Thinking of Going Lighter? Here's What You Need To Know When Bleaching Your Hair Extensions

Thinking of Going Lighter? Here's What You Need To Know When Bleaching Your Hair Extensions

Here's a question we've been asked lately: Can you bleach hair extensions without compromising their appearance and quality? Like most things in life, the answer isn't always straightforward. While Remy hair extensions can provide good results when bleached as long as it's done well (a.k.a. if you know what you're doing), synthetic ones should not ever be bleached and will turn out less than desirable should you try. But there's a whole lot more to it than that, so today we're here to tell you how you can safely lighten human hair extensions, the best ways to treat your locks post-bleaching and suggest some lightening alternatives for synthetic hair. So get ready, Foxies, this one's going to be good. 🦊

Key Takeaways

  • Human hair extensions can be bleached carefully with a low-volume developer, while synthetic ones shouldn't be bleached at all due to their non-porous fibers.

  • A strand test is a must before bleaching to avoid potential damage to your extensions, and the bleaching process should always be monitored closely for timing.

  • When it comes to post-bleaching, maintenance is crucial and you should always come prepared with a deep conditioner to treat your bleached extensions. If you decide that you're not the bleaching type, there are safer alternatives such as pre-bleached extensions and color shampoos—great for those who want to go lighter and avoid damage. We at Foxy Hair recommend looking at all your options before deciding on home bleaching.

How to Know the 'Bleachability' of Your Hair Extensions

Different types of hair extensions

What does 'bleachability' even mean? In contrast to human hair extensions, synthetic hair extensions are 100% non-compatible with bleaching. This is because synthetic hair fibers are made from a combination of acrylic, polyester, and nylon, so they lack the porous texture needed to alter their appearance and give the results you're after. So, if you’re eyeing those synthetic extensions with plans for a color lift, we're sorry to say, but their bleachability is pretty much non-existent and you're better off shelving those plans. How about choosing a new pair of extensions in the color that you want, instead? Sounds a lot easier to us. 😉

On the other hand, human hair is a completely different composition from synthetic hair, and it can react well to bleach under the right circumstances. So if you do want to bleach your extensions, human hair extensions is by far the best way to go as they respond alot more favorably to the chemical effects of bleach than synthetic hair does. That being said—you should always, and we mean always proceed with caution when it comes to home bleaching. I mean, think about it... we all know someone (maybe yourself included) who went to town with a home bleaching kit—only to end up with a dry and frazzled mop that was in immediate need of some professional TLC.

Now, we're not saying this will be the case. And we're definitely not saying you don't know what you're doing. But we just gotta keep it real by telling you to proceed with caution. Because like most things bleach and hair related, the stakes are high and it's not necessarily an area that you want to allow for too much room for creativity. The bottom line? If you do want to bleach your hair extensions, it’s best to stick with human hair.

Why Synthetic Hair Extensions Resist Bleaching

While synthetic extensions can look great initially, they are pretty limited when it comes to altering their appearance. There's a number of reasons why synthetic hair extensions don't fit well with bleaching:

  • They are non-porous

  • They are devoid of natural pigments

  • Bleach won't lighten them, but they will destroy them

So if you do want to bleach your extensions at home, you've got to go the natural route.

What About Bleaching Remy Hair Extensions?

While Remy hair extensions can be bleached just like all human hair extensions, the process can be intricate and you should know what you're doing before starting... because once Remy hair is damaged, there's pretty much no going back. Think of it this way - if the hair on your head has a difficult time coming back from over bleaching, how much more challenging will it be for hair that can't be re-nourished by your natural scalp oil? Sorry to say, but from where we're standing, it's looking pretty bleak. So while Remy hair extensions are pourous a.k.a. compatible with bleaching, keep in mind that they will need extra care if going ahead with it.

So now that we've done our due dilligence by warning you about the potential pitfalls of over-enthusiastic home bleaching, we're going to let you in on the best way to go about bleaching your extensions at home. The solution to protecting your gorgeous Foxy Hair clip-in's lies in using a low-volume developer. This gentle mixture can perform its required function without causing much too damage, perfect for newbies and seasoned bleachers alike. ✌️

Preparing to Bleach Your Hair Extensions: Steps for Safety and Success

Preparing the bleach mixture for hair extensions

So, are you ready to start bleaching your extensions? Here's what you need to know.

First you'll need to prepare your workspace with all the essentials:

  • A glass bowl

  • Your extensions, thoroughly washed and free from any residue

  • A bonding agent

The key to good results is in choosing a bleach that's created specifically for hair. Household bleach is definitely not something you should be using as it's too harsh and will destroy your extensions. Instead, choose a hair-specific lightening product that's paired with a 20-volume developer. Then use gloves to mix the bleach and developer in a container and you're ready to roll!

Conducting a Strand Test

The strand test is an effective and crucial way to test how the rest of your hair will turn out. Do this by applying the bleach mixture to a single strand, and leave on for a pre-determined amount of time. Remember, you can always go back and apply some more bleach if you want to raise the color up a shade or two, so go easy with it at first.

Needless to say, if you find that the hair is breaking or discoloured, then we recommend washing the bleach out immediately to prevent further damage. However, if the strand does show the results that you're after, you're safe to go ahead with the rest of the hair.

The Bleaching Process: Tips for Achieving the Desired Shade

Applying toner to bleached hair extensions

The moment you've been waiting for has now come, Foxies: it’s time to apply the bleach to your extension. Begin by applying bleach near the clip at the top and work your way down in circular motions, making sure that every strand is covered in bleach. Consider the timing you used in the strand test and make sure to keep the same time for this round, too. And always keep a close eye on the extension for any signs of discolouration or rapid lightening.

