How Long Should You Leave Bleach Bath on Your Hair? Between 20 and 45 minutes

woman holds a clock while thinking about how long

How long you should leave a bleach bath in your hair will depend on what you want to achieve.

  • If you want to remove a semi-permanent dye, bleach bath your hair for up to 20 minutes.
  • If you’re doing a bleach bath to remove a permanent dye, leave it on your hair for up to 30 minutes.
  • If you’re doing a bleach bath to lighten your hair one or two shades, leave it on for up to 45 minutes.


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Can a bleach bath damage your hair? What precautions can you take not to ruin your hair?


  You know how long to bleach bath your hair. It depends on your goal. 


Doing a bleach bath to remove a semi-permanent dye that just sits on the outside of your hair is different than if you want to use a bleach bath to lighten your hair one or two tones.

To remove a semi-permanent hair color, you’ll have to leave the bleach bath for less time than if you want to lighten your hair.

And you must do the bleach bath for the proper length of time.

bleaching bath preparation in plastic container

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Why? A bleach bath is less aggressive than bleach because the bleach mixture is softer and you add moisturizing shampoo. However, it still contains ammonia and developer, which will always remove moisture and nutrients from your hair.


As a professional colorist, I don’t like home experiments on your hair that involve chemical processes. However, I know that many can’t afford to go to a salon to change or fix their hair color.

So let’s make a deal. I’ll tell you how to bleach bath your hair and how long you should leave it on. And you promise to respect my advice to the letter.

Deal? Let’s move on!


To remove traces of semi-permanent hair dye, leave the bleach bath on for 20 minutes

traces of semi-permanent dye in women's hair that can be removed with a bleaching bath

Semi-permanent hair dye indeed fades with washing. However, intense colors such as violet, blue, or red often leave traces in the hair.

It’s also often the case that people who use semi-permanent hair dyes enjoy changing their hair color. Is this the case for you?


Well, if you’re a bit impatient and can’t wait for the dye to fade with washing, or you’re tired of trying to eliminate traces of an intense color, you can do a bleach bath.

But   you must leave the bleach bath on for a maximum of 20 minutes. And you must start timing from the moment you start applying the mixture until you rinse it out. 


I recommend you bleach bath damp hair. Leave it on for 20 minutes, rinse, and apply conditioner to moisturize your hair.


To remove a permanent hair dye, bleach bath your hair for 30 minutes

In this case, leave the bleach bath on longer than if you want to remove a semi-permanent hair dye. Permanent dye penetrates your hair, modifying its color.

You must decide what to do with your hair afterward before you bleach bath your hair to remove its color.

  •  If you want to dye your hair immediately after the bleach bath , don’t use conditioner. Dry your hair and apply the dye.
  •  If you prefer to give your hair a break from chemical processes after the bleach bath , you can apply an oil mask and leave it on for 30 minutes.


If you want to lighten your hair a shade or two, leave the bleach bath on for 45 minutes

woman applies and leaves bleaching bath

If you’re thinking of bleach-bathing your hair, you’ve likely decided to damage your hair as little as possible.

Unfortunately, I know many who prepare their bleach bath using 30-volume developer because they want to lighten their hair more than two shades.


I don’t recommend it. A bleach bath containing a 30-volume developer can damage your hair the same as bleaching would if you don’t have experience and knowledge in coloring hair. That’s true even if you use extra-moisturizing shampoo.

That’s my advice. You can take it or leave it.


But  what you can’t ignore, whether you use a 20- or 30-volume developer, is this. The most time you can leave bleach powder in your hair to lighten it is ALWAYS 45 minutes. 


This is because bleach powder and developer have a set time that they last. After that time, your hair will begin absorbing the chemical waste they produce and be irreversibly damaged.

If your hair hasn’t lightened enough when the time is up, rinse the bleach bath out anyway. It’s better to do a new bleach bath after three weeks than to risk burning your hair.

Once you rinse the bleach bath, I recommend using conditioner to nourish your hair. If you need to neutralize harsh colors like orange or yellow, you can use purple or blue shampoo immediately. They don’t contain sulfates or salts.



Don’t forget that a bleach bath can damage your hair in the same way bleach would if your hair is dry and brittle.

Don’t leave the bleach bath in for too long. And remember, you can bleach bath your hair once every three weeks.

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