High Lift Lighteners vs. Bleach – Which is best for you?

Hi-Lift Lighteners vs. Bleach

Have you heard people say “Oh I never use bleach on my hair!” or maybe you’ve had a stylist tell you that bleach is far too strong for your hair?  Well, to each their own, but we have our own professional opinions about it and we will tell you all the secrets that other stylist might not tell you….

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Hi-Lift Lighteners are essentially a permanent color designed to permanently lighten your hair to a desired shade using “color” instead of bleach.  Rule of thumb for stylists is that color lighteners should only be used on natural or virgin hair – meaning hair that has not been previously colored. If you want predictable results, then yes this is the rule. Technically in many cases lighteners CAN lift artificial color out of the hair – but 9 times out of 10 the results will NOT be what you were going for.  Hi-Lift colors contain ammonia to help lighten the hair and often times they contain a pigment which helps control the tone.  For example, if you were a light ash brown naturally and wanted to have some very pale icy highlights, your stylist might choose to use a lightener with a violet or blue pigment base to help cancel out any gold or brassy tones in your highlights (violet and blue are opposite of yellow and gold). If you were a natural medium brunette and wanted some soft caramel or honey highlights your stylist may choose to use a lightener with a gold beige pigment to keep some warmth in the highlight but not too much.  Hi-Lift lighteners must be used with care as they can be just as damaging as bleach if used improperly.  Keep in mind, anytime you choose lighten your hair, you will always be battling warm tones –  so when you ask your stylist for super platinum highlights or tell them “I don’t want to see any gold” just note that they are battling nature and so an additional toner may need to be used to help fully mask any warm or gold tones.  What’s a toner?  A toner is a deposit only hair color that can be applied to wet or dry hair that will help to either enhance or diminish certain tonality in the hair. For example, you can really cancel out unwanted golds or brassy tones or you can enhance the golds or reds in hair quite effectively with a toner.

Bleach.  Bleach.  Even just the word bleach has a stigma already attached to it that just sounds harsh.  Well, let’s be careful with judging it too sternly because when used properly it can be a safe and very effective way to get gorgeous blondes, caramels, etc.  When using bleach your stylist has a variety to choose from but they  have probably found one they deem reliable and will leave the hair feeling as healthy as possible. In general, bleach comes in a powder form and when a cream developer is added the bleach then becomes activated.  You stylist can choose from 10, 20, 30 or 40 volume developer.  These are the levels of strength your stylist can choose from to make your highlights as bright as necessary, 10 volume being the least aggressive and 40 volume being the most aggressive.  A seasoned stylist will know exactly which strength of bleach to use so that you get the results you are hoping for.  Bleach itself has no ability to control the tone while the hair is changing color (losing pigment).  Some manufacturers have created products that can be added to bleach to help control tone or add additional tone.  These can be helpful in the lightening process, but most colorists will use a toner to refine the tone in your highlights AFTER the bleach is done processing and it has been rinsed from your hair.

The condition and texture of your hair will greatly determine what kind of lightener is best for you hair.  Discuss with your stylist the exact result you are looking for and don’t be afraid to ask questions.  Happy lightening!!!