Charcoal Bleach For Hair: Fact or Fad?

charcoal bleach for hair

From toothpaste to face masks, it seems impossible to walk past a shop shelf that doesn’t contain a charcoal product nowadays. Is charcoal simply in vogue, or is it a magic ingredient that has truly earned its shelf space?

This article looks at one of the latest iterations of charcoal beauty products - charcoal bleach for hair. We explain how charcoal bleach differs from regular bleach, how it affects the health of your hair and how you can protect against any unwanted side effects. Whether you decide charcoal is a silver bullet or not, it’s important to know how to look after your hair health in the long run.

What is charcoal bleach?

Charcoal bleach products are used for removing color from hair. They come in a variety of formats, from powders to pastes. Perhaps counterintuitively given its dark appearance, charcoal is effective at removing and lightening color. It is therefore a popular component of various whitening and lightening products, with applications for teeth and skin as well as hair.

It is best to view the term charcoal bleach as referring to the range of bleaching products that contain a charcoal element, rather than to a specific ingredient. Benefits, side effects and features will all therefore vary slightly based on the individual product in question.

Charcoal bleach vs regular bleach

Both charcoal bleach and regular hair bleach come in varying forms, but it’s possible to summarize the general benefits of charcoal bleach, as claimed by suppliers, as well as some of the possible side effects.

Charcoal bleach benefits

Perhaps the most commonly touted benefit of charcoal bleach vs regular bleach is the ability to achieve a unique, cool-neutral tone. While a subjective point, this may be a draw for those who are unhappy with the tones they have achieved with other bleaching products. Some charcoal bleaches can be used without a toner, which could be appealing to those looking to keep the hair bleaching process simple.

Some suppliers claim the added benefit of being able to leave charcoal bleach products in your hair longer than with regular bleach. This could allow you to achieve a lighter tone in just one session, compared to the multiple sessions sometimes needed with regular bleach. It’s very important to check this for the specific product you use, as it can be dangerous to leave hair lightening products in for long periods of time.

Charcoal bleach side effects

Bleaching hair comes with a host of risks, from short term risks like burns, skin swelling and hair damage, to long-term risks associated with repeated bleaching. This latter category of side effects can include damage across the hair fiber. Damaged hair leads to breakage, and with that brittle strands, which then give the perception of thinning hair.

Using charcoal bleach still involves the use of chemicals like hydrogen peroxide, which can cause skin irritation and hair damage, especially when too much is used or precautions are not taken.

One disadvantage specific to charcoal bleach is that the dark appearance of the product can make it difficult to see whether it has been fully and evenly applied on dark hair. Some users say this darkness also makes it tricky to know how long to leave the product in the hair. This may make self-application particularly difficult.

Is charcoal bleach better for your hair?

Everybody’s hair is different, and whether you get on better with charcoal bleach or regular bleach may not be completely predictable. Naturally, any practical differences such as timings will weigh differently for different people. If you like the sound of the different potential tone possibilities, charcoal bleach may be worth a discussion with your long term stylist, if you have one, for their view on what is right for your hair.  

Bleach and hair health

Bleaching your hair can open up a range of different looks, allowing you to experiment and better express yourself. With suitable caution and correct application, hair bleaching is also generally safe. What may be more of a concern is the long term damage to your hair health from repeated application of bleaching products. 

How often can you bleach your hair?

While there is no strict answer to this question, research shows that hair problems are common among people who repeatedly change the natural style of their hair.

In addition to desired loss of melanin, peroxide chemical treatments cause untargeted damage across the hair fiber. In plain English, it is not possible to limit the effects on your hair to just the desired lightening - the bleaching process will damage hair in an uncontrollable manner. 

How long to leave charcoal bleach on hair?

For regular bleaching products, recommendations typically fall within the 20-to-30 minute range. Some suppliers claim that charcoal bleach is gentler and can be left in the hair for as long as 90 minutes. 

Is hair loss normal after bleaching?

In short, some level of hair loss is not uncommon when bleaching hair. Hair loss can have a whole range of causes, from genetics, hormones and nutrition, to heat, sun exposure and hair cosmetics.Some users may find their hair falling out after bleaching. This can be due to the fact that bleach has a high pH level, which can upset the balance of healthy hair which is typically on the lower end of the scale. Hair removal product Nair uses high pH ingredients to break disulfide bonds in hair, thereby ‘breaking’ down hair. Bleach can have a similar impact at certain strengths, or if it is applied too often or left in the hair for too long. How much hair loss is normal after bleaching is most likely related to the frequency, duration and strength of the charcoal (or other bleaching) products used. We’ve covered the topic of hair and pH levels in a previous article

Does bleaching your hair damage it forever?

While there are extenuating circumstances, bleaching hair doesn’t necessarily damage all of your hair forever. However it can seriously damage the strands that have already grown out and it can take a significant time to recover. As hair grows about 1 inch every two months, hair breakage from excessive bleaching can take months or years to reverse and can put undo stress on your scalp and follicles. 

Hair bleach - looking after your hair

The takeaway from this article is not that you shouldn’t bleach your hair. Bleaching can be fun, is usually very safe, and results in some great looks. What we do suggest is that you are conscious of what the long term impacts of regular bleaching are, and that you take additional measures to protect and restore the health of your hair.

Beyond just bleach, the ingredients you use on your hair and scalp are very important. Harsh substances can cause damage, so it’s important to understand what you are applying to your body. Revela uses cutting-edge AI to sift through millions of ingredients, in order to find solutions to hair and skin problems that are safe and effective. Revela’s Hair Revival Series uses one such ingredient, ProCelinyl, which provides a completely safe option for supporting the appearance of thicker, fuller hair.

As well as the hair health effects already described, bleach products can cause scalp irritation which the body will sometimes respond to by shedding. Applying ProCelinyl products topically supports healthy follicle function, and while it is not possible to fully undo damage caused by bleach, healthy follicles grow hair that is as strong and healthy as ever before.

Profile photo for Avinash Boppana

Reviewed by: Avinash Boppana, BS

Avinash is a computer scientist. He completed his BS from Princeton University, concentrating in Statistics & Machine Learning. He has deep experience in computational research, working for reputable institutions, including Harvard Medical School, the Flatiron Institute, and the NIH.

Written by: Revela Editorial Team

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