How to Lighten Hair with a Developer and Baking Soda?

Lighten dyed Hair

Mixing baking soda and a developer is a popular way of lightening your hair. Some try to lighten it with hydrogen peroxide alone. However, mixing them gives more effective results. I will share a few recipes for lightening your hair and I will guide you through the process.

This method works because baking soda makes a paste that doesn’t dry out quickly.

Also, baking soda is going to lighten your hair but cause damage as well. If you’re still down for this, wash your hair and split it into sections with clips. Create hair a solution and apply it to your hair.

For detailed steps, keep on reading.

Will Baking Soda and Developer Lighten Hair?

Yes, 30 volume developer (link to Amazon) can lighten hair alone. However, alkaline developers can do the job better.

The reason why baking soda is used is that it is alkane. It will lighten your hair more than peroxide alone. As I already mentioned at the start, this way of lightening your hair is damaging to your hair.

If you’re still interested in going it, let’s get straight to business.

First, take a big ceramic or plastic bowl and one cup (230 g) of baking soda but measure first. Shake it a little in order to break up clumps if any.

I suggest that you avoid metal bowls because even natural products like hydrogen peroxide can cause a chemical reaction.

Once you have the measured amount of baking soda in your bowl, add 3 tablespoons of 3% hydrogen peroxide (44 ml).

Please, measure this substance too and pour it over the baking soda. It will probably look like it’s frizzing. But don’t worry because this is a normal reaction between these two.

I recommend that you do not use hydrogen peroxide that’s higher in order to save your hair from more damage.

Use your spoon to break clumps if any. Also, use a plastic spoon because metal ones could also cause a chemical reaction. Once you’re done mixing, it’s time that you apply it, but do a strand test first.

This will show you how your bleached hair will look in the end. It’s always better to do a strand test than to just apply the paste on your hair and hope for the best.

It’s recommended that you leave the paste on your hair for 30 minutes for the best results before rinsing. This paste will lighten your hair 1 – 2 shades.

If you don’t like what you see from the test, add more paste. If you have black or dark brown hair, keep in mind that it will lighten 1–2 shades.

It’s impossible to go from black to blonde overnight. You’ll notice orange, red or yellow tones in your hair after bleaching, especially if you have black and dark brown hair.

Often, blonde hair turns into light blonde, while light brown turns into dirty blonde.

Medium brown hair, on the other hand, becomes lighter brown while dark brown turns into golden or medium brown, after bleaching.

Black hair might get reddish-brown tones, while red hair turns in strawberry or orange blond.

Extra tip: Always use a brush application to coat each strand in order to lighten your hair evenly. It’s said to start at the bottom sections and make your way through.

Make sure that you apply the mix to all your hair, as missed places will be obvious. If your hair is thick, device it into more sections for even coverage.

Once you finish a section, use a comb in order to dye every part of your hair, layer by layer. Cover your hair with a shower cap in order to keep the mixture from dripping onto your face and clothes.

It’s known that covering your hair with something boosts the process because your body heat helps the bleaching.

Leave the solution for 30 – 60 minutes before rinsing. Once a half hour passes, check your hair to see if you’re satisfied with the results. If you’re not happy, leave it longer (half-hour more) for the best results.

How Long Does it Take for Baking Soda to Lighten Hair?

Mix 1 cup of baking soda with 3 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide. Apply the paste onto your hair and leave it for about 30 to 60 minutes as I already suggested above.

You will get 1 to 2 shades lighter hair if you choose this way. It will take around 30 minutes to 1 hour for baking soda to lighten your dark hair.

Can I Just Use Developer to Lighten my hair?

Yes, it’s believed that a developer will lighten hair that hasn’t experienced dying or bleaching or “virgin” hair.

However, keep in mind that you can’t predict the correct shade that you will get after bleaching. It is known that dark brown hair turns medium brown, while medium blonde transforms into dirty blonde.

Black or dark brown hair, on the other hand, gets reddish tones while red gets a strawberry or orange shade.

The thing is that mixing soda and developed will give you a shade or two lighter hair. I cannot say the same about lightening your hair with a developer alone. It probably gives weaker results, I suppose.

What Developer Do I Need to Lighten my hair?

hair dye

It depends on your hair. If you want to lighten naturally blonde hair, you will need 20 volume developer(link to amazon).

If you want to bleach light to medium brown hair, 30 volume developer is recommended. Black and dark brown hair require 40 volume cream developer.

In case you didn’t know, there are 10 tones of hair from 1 to 10 (1 for black and 10 for the lightest blonde). So, before picking a color, determine your developer.

If you have light brown hair and you want to lighten a shade or two or three, a 20 volume developer (link to amazon) can help.

However, if you want to bleach your hair three or four shades, select a 30 volume developer(link to amazon). Don’t keep this developer longer than your supposed to. It can irritate your scalp.

40 volume developer can be damaging, so I suggest that you stay away from it. 20 and 30 volume developers need bleaching powder.

Let’s learn how to lighten your hair in 4 simple steps. First and foremost, always use gloves to keep your nails and hands protected. If this is your first time bleaching your hair, don’t worry. It’s simple and easy.

  1. Combine the developer and bleach powder in a large plastic bowl using two equal parts. Make sure that you mix enough solution. It’s important to make enough solution for your entire hair.
  2. Divide your whole hair into sections. How many sections you divide your hair into depends on how thick your hair is. Always start at the bottom and leave the roots for the last 15 minutes. It is known that the roots need less time to bleach, so make sure that you bleach them in the end.
  3. Apply a shower cap and leave your hair around 15 minutes before rinsing. It’s recommended to check every 3 minutes how your bleach is working. Never leave your bleach on for more than 30 minutes. If you’re not satisfied with the shade, leave it a little longer. If you are, rinse your head.
  4. Use a sulfate-free shampoo. If you see yellow tones, purchase a purple shampoo(link to amazon). It can help you neutralize them.

