First, I want to thank everyone for the lovely birthday wishes in my last post. Every message made my day just that much better, truly.
Over the past week or so, I’ve gotten a deluge of messages about my process of going from bright red to platinum blonde hair, and so I thought I’d type up a tutorial to help out those of you interested. Let me preface this by saying that I am not a hair professional, nor will my process necessarily work for you. I have naturally blonde hair, so if your hair is darker, you may need to adjust this process.
Furthermore, going blonde involves bleaching your hair, which is a highly damaging and risky procedure – but it is the only way to go from significantly darker to lighter hair. Please research hair bleaching online before deciding to try this at home. The only reason I am posting this tutorial is because it has been requested so many times; however, I only do so with hesitance because you can seriously mess up your hair! Please keep in mind that bleaching your own hair may end up costing you more money than a professional dye job if you have to fix it several times. For the best results, do NOT rush this process over night, and do plenty of research online first – and ONLY do this if your hair is in a very healthy condition.
Also, please see the standard hair level chart to determine what your current level is, and what level of blonde you are trying to achieve. I went from about a level 5 to a level 10 over the course of a couple of weeks.
Step 1: Remove any dye in your hair first.
For this process, I used a bleach-free product called “One ‘n Only Colorfix” from Sally’s. This particular product removes hair dye by shrinking the dye molecules, so it leaves your hair in the same condition. I hadn’t redyed my hair in a few months, so I only had to do two cycles of this to wash out the red almost completely. One box was enough for both cycles, and I have really long and thick hair; however, if your hair has been recently colored, or is a very dark color, you may need to do more than two cycles.
Washing out the dye in your hair will minimize undesirable orange/yellow/or green tones when you bleach it, so I highly recommend taking this step if you have any artificial coloring in your hair. When you rinse it out, it may also help to use a silver (also known as a purple) shampoo, such as Jhrimack’s, which can be purchased at Walgreen’s for $5. This shampoo is violet-tinted, so it will help minimize yellow and orange tones also.
Step 2: Bleach your hair.
Required tools: L’Oreal “Quick Blue” powder bleach, 30 volume CREME developer (or 20, depending), duckbill hair clips, and processing caps
This is the most frightening step, and understandably so. Bleaching can not only discolor your hair, but it also damages hair severely. Even a veteran self-hair-dyer like myself was nervous for weeks before I took the plunge and bleached it. Damage done to your hair via bleaching is irreparable, so please do plenty of research prior to attempting this on your own.
I highly recommend taking the utmost care of your hair prior to bleaching in order to avoid serious breakage and dryness. Some helpful tips that were passed along to me are:
- Shampoo your hair as infrequently as possible. This is not as gross as it sounds – you can still shower, just avoid using shampoo except every 3 or so days, and condition the ends rather than the roots. This will allow your hair to retain its natural oils, which will prevent dryness when you bleach it. TRUST ME on this one.
- When you do condition your hair, put it in a shower cap and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before rinsing it. The shower cap will lock in the moisture.
- Trim your ends regularly. Split ends cannot be reversed, but trimming your hair will prevent the splits from traveling up the shaft of your hair. I usually just trim my own ends, but some of you may be more comfortable having a pro do it!
Before bleaching your hair, watch MonetMakeup’s hair bleaching tutorial on Youtube. She offers some invaluable advice when bleaching, and her process worked great for me. I won’t list out the process here because she seriously covers EVERYTHING.
You don’t have to buy L’Oreal’s Quick Blue bleach specifically, but any blue bleach will give you a better tone than a white one if you are coming from red or orange-tinted hair. Also, when purchasing your developer, it might be helpful to ask a sales assistant for advice. I used a volume 30 developer, but I only needed to bleach my hair once. Depending on the level of your natural hair, you may need to do a few bleach cycles, in which case you should probably use a level 20 developer to minimize damage. And as painful as it sounds, if you DO need to do more than one bleach cycle to achieve your desired color, wait at least a few days between each cycle to bleach your hair.
Step 3: Tone your hair
Required tools: Wella Color Charm toner, 20 volume developer
Almost always, you will need to tone your hair after bleaching it in order to rid your hair of unwanted orange and yellow tones (an almost unavoidable product of bleaching). Toner uses a base color, such as violet or blue, to neutralize your hair color. Toning your hair will not lighten it, but it will improve your hair’s luster and color.
The base color that you will need will depend on what your hair color is after bleaching it. In order to determine which base color you need, determine what your hair color is after bleaching, and select the opposite color (for those who aren’t art majors, here is a color chart). I used Wella’s “White Lady” (T18), which is a violet toner, and it gave me more of a platinum-white shade of blonde. In my photos my hair looks quite golden, but it is much more neutral and lighter in person.
Mix this toner with a 20 volume developer, and apply to your head. Let it sit under another processing cap in order to maximize its potency for the amount time listed in the directions.
Depending on your resulting color after toning, you may need to buy a blonde dye to tweak your color even more. I used one tube of “Lightest Ash Blonde” by Ion that I purchased from Sally’s, which I used with a level 30 developer. This made my hair slightly lighter and slightly more neutral in tone.
The finished product:
As you can see, the bottom layers are much more orange than the top – that’s because I ran out of toner halfway through and had only toned the top half. I plan on finishing the job later, once I give my lungs a break from inhaling too many chemicals. As you can see, the toner really helps to neutralize the color.
P.S. I want to thank Angelina and Sydney for the invaluable advice they gave me. Please do not bombard them with hair questions (as that is not the purpose of their tumblrs), but DO check out their blogs.
P.P.S. If you are ballsy enough to risk this tutorial, please let me know what your results were. I am curious to see how successful this method is for others!