without consulting a professional stylist. However, if your hair is naturally black, this 40 volume developer kit will definitely work for you.
2. Wella Blondor: best overall hair bleach
If you want professional results yet don’t want to pay the professional salon price, Wella Blondor is the best overall when it comes to hair bleach. The ingredients are top-notch, delivering fabulous results with the most gentle touch.
For most of you, a 20 volume developer is a wise pairing with this. It’s generally what professionals use. Mixing it so that you do 2 scoops of powder and 3 scoops of developer at a 1:1.5 ratio seems to net the best processing.
This is what you need to use if you want salon-quality at home, and for a budget-friendly price!
Damage tends to be minimal too as it’s less harsh. You’ll notice great lift, smoothness, and luster. It’s impressive really since you usually only see that when you go to the salon, but again, professional-grade product here.
When you follow the instructions and the tips I’ve provided in previous posts, you should really be pleased with the results.
A stylist once recommended using a few packets of that artificial sweetener, Sweet ‘N’ Low in the mix to keep it from making your scalp itchy on the root. To retain the best effects, make sure you go with a purple toner and a sulfate-free purple shampoo.
If you are dead-set on being a blonde, Wella Blondor can take you there with 7 levels of lightness. But remember, hair that is dark and colored with artificial dye needs to have that color removed first.
There are some things though that might not make this bleach for you. If you’ve never bleached before, you might be apprehensive. It’s daunting, yes.
But this brand is creamy and quite gentle. The powder is between blue and violet and is dust-free, plus it has anti-yellow molecules to keep brassiness away.
The tub it comes in gives you well over 25 bleaching applications. It’s basically a steal, espacially if you plan to be blonde, you will get plenty of use out of it. Ideally, if you have dark hair, you might find it worth the expense simply because you will have to lighten in stages to get to that blondes-have-more-fun place you want to be in.
But like all bleaching products, you can damage your hair with this if you don’t follow the rules. So play nice and lighten in steps to ensure you get the best results from this best hair bleach.
3. Schwarzkopf Professional BlondeMe: best bleach for dark hair
Now, if you have dark hair, you may want to choose Schwarzkopf. The trick is that you really should buy the developer from the blond me line.
Using a bleach on dark hair is not as simple as it sounds. At first, using blond me might seem like a walk in the park.
However, if you’re not careful enough, your hair can be damaged to the point it may break off. That is why using this over time rather than over night is the best way to do it.
Now, if you have apprehensions about going blonde , you really should not let the name of this line fool you. This is a reparative bleach, so it can help protect your hair from damage.
So, if you’re ready to go blond, take your dark-haired head to the bathroom and section off your hair.
Apply the mixture with a brush where you want lighter hair, concentrating on the roots first. Be very careful to only apply the bleach where you want it! Let it sit for 40 minutes and then rinse.
After you have rinsed thoroughly, go ahead and shampoo your head just once with whatever color-safe shampoo that you prefer.
I know a lot of folks will tell you to shampoo as much as needed, but trust me on this one. If you go back and wash your hair often, especially for the first week or two after lightening it, you run the risk of over-drying it.
You should find that your scalp is a bit sensitive after your first lightening experience, so if you have any itching or burning, be sure to give it a break.
Since every person’s head of hair is different, you need to know going in that your hair might feel a little coarse for a few days. But hang in there! Just keep using only the color-safe shampoo and conditioner and your locks should be back to normal in no time!
If this sounds like an impossible task, you may want to find a salon that offers lightening services for dark-haired folks.
Pros know how to handle this type of hair better than your average stylist, because they end up dealing with it on a daily basis. They can give you some pointers and may even offer discounts or promotions if you decide to become their client!
Whether you decide to do it yourself or go the salon route, don’t forget that you will see your best results if you go slowly. You can always do another session in a month or two!
Just make sure you use quality lightening products designed for dark hair. This way, you know the bleach is working to lift your locks rather than simply coating them with chemicals.
Finally, BlondMe color powder bleach won’t give you brassiness though you need to get the developer and toner right. Buying it from the BlondeMe line should help though.
4. Jolen cream bleach pot: best bleach for unwanted face and body hair
Ok, now I’m going to tackle a topic few women want to ever talk about. What about the other hairs on your body? How do you lighten them?
That’s where Jolen cream bleach comes in. This bleach is formulated to be gentle and safe for your skin. See, when you bleach your hair from brown to blonde, you will still have dark eyebrows. If you want to have a more naturally-blonde appearance, you’ll want to bleach your eyebrows too.
Even if you have subtle arm hair, you will want to lighten it up. Every hair on you will stand out once you go blonde. With Jolen, the no-drip formula stays in place, so it’s safe for your face.
And no, in case you are wondering, you CANNOT use the same bleach you use on your head on your skin. Please do not do that! OMG! You’ll burn your skin, and it will look all kinds of horrible.
That’s why you need Jolen. It lifts that body hair color for eyebrows, arm hair, and other places without harshness. It does so gradually so you’ll easily see when it’s time to rinse away, making it quite easy to get the results you desire.
While it is formulated for skin, you still need to pay attention to the timer. You don’t want to risk any type of irritation.
