When Clients Use Lightening Sprays

It’s that time of year again—summer sunshine, warm weather, and clients doing DIY hair color to brighten up darker winter colors. When those clients sit in our chair, they don’t always tell us what they used on their hair previously, or they bend the truth of what they have used. It’s our job to determine what condition their hair is in and how to help achieve the desired result while keeping the integrity of the hair top of mind. 

So, let’s talk hydrogen peroxide hair-lightening sprays (like Sun-In or John Frieda’s Go Blonder Spray). What are they and what do they do? These products get sprayed onto hair when it’s damp or dry. Then, users can blow-dry damp hair (thus applying heat) or move to a sunny area where the heat from the sun interacts with the product to create a gradual lightening effect on hair strands. 

What makes this product work is hydrogen peroxide. Similar to the peroxide in developers we know well, hydrogen peroxide is applied to hair and, as it oxidizes, opens the cuticle and breaks down the melanin within the hair strand, causing the hair color to change. Applying heat can speed up the lightening process. A hair lightening spray has a PH usually between 3 and 6, resulting in minimal lift when used. Professional hair colors and developers have different levels of lift, from10 volume up to 40 volume. The higher volume, the higher the lifting power. This also gives the hair professional the advantage of being able to determine the overall outcome of what the client is looking to achieve. The difference between the two types of products is the condition of the hair after use, plus any contradictions from a client using this product and using another chemical product after.  

Professional colors can contain conditioning agents that help replace the moisture taken out during the oxidation process. As we know, there are hundreds of color lines that have additives like coconut oil or avocado oil, whereas a lightening spray opens the cuticle, weakens the hair’s proteins, and can leave the hair dry, brittle, and can ultimately cause breakage. When adding heat to peroxide, it may speed up the process, but additional heat without any type of protectant will cause more harm than good.  

Knowing what lightening sprays can do to hair strands, let’s take a closer look at how a lightening spray can cause contradictions behind the chair. When heat is applied to hair that’s been sprayed with hydrogen peroxide, the chemical breaks down into water and oxygen. These resulting components are left in the hair and cause a permanent chemical change. If a client has used a lightening spray and comes to you for professional color or treatment, there is a higher chance of an exothermic reaction. If you were to use a demi, permanent, natural, or a metallic-based hair color on a client who used hair-lightener spray containing hydrogen peroxide, the hair can swell, smoke, and break off. If you happen to use a coloring agent that may not contain any metallic salts, the probability of furthering the damage to the hair shaft is very high.  

It is always recommended that you do a test strand, especially if you suspect there is something in your client’s hair. By doing this, you are protecting yourself and avoiding any chemical reactions or damage.  

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