Teach me your peroxide hair bleach secrets!
December 26, 2012 4:52 PM   Subscribe

Help me bleach my black, coarse, glossy facial (and head) hair!

So I tried to bleach my eyebrows- wanting to lighten them but not completely bleach them- with a peroxide and baking soda mixture. I left it on for about 20 minutes, at which point I could no longer bear the pain. I cleaned it off to discover that, though I had successfully burned my delicate facial skin, my hair was no lighter. Now I have dark coarse glossy black eyebrows with embarassing scabs underneath. What did I do wrong? Do you have any peroxide bleach tips? (Extra points if the advice can also apply to head hair).

Please don't tell me to have it professionally done, I can't afford it. Not even at a beauty college, not even with groupon, I just can't afford it.
posted by windykites to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (24 answers total)
Good lord man what on earth are you doing? Go to the drugstore and look in the lady facial care products aisle, you will find Sally Hansen cream bleach. Use that on your facial hairs after the crusty scabs are gone.
posted by elizardbits at 4:55 PM on December 26, 2012 [5 favorites]

Baking soda and peroxide is for your TEETHS. For the BRUSHINGS.
posted by elizardbits at 4:55 PM on December 26, 2012 [16 favorites]

Even with Sally Hansen, all you're going to do is turn your eyebrows a bizarre shade of orange.
posted by HotToddy at 5:07 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Why didn't you use a facial hair bleach? You cannot put head hair colouring or bleaching products ANYWHERE NEAR your eyes.

Do absolutely nothing, I mean nothing, no products of any kind until the inflammation you've caused is completely healed.

After that, it would help to know why you wanted to lighten your eyebrows.
posted by tel3path at 5:14 PM on December 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Seriously what you've done is really fucking dangerous, I can't believe you endured PAIN for as long as 20 MINUTES. You are extremely lucky this didn't turn out worse. YOU CANNOT BE TOO CAREFUL WITH YOUR EYES.
posted by tel3path at 5:16 PM on December 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Are you male or female?

You've burned yourself. So this plan is derailed for 4 weeks, either way. Unless you want scars, which, I know you don't.

When it looks healed, wait an extra week. After I find out exactly what you are trying to achieve, I'll be able to recommend some stuff you might maybe safely use.

Yes, Sally Hansen will turn your dark hair bright orange. Is this what you meant to do?

(I'm serious about helping you and trying *SO HARD* not to make an oompa loompa joke here. Oops. I know you don't want to be an oompa loompa, so please update the thread!!)
posted by jbenben at 5:18 PM on December 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Even with Sally Hansen, all you're going to do is turn your eyebrows a bizarre shade of orange.

Untrue, it bleaches the super thick black hair on my little monkey arms white-blonde in about 20 minutes.

And yes, tel3path is correct, using anything near your eyes is fraught with legitimate danger. Now that I think about it, I am pretty sure even the Sally Hansen box says not to use it near your eyes.
posted by elizardbits at 5:20 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I just want lighter eyebrows, as I stated in my question. I want them to be lighter brown instead of black.

I'm concerned that using facial hair bleach will have the same shoddy results.

I wasn't too concerned about the pain because whenever I use depilatory cream, I have to leave it on long after the pain starts before it actually removes the hair. I just figured that's how stuff works. Basically everything you do for beauty hurts, why would this be different?
posted by windykites at 5:22 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Very little that you do for beauty should hurt. A lot of people find waxing painful, for example, because ripping out hair at the root hurts for obvious reasons (although some of us find those procedures uncomfortable rather than painful at least after the first couple of times). And in fact, ripping out hair by the root is the only beauty treatment I can think of that can be expected to hurt.

Unless you count things like tattoos and piercings, and they should only hurt for the duration of the treatment. I guess orthodontia hurt, too, because I had train tracks on both sets of teeth and they were sharp and put on a lot of pressure and I had to have some teeth removed... but that's a long-term medical process. And I guess plastic surgery must hurt as well. But none of those things are everyday stuff that you can do without supervision. They're not normal parts of a person's beauty routine.

