Putting Color Over Bleached Hair: Tips for Success

Published Categorized as Beauty Tips

Did you recently bleach your hair to lighten it for a new hair color? Or, are you getting tired of that bleached-blonde look and wanting to return your hair closer to its natural color? Either way, you may be wondering about putting color over bleached hair. Can you add color over bleached hair? What is the best way to do it? We’ll take a look at these questions and more in the next few sections.

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Table of Contents

Wella Color Charm Powder Hair Lightener 1lb 16oz

What Does Bleach Do to Hair?

Bleaching hair oxidizes the melanin molecules, which are responsible for determining your hair color.  Once these molecules are oxidized, they become colorless.  This turns hair a very pale yellowish color, since that is the color of the keratin protein in our hair.

As you probably know, some individuals choose to bleach their hair to turn it blonde (or bleached-blonde) in color.  Other individuals, particularly those with darker hair colors, bleach their hair to lighten it so they can change their hair color.  For example, if you have dark brown hair and you want to dye it purple, the purple dye won’t be hardly visible over your brown hair.  Bleaching your hair to lighten it first can help ensure the purple color will be more vibrant.

If you’re thinking about bleaching your own hair, or even having it bleached in a salon, it is important to note that bleaching can be quite damaging for hair. It can make hair too dry and brittle, which can take a lot of TLC to repair.

If you’re not confident in your abilities to bleach your own hair, it would be a good idea to work with a professional in a salon.  This will minimize the damage that is done to your hair.

What Happens if You Put Dye on Bleached Hair?

If you put dye over bleached hair, it will color the hair.  However, in some cases, the results may not be exactly what you were envisioning.  As we mentioned above, bleaching can damage the hair, meaning it may not be the most receptive to a new hair dye color.

When you bleach your hair, the hair cuticles are opened up.  This makes the hair very porous.  Now, you may be thinking that porous hair sounds like it will absorb the dye better and leave you with stellar-looking hair.

However, unless the bleach was evenly applied over all of your hair, some areas of your hair will have ended up more porous than the others.  This means that these areas will absorb more dye than their less porous counterparts, leaving you with an even dye job.

For example, when most people bleach their hair, they start at their roots.  So, the roots will be sitting beneath the dye for a longer time than the rest of the hair, making them more porous.  When you go to apply your new hair color over your bleached hair, it could make your roots appear a different color than the rest of your hair.

Things to Think About Before Putting Color Over Bleached Hair

Before you try to dye your hair from blonde to brown or another color, there are a few things you’ll want to think about.

First, consider what we just talked about above.  If the bleach wasn’t evenly applied, are you going to be OK having some areas of your hair that are significantly lighter or darker than the other areas?  Once you put dye over bleached hair, you won’t want to try to bleach it again to start over if you’re not happy.  That much bleaching too close together can be very damaging for your hair.

You may want to consider working with a professional.  They’ll be able to assess your current hair color, choose the best dye color to use, and decide whether any fillers or other treatments will be necessary to help you achieve the color you’re after.

Also, consider the overall health of your hair before applying any hair dye to it.  Remember, we already shared that bleach can be very damaging to hair, so your hair is probably already dryer and more brittle than normal.  Hair dye can also cause some damage to hair.  It isn’t as damaging as bleach, but the ammonia found in many dyes can make hair even dryer.

What Is the Best Type of Hair Dye to Use on Bleached Hair?

Just as you want to choose the best hair bleach when bleaching your hair, you also want to select the best hair dye to use over your bleached hair.  Can I put brown box dye over bleached hair?  Can I put semi permanent dye over bleached hair?  Do I need to use permanent dye on bleached hair?

When deciding between permanent vs semi-permanent hair dye over bleach, there is no one right answer.  Rather, there are a few different things you’ll want to consider.  Keep these pointers in mind when asking, “can I use box dye after bleaching” to make the best choice for your hair and needs.

Choose Semi Permanent Hair Dye If…

  • You have weak or brittle hair:  Semi permanent hair dyes do not contain ammonia.  They also do not require the use of a developer.  This means that they are less likely to cause further damage to your hair.
  • You want to color your hair a non-traditional color:  If you’ve been dreaming of bright red or purple hair, you’ll probably want to stick with semi-permanent dye.  You’ll be able to find a much wider selection of bright and vibrant non-traditional colors with semi-permanent dye than you will with permanent hair color.

Choose Permanent Hair Dye If….

  • You have healthy hair and want the color to last longer:  Permanent hair color will last longer than semi-permanent dye.  As long as your hair is healthy, a permanent hair dye will be the best choice if you want the color to stick around and don’t want to worry as much about touch-ups.
  • You need to cover up gray hairs:  Semi-permanent hair dyes do not offer gray coverage.  A permanent hair dye that offers gray coverage will be the best option if you have a lot of gray hairs you want to hide.

What Is the Best Color to Dye Over Bleached Hair?

Choosing the best hair color to put over your bleached hair is important.  As we shared above, you won’t want to try to change the color again, so you’ll want to put a lot of thought into picking something that you’ll be happy with.

There isn’t one “best” color choice to put over bleached hair.  You’ll need to think about which colors will look best on you.

