How to Lighten Hair Extensions

Oh, darn – your hair extensions are too dark. Whether you bought the wrong color or had a color shake-up sooner after purchasing your beloved faux strands, one thing remains true – you need to lighten those hair extensions, honey!

Lightening hair extensions is relatively simple as long as you start with natural human hair extensions. Virgin or Remy human hair will react the best to lightening agents, as they haven’t been processed beforehand. 

If you need to lighten your hair extensions, you’ve come to the right place. I’m sharing all of the must-know info about lightening hair extensions, whether you prefer the traditional “bleach method” or want to test out some other “friendlier” options instead.

Who’s ready to lighten their hair extensions?

How to Lighten Hair Extensions – Things to Consider

Before you break out your bleaching kit, there are two very important things to consider.

For one, you can’t bleach synthetic hair extensions. It simply won’t take. (Not all colors are off-limits, though. You can dye synthetic extensions a darker color successfully.)

That said, the only hair extensions that can be lightened are real human hair extensions – preferably virgin or Remy ones. These extensions have not been processed, so they’ll take the color readily with superb results.

Secondly, there is always a risk when it comes to lightening hair, including extensions. Even if you start with gorgeous Remy hair extensions and follow the instructions exactly, there’s still some risk of breakage and damage.

How to Lighten Hair Extensions With Bleach: Step-by-Step Guide

Bleaching hair extensions isn’t complex. With a top-notch bleach kit and a little bit of precision and patience, you can successfully lighten your faux locks – no experience required. Here’s how to do it.

1. Wash and Dry Your Hair Extensions

You don’t want to try and bleach hair extensions that are riddled with product buildup, dirt, and grime. That said, the first step is to wash your hair extensions thoroughly. Use a good sulfate-free shampoo, but save the conditioner for later.

Dry your hair extensions before applying bleach. The best way to do this is to pat them with a microfiber towel and let them air dry. If you’re in a rush, you can blow dry them using the lowest setting.

2. Set Up Your Workstation

Lay down a towel you don’t mind ruining or a few newspapers – you know, just in case the bleach ends up in places it shouldn’t. Place the items on the floor and your bathroom countertop.

Place strips of foil on top of the towels or newspapers. You’ll be laying your extensions on the foils and wrapping them up later.

Finally, put on a pair of gloves. Your bleach kit should come with these. They’re 100% necessary, as you don’t want to leave the bleach on your hands. It can cause discomfort.

3. Mix the Volume and Developer

Now it’s time to get going. Get your bleach kit and remove the contents. There should be several items, including volume, developer, a container, a mixing brush, and directions.

Every bleach kit will have different instructions on how to mix the volume with the developer properly. For example, some might have a 1:1 ratio, while others want two parts of one item to one part of the other.

Follow the instructions and mix your volume and developer accordingly.

4. Apply the Bleach and Wrap the Extensions

Now for the fun part – applying the bleach!

To do this, simply scoop up a decent amount of the mixture with your mixing brush. Then, apply it to your hair extensions as if you were painting. Start from the top and work your way to the bottom. Apply until all strands have a generous slathering of bleach.

Then, lay them flat on the foil and wrap them up tightly. Bleach works best in a warmer environment. So, wrapping them in foil will move the process along smoothly.

Work in sections until all hair extensions are slathered with bleach and wrapped up.

5. Check Every Ten Minutes

Keep an eye on your hair extensions so that you can remove the bleach once they’ve reached your desired shade. 

A good rule of thumb is to check on the hair extensions every ten minutes. Depending on your desired shade and the level of the volume developer, lightening could take anywhere from ten to 60 minutes. However, never leave the bleach on your strands for longer than 60 minutes, as this can cause severe and irreversible damage.

6. Rinse and Tone

Once you’re satisfied with the color of your hair extensions, it’s time to rinse them off! Rinse under lukewarm water until all of the bleach is removed. Then, apply a good toner to eliminate undesirable yellow and brassy shades.

7. Take Proper Care of Your Lightened Hair Extensions

You did it! You lightened your hair extensions! But your job isn’t through – not yet.

Just like your natural hair, hair extensions need to be cared for properly – especially after they’ve undergone a bleaching sesh.

The bulk of the maintenance remains the same – don’t overwash, use a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner, and avoid heat unless you’re using a heat protectant.

Where things slightly change is how often you condition the extensions. You’ll want to condition them every time you wash them, and use a hydrating hair mask once a week (or twice if the extensions feel especially dried-out or frizzy).

How to Lighten Hair Extensions Without Bleach

Some people refuse to use bleach – honestly, I don’t blame them. Bleach can be terrifying to use because so many things can go wrong. That, or they simply don’t want to end up with dried-out and tattered locks. 

While adequately using bleach and maintaining hair after lightening minimizes damage, I understand if you’re still on the “no-bleach train.” Luckily, there are a few great ways to lighten hair extensions without ever purchasing a bleach kit.

1. Hydrogen Peroxide

Ah, hydrogen peroxide; is there anything you can’t do? 

This handy household product can be your gateway to lightened hair extensions. All you need to do is put 3% hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle. Spray the peroxide all over your extensions. Wrap them up in foil and rinse after 30 minutes. Easy-peasy!

2. Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is another common item that can be used to lighten hair extensions. 

To use lemon juice, simply squeeze a few lemons into a spray bottle. Add water, so it is a 50/50 mixture. Spray it all over your hair extensions. Set the hair extensions in direct sunlight for about an hour. Then, rinse and condition generously. Enjoy your lightened strands!


I told you that lightening hair extensions is simple, whether you go with the standard bleach kit or opt for a natural approach. Still want to learn more? Good for you! I’ve added a couple of FAQs you might want to see.

Will purple shampoo lighten my extensions?

The purple shampoo will not lighten hair extensions unless they’re already bleached. So, don’t use purple shampoo alone in hopes of lightening your hair extensions. You’ll need to bleach them first, then use purple shampoo to remove any undesirable tones.

Can you lighten blonde hair extensions?

You can lighten blonde hair extensions as long as they are natural human hair, not synthetic.

Why do blonde hair extensions turned orange?

Your blonde hair extensions may turn orange (or a pinkish hue) if they’re been exposed to excess hard water, seawater, or chlorine. That said, it’s recommended to use a filtered shower head and protect your hair before, during, and after swimming. 

Lightening Hair Extensions is a Breeze!

If you have human hair extensions, you can successfully lighten them using a bleach kit or a natural solution like hydrogen peroxide or lemon juice. Regardless of which option you choose, it is imperative to condition the extensions afterward, especially since they do not produce their own oil.

Have you ever lightened your hair extensions? How did you do it? Do you have tips you’d like to share with other readers? Let’s hear it in the comment section down below!

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