Incidentally, this is the ideal answer if you have a little bit of hair on your forearms and want it to blend in. Or if you have a tween child who isn’t quite ready to shave that feels self-conscious about leg hair. This bleach cream will lighten things up and allow for greater confidence all around.
5. L’Oréal Quick Blue Powder Bleach: best no-smell bleach
One thing I hate about hair bleach is that it smells. Ugh. It’s just horrible. But this one by L’Oréal doesn’t reek. It is de-dusted, designed for the pros, and is marketed as exclusively for salons. You know what that means, right? That means it’s THAT good.
It’s a no-drip formula that can be used on your hair and even on wigs too if you’re into that sort of thing. It doesn’t stink either, which makes it easier to tolerate your bleaching session.
While it can lift you up to 7 levels, it’s especially important you choose the right volume developer for your hair color, or else disaster could ensue.
So back to the scent thing. Because it is made for professional use, stylists everywhere clamored for something that would be no-smell because they have to work with bleaching all the time.
It’s not a fun smell to be around. If you’ve bleached before, you know this. Imagine being a stylist and having to bleach several clients a day! Yuck!
Your home won’t stink of bleach which is a great positive. It also gives you a ton of blue color powder bleach, which can crush the orange tones in your hair. Because it’s gentler, you can put it right on the scalp and not feel that stinging, irritated feeling.
But the drawback here is that this might not be the best one for you if you’re trying to get from super dark to super light. If you’re patient and do it in multiple processes, you surely can, but don’t expect to do it in one bleaching session.
Another thing is that if you don’t know much about the bleaching process, this might not be your ideal choice. It doesn’t include detailed instructions because it’s intended for professional use, and professionals have been trained to do this. They can bleach your head while blindfolded!
I’ve talked about using coconut oil before bleaching in another post, and I think it’s worth a read as it can help prevent damage.
This bleach doesn’t seem to have any trouble getting through the oil and works quite well. Because of the blue tones, it’s gentler on the scalp, and coupled with coconut oil; you’ll feel quite good about it. But again, know what you’re doing or else this hair bleach product isn’t right for you.
6. Clairol Bw2: best bleach for resistant hair
Clairol is another de-dusted bleach powder that uses humectants to keep it from floating in the air. Most stylists know to be cautious, but at-home users that are new to bleaching need to be aware of this, and Clairol has smartly created their formula with this in mind.
If you have really dark hair, this bleach is great to bleach it with. It’s extra strength to lighten beyond 7 levels though how much further it goes depends on how deeply dark your shade is.
In the tub, you get enough for about 8 uses unless you have really long hair though it still includes enough to bleach your hair multiple times.
This bleach powder is your ideal choice if you have naturally dark hair that you’ve never colored or bleached before.
It’s very gentle and minimizes damage. Of course, even if your hair isn’t virginal, you can still use it though you’ll need to remove the color first.
The consistency is really creamy once you mix it with the developer though you may want to use toner too to mellow out the brassiness after bleaching. For dark hair, plan on having to bleach it again in another session to get to your desired level of blonde.
On the downside, this one stinks. Oh man! You should make sure you’re in a well-ventilated room while bleaching, or you may feel lightheaded.
However, if you can tolerate the stench, the white color makes it easier to see when the last bit of orange fades from your hair. You’ll see when it gets to that banana-color (the inside part, not the peel) and know when to rinse it away.
You can also speed up the lightening by using a plastic cap and a hairdryer, but you do need to check on it every minute to make sure you get it to the right shade. This really helps it process, or else you could be waiting for your stubborn hair to lighten even after 45 minutes.
7. L’Oréal professional Blond: best ammonia-free bleach for blond hair
And finally, if you do not want to use ammonia for any reason, this is the hair bleach for you. Ammonia is found in almost all hair colors because it helps the color or bleach penetrate better. It’s irritating though, and it truly reeks.
According to a 2018 study there is a link between chemicals like ammonia and hair damage. But with modern advancements, it IS possible to do an ammonia-free bleaching.
Ammonia-free bleaching is a total game changer. Sure, it’s not quite as powerful at lifting your hair color but it still fades out brassy tones and golden yellows in your hair, and kills the bacteria that causes scalp irritation and breakouts.
It also gives you salon quality results. The paste texture makes it amazingly easy to use, giving you full control to make bleaching manageable.
It’s not going to lift hair color as much as a traditional bleach will but that’s what makes it great for toning down brassy undertones. If you have damaged hair or you’re already blonde and need a boost, you’ll love it.
Plus, an ammonia-free formula is less harsh on your hair and scalp—it calms any irritation leaving your scalp feeling refreshed. It doesn’t smell nearly as bad either!
L’Oréal professional Blond is what I would call a true golden blonde shade that doesn’t turn orange or brass. This is a must-try product if you’re looking for healthy, soft blonde hair.
Depending on your hair and how you’re trying to work it, one of these hair bleach products might be better suited for you than others. Even for the more intuitive ones, make sure you know what you’re doing before you mix it up and apply it. It’s so hard to correct bleach damage when hair becomes destroyed.
You can avoid that by reading my other posts and preparing yourself with knowledge before bleaching. Doing it right in slow and calculated steps will help you come out of this with beautiful, shiny, and blonde hair!