Whether you’ve decided to go Marilyn blonde or you just want a few warm highlights, you’ll need the best bleach for your hair
Bleaching hair is a tricky process and, to achieve optimal results without damaging your hair, you should really get it done by a professional. If you have experience with lightening your hair, however, and want to find the best home bleaching products, we’ve found the top picks on the market for you.
There are many hair-bleaching products available, including budget kits that you would typically find in a chemist. Though cheap and cheerful products can often be used when it comes to many other beauty hacks, bleaching your hair isn’t one of them. Bleaching is a harsh process that ultimately causes the protein bonds of the hair to weaken, leaving it frizzy and damaged. Only the best products that have been designed specifically not to damage the hair strands should be used.
To avoid damaging your precious locks, it’s always a good idea to consult with a professional regarding the correct methods for bleaching your hair at home, even if you’ve successfully bleached your hair before. Hair stylists know the importance of using the right bleaching techniques to get to the desired results and can advise you accordingly.
Best bleach for hair: At a glance
How to choose the best bleach for your hair
Bleaching powder is a powerful product that absolutely must be used with the correct guidance and application. Misuse of hair bleach can cause undesired results including singed hair, hair loss and, of course, a colour that you really didn’t want. Most bleaching fails start with the wrong type of bleach and developer combination.
We’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating: DIY methods of bleaching make most hair stylists cringe. Before setting off on your hair bleaching escapade, get a second opinion from a colour expert. There are a few considerations to bear in mind when choosing the right bleaching product, including your natural hair colour, and a stylist will be able to advise you on the best type of product to suit your hair.
What is your natural hair colour?
If your hair is dark brown to black, getting your hair to a light blonde won’t be an easy endeavour and it certainly won’t happen in one sitting. You’ll need a strong bleach powder and a high volume developer to help you get there.
Dark hair is also the most susceptible to orange or brassy tones being left behind during the lightening process. One hair stylist we spoke to said that opting for a blue bleach is the best for naturally dark hair, as the blue helps to neutralise yellow tones, delivering a brighter blonde shade.
For those with much lighter brown hair, or natural blondes wanting to go a little lighter, a reputable professional bleach with a lower volume developer is the right combination.
What types of bleaches for hair are available?
There are a few different types of bleach available, each with different properties and ingredients. When it comes to bleaching your hair, there’s one golden rule: avoid drug store bleaches. These cheaper bleaching products, though tempting, can have potentially scary results.
Professional bleaches are made for use in salons and are made with superior ingredients. They tend to be a lot stronger in terms of their lifting power when compared to drug store bleaches. If used correctly, pro bleaches will provide even lightening throughout the hair and non-brassy tones, with minimal damage.
While you should always wear a mask and protective gloves when handling any bleaching products, opting for a dust-free powder bleach is recommended, as this provides less chance of inhaling toxic chemicals.
Many typical drug store brands – such as Wella, L’Oréal and Schwarzkopf – also have professional ranges, and those are the ones you should be aiming for if you want to bleach your hair. Below you’ll find some of the top picks for professional at-home hair lightening that are hair-stylist approved.
How we test bleach for hair
At Expert Reviews, we know that hands-on testing delivers the most complete information about a product. So, when it comes to reviewing hair bleach, we use the products on multiple hair colours where possible, trying out the various bleach types and noting the complexity of the finished colour. Where hair bleaches are recommended for a particular hair type or application, we test the hair bleach on those hair types and conditions to ensure we make an accurate recommendation.
We rigorously follow the instructions included with a product, evaluating each formula for overall ease of application, the degree of the lift and the finished result. We also consider how well a product might work for techniques such as balayage. Finally, we confirm the amount of the product.
The best bleach for hair you can buy in 2023
1. Wella Blondor Multi Blonde Powder Lightener: Best overall hair bleach
Price when reviewed: £29 | Check price at AmazonWith its gentle hair-lightening formula that can be used for both on- and off-scalp application, the Wella Blondor Multi Blonde Powder is suitable for a variety of different lightening techniques, including touching up roots, balayage, highlights or all-over hair lightening. The powder is easy to mix and has a creamy consistency, making it easy to apply to the hair.
The formula can achieve up to seven levels of lift and is suitable for use on both virgin or pre-coloured hair. The big tub will last a while too, so for those who know what they’re doing and can bleach their own hair without a trip to the salon, this tub will go a long way.
This award-winning bleach powder also contains anti-yellow molecules that help to tone down the yellow during the lightening process.