One thing to consider is whether a warm- or cool-toned hair color is right for you.  To do this, you need to determine whether your skin has a warm or cool tone.  If you’re not sure what tone your skin has, use these tips to help you:

  • Look at the veins on the inside of your wrist in natural light.  If they look to be blue or purple in color, it means you have a cool skin tone.  Conversely, if they look like they are green or a blueish-green in color, it means you have a warm skin tone.  Some individuals may see a mix of blues, purples, and greens when they look at their veins.  If this is you, then it probably means that you have a neutral skin tone.  In this case, warm and cool hair dyes will both offer a nice complement to your skin.
  • Thinking about which jewelry colors look best on you can also help you determine your skin tone.  Silver tends to look best on individuals with cool skin tones, while gold best compliments those with warm skin tones.  If you look good in both silver and gold, it may also indicate that you have a neutral skin tone.

Now that you’ve determined your skin tone, you can choose a hair dye color that will best compliment your skin.  Remember, if you have a warm skin tone, choose warmer dyes, and if you have a cool skin tone, choose cooler dyes.

How to Dye Bleached Hair

The steps you’ll need to take when dyeing bleached hair will vary depending on whether you’re trying to dye your hair back to a natural color, such as light brown, or want to dye it a non-traditional color, such as pink or blue.  In the next few sections, we’ll share some pointers to help you accomplish either of these goals.

How to Dye Bleached Hair Back to Natural Color

If you want to know how to dye bleached hair light brown or another natural color, there are a few key steps you’ll want to follow.  These steps include:

  1. Add tones back to hair: The reason bleach is so effective at lightening your hair color is that it dissolves the pigments.  Before you want to attempt putting any dye over your hair, you must add the tones back to your hair with a filler.  Fillers work to add some yellow and orangey tones to your hair.  This leaves color molecules in your hair that the dye will be able to bond with.  Without a filler, the hair color will not turn out right at all because there will be no color molecules for the dye to bond with.
  2. Apply hair dye: Only after you’ve applied the bonding agent and filler, can you start to think about applying hair dye.  As we shared above, the exact color and type of dye you use is up to you.  Consider your hair, its needs, and your preferences when choosing the right color.  Once you’ve selected the color you want, be prepared to go through a few rounds of application over the dyed hair to achieve the final color you desire.  When applying the hair dye, separate your hair into four sections.  Apply dye over small sections at a time, starting at the bottom. Be sure to follow the directions on the box relating to processing time.
  3. Wash off: Rinse your hair with lukewarm water and use a color-preserving shampoo to wash it.  After you’ve applied the dye and done the initial shampoo with a color shampoo, don’t wash your hair for at least three days to help the color set in.

How to Dye Bleached Hair to Unnatural Colors

The steps for dyeing bleached hair to an unnatural color, like pink, red, purple, or green, will look different from those shared above for dyeing to a natural color.  Here are a few pointers to help you through the process:

  1. Get your hair as white as possible before starting:  The whiter your hair is, the better a new color is going to look.  Bleached hair often has yellow or orange undertones.  If you don’t mute these undertones, they can mix with the dye you choose and turn your hair a color you don’t want.  To get rid of these yellow or orange tones in bleached hair, use a toning treatment. To choose the right toning treatment, you need to think about the color wheel.  Identify the tones that are present in your hair, and look for the color that is opposite them on the color wheel.  For example, blue is opposite orange and purple is opposite yellow.  So, if you have yellow tones in your hair, choose a purple tone.  If you have orange tones in your hair, choose a blue toner.
  2. Bonding agent:  As with dyeing to a more natural color, you should also use a bonding agent before applying a non-traditional hair color.  Evening out the porosity of your hair is also important to ensure the color you choose is evenly applied.
  3. Select your hair dye:  A professional color won’t cost much more than a box dye and will leave you with more control over the color you choose.  You’ll also need a 10 volume developer.
  4. Starting with dry hair, section your hair into four equal parts:  Then apply the dye to small sections of your hair, starting at the bottom.  Once you’ve finished applying the dye, follow the directions from the manufacturer for processing time.
  5. Rinse and color-preserving shampoo:  Use lukewarm water to rinse your hair and wash it with a color-preserving shampoo and conditioner.  After this wash, do not wash your hair again for three days to allow the color to set.


Can you put a dark color over bleached hair?

Yes, you can put a dark color dye over bleached hair.  However, adding darker color to bleached hair is going to take some time.  You cannot simply go straight to the brown dark brown box dye.  You will first need to fll the hair.  Using a filler is essential to deposit the underlying warm tones that were stripped away by the bleach.  If you skip this step and don’t start with a filler, your hair color will not end up looking anything like the color on the box.

Can you put brown box dye on bleached hair?

Yes, you can put brown box dye on bleached hair.  Before applying the brown dye, however, it is essential to start with a filler to restore the underlying warm tones.  Without this step, the resulting color from the box will likely be pretty far off from what you desire.

Can I put ash blonde over bleached hair?

Putting ash blonde over bleached hair can be risky.  If your bleached hair doesn’t start at the right level, adding ash blonde over it can be disastrous.  It may even turn your hair green!  Before applying ash blonde to your hair, make sure your color has been lifted to at least a level 8, which is a strong yellow color, or level 9, which is a light yellow color.  Otherwise, the blue pigments present in the ash blonde dye may leave you with green hair.

Final Thoughts on Putting Color Over Bleached Hair

Do you feel like you learned something new today?  We hope you feel confident to put color over your bleached hair and transform it to a new color.  What hair color are you dreaming about?  Share your thoughts below, and come back to tell us how using dye over your bleached hair worked out!

To learn more about bleaching and dyeing your hair, check out these related posts on our blog:

By Ellis James

We design luxuriously glamorous bags, organizers and life essentials for you. At Ellis James Designs, it’s all about YOU. Your bag, Your way. Our exclusive designs are timeless, indulgent and most importantly inspired by you. What will be your first Ellis James Design?