In terns of your regular beauty routine, or anything that you could possibly do by yourself at home, nothing should hurt.

If you apply a chemical, such as depilatory cream, to your skin, and it hurts, it means the chemical is burning you and you must not use it. If sitting for 20 minutes with bleach burning your eyebrows is the level of pain you routinely put yourself through when you groom, that honestly sounds like self-harm to me.

I think you've absorbed too strongly the message "il faut suffer pour ĂȘtre belle," which in any case is just not true. Most appearance-related things that make you suffer are bad for you, and will most likely end up worsening your looks.
posted by tel3path at 5:36 PM on December 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

To turn your eyebrows from black to brown, you need to go to a professional hair colorist who does eyelash/eyebrow tinting. The hair dye you find in drug stores is too runny to safely stay put on the the hair that sits on the ledge that shields your eye balls.
posted by NikitaNikita at 5:40 PM on December 26, 2012 [5 favorites]

Also, yes, facial bleach will likely turn your hair bright orange, and at 'best' light orangish-bottle-blondish, not light brown.
posted by NikitaNikita at 5:42 PM on December 26, 2012

Just emphasizing that using facial hair bleach won't turn your black hair brown, it will turn it orange. You need to see a professional.
posted by Specklet at 5:44 PM on December 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

I also think it's unlikely that your eyebrows are too dark for your complexion. Eyebrow bleaching can be done to interesting effect, but it's more of an advanced makeup look.

Features tend to get less defined as we age, and in terms of facial definition, your whole face hangs off your eyebrows. If you lighten your eyebrows it dramatically reduces the definition of your facial features, and is more likely to age you than not.

I have very white skin, and whenever I colour my hair, I also dye my eyebrows black (with dedicated eyelash dye!!! and the kind made of silver nitrate, not peroxide!!!) and admittedly it is often too dark for the first day or so, but that's because of the dye getting on the skin and taking time to wear off. After that, it looks just right. Having a heightened hair colour with natural, and partially greying, eyebrows would be a poor match.

tl;dr I really don't think it's likely that your eyebrows are too dark for your complexion. Your colouring is by definition the right colouring for you. Maybe what you need is to groom and tidy your eyebrows instead.
posted by tel3path at 6:48 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

please be really, really careful in the future. permanently damaging your vision is a major concern with DIY methods for lightening eyebrows. no amount of financial savings is worth that.
posted by wildflower at 6:49 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

An alternative way to "lighten" your eyebrows is to pluck them. Or better, have a professional pluck them the first time, you carry on with maintenance.
posted by Specklet at 7:18 PM on December 26, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Be careful of your eyes and what not, but I did this for a couple years when I was trying to be blonde:

1) use facial bleach cream to get eyebrows light/medium orange
2) dye eyebrows desired color using drugstore hair dye

I found a baby toothbrush worked best for application of bleach and dye.
posted by OsoMeaty at 9:37 PM on December 26, 2012

Agreeing that

a) bleaching and then dyeing your eyebrows at home is really rather dangerous and
b) it will probably not give you the results you seek;
c) your eyebrows are probably not too dark for your coloring for reasons given above and
d) you might consider having your eyebrows waxed, plucked, or even threaded by a professional once and then doing maintenance afterwards yourself. This will basically change the whole way your face looks. And it will cost you something like $10, which I assume is what you are going to spend on bleach and dye.

(Many people buy products specifically made to darken their eyebrows.)
posted by woodvine at 9:42 PM on December 26, 2012

Best answer: You can't bleach your eyebrows (or any hair) from dark brown/black straight to lighter brown. As color bleaches from hair, it goes through various progressively lighter shades of orange. When hair is colored, it's actually a two-stage process (even if they happen at the same time with one process) of removing the color and laying on new pigment for the new color.

Which is to say, even if you use facial hair bleach (which you should, for the safety of your skin and eyes), you're never going to get lighter brown eyebrows without a second, pigmenting step like OsoMeaty or nacho fries suggest.