Remember that timing is everything when it comes to achieving the right hair color, so as you apply the bleach check every 5-10 minutes to make sure that no damage is being caused to the hair. Typically, the ideal duration is between 20-30 minutes. This is a common time period to lighten hair without causing damage. And when the time comes to wash out the hair, using a toner is a must to remove the risk of brassiness and to perfect the tone of your dream colour.

Aftercare: Maintaining Your Bleached Extensions

Once the bleaching and toning process is over, the time for some real aftercare begins. This should include a regimen of conditioning treatments to restore glossiness and combat dryness, along with weekly hair masks so that your extensions can stay hydrated. We suggest using argan oil or a leave-in conditioner as well, as it will help to protect the hair while bringing out a nice shine. Using a gentle yet effective brush is another must have detail for protecting your extensions and preventing breakage when detangling.

Alternatives to Bleaching: Less Risky Options for Lightening Extensions

alternatives to bleaching hair extensions

After getting an idea of what bleaching hair extensions entails, there's a chance that you might want to explore less risky options. A great alternative to this? Pre-bleached extensions. We at Foxy Hair are a big fan of pre-bleached extensions for many reasons, including immediate access to the perfect tone and no risk of damaging a pricey hair extension. People often find that going this route leads to saving money, too! So, not only will you get hair in the exact tone that you want, but you'll also avoid unwanted side effects the from harsh effects of bleach.

Toning Instead of Bleaching

Toners are often overlooked when it comes to non-bleaching alternatives, yet they are a great way to subtly enhance hair color without the harsh impact of bleach. Toners are semi-permanent, meaning that if you don't quite love the effect or want to try something different, then you're only a few washes away from trying something different. Yay! Hair toners are also perfect for ashy tones or for refining pre-lightened extensions.

If your extensions already fall into a lighter shade like ash or dark blonde, a toner may be all you need to reach your color destination. 🤩 Especially if you're just getting into hair colouring, toning is a great way to lift the original colour without the potentially hair-fatal results of bleaching.

High-Quality Color Shampoos

Color-depositing shampoos are another great lightening method and can be an instrumental part of maintaining the sheen of hair extensions, especially for lighter colors. These shampoos are also great for brassiness as they help to remove yellow tones, keeping the original color up to par. Purple shampoo, in particular, acts as an excellent toner and can enhance the color and remove any dullness in a simple wash.

Just keep in mind that an over-saturation of color shampoo can create the opposite effect—we suggest using a high-quality color shampoo in your hair extensions for about 5 minutes to make sure that the color doesn't turn bad.

Customizing Your Look: Creative Ways to Use Extensions Without Bleaching

creative ways to use hair extensions without bleaching

Did you know that bleaching is only one way to get different color effects? Let’s explore other creative methods of using color and style without the need for bleaching. One great trick is to layer hair extensions with varying lengths and hues, where using seamless ombres and balayages can enhance the color of your extensions. Another method is to wear your roots dark and slowly transition to lighter ends. This gradient effect can be achieved without a single drop of bleach—perfect for those who prefer their hair sans chemical.

Clip-in hair extensions can also become versatile elements in styling, adding volume to ponytails or filling out braided hairstyles. From boosting volume to extending length, the possibilities are as broad as your imagination. Check out our selection of clip-in ponytail extensions here. We're sure you'll love what you find.

How to Use Clip-In's for Highlights

You can create so many other cute looks from clip-in extensions as well. For example, you can try stacking wefts to build volume and dimension, or layering pre-highlighted extensions with your own hair to lighten your hair without ever using bleach. A lighter volumizer weft, for example, can add contrast and depth that looks natural. Meanwhile, strategically placed clip-in extensions can offer temporary cute looks while providing an ombre or balayage effect.

When highlighting your hair with extensions, we suggest going a shade or two lighter than your current hair so that the shades can blend seamlessly. And when it comes to blending, heat styling tools are an effective way to marry the clip-ins with your natural hair, resulting in a smooth finish. So can a simple clip-in extension bring highlights and volume? Yes and yes. Talk about a simple, yet transformative solution for your look. 😍


Today we've discovered the many potentials of bleaching hair extensions, for better or for worse. Along the way, you've learned about the steps of preparation, pro tips for application, and the importance of aftercare. We've also explored alternatives like toning and color-depositing shampoos as alternatives to bleaching, along with creative styling options that can offer a new world of possibilities without the need for any chemical alteration.

So, whether you choose to bleach, tone, or simply clip-in a new look, remember that the magic of hair extensions lies in their versatility and your ability to make them uniquely yours. So go forth, Foxies, and get to play transforming your Remy hair extensions in a way that suits your unique personality best.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens when you bleach hair extensions?

While bleaching hair extensions can bring good results, there's also a chance that it can cause permanent damage to the cuticles, leading to frizz, dryness, and a rough texture—ultimately reducing the lifespan of the extensions. If you do decide to bleach your extensions, we recommend that you take care and watch them closely in the process.

How can I lighten my hair extensions?

You'll also need to use bleach to lighten your extensions since most extensions are already colored. Keep in mind that the extensions may have a damaged cuticle layer due to processing, so be cautious and test a small section first!

Which extensions can you bleach and dye?

You can bleach and dye most 100% human hair extensions because they are made of real human hair and can be chemically treated. Just make sure to wash them thoroughly so that they're not carrying residue which could get in the way of achieving your wanted color.

Can I bleach synthetic hair extensions?

No, you cannot bleach synthetic hair extensions because their non-porous fibers do not absorb bleach. Instead, consider using other methods to change their color, or purchasing a new extension in your desired color.

What developer should I use when bleaching hair extensions?

You should use a lower-volume developer for bleaching hair extensions to minimize damage while still achieving the desired lightening effect. We recommemend using a 20 volume developer.