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I Bleached My Hair In My Dorm Bathroom. Here Are My Tips.

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Columbia Barnard chapter.

I have been wanting to bleach my hair for a long time. It feels like I’ve been fawning over pictures of girls with pastel pink and lavender hair for forever, and I am a hoe for an icy blonde or platinum look. The only problem: I have pretty dark brown hair. I have always been envious of my blonde friends, who can achieve pretty much any look they want, from vibrant to pastel, sans bleach. However, because I knew I wanted a lighter color if I ever dyed my hair, and due to my natural hair color, I have spent the last few years wishing I could, but never attempted to, change my hair. The fact that I am not willing to invest hundreds of dollars into a salon hair job, but also that I am a control freak who can find hundreds of ways to catastrophize about the ways in which I could burn all my hair off if I attempted to bleach it myself, only shoved me deeper into my conflicted limbo. But then, something changed within me. Maybe it was the fact that my self-regard reached an all time low, maybe it was the $30 Target gift card burning a hole in my pocket, or maybe it was a quarter life crisis, but something made me just say, “Fuck it. I’m going to bleach my hair myself. This. Week.” I ordered the supplies, read a WikiHow article, and went for it. Here are some reflections from the other side.

Enlist a friend, preferably one much taller than you.

I did this accidentally. I did not consider how helpful it would be to have someone else apply bleach to my head; I simply wanted someone there for moral support, but I just so happened to recruit my giraffe-like friend Lauren, who stands at an impressive and elegant 5’11’’. This was the best decision I could have possibly made. From her lofty perch, she artfully applied the bleach to my head. Both of us were standing, but she still had an aerial view of the field, so to speak. Even if your friend is not as tall as Lauren, I still recommend getting someone else to help you. Once you take the plunge with that first stroke of bleach, it’s nice to have someone there to bop to Beyonce or talk shit with.

You don’t need as many products as you think, but the ones you do need, you need a lot of.

I learned the second part of this the hard way. While I found that bleach can be easily (and evenly) applied to one’s hair with just a pair of rubber gloves, I also found that some ingredients are a) essential, and b) you need a shit. ton. of. them (even if your hair is thin!). One of these products is developer. Since I had literally never done anything with my hair in my life, I did not realize the importance of developer. I also did not know that toner needs developer to work. I had only a small bottle of developer, all of which was used up when I mixed the bleach. So by the time my hair was bleached to a lovely, visually abrasive yellow, when I went to tone, I was out of developer. And guess what? Developer is really hard to fucking find, apparently. I sent Lauren to two pharmacies (my hair was YELLOW so I stayed behind) and neither had it. Mild panic ensued. Moral of the story: get more developer than you think you need. Purchase ungodly amounts of the stuff. Do not do what I did.

Even the worst outcomes can probably be salvaged.

Luckily, this is true. Otherwise my hair would probably still be a repugnant wheat color. I decided not to tone and just apply the dye straight away in an attempt to cover over my brassy hair with pigment. Now, I really am a dumb bitch, so I thought that putting my rose gold dye directly over my almost-orange hair would work perfectly fine. Luckily, I did not have to find out for sure, because my rose gold dye made my entire head blue. Bizarre. In hindsight, though, electric blue is probably better than electric orange. At this point, even though my hair was a horrendous shade of blue, I had three classes in a row, so off I went. I think I scared multiple people. The first thing I did after class was shower and shampoo the fuck out of my hair. Shampoo is a godsend. By the time I came out of that shower, my hair had gone from royal blue to a mixture of light teal, steely blue, storm gray, and pastel lavender. Still not rose gold, but it will do until I can get the right dye.

Given how thoroughly unprepared I was when I went into this endeavour, i would say things turned out pretty great. Much better, at least, than I deserved for them to turn out. Despite a few moments of panic when all I would think was,  “whatdididowhatdididowhatdidiFUCKINGdo,” I am glad I did it. And here is why.

1) The bleaching part, which I was most nervous about, went pretty well. I used a low volume developer, enlisted the help of a friend, didn’t leave it on for too long, and lightened my hair considerably with (what seems like) minimal damage. And now my hair is light enough that whatever color I put in it will eventually fade, meaning that, at least for a few months, I can play around with whatever colors and shades I want.

2) I would have hated myself if I never did this. I think every dark haired person should experiment with color at least once in their life, otherwise you will always be left wondering, “what if?”. Hair is just hair. It is much more forgiving than you think. And in the end, it doesn’t really matter that much.

Ava Ferry

Columbia Barnard '22

A Los Angeles transplant living in New York City, Ava is a freshman at Barnard College of Columbia University (the best college in the world), and she has no idea what she's studying. In her free time, you can find her watching Netflix, wandering around the city with her headphones in, reading Vogue, scream-laughing, and offending old conservatives with her uncouth language.