My Journey to Blonde

Extraordinary Living

I’ve always had an extraordinary interest in trying new things with my hair. Not only because I get bored easily. But, it’s another excuse to express creativity. I love doing anything that can express personal creativity. (Although my preference is typically a conservative outcome. Thus why I’ve never tried blue hair.)


Last winter, I got 7 inches cut from my brunette locks. It was a good-feeling donation. After turning into a mom, I wanted something that would save some time. (Blowdrying, especially!)

Before, September 2016
After, March 2016
After the chop.

A few months later, I was ready to do something my mom had done many moons ago. She went from dark hair to platinum blonde. Why did I want to do this, you ask? A few reasons…The grey hairs were coming in. I wanted to soften my look. I was curious to find out if blondes have more fun! (Although, I’ve never felt deprived as a brunette. ; )

Now, I need to tell you right off the bat. This is NOT a tutorial. Nor is it a, “You should try this my way,” kind of post. For starters, I don’t think going blonde from dark brown hair is a great thing to do. It’s expensive. It’s time-consuming. (It may take several bleaching sessions.) Bleaching can seriously damage your hair. Time is required between each bleaching session to allow your hair to repair, etc.

That being said, I urge you to speak to a professional before making any decisions. A stylist/colorist whom you trust! Don’t do this on impulse. This was something I’ve always planned to do, eventually. Especially after watching my mom’s successful transition.

So, if you’re interested, here is where I started and where I am now.

My first trip, back in April, was to one of the best salons in Camden County. (I’m not going to disclose names of salons nor colorists, because this is not a “review” post.) Anyway, it took my colorist over 3 hours to do the whole process.

Before we began, I showed him this picture and asked very bluntly, “Is this possible?”

Back then, I was naive about hair color and completely dependent on the professionals. I even asked if I should do something else like a light auburn (which I knew was possible), instead. But, this colorist was supposedly “the best” around, and assured me that this was not only possible~ but a great decision for me. However, he did warn me that it would take a few visits to get to this color.

First, he put foils in. That took about 90 minutes. (I have a lot of hair!) The color needed to “lift” from a level 4 brown-chestnut to a level 7  (I’m presuming that’s the most we could do in one sitting.)

He did not apply heat, which I’ve come to learn many salons refuse placing you under a dryer to speed up the process. So, it took a long time for the color to even lift these few levels. I felt in the end that my colorist was a bit panicked and concerned that I wouldn’t be finished before his shift ended. Once the color was lifted just a few levels, he toned the highlights to an ashy-blonde. Here was the result. I know, not drastic at all.

April, 2016

A few months later, the highlights became brassy.

June, 2016

2nd Trip to Salon. A new place, closer to home, and another (so-called) “great” colorist. You can see how much the color changes in different lighting and over time.

July, 2016
July, 2016 (Experimenting with styles)
August, 2016
September, 2016

3rd Trip. Not happy. My hair was “lighter” but, I didn’t see blonde as much as just very light brown. I kinda felt like we were going backward.

September 2016

4th Trip. After that 3rd trip, I somehow mustered up the courage to make a phone call. I asked if they could fix the color. The salon owner graciously did a “do-over” at no charge. She was aggressive with the product, and even took a blow-dryer to help the process. (Shhh, don’t tell on her!) I finally felt like I was back on track. Even though I was still far from blonde!

September, 2016
September, 2016

It does look blonder here. A lot depends on the lighting.

September, 2016

It was a great improvement! But, still a far cry from what I wanted.

5th time. (And, last visit to a salon.)

I don’t know. Call me crazy, but I still wasn’t close to the color I wanted. (Mind you, I brought this picture with me, every time, and was told that it was “possible”.)

At that point, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I would rather worst case scenario over more trips to the salon for, less than likely, the outcome I hoped for. Yes, I was tempted to give up and regret trusting that the pros could do this without exceeding a reasonable budget! I realize that there are a lot of variables, and maybe it could have worked better under different circumstances. But, I figured, let me give it a shot. If I mess up, I’ll dye it back to brown or red.

I spent several weeks doing a lot of homework. I learned about the different kinds of bleach. And developers. Toners. Olaplaex. (A hair life-saver!) I also watched a ton of You-tube videos. (My favorite:

The hardest part was determining the method to apply the bleach. I knew “foiling” was just not practical for an at-home DIY process. Since I did not want to do my whole head, I decided to have Scott do a bayalage  method. It looked the easiest, and I love how it incorporates your natural color in the result. Personally, even though I am pale for an Italian, I feel that if you have olive skin, you should keep some of your natural brown to outline your face. It’s a unique look, and as you know, I love anything that is unique.

(A few pics from Google…)

Next, I gathered all the items. (See below.) The day before Christmas Eve (I know, brave), I had Scott put the bleach in my hair. But, first, we did a strand test to see how long we should let the bleach stay on. (Highly recommended, and they don’t even do this at a salon.)

After 40 minutes

I decided to use a 40 Developer. This is the most aggressive and not recommended. However, if you add Olaplex, it is more like using a 30 Developer, as it dilutes the effectiveness, a bit. From there, Scott just followed the pictures from the internet, and used a vertical technique to apply the bleach in an inverted V-shape.

We left the bleach on for 40 minutes. Then, I hopped in the shower and washed it out. Once towel dried, and my strands were a yellow hue, I added the toner (mixed with 2 parts developer or a 2:1 ratio). I left that in for about 15 minutes as I watched the bleached parts quickly transform from a brassy tone to a pale blonde tone.

This is what it looked like, after:


A week later, I went back in myself and grabbed a few pieces and bleached again.

I’d say I’m getting much closer to my goal.

Don’t ask me what I’m doing next, as I haven’t thought that far ahead! For now, I’m having fun. By the way, if any professionals comment, please don’t yell at me. I still support the industry! Probably more than most. And, I still love you.




PS Here are some of the products I used. I’d be happy to answer questions in the comment section, but my disclaimer is that I will only share what I do. NOT what I recommend for you to do. ; )

Plastic adhesives


This stuff will save your hair from damage!
Tool Kit
Toner Application Bottle
Toner, T18 Lightest Ash Blonde

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