Photo: Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images
Bleaching strips your hair of pigment. The more you strip, the lighter your hair gets. Whether you choose a cream, powder or oil bleach depends on the wow factor you desire. If extreme is your thing, a powder lightener will take you from raven black to tawny beige in minutes flat, while cream bleach creates a little less drama. If you are more of the subtle type, an oil may be more your speed.
The Gentle Bleach Lightener
Of all the lighteners, oil is by far the gentlest. In fact, oil bleach is so mild manufacturers use it as the main ingredient in lighteners for use on your body and face. If your hair is damaged, an oil-based bleach lightener is an ideal pick. The sulfonated oils in oil-based lighteners protect your hair during the stripping process. Sometimes argan oil is even added to provide damaged hair with a little more TLC.
Just a Few Levels, Please
When it comes to lightening the hair on your head, an oil bleach is best for lifting one to two levels. Oil bleaches are better suited if your hair is light brown and you want to add some natural-looking highlights or if you are a blonde already who just wants to go a bit lighter.
When you want to brighten as you lighten, a colored oil bleach is a good weapon of choice. Oil lighteners remove pigment, while replacing it with a hint of tint almost simultaneously. Choose a gold if you want to add gold highlights to your bleached hair or a red lightening oil for a sun-kissed, coppery glimmer. If you aren't into brass, opting for a silver oil will cut out reds and golds altogether, offering-up more of an ash tone. Neutral oil bleaches, which contain no color and simply lighten, are also available if you just want to wing it.
How it Works
Oil bleach doesn’t work alone; it relies on an activator and peroxide to make the magic happen. Generally, oil lighteners are combined with 20-percent hydrogen peroxide and ammonium persulfate. Once combined, the mixture lifts pigment from the hair, preparing it for the addition of a dye or toner. The mix is at the height of potency during the first hour of application, completely dissipating within two. In other words, if you haven’t reached the level of bleaching that you seek within the first hour, there is no reason to think there will be much of a difference two hours later. In such a case, reapplication is usually necessary.