Why Won’t My Bleached Hair Take Color? How to fix it.

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Have you ever gone from bleached blonde to a bright shade of purple or pink, only to find that your color won’t take? You’re not alone.

Many people incorrectly assume that because their hair was pre-lightened, it should be able to absorb any color available. But it’s not always the case!

Before you throw in the towel, let’s look at why it happens and what you can do about it. 

Why won’t my bleached hair take color?

You’ve bleached your hair, and you’re ready to dye it a beautiful color. But when you go to apply the color, you’re disappointed to see the results aren’t quite what you were hoping for. Why oh why?!!

Let’s take a look at some of the possible reasons your bleached hair isn’t taking color. 

Reason #1 High Porosity 

One common problem that can prevent hair from taking on color is high porosity. Porosity is essentially how absorbent your hair is.

It’s determined by the amount of cuticles on your hair strand and their ability to open up and take in product. Healthline says that if your hair has high porosity, it doesn’t hold onto moisture easily, so it has trouble absorbing dyes or other coloring treatments as well.

To ensure maximum absorption, use products designed for porous hair before coloring to help the dye penetrate more deeply and stick to each strand. 

Reason #2 Your hair color wasn’t left in long enough

When processing time is cut short, there isn’t enough time for the product to fully develop on the hair shafts.

Beauty Scientists at Labmuffin tells us that it means your hair won’t take the color as deeply or last as long. To ensure that you get the full benefit of the product, make sure to follow the instructions on the package and leave it in for as long as possible. 

Reason #3 Too much bleach 

Another potential issue is that there may be too much bleach still present in your hair after bleaching.

A study on hair dyes published on PubMed says too much bleach cause any new colors applied to look dull or faded since there’s no base tone for them to build off of.

If this is an issue, try using a clarifying shampoo before applying new color to remove any excess bleach from your strands. This will help create a better foundation for the dye and produce brighter, bolder results. 

Reason #4 Hair damage or breakage 

It’s also possible that there could be damage or breakage present in your bleached locks that prevents them from taking on color properly.

Jabeen Begum, MD on WebMD tells us Over-bleaching or processing can lead to weak spots in the hair shaft which can prevent dyes from penetrating as deeply as they need to in order for vibrant results to appear.

To repair damaged bleached strands, use nourishing masks and conditioning treatments for bleached hair between coloring processes—this will help restore and strengthen your poor bleached tresses so they’re able to hold onto color more effectively!  

Expert Insights

“It is over processed and missing protein bonds, it is white or grey and you are using the wrong developer. You are using the wrong dye for what you need. Or, lastly you are trying to skip too many levels and need a proper filler.”

Allison Kosters, Hair Stylist for 20+ years

Expert Insights

“This can happen for several reasons. These include: Your hair wasn’t lightened enough beforehand. Only one color was used. The hair processed too long. The color was too unnatural compared to your natural hair. Your hair had more than one color of dye on it from the beginning.”

Leslie Shaw, Director at The Salon Professional Academy St. Louis

Watch and learn: How to repair hair that won’t hold color anymore.

Here’s a great video that shows you how to restore your hair’s texture and porosity ready to dye it again.

YouTube video

Expert Insights

“Your hair did not take the color because it was: dirty, needed clarifying, the color had already oxidized, developer was bad, you did not leave it on long enough to fully process.”

Cassandra Lavender, Master Cosmetologist 

How do you get bleached hair to take color?

The good news is that there are ways to fix this issue and get back on track with achieving the look you want!

Here are some tips to help restore life back into your bleached locks and ensure they take color again: 

Step #1 Clarify Your Hair

First things first, give your hair a good clarifying shampoo treatment before you try coloring again. This will remove any product buildup or residue from previous treatments that might be preventing color absorption.

Step #2 Use A Protein Treatment

A protein treatment helps strengthen weakened cuticles so that color can better penetrate them. Make sure to follow up with a moisturizing conditioner afterwards so as not to dry out your tresses further than necessary.

Step #3 Let Your Hair Breathe

Give your hair a break from coloring or bleaching for a while so that your strands can recover before they face another round of chemical processing.

Step #4 Go For Lower Volumes Of Developer

When coloring again, opt for lower volumes of developer (10-20 volume max).

This will help reduce damage caused by higher volumes of developer while still allowing some pigment into the cuticle layers of each strand.

If you want to bleach your hair again, try a bleach bath instead of a bleach kit. This dilutes the formula and involves applying bleach to wet hair to cause less damage.

Step #5 Choose new colors carefully

Lastly, choose hair dye colors wisely and avoid overly dark shades for now until your hair is strong enough for them.

Stick with lighter hues like blonde, light brown or subtle highlights until then in order to minimize further damage from occurring due to excessive processing time with darker dyes.

Expert Insights

“A normal, healthy hair strand is solid, and to deposit color you have to open the cuticle and add in the pigment you want (for permanent color), but with an over-bleached hair strand, the color can’t stay in the hair since it’s basically like swiss cheese. The color rinses right out. You need to repigment the hair, basically putting back what you took out by bleaching it.”

