So, you want to go blonde. And, you’re considering doing it yourself. Are you absolutely certain you want to do this? If so, read on, my friend. I’m going to share with you the WHY, WHAT, and HOW to achieve the perfect blonde hair, at home.
Why go blonde in the first place?
I decided to go blonde for a few reason. The first reason may sound a little crazy. I get bored, easily. It’s part of my personality, I guess. So, don’t be surprised if this time, next year, I’m writing a post about going red! Second reason is because I am now in my forties, and I wanted to soften my look. The third reason is because as much as I love my natural dark chestnut colored hair, I was curious to find out if blondes have more fun. The quick answer to that is: NO. I think if you’re a fun-loving, optimistic, young-at-heart personality, you will have fun no matter what color hair you are wearing!
If you can relate to any of these reasons for going blonde, you may be ready to do this!
WHY do it yourself?
I am not a hair dresser, and I would always advise for you to leave a task like this to the professionals! It’s more likely that you will mess up than succeed in getting your hair to the exact shade you want without completely ruining your hair. Please take me seriously, here. However, I spent close to a thousand dollars, visiting the best colorists around, for over eight months and sadly, they could not get my hair blonde. It wasn’t even close. At that rate, I would’ve had to take out a loan to get to the blonde I wanted (not even considering the maintenance involved)! So, then I thought to myself. “Hmm. What’s the worse that can happen? I can lose my hair. But, hair grows back. My hair grows fast, and I don’t mind having to cut it, so I’m willing to take the risk.”
I WAS WILLING TO TAKE THE RISK.
If you’re the type of girl that would be lost without having long hair, stop right here. NO WAY should you attempt to go blonde, without a professional.
A few days before Christmas, last year I had my husband, Scott, do balayage highlights on my hair. See what I mean about being a risk-taker? Now, mind you. I watched about 50 hours worth of Youtube videos! (My favorite is Silvia Reis, Elle Bangs.) Thankfully, I was super pleased with the results. You can read about my first achievement in getting blonde, here. Overall, it was a huge success!
Of course, maintaining it, became my next huge challenge. I’ll get to that later on.
What products/items do I need to go blonde?
I’ve experimented with many products over the past ten months. A lot depends on personal preference and trial & error. Here is a list of the items you need to purchase. I’m also including my TOP preference in brands after experimenting with 2-3 for each product.
- Oloplex: (Optional, but worth it if you want to protect your hair! Oloplex Kit.)
- Coconut Oil: (Again, Optional, IF you want to protect your hair. I apply this the day before bleaching and leave it on during the bleaching! Coconut oil
- Bowl, Brush, Cape (or old towels), and a mini whisk: ColorTrak Pro Colorist Kit
- Processing Solution: Redken Shades EQ Gloss Processing Solution
- Purple Shampoo: ArtNaturals Purple Shampoo and Conditioner Set
- Clarifying Shampoo: ion Clarifying Shampoo
- Hydrating Mask: Arvazallia Hydrating Argan Oil Hair Mask and Deep Conditioner
- Post-Wash/Pre-Styling Products: CHI Silk Infusion & Uniq One Revlon Unique One Coconut All in One Hair Treatment
That about sums up the products you will be buying. It may seem a little expensive when you add everything together, BUT, most of these products go a long way, and it’s still a fraction of the cost you’ll pay at a salon.
A few questions I’ll answer, here.
1.) How do I do this?
2.) How do I know if I need toner and which one to use?
3.) How do I fix a mess up.
4.) How do I maintain my blonde hair?
1.) How do I do this?
Once you have all of your products, you need to know how to do this! Most likely, using foils, and creating highlights is going to be too difficult, at first. A balayage is a much easier technique. IMHO, it’s the prettiest and most natural look on blondes. Especially faux-blondes with naturally dark hair, olive complexion, and/or dark eyebrows! I wouldn’t even consider bleaching my entire head and roots blonde, because it would look ridiculous. I deliberately keep my roots darker, so as to compliment my skin and brows. Therefore, the only technique I’d recommend, hands down, is a balayage!
I think this tutorial, I found on Youtube, is super easy to follow!
2.) How do I know if I need toner, and which one to use?
Most likely, if you’re bleaching your hair (and stripping color beyond 3 or more levels), you will need a toner. If, after you wash out the bleach, you have an orange or yellowy undertone, you can first try washing with purple shampoo and leaving that in for 5 minutes to see if it gets to the color you want. Purple shampoo, alone, never worked for me as my hair was stripped 5 levels. So, I used toner. I’ve experimented with Wella and Redken Shades EQ. MOST, blondes swear by Wella T18. (Mix with 2 parts Developer.)
This worked fine for me, the first time. But, for some reason, did not work as well since. I then switched to Redken Shades EQ & Redken Processing Solution, and have since then experimented with a few colors such as 9V Platinum, 9T Chrome, 9N Cafe Au Lait. You can even mix two or three of these color glosses together and then add the processing solution. Unlike Wella, this is a 1:1 ratio. So, equal parts gloss with the processing solution.
Some mess ups are an easy fix. Thankfully, the few times I messed up, I was able to fix it, myself. IF you ever mess up and can’t figure out a solution, swallow your pride and get to a salon.
A common mistake: Many new rookies will wash the bleach off too early (which is better then leaving it on too long!) and they think the toner will get them lighter. Color does not lift color. So, if you want to be a light blonde or platinum blonde, you need to lift your hair to a level 9, 10, or 11! Depending on where you start on the scale, the more time and/or bleach it will require. My natural level is a 4, and I am currently between levels 9 and 10. This took several months to do.
It is better to lift and get to your desired level in small increments. (Remember, the higher the number the lighter the level.) This is why colorists typically use a Level 20 developer with the bleach. (20 Volume will lift 1-3 levels, 30 Volume will lift 3-4 levels, 40 Volume, which only maniacs use, will lift 4-6 levels!) So, you do the math. Would you rather risk losing your hair, use a 40 Volume, and get to the lightest blonde, right away? OR, take your time, use a level 20 to get 2 levels, wait a few weeks then bleach again? Trust me on this. Take your time. You can always go back in a few weeks, after allowing your hair to strengthen, and do it again!
What I like about Redken toners is that they’re easier to match with the level of your hair, as they coincide with the standard level chart. (Notice I use all the toners that begin with the number 9, because I’m currently a level 9 blonde.)
Now, another common mistake is using a toner that ends up depositing too much blue, purple, green, etc. I’ve had blue in my hair. I’ve had green in my hair. Let me try to explain how and why toner is necessary. After you bleach your hair, you will most likely expose a red, orange, or yellow tone. These are the colors of the rainbow that help give our hair that luminous shine to begin with. But, after you bleach your hair, the color looks like way too brassy. You need a toner to counteract with the red, orange, or yellow tone. So, you are left with a buttery blonde.
This color wheel should help you understand how this works.
Presuming you’re getting to the right level of lightness, you’re going to have an orange, a yellow-orange, or a yellow color. To counteract that pigment you would apply the toner that contains the opposite color. So, if you look directly across from say, orange, you’ll see that you need a blue-based toner. Blue-violet to counteract a yellow-orange tone, and a violet to counteract a yellow tone. If you want to be really blonde, like a platinum blonde, you need to get to a level 9-11. The color of your hair, after you rinse off the bleach, will be a pale yellow. Like the inside of a banana peel. This is where “purple” shampoo comes in to play. Because the purple in the shampoo, or the purple in most Level 9 and 10 toners, will give you that platinum, buttery blonde look.
I’ve experimented with different toners. Sometimes I can’t remove all the brassiness. I tried adding “silver” or “chrome” colored toners and I ended up depositing too much blue. This was the worst mistake I’ve made. Thankfully, it’s an easy mistake to fix. But, you want to fix it within 24 hours!
First, you can try using a clarifying shampoo. These shampoos are especially good for removing product from your hair, and they will remove the color deposited from the toner. If this doesn’t work you can use a mixture of lemon juice with conditioner. Like a 1:3 ratio. There are other techniques to remove the unwanted blue and green tones, but so far, these two worked just fine for me.
4.) How do I maintain blonde hair?
I really feel strongly that you need to be willing to cut your hair if and when you start bleaching it. You’re going to have major split and dry ends, so at the very least, you’ll need a good haircut every once in a while. In addition to regular haircuts, you’re going to want to use hydrating masks at least once a week to help improve the moisture in your hair. I love using Arvazallia Hydrating Argan Oil Hair Mask and Deep Conditioner.
I apply it once a week, brush it through my hair, wrap it with a towel, and let it penetrate for at least 10 minutes. My hair rejoices every time! I’ve also read great reviews on Ultrax Labs Hair Surge | Caffeine Hair Loss Hair Growth Stimulating Shampoo
As far as pre-styling products, I swear by these two products that help maintain hair integrity. This one smells great! UNIQ ONE Coconut Hair Treatment by Revlon.
CHI Silk Infusion is a leave-in treatment enriched with silk. It reconstructs damaged hair, infusing it with natural proteins. It also helps protect your hair before styling with heat.
Well, there you have it. The nuts and bolts of How to Go Blonde, at Home. If you’re brave enough to do this, you need to be brave enough to accept all responsibility! Going blonde at home is a high-risk endeavor. But, if you’re successful, you will be a very happy (and blonde) girl.