Bleaching Afro Hair
All you need to know
For many years I believed that bleaching my African American hair was a no-no. This is what I, and many others, were told. Yes, we all know that afro hair is prone to weakness due to the oval shape of the hair shafts, and we know, too, that it can be dry and brittle due to natural oils being prevented from travelling down the shaft by our curls, but, with care, why can’t we change the color?
Well, we can, and it can look pretty darn good, too!
What’s the lowdown on bleaching afro hair?
Obviously, going from a deep brown or lush black to blonde, without compromising the integrity of your hair, isn’t a one step process. This takes time, dedication and above all an awesome moisturizing regimen, which should be started long before you bring the bleach anywhere near your hair.
But to have hair as great as Beyoncé and Mary J. Blige, it’s worth the effort.
Try to stick to natural products if possible, as any sort of chemical product on your hair prior to bleaching can cause adverse reactions, so it’s best to avoid any chemical straightening or relaxing processes, or hair dyes. If you have used them recently, give your hair plenty of time to recover before reaching for the bleach carton.
How to bleach African American hair
- If you’ve washed your hair, make sure it’s completely dry before you start
- Twist your hair, gently, into rope strands if it’s long and thick to stretch it and make it easier to work with. Section your hair into 8 or more parts, then twist each section into a 2-strand rope
- Wear an old tee shirt just in case you spill anything, and protect your working area
- Have a pair of plastic gloves handy and a tinting brush
- Carefully apply petroleum jelly around your hairline and ears. This keeps your skin protected against the bleach
- Into a non-metal bowl, measure the lightening powder and developer as per the instructions on the packet, remembering that the thicker you hair the more developer you’ll need – as a rough guide approximately 4oz or 120 ml is enough for shoulder length hair
- Mix the lightening powder and developer thoroughly, making sure you stir in any pockets of powder
- Pull on the gloves
- Untwist one of the rope twists from the front of your head
- Check on the packet for how long the bleach has to remain on your hair, and have a timer ready if you need it
- Starting about ½ inch from the roots, start brushing on the bleach with the tinting brush
- Once the whole strand is covered inside and out with bleach, pin it up out of the way
- Repeat the process with all the twists, remembering the ½ inch bit at the roots, and keep an eye on the time as you go. If you reach a point where some strands need to have the bleach washed off, then stop and carefully do those before continuing where you left off
- Once you’ve covered every strand, go around your hairline, making sure you coat each bit
- Finally apply the bleach to your roots, ensuring every bit is coated
- Wait until the time is up and then wash the bleach off using lukewarm water and a neutralizing shampoo
- If your hair hasn’t reached the tone you’re after, leave it for a couple of days and repeat the bleaching process. However, halve the time the bleach needs to remain on your hair.
- Follow with a deep conditioning treatment or hair mask
For a safe and effective home bleach treatment that doesn’t damage your hair, I recommend Manic Panic Flash Lightning Hair Bleach Kit. It’s an easy-to-use 2-pack kit that contains everything you need in order to go from black to blonde. Manic Panic have a great reputation in the world of hair colorants, and this bleach kit is a fantastic addition to their range. I found I only needed two applications, four days apart, to change my black hair to a gorgeous honeyed blonde.That got everyone talking, I can tell you!