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Why does peroxide not work in my hair?

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Okay, first, my hair is my precious. I don't skimp on any treatment that will make it shinny, healthy, and over all beautiful, and I don't trust anyone but me to touch it. Unfortunately, I am a broke college student and with most of my money going to school, I can't afford to get actual hair bleach when I want to lighten it. I'm already living off ramen cups and my dorm-mate's left over bread heels and I've been looking for more cost effective ways to lighten my hair. I also have a rather serious skin reaction to lemon juice, so that way is well out. I've also got a bag of my own hair, clean and healthy just cut off, to test all my experiments on. Peroxide is supposed to be the tried and true way of lightening hair on a budget, but every time I try it, it doesn't do anything. I spend a lot of time in the biology lab looking at how each different experiment affects my hair. Wood ash, like from a fire, and ground sulfur has a very subtle effect when it comes to lightening, but it's hell on health. It stinks to high heaven, too. Yogurt and strong tea are both pretty gentle when it comes to health, but those don't affect the color the way I want it to. My hair is a dark ash color, so it's not like I'm trying to get black hair blonde or anything like that. The scale pattern my hair has at a microscopic level is barely there. That's how smooth and healthy my hair is, so I'm not sure if my hair is too healthy for peroxide to lighten it, or if the mild chemical reaction between H2O and H2O2 is the actual cause for the bleaching. All the websites I've found say to mix it with cool water, and the more peroxide is in the water, the better it works, but that's the only way I haven't tried. They also say that the more porous hair will take the peroxide better, so I'm not sure if my hair is just not very porous or something like that, or if I'm doing the peroxide treatments wrong, but I'd like some help figuring this problem out.