As many people know, I am a fan of coloring my hair. It's a form of self expression and all that good stuff. Since my hair is naturally a thick dark brown (shh, don't tell my colleagues, they think I have no natural hair color), I have to bleach it before dying it most colors (except black). I like to DIY things, so here is how I bleach my own hair.
First, when it comes to bleaching, I do not use one of those kits with pretty people on the front. The kits are handy because they come with all the supplies you need and very specific instructions, but I find that they are not very strong - even the ones that purport to be the strongest.
Instead, I start with bleach powder and 40 volume creme developer. The "volume" refers to the strength of the developer, and "40 volume" is the strongest that you'll find. I currently use L'Oreal's Creme Developer and Quick Blue Powder Bleach.
At the suggestion of a local hairdresser, I also mix in a packet of L'Oreal Super Blue Creme Oil Lightener.
I then put on cheap latex gloves and mix 1 part powder with 2 parts developer in a tupperware container (which I only use for bleaching!). If you don't mix enough, no worries, you can easily mix more later.
Then I rub the mix over my hair, starting at the ends. Instructions always have you do the roots last, and as it turns out, that's because the chemicals process faster when they're close to the head, because your head is so warm and heats them up.
When I think that I've got everything covered (don't forget the back of your head!), I cover my head in a piece of aluminum foil and watch TV for 30-60 minutes. I'm used to the slight burning sensation of bleach so I tend to let it stay on for longer, but if it bothers you, you can rinse it out after just 30 minutes.
After I rinse and dry it, I check out how white it became, and if I missed any spots. If I do find spots that are quite brown, then I may wait for it to dry and re-bleach.
If there are no brown spots but it is still a bit yellow and I am trying to dye it blue or go for the blonde/white look, then I wait for it to dry and then put a purple toner on it. A purple toner is basically a light purple hair dye that counters the natural yellow hues in human hair. I currently use Wella Color Charm Liquid Hair Toner.
If I care about maintaining the whiteness of the color, then I sometimes invest in toning shampoo, which is basically like shampoo with a little purple hair dye in it. I currently use Clairol Shimmer Lights.
I also occasionally use an ultra moisturizing conditioner, whenever my hair starts to feel particularly dry and over processed. My current favorite is L'Oreal Mega Moisture.
And that's it... happy bleaching!