If you’ve ever bleached your hair before, you know of the disasters that can await you. However, despite these potential disasters, you can’t beat the price of DIY. In all of my experience bleaching my hair (I tend to go from blonde to dark brown to dark red to whatever else and then back), I’ve never spent nearly the price of salon. If you are reading this because you have previously dyed dark hair and want to go blonde, I encourage you to read on. I will also say that if you want platinum, you may not be able to achieve it in a day, but you can at least get it to a decent medium blonde and then lighten it from there.
I’m a Wella girl. I guess I just trust the brand more because that’s what I used from the start; when I did all my research into bleaching hair, that was all I saw people use. However, with powder lightener I’d imagine you could use any brand. If you have short hair, like me, you’ll need one packet of powder lightener (1.1 oz). If you’ve got long hair, you’ll need about three packets. I say this because you don’t want to run out of bleach. When I had hair just past my shoulders I almost ran out of bleach with two packets, and I had to try to redistribute the bleach already in my hair!
You will also need a bottle of developer to mix the bleach into. I suggest, for previously dyed dark hair, you invest in a small (16 fl oz) bottle of 30 volume and a small (16 fl oz) bottle of 20 volume. Some people suggest you use the 40 volume because it is stronger, but because my hair has been through so much, I like to play it safe with the weaker volumes and keep an eye on the process. The 40 volume is up to you, but you will probably need to bleach it twice anyway. Brands I’ve used and liked are Pure White and Clairol Professional. I like Pure White better because I feel like it conditions my hair more.
So you’re in a store like Sally Beauty (Is there another store that sells all this?) and you’ve got your packet(s) of lightener, and your bottles of 30 volume and 20 volume developer. You’re covered for the bleaching process, but you need to be prepared for the toning process. I’ll warn you that bleaching previously dyed dark hair will probably become a light neon orange. Because of this, you’ll need to use a toner that can eliminate the orange and yellow shades, while keeping the blonde shades. Short hair will only need one bottle of toner, while long hair will most likely need two to three bottles. Don’t forget salon gloves before you leave the store.
Like I said, I use Wella toners. From my experience, they work well to eliminate unwanted brassy tones. First, a brief lesson about toners:
If you want platinum hair, you will need to bleach your hair until it is a “frozen butter” color–really, really, light yellow. You will then need to use a violet-based toner to get rid of the yellow, leaving you with white. Violet cancels out the yellow in bleached hair.
If you’re satisfied with a light pale blonde that is not platinum, bleach your hair until it is a neon yellow color, like a banana. Use your violet-based toner again. A violet based toner that works well is Wella White Lady. But don’t use this if you have any orange in your hair, because the color will come out very uneven: the orange will become a darker ash/strawberry blonde and the yellow will become a very nice pale blond. Yikes!
If you have previously dyed dark hair, and only feel comfortable lifting it to a light orange, (I felt this way, this time around) you will want a blue and violet-based toner. I recommend the blue and violet base because light orange has both orange and yellow tones to it. You will be brought to a light-medium natural blonde. I was very impressed with Wella Ivory Lady.
If you have very dark hair, and can only bleach it to an orange color, you will need a blue-based toner. You will achieve a dark blonde-brown. I really don’t know why someone couldn’t get their hair to a light yellow-orange stage though.
Okay, lesson’s over. Hope this helps you in the future though. So back to bleaching. For off-scalp bleaching, mix powder lightener and volume 30 developer 1:1 in a plastic bowl with a plastic spoon. For on scalp bleaching, you’re only supposed to use 20 volume developer, but I’ve never had a problem using one part powder lightener and two parts volume 30 developer. If you’re going to do this, proceed with caution. Rinse it out if it burns your scalp, and while you’re bleaching, wipe off any bleach that dripped onto your ears and shoulders.
Here’s a tricky part: if you have roots, your roots will bleach much faster than your dyed hair. Try the best you can to put bleach on your ends first, and then your roots. However, to be honest the first bleaching process I did, my roots turned out a good deal lighter than my ends, but the blue and violet-based toner evens this out for the most part. So don’t be too concerned if you bleach your roots too soon. Leave this on for about 50 minutes. Wash it out and condition your hair for a few minutes.
This is the point at which I tell you not to freak out. Your hair will most likely be neon orange. This is normal because it is more difficult to lift the color out of previously darkened hair. They tell you not to bleach again for a few days, but if your roots have lightened to the yellow stage, you won’t really need to bleach your scalp again. If you feel like your hair is very damaged, invest in a bandanna and wait a couple days. Do not shampoo your hair, just condition it until you feel you can bleach again. If you feel that your hair can take another bleaching, go ahead and bleach the ends again for 50 minutes. Wash out and condition your hair again.
If you are lucky, you will have achieved the pale yellow, or at the yellow stage. However, My hair was too dark to have reached this stage, and I ended up with very light orange hair. Luckily, I had my violet and blue-based toner to remove the yellow and the orange tones from my hair.
Towel dry your hair, and mix in a plastic bowl with a plastic spoon