Can You Bleach Hair Extensions?
by BRENDA L. / SEP 5, 2023
Reading Time: 4 Minutes
If you, like me, enjoy a change of hair quite often, chances are that you’ve gone through the slippery slope of alternating being a brunette and a blonde. And when it comes to human hair extensions, having a set that blends in with your current hair color is a must – so that you can confidently boost your mane with plumpness, thickness, length, and dimension. But if you’ve recently lightened your hair, you may be wondering: can you bleach hair extensions? Let’s delve into this guide and find out everything you need to know about the composition of hair extensions, the risks associated with bleaching extensions, and safer alternatives to achieve your desired look.
Understanding Hair Extension Composition
If you’re wearing human hair extensions, you might already be aware of their composition – after all, they are made of the same material your natural hair are, although they might belong to a different type of quality. Just like natural hair, human hair extensions have cuticle layers that are there to protect the hair shaft and contribute to its strength and shine. Your cuticle’s composition is also responsible for your hair’s porosity and elasticity, two very important factors to consider when checking your hair’s health (and if you're keen, you can read more about it in this post: How To Determine Your Hair Porosity).
In short, the cuticle layers protect the hair shaft and contribute to its strength and shine, but there are two main differences between natural hair and hair extensions:
Absence Of Nutrients: whilst your natural hair gets its nutrients and natural oils from your scalp, both clip in hair extensions and permanent hair extensions unfortunately can’t rely on that. This is why it’s so important to always use sulfate-free shampoo and conditioners to avoid dryness and brittleness, focusing on moisturising products to maintain your extensions’ softness and manageability.
- Vulnerable Structure: once detached from the scalp, the human hair composing your extensions becomes more fragile and susceptible to damage. This is why you should always be extra careful when brushing and detangling, and why you should always remember to protect them from heat damage when using styling tools such as flat irons, curling wands, and blow-dryers.
Synthetic hair extensions, on the other hand, are not porous – meaning they can’t absorb hair dye or bleach.
The Risks Of Bleaching Hair Extensions
Bleaching your hair to make it go lighter is a chemical process that lifts the natural or existing pigmentation from hair. When applied to extensions, it can have several adverse effects, including permanent damage to the cuticles (leading to frizz, dryness, and an overall rough texture to the strand), ultimately reducing the lifespan of your precious hair extensions.
Another factor to take in consideration is that Remy hair extensions are usually pre-treated – meaning that they have already undergone a coloring process. Achieving a consistent color after bleaching on hair extensions can be challenging, and even running a strand test can’t promise the even desired result.
Last but not least, if you manage to succeed in bleaching your hair extensions (I say you, but really that is a job for a qualified hair professional, so keep that in mind!), they will require even more TLC than before – which could mean using quite expensive products, and less ideal results when it comes to styling.
Dry, bleached hair has a high-porosity level, meaning that it will struggle in maintaining the pigmentation of a toner or hair dye that you may put on it – not to mention that your blowout won’t last as long.
Alternatives To Bleaching Your Hair Extensions
If you're looking to change the color of your hair extensions without the risks associated with bleaching, there might be a few options for you. The best thing you can do is to take your hair extensions to a salon professional – possibly someone that is trained in hair coloring! – so that you can discuss what’s feasible and what isn’t together.
Dyeing And Toning: if your hair extensions are already lighter in color, a toner or a common dye job might be enough to reach the hair color you’d like – or at least get close to it. This would be the case for those blondes who would like to implement ashier tones in their mane, for example. Want to know more? Check out our dedicated blog: How To Dye Hair Extensions.
Purchase Bleached/Blonde Extensions: if, instead, you’d like a full-head change, consider purchasing a new set of hair extensions to match your desired hair color. In this case it’s always best to get the job done on your natural hair first, and then purchase the right extensions to match it! To find the perfect shade, you can also refer to our FREE Color Matching service.
Add Highlights: if you’d like to brighten things up in your mane, you can use highlighted hair extensions to add lighter strands, ombre streaks or even a sun-kissed balayage to your natural color, without bleaching your actual hair. This will leave you with a glowing yet more subtle finish, but with healthier hair.
Explore this stunning collection of blonde hair extensions to find the perfect match for your bleached blonde hair!