Does Baking Soda and Peroxide Damage Your Hair?

Crème developers contain hydrogen peroxide to develop your dye when used in small amounts. This is why they are called developers. Using a larger amount of developers can lighten hair one to two shades.

How many shades it will lighten your hair depends on your hair’s color. It can really damage your hair, so don’t go for it unless you’re ready to sacrifice your hair. Mixing baking soda and peroxide is even worse.

However, it is far more effective using baking soda with peroxide than peroxide alone. It’s because of the natural state of developers. They are acidic. So, if you mix it with another acid, it turns even more stable and acidic. Peroxide is not that reactive. It doesn’t penetrate into your hair well like hair color can.

The hair color is alkaline. It boosts penetration and triggers the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide. It lightens your hair better than peroxide alone. However, as I mentioned a couple of times so far, mixing a developer and baking soda is very damaging to your hair. If you still want to go for it, watch this tutorial.

Final Thoughts

These days, lightening your hair seems to be very popular and usually starts at an early age for girls who want sun-bleached, blonde hair. Mixing baking soda and developer is one of the most common methods people use to lighten their hair.

It’s effective but it’s also damaging. It’s recommended that you give a period of 7 to 10 days to your hair to recover before you bleach it again. I also found out that bleaching your hair has good sides too.

It cleans your hair and scalp of any harmful chemicals and toxins. Hopefully, this guideline can help you bleach your hair the right way. If you have any questions, drop them in the comments below.

Monika Dimitrovska

A makeup freak who's passionate about books, beauty products, vegan food, daydreaming, and stargazing.

19 thoughts on “How to Lighten Hair with a Developer and Baking Soda?

    1. You can put an oil in to protect your hair, but it’ll cause the level of lift to go down. If you want to go 2 levels lighter while using oil to protect your hair, you’d need 30 vol developer. In my opinion, you might as well just do a hot oil treatment before or after, but not during the lightening session.

    2. Of course, it’s recommended to put coconut oil before bleaching your hair. Please, read this article for more details:

  1. I tried the baking soda and 20developer method today… covered it and blow dryed for a few minutes. After 20 min I washed it out and my hair was falling out in clumps! Not just a little, but massive clumps of hair! Luckily I have a ton of hair, but I wouldn’t recommend for anyone with thin hair.

    1. I’m sorry you’ve had this experience with this method. I also wouldn’t recommend bleaching with harsh chemicals for people with thin hair. It’s better to visit a professional or try more natural ways.

  2. I have some faded colours in my hair, but want to lift them as much as possible before I go in for a whole head deal. (I have a lot of root growout)

    Will doing your process suggestion help lift the colours out? (They’re artic fox, semi permanent, soft faded out pink, faded as heck purple and really faded turning to green/blue in my hair) I just wanna help the process from home before I go and buy the rest of my product.

    I currently have a vol. 20 and 30 developer 🖤

    1. Different hair reacts differently to different methods. Try and see if it works for you. You can try the 30 developer. It can lighten hair alone but alkaline developers can do the job better. The reason why baking soda is used is that it is alkane. I hope that you get the wanted results.

  3. Hello, I have currently used a splat hair dye, I used a purple that is not really faded and a dark green that has faded to a blue. I don’t know how I need to do my hair for it to stay healthy and to turn it blonde. Any suggestions?

    1. You can remove your hair dye naturally. Please, read this article for more details:

  4. I love the this method. I used baking soda, 3% developer, dishwashing detergent and purple shampoo – all mixed together.

    DISH WASHING DETERGENT – actually helps lift the colour out of your hair – it’s harsh but worth it.
    PURPLE SHAMPOO – to help my hair not turn too yellow in the process

    I used this method originally to get out semi permanent pink colour from my blonde hair. It took all the colour out and lightened my hair. I continue to use this method every month for a hair freshen up.

    1. I’m happy that you found a way that works for you. And I agree, you can use purple shampoo to prevent yellow tones. However, I haven’t tried dish wash detergent yet.

  5. I just did the baking soda and 20 volume with dishwashing soap and purple shampoo.
    I’ve been trying to lift my hair from dark brown to platinum. I had bleached it twice and this third time I used coconut oil first to help with damage but it barely changed my color, my hair is yellow (ugh) so rather than bleach a fourth time I used the baking soda method. I have seen several videos and no one said anything about it damaging your hair, in fact, quite the opposite which is why I chose it. left on 45 minutes, rinsed then put Fanola no yellow shampoo on for 20 minutes. The yellow is gone but my hair fell out in huge clumps. I don’t have a lot anyway but this was shocking. I expected to at least need a trim when done but I may not have any left. I’m heartbroken and waiting for it to dry. I put a leave in conditioner on, but I foresee no flat or curling irons in my future. I wish I’d done more research.

    1. I had the same problem with my hair! I swear at least 1/3 of my hair fell out and I used 10 volume developer instead of 20! (Was trying to lift arctic fox pink from my hair).

      I put a conditioner in and luckily it feels better (softer) but now I have really bad sections where my hair is super short from breaking off.

  6. For black hair that turns red, mix in Aveda green to the mix. It tones down the brass in the red to a beautiful brown.

    1. Hey, thank you for your comment!

      To lighten your hair with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, create a paste by combining:

      2 tsp of baking soda
      1 1/2 tsp of hydrogen peroxide

      Apply the paste evenly over your hair. Leave it in for 1 hour if you have dark hair or 30 minutes if you have lighter hair. Rinse your hair with cold water.

      Hope this helps!

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