I myself have extremely fair skin and naturally very, very dark eyebrows. Even before I made the fake redhead commitment, my brows were almost comically darker than my hair, so I totally understand wishing they were otherwise. I sometimes use facial hair bleach to lighten them a bit now, and it works with my red hair (in a sort of varsity-level fashion way), but I bet it would look seriously goofy with any other hair color.

I have paid eyebrow professionals to dye my brows in the past, and the results were really gorgeous. However, it was crazy expensive, at the pace you lose and regrow brow hairs, it doesn't last long at all, and they start looking sort of cheetah-spotted fast. Meaning, even if you do manage to dye your brows a lighter brown, it's likely to be a major time commitment.
posted by mostlymartha at 1:10 AM on December 27, 2012

Best answer: Do you have any peroxide bleach tips? (Extra points if the advice can also apply to head hair)

Oh my. And how long is your hair? You really, really, really do NOT want to try any homemade bleaching/lightening recipe on a head full of black hair. In addition to potential scalp burning which is bad on its own. But if you have any amount of hair right now on your head (I'm assuming that you do...) the results WILL very likely be an uneven disaster - which will end up costing you a hella TON of money to have it fixed - either having to buy stuff from the drugstore or resorting to go to a professional. Please rethink this!

As for your eyebrows, are they just too thick? There is a method of thinning out eyebrows that I used to do (as a professional stylist) that helps too bushy of eyebrows look much more groomed and not as crazy and thick - would do this on a lot of male clients, as well. If I could simply write out the steps, I would, but yes, I would prefer you ask a professional (sorry).

AND, just want to ask - are you also bleaching any hair above your lip? I just want to point out that I've seen women bleach their really thick lip hair and it just looks like they are sporting an actual blonde mustache. It looks really bad, IMO, and extremely noticeable. Just my 2 cents.
posted by foxhat10 at 5:58 AM on December 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Meanwhile, do you have an aloe plant? Or get some aloe gel. Aloe will really help your skin heal; keep it out of your eyes.
posted by theora55 at 7:56 AM on December 27, 2012

Response by poster: Not bleaching lip hair; I epilate everything I can.

I'll refrain from home-made concoctions in the hair on my head. Didn't consider the big time commitment for this; I might rethink it after all.
posted by windykites at 8:42 AM on December 27, 2012

You know, I just saw a booth at the mall that was doing eyebrow tidies for GBP 3.00.

That's less than the cost of a jar of moustache bleach or even an adequate pair of tweezers.
posted by tel3path at 7:36 PM on December 27, 2012

Response by poster: So I've been tweezing for years. That's not the problem. And claiming that my hair colour must suit me because it's naural is just nonsense. There are lots of things that are natural but still suboptimal.

Anyways, I looked into brow thinning because foxhat sparked my curiosity, and it turns out that although my brow line is tidy, the brows themselves are just too bushy/ long. Apparently trimming your eyebrows is a thing.

People of the future! To soften your brows, These are the steps I followed, with awesome results:

1) pluck brows to desired line
2) with finger, brush brows upwards toward forehead
3) snip whatever extends past desired brow line
4) brush brows against grain
5) snip whatever extends past desired brow line
6) repeat as neccessary

This took about four minutes and had an immediate softening and de-grossifying effect on my thick, heavy, harsh brows. They're still about a shade darker than I like, but with no pain, no cost and no real time commitment, I'm calling this good enough, especially since store bought bleach would probably hurt just as much. Not sure why this brow trimming is such a big secret that i'd have to go to a professional, but the secret is now out. Question resolved!
posted by windykites at 8:34 AM on December 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

I used Jolene facial bleach on my eyebrows to lighten them from jet black to dark brown. It did not turn them orange except when I left the product on for too long (>5 minutes) and it definitely wasn't runny. On the contrary, it was so thick that I found it difficult to coat every hair. Results were great initially but upkeep was a huge challenge because the formula is so pasty that you can't get the product where you want it -- I tried using a spoolie to get at just the roots but it didn't work. I couldn't even target individual hairs, never mind parts of individual hairs.

It sounds like you've already found a better solution but I just wanted to chime in with my actual experience because a lot of the comments here are wrong.
posted by 4bulafia at 6:06 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

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