Ginger Knowles, Licensed Cosmetologist

How Do I Restore My Hair After Bleaching? 

Restoring your bleached hair doesn’t have to be complicated! Preparation is key.

All you need is some deep conditioning treatments, protein masques, and leave-in conditioners. These products will nourish your strands from root to tip and help repair any damage caused by the bleach.

Additionally, they will also make it easier for artificial dyes to penetrate into the cuticle layer and give you better results. 

Before adding permanent color, it’s important that you properly prepare your bleached strands by using hydrating shampoos and conditioners. This will reduce porosity and optimize the chances that the pigment will be absorbed into your strands evenly and without fail.

If you’re going from a lighter level blonde (think platinum) to brunette or black shades, you may need a double process where highlights are first added before applying darker colors over top.

This will ensure better absorption of those deeper hues and make sure that the end result looks even and natural rather than patchy or brassy! 

It is also important to ask your stylist what type of developer they will be using when coloring; some developers contain ingredients that can strip away already lightened hair in an attempt to get maximum results with minimum effort.

These ingredients are very harsh on already damaged locks so make sure you know what product is being used before proceeding with any kind of service in order to avoid further damage! 

Expert Insights

“Depending on what color you are trying to achieve you will have to get it filled. Also your hair may need some conditioning treatments before it accepts any color. Bleached hair needs the most care to keep from becoming more damaged.”

Laura Davis, Former Stylist/Colorist at Vidal Sassoon Chicago
Why won't my bleached hair take color infographic expert advice

Can I dye over uneven bleached hair?

Dying over unevenly bleached hair might not seem like the best plan of attack, but you can pull it off with the right tricks!

In fact, it can one of the best ways to even out your hair color again.

Before you reach for that box dye, make sure your locks are conditioned and healthy. A good hydrating treatment will help balance out any patchiness in color that was caused by the bleaching process.

Then, when applying color, separate your hair into sections so you can make sure each piece gets an even coverage.

The key here is to not rush it and make sure the application of dye distributes evenly across all sections of your hair. 

Expert Insights

“If you’ve bleached hair at home, it’s even more damaging than at a salon. If your hair is breaking or stretching weirdly then you need to start using a product with protein in to repair your hair.”

Emma Louise, Salon Owner & Trichologist

How soon can I recolor my hair after bleaching it?

If you’ve bleached your hair and are ready to try a new hue, take it easy – rushing into re-coloring too soon can be damaging to your mane.

Depending on how light you went, it’s advisable to wait at least one or two weeks before heading to the salon or reaching for the box dye.

During this time, give yourself the ultimate TLC and provide your hair with additional moisture so that it stays nourished and healthy when you go for color.

That said, it is possible to bleach your hair twice in one sitting, But we don’t recommend it – you want to give your strands a break between lightening sessions, so opt for just one round and wait for the desired results.

How to care for bleached hair.

Taking care of bleached hair doesn’t have to be a daunting task.

The most important tip is to use purple shampoo. This helps keep your hair from looking brassy, and keeps the blonde looking fresh- not fried!

Other bleached hair tips and tricks you can use are avoiding heat styling as much as possible and try to use a blow dryer on the cool setting when you do.

Also, try not to over wash your hair; try only washing it every 2-4 days.

Lastly, taking extra care with brush strokes and being gentle when brushing can help prevent breakage and preserve the integrity of your beautiful highlight color.

With these tips, you’ll find that caring for bleached hair isn’t hard at all – it’s actually easy breezy!

Parting words

By following these tips, you should be able to get your bleached hair back in shape and ready for some fresh color!

Just remember to take things slow and steady and pay attention to the needs of your hair during the process.

Good luck!

Authors

  • Nicola Freeman, Creative Director & Content Lead

    With over two decades of passionate hair dyeing experience, I've experimented with nearly every shade imaginable. My journey began long before blogging; as an award-winning copywriter in London and New York, I shaped narratives for iconic brands. However, when friends sought advice during lockdown for at-home hair dyeing, I realized my true calling. Beyond being your hair color expert, I'm a mom of two girls, wife to artist Tony, and an avid soccer player!

  • Enza Piazza, Hair Stylist & Color Consultant

    I’m Enza Piazza, your go-to hair stylist and color consultant with over 23 years of professional salon experience bringing vibrancy and life to hair of all hues. My Italian roots from sunny Sicily infuse passion into every snip and color, a passion that’s been recognized with top honor awards including bridal and party hair at the National Hairdressers Federation’s Championships. After training in Surrey, UK’s most prestigious salons including Head Master Academy, I embraced the entrepreneurial spirit and set up Enza Hair Styling, offering tailored hair care for 13 years, and treating each client like family. Away from the salon, I cherish moments as a proud Nonna to grandson Joseph and as a playful companion to my Jack Russell, Bo.