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Can You Bleach Box Dyed Hair?

by Gabbi

We have all had that sudden urge, walking through a beauty store, to pick up a box dye and color our hair at-home, without waiting for the next trip to the salon.

While that urge may be due to wanting a change with your hair color, wanting to refresh the shade you already have in between appointments, or wanting to eliminate any greys that have popped up, it can also be fleeting and leave you wanting to change your hair again.

Although using box dye at home can be an easy remedy, if you desire to change your hair color entirely, there will need to be a bleach session involved. Especially if you want to lighten dark locks, bleaching is required to change your hair color.

While bleaching is a tricky process on its own, once the hair has been box dyed it can cause another set of obstacles for your hair.

Are you able to bleach box dyed hair? Yes, you can bleach over box dyed hair as a way to change the color. If you are looking to lighten hair that has previously been box dyed darker, bleaching is the only way to lift and alter the color.

Although bleaching the hair is a tricky process that is best left to the hair professionals, below we are going to discuss how box dye affects your hair and the best ways to bleach over the box dyed strands.

What Is Box Dyed Hair?

Box dye is hair color that can be purchased without the need of a professional license and is intended for at-home use.

Rather than the professional salon-quality colors that are only available to licensed hair stylists, box hair dye is a product that can be easily accessible for most, especially if you cannot make it to the salon often.

The box dye hair color is of different quality and strength than what is available at the salon. While it is a budget-friendly alternative, it can have side effects or cause damage to your natural hair that can be either short-term or long-term.

Although using a box dye to color your hair may be helpful, there is always the chance that it can turn out differently than the desired outcome, which can result in needing to make a trip to the salon for a fix anyway.

Side Effects of Box Dyed Hair

The biggest side effect with box dye hair color is that it can be unpredictable at times. Everyone’s hair is different, with some being more porous than others. Depending on the hair’s porosity, it can determine how much of the color is absorbed, which can result in the box dye being darker than originally anticipated.

Along with the hair color developing to a darker shade, the box dye can also cause uneven coloration through the hair, especially at the ends which are often times more porous than the rest of the hair shaft.

Especially if you are looking to cover up grey hairs, achieving the correct color can be difficult, with the result often being lighter sections that cover the roots, and darker sections at the ends of the hair.

Box dye can also be difficult to mix the correct tone and level than it would be for a salon professional, with the proper assortment of products. If the correct tone or level is not achieved, it can cause the hair, especially the roots, to end up looking patchy overall.

Also, the box hair dye can also dry out the hair, which can lead to long-term damage. Often times, this damage to the hair can also make it more challenging to color correct or fix, even with salon professionals.

Can You Bleach Box Dyed Hair?

Yes, you can bleach box dye hair as it is the only way to change or alter the color, especially when hair is dyed darker. However, bleaching can be a tricky process that can also cause damage to the already processed hair.

If you are wanting to change the hair color, it is best to go to a professional hair stylist for the correction to protect the hair as much as possible, as it can be a difficult and unpredictable process.

Using additional hair color will not alter the shade, especially if you are looking to go to a lighter color. Lightening the hair with bleach is the only way to change the color from what it has been dyed to, but it may take more than one session.

Often times darker hair colors can end up looking orange as a result of the bleaching, which is why several bleaching sessions may be necessary.

In order to tone your hair properly in between bleaching sessions, going to a professional will be your best course of action. The hair stylists will be able to help achieve a balanced look to your hair while you wait in between appointments for your next lightening session.

Best Ways To Bleach Box Dyed Hair

One of the most important steps in bleaching your box dyed hair is to have space between each bleaching sessions to prevent your hair from burning or breaking.

If your hair has been newly colored with boxed hair dye, it is important to wait at least two weeks before lightening the hair with bleach, to prevent the strands from being overly processed.

It is also recommended to complete a strand test on a small piece of hair before bleaching, to see the state of your hair and how it will take to the bleach.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. When you are ready to start your bleaching sessions, begin by dividing the hair into four sections with two at the front and back of the head.
  2. After mixing the bleach and the developer according to the proper instructions, start by applying the bleach to small portions of the hair from the ends and working up towards the roots. However, you want to apply bleach to the roots as the last step after all the sections have been completed. The bleach will take much more quickly to the roots, so it is best to wait for the rest of the sections to be done before applying the bleach there.
  3. When applying the bleach to the roots, \ you want to avoid the scalp to prevent any irritation or discomfort from occurring. Once the sections have the bleach properly applied, you can wrap them in pieces of foil to aid in the setting process.
  4. Bleach requires heat to process, so wrapping the sections in foil as well as putting a hair cap over the entire head once you have finished will help to maintain the heat. The bleach can sit on the hair for at least 30 minutes, and it is important to frequently check sections of the hair to see how the bleach is progressing.
  5. Once the correct amount of time has been reached, you can rinse the bleach from the hair using a sulfate-free shampoo and a hydrating conditioner.
  6. You can also follow up with a purple conditioner to help tone the hair to rid it of unwanted yellow or orange tones. It is best to rinse the hair with warm or hot water, to further help remove the box dye hair color.

Bleaching the hair can be a very drying process, so it is best to make sure you can add extra moisture to the hair with additional hydrating products. Applying a hydrating mask in the days leading up to the bleaching, and the days following the process, will help to protect the hair and return some of the lost moisture.

You also want to avoid using heat styling tools in the immediate following of the bleaching session, to avoid adding extra strain to the processed hair.

We always recommend consulting a professional when it comes to dyeing and bleaching your hair in order to retain the integrity of your strands and get your desired results, but if you insist on bleaching your own hair at home, here’s a great tutorial from Camile – Offbeat Look on YouTube.

Side Effects Of Bleaching Box Dyed Hair

The main side effect that comes with bleaching hair is the loss of moisture. It is important to make sure the hair is in a condition that can withstand the bleach before continuing the process.

If the hair is too fragile, bleaching the hair can result in long-term damage. That is why it is best to see a salon professional if possible before bleaching the hair at-home.

If the hair is overprocessed with bleach, it can be burned off or break away. The hair becomes brittle when it is overprocessed and will lose any of its shine or luster. The lack of moisture will also create a lack of elasticity in the hair, which can cause the strands to break off.

The hair will be more prone to tangles, which can be difficult to work through in its brittle state. Although heat styling is not recommended if the hair is overprocessed, the bleached hair can also have trouble holding a curl or style.

The damage that can be done to hair that has been overprocessed can only be fixed by cutting off the damaged parts. It can have long term effects that will need to be waited out as the hair can continue to grow.


Bleaching the hair is a process that requires skill and patience.

Although the box dye is a convenient and budget-friendly way to change your hair color, if you are determined to lighten or change the shade you also have to be ready to bleach the color as well. Often times, it will take more than one session to lighten your hair to the desired color.

However, if you prep your hair properly and give your strands enough time to breathe between hair dying sessions, you can lift and change your hair color to match your new desires easily.

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