Key details – Size: 834ml; Format: Powder; Dust-free: Yes; Lift levels: 7; On-the-scalp application: Yes
2. Schwarzkopf BlondMe Premium Lift 9+ Powder Brightener: Best bleach for dark hair
Price when reviewed: £21 | Check price at AmazonThis high-performance bleach can lift hair by up to nine levels while maintaining the hair structure, thanks to its “Bond Enforcing Technology” to prevent breakage. The bleach can be used on natural or already bleached hair, and has an anti-yellow agent that claims to neutralise the warm undertones during the bleaching process.
The powder is dust-free, which is always a plus, but don’t forgo the mask. Depending on the desired result, processing can take from 20 to 45 minutes, so you won’t have to wait too long for your dream hair colour. The powder’s powerful formula is strong enough to lift even dark hair and can be used for a variety of different techniques, including on-scalp applications such as touching-up roots.
Key details – Weight: 450g; Format: Powder; Dust-free: Yes; Lift levels: 9; On-the-scalp application: Yes
3. L’Oréal Quick Blue Powder: Best bleach for brown hair
Price when reviewed: £12 | Check price at AmazonWhen it comes to lightening brown hair, a blue bleach such as L’Oréal’s Quick Blue Powder should produce the desired result. Blue bleach helps neutralise the brassy tones that may appear during the bleaching process. Brassy shades will always be an issue when bleaching brown hair, so this product should avoid the unwanted orange look.
This product is suitable for both on- and off-scalp applications and can provide up to seven levels of lift. It’s a strong bleaching powder and fast acting, too. Once mixed, it has a rich and creamy consistency that won’t drip; this ultimately provides a more precise and controlled application.
The small packet is ideal for those with shorter hair; those with medium-length or long hair will need two or three packets.
Key details – Weight: 28g; Format: Powder; Dust-free: Yes; Lift levels: 7; On-the-scalp application: Yes
4. Schwarzkopf Igora Vario Plus Bleaching Treatment: The best for off-scalp application
Price when reviewed: £21 | Check price at AmazonSchwarzkopf has another great bleaching product that’s specifically designed for off-scalp applications. Whether you’re going for highlights, lowlights or you’re ready to finally jump on the balayage/ombre trend, the Igora Vario bleaching treatment can get you there. This professional bleach has been designed by professional colourists and can achieve a lift of up to seven levels.
As with the Schwarzkopf BlondMe Premium Lift above, this also features the brand’s “Bond Enforcing Technology”, designed to keep hair smooth even after the bleaching process. It also has the same anti-yellow effect to provide maximum neutralisation of those unwanted yellow tones.
Key details – Weight: 450g; Format: Powder; Dust-free: Yes; Lift levels: 7; On-the-scalp application: No
5. Clairol Bw2 Tub Powder Lightener: Best bleach for balayage
Price when reviewed: £24 | Check price at AmazonFor balayage, the consistency of the bleaching products is vital. It’s important to have a product that doesn’t dry out too quickly, as this can help stylists achieve a natural, hand-painted effect that can be adjusted as needed. The Clairol Bw2 powder is great for balayage applications as it has an extra-moist formula that allows you to make a smooth and creamy bleach that doesn’t dry out.
This extra-strength lightener works quickly to lift all types of hair, from dark brown to lighter shades, and the dust-free formula minimises flying particles during application. This product does, however, have a strong smell compared to others, so make sure you’ve got all the windows open and don’t forget that mask.
For a neat balayage with easy application, this is a great product to go for.
Key details – Weight: 227g; Format: Powder; Dust-free: Yes; Lift levels: Customisable; On-The-Scalp Application: Yes
6. L’Oréal Studio 8 Multi-Techniques Lightening Powder: Best bleach for multi-techniques
Price when reviewed: £25 | Check price at AmazonAnother great all-round bleach is L’Oréal’s Studio 8 Lightening Powder. Its special design gives hair stylists the flexibility to perform a variety of applications, from open-air techniques to full-head application for anyone seeking the all-over blonde transformation. Achieving up to eight levels of lift, this blue powder is strong and fast-acting and leaves a clean blonde colour without harsh yellow tones.
Once mixed, the creamy texture adheres to the hair easily and, unlike most bleaches, it has a subtle odour that makes the bleaching process a little more pleasant. This bleach is suitable for all hair types too, even if your hair is already coloured.
Key details – Weight: 500g; Format: Powder; Dust-free: Yes; Lift levels: 8; On-the-scalp application: Yes