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Putting Color Over Bleached Hair | Step-by-Step Guide

Putting color over bleached hair can present a few challenges, especially if you’re new to the process. Read on to find out the best way to dye over your bleached strands and care for your color-treated hair.

Putting Color Over Bleached Hair: A Summary

If you have bleached hair, you might find yourself looking for a change. Maybe your tone has faded, or you’re ready for a drastic change. Do you find yourself eyeing a specific color you think will look great on you?

Maybe you’re wondering just how much of a risk it is to dye over hair stripped of all its color. There are some extra cautionary steps to take before adding color to your bleached hair. 

Whether you’re hoping to add a pastel or bright color over your blacked hair or go back to something closer to your natural color, you will need to follow some steps to avoid a hair color disaster and protect your hair from excessive damage.

These include:

  1. Determine Your Needs
  2. Choose Your Color
  3. Pre-Condition Your Hair
  4. Follow the Color Process
  5. Keep Up With Aftercare

How to Put Color Over Bleached Hair in 5 Steps

While coloring over bleached hair can seem complicated, it’s easier if you break it down into easy-to-follow steps, which is what we’ve done for you here. Let’s have an in-depth look at each of these steps.

1. Determine Your Needs 

Before you move forward with your decision to color your hair, ask yourself some key questions:

  • What are you looking to do by adding color?
  • Do you want to go significantly darker or back to whatever your natural color is?
  • Are you looking to create a multi-color, pastel, or ‘crayon color’ look?
  • Was the bleaching recent, or has it been bleached for a while?

You’ll have to assess your situation to know the correct products and timeframe for the job. One of the first things to decide is whether you will need semi-permanent or permanent hair color.

If you’re going for a novelty color, you may want to go with a semi-permanent. If the shade ends up being a fleeting whim, it can fade out a bit before you change it again. These colors also tend to be less damaging to your hair.

Using a high-quality color-depositing conditioner can work wonders in cases like this. Bleached hair tends to be dry and needs the deep conditioning that color-depositing hair treatments offer.

Even if you’re going for a more natural color that you feel you’ll want to stick with for a long time, it may be best to go with a semi-permanent hair color over your bleached hair and then re-dye with a permanent color down the line.

You can put permanent color over bleached hair, but it is a harsher blend. If you’ve just bleached your hair, you may want to wait a few days before putting on the color. This gives your hair some time to rest.

On the other hand, if it’s been a while – more than a couple of weeks – since you bleached your hair, you may need to re-dye the roots, or else you will be dealing with adding dye over two different hair colors, which will certainly complicate the job.

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2. Choose your Color 

You probably already have a color in mind, but there are a few extra considerations to make if you want to look your best. Let’s say you’re going for a brown shade over your bleached hair.

You’ll want to match the tone of your hair if you want the color to look natural. For example, if your bleached hair has a yellowish or orange undertone, you should pick a brown with golden or auburn tones.

This will help you avoid a greenish or unnatural cast to your brown hair. If your bleached hair is very pale and has a purple or blue undertone, you will want to follow that same guideline and choose an ash brown color to cover your bleached hair.

There may be cases where you’re dying over your bleached hair because it is too brassy, and you want to go for a cooler look.

In this case, you’ll want to add a toner to your color or after you color your hair. You can even use toner alone if you want to change your bleached hair color without significantly darkening it. 

3. Pre-Condition

Bleaching strips your hair of its natural oils and makes the strands weaker. If you’re going to hit your hair with another round of color – which often includes ammonia – you will want to soften the blow by pre-conditioning. 

One mistake people often make is using a traditional conditioner before dyeing their hair, hoping it will protect the hair. While this may seem like it makes sense, it can cause you to have uneven color results because the color is unable to penetrate your hair shaft. 

The best time to pre-condition is to start a few weeks before you plan on dyeing your hair. You can also do one good deep conditioning session a few days before you dye your hair.

Using a natural product like coconut oil or olive oil is your best bet; some folks like to add plain Greek yogurt to the mix. Let the mixture sit for about an hour and wash out with a gentle shampoo. 

Don’t add any gels, mousses, or products to your hair in the time leading up to dyeing it. Also, don’t wash it the day before. Let the natural oils do their work to protect your hair before dyeing. 

4. Follow the Color Process

Different hair dyes require different application processes. Follow the instructions that come with your specific hair color. You can also look for extra hair coloring tips online. 

Bleached hair can be difficult to cover fully, so be sure to separate hair into as many sections as necessary to expose all parts of the hair. Also, use mirrors to be sure that every part of the hair you want to be covered gets covered. 

5. Follow Up With Aftercare 

Your hair will need some extra care in the weeks and months after you put dye over your bleached hair. You’ll want to continue to use deep conditioning treatments every week to ten days or so.

You’ll also want to cut down on heat styling and expose your hair to harsh chemicals like chlorine. You can use color-enriched shampoos and conditioners to help your color last longer and give your hair more time to rest between color sessions. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Color choice options for a woman wanting to put color over bleached hair


Will my hair dye fade fast on bleached hair? 

Hair dye fades no matter if it’s put over bleached hair or not. Even permanent hair dye eventually changes color due to repeated washing and being exposed to the elements every day.

This is especially true when the dye is put over bleach because it has little to no color of its own. How fast your dye fades depends on many factors, including your hair type, the kind of dye you use, and how you take care of your hair. 

Can I keep using my favorite shampoos after I’ve colored my bleached hair? 

Suppose your shampoo is free of sulfates and other harsh chemicals. If so, then yes! But if not, it is best to switch to a gentle shampoo. Find one that’s labeled specifically for color-treated hair.

The same is true of conditioners. Look for conditioners specially labeled for color-treated or damaged hair or ones that have pigment that supports and maintains your color. 

Is hair loss normal after dyeing over my bleached hair?

It is common to see more strands on the bathroom floor after dyeing your hair. This is usually due to a combination of two things: a) the hair being touched and moved a lot during the dyeing process and b) hair breakage due to chemical damage.

The second one is more common after bleaching. You can help reduce this unpleasant side effect by pre-conditioning before dyeing and by being careful with how you handle your hair after dyeing it.

Avoid rough drying and hard brushing. If your hair loss is extreme (i.e., falling out in clumps), consult a hair care professional.

Bleaching is the first step in the process to get the hair color I want. Is there a better way to bleach that will help my color turn out better?

Don’t use a stronger developer than needed. If your hair is already somewhat light, you will only need a 12 or 20 volume developer. If it’s dark, you can use a 30 or 40 volume developer.

Hair thickness can also affect what level of developer you’ll need. Start about an inch from the roots, and work your way down. When you’re done with the rest of your hair, add your bleach to the roots last.

This is because your body heat that radiates from your scalp causes the bleach to process more quickly and can cause an uneven bleach job. You can find some more standard bleaching advice online. 

When should I go to a salon to get my hair bleached and dyed?

Bleaching followed by dyeing is a complicated process. It can be even more complicated for those with very dark and/or thick hair or for those whose hair is already broken or damaged.

It is possible to bleach and dye your hair at home if you have the patience and can follow instructions closely. However, if you have any doubts at all, it’s always wise to have it done by a professional.

So, How Do You Put Color Over Bleached Hair? 

The best way to put color over bleached hair is to bleach your hair evenly, pre-condition, and follow that with a good semi-permanent hair dye. The process will take time and shouldn’t be hurried. You don’t have to do it all in one day–and probably shouldn’t!

With the right products and some basic research, you can bleach and dye your hair at home. Be sure to follow instructions to avoid hair breakage and loss and to help you get the best color results possible.

While it is unlikely that you can achieve salon results by dyeing your bleached hair at home, you can change up your look and express your unique self through your hair. Just be sure to put the health and safety of your hair first!