I'm writing this in hopes that it will help someone else to achieve their blonde ambition. Unless you have tried it, dyeing your hair blonde, especially from a deep bottle-dyed brown shade, is a truly terrifying experience. You wait for the time to pass between dyes desperately trying to keep the screaming, panic voice in your head quiet. It is that bad!
So, some info on my hair prior to dyeing. My hair is naturally an insipid, muddy-water brown / faded dirty-fair. My response to this was to dye it Medium Brown 05 - I wasn't particularly loyal to dye brands, I simply chose the one that was on special offer in the super market, but always in colour 05. That was until my cousin, who has naturally very dark brown hair, pointed out that my hair was darker than hers, almost black! I hadn't realised that these dyes build up, so that over time you get very dark hair.
This was when I made my first mistake. I bought my next dye in shade 04 and for the next 6 months I had this colour at my roots with the heavy, nearly black shade at the ends. I looked ridiculous. Then I completely stopped dyeing my hair, so that the very top of my roots was a lighter colour again. Now I had tri-coloured hair.
This is when the thought first occured to me to go blonde. I had, in the past, had highlighted blonde hair. I loved being blonde. It made me feel like the superhero version of myself, I think particularly because, after going through a traumatic experience in my teens I changed my hair colour to change my life - and it worked! So I had fond memories of the power of blonde, but that was because I was willfully blocking out the hours of salon maintainance and the expense (I couldn't stand even the slightest hint of dark root, so needed to go every 6 weeks and, with very thick hair, each trip to the salon would be over 4 hours and cost over £100)
I knew, for certain, that if I was going to go blonde, then I had to be able to dye and maintain it myself, but I didn't really know how possible that was. Then I was looking on the Beckermann Biteplate blog and found out that their whole family was dyeing their hair blonde with this.
Now that I knew it was possible, I also knew that, no matter what shades I went in between, I would soon be blonde.
I went to the shop and bought my provisions (this was where I made my second mistake) -
- 1 x Loreal excellence creme (shade 01) - this was my third mistake, as I needed ash blonde to cool the brasssy tones.
By getting my provisions wrong, I endured a lot of embarrassing times heading to the supermarket with a hat on!
I did this through trial and error but, hopefully, using my experience as a guide, you should be able to avoid my general lack of preparation and mistakes. Although, I do want to add the caveat that I don't take any responsibility if your hair goes orange and falls out. I'm only offering a guide based on my own experiences. And, of course, do a strand test, follow the bottle instructions, etc. Phew!
Okay, so first things first, prepare to go orange, especially if your hair has previously been dyed a dark brown shade that incorporates tones of red. Yes, weirdly, that includes medium brown shade 05, but not shade 04!. You will just have to accept as part of your journey to sumptious blonde, you will have to look a little like Ronald McDonald. Just prepare yourself.
Now, when I say dye your hair blonde yourself, what I really mean is that, for this first time, you will need a consoling and comforting helper to both apply the dye and mop your tears when you emerge from beneath the towel with an orange wig on. Pick someone who is completely unflappable!
I cannot recommend enough having an application brush and bowl, this allows your helper to paint the dye onto the darkest areas first. Over time, the method that we found best was to dye from the underneath - sectioning the hair into an inch strip and pile the rest in a bun on top of your head; paint the dye on only the very darkest section, completely avoiding the root area; work up in sections until you are at the top of the head; after 20-25 mins, apply the rest of the dye to the roots and allow to work for the next 5 mins before washing off as normal . DO NOT, whatever you do, start at the roots, or you will be sorry! The hair there is less dye treated and responds to the bleach more strongly.
Another top tip is, no matter how tempted you are, don't exceed the dye time (usually 30 mins) on the prelightener. That way your hair will emerge healthy and undamaged. Exceeding the time doesn't actually dye your hair any lighter, as the dye stops activating around then, but it can still harm your hair.
Don't waste time with colour stripping/removal products, like Colour B4 or Color Oops/Zap. I used expert strength Colour B4 3 times, trying to get rid of the last of the orange from the ends of my hair. It looked like it worked when I came out of my 20 minute shower. That was until I woke up next morning to see that all of the colour in my hair had redeveloped back to orange again. It was a waste of time and money, and did unnecessary damage to my hair.
Choose a weekend when you have no where to go and nothing to do, and where you can spend time dyeing your hair many, many times. You will not achieve all of this in one day, unless your hair is naturally light brown, with no previous dyes, in which case why are you reading this? It should be a snap for you. Expect to go to bed with orange hair and start again in the morning, emerging by the end of that day with gorgeous blonde hair.
You will need:
- Your good helper
- 4 x Loreal prelightener (if your hair is as dark as mine)
- 1 or 2 x Loreal lightest ash blonde 03
- Application brush and bowl
- Hair clips to hold up sections of hair
- Vaseline (I heard this is good to stop the dye from burning your face - but I found these Loreal dyes very gentle and easy to use.)
- All your courage
I can't really say how many times you will need to prelighten your hair. It is more a question of how many it takes to get your hair from it's very darkest to the colour of a peeled banana - that is if you are wainting to attain the light blonde colour that I was looking for. Either way, this is the best shade to attain, even before you dye it to a darker blonde shade, as it ensures that all of those pesky red tones (the ones that create the brassy, orange look) are banished forever.
Start the prelightening process, working from the bottom up, as described above. Really make sure not to go over the maximum time on the instructions and to use that super conditioner after you have rinsed the bleach out. Dry your hair and assess the results.
If your hair is the colour of a peeled banana then put the Lightest ash blonde through to cool down any remaining red tones. Otherwise, repeat the prelightening process until you achieve this banana shade. It took me four goes, painting onto the ends, but I only bleached my roots twice - that's the beauty of the applicator brush!
You may have to go to bed in between the dyeing process. If you cannot bear to wake up to the shock of orange hair, you can put the lightest ash blonde through your hair in between processes. I found that doing this actually helped the condition of my hair, as the prelightener is harsher and the excellence creme seems to add nourishment and condition to the hair. So don't be afraid to do this, especially as it could save you a shock when you glance in the mirror in the morning!
I think you get the picture of how it works now.
This is the easy part. Now that your hair is the perfect colour of blonde, you need never, ever dye that part again. All you have to do is dye your roots, as they come through (for me, every six weeks) with the Loreal excellence creme shade 01 - or whatever your shade choice is.
I have found that the lighteners in this dye are enough to take my hair to the correct blonde shade after it has been dyed twice. This creates a more natural look, where your roots are a shade or two darker than the rest of your hair (as they would be if your hair was naturally lightened by the sun) and also helps to tone in your roots as they start to come in. This slightly darker section is lightened to the light blonde shade, as your natural roots are lightened to the slightly darker blonde shade, during dyeing, so that you always have natural looking, light blonde hair.
Voila! Go forth and embrace blonde!
(Sorry about the poor quality pics. I blame the bad lighting and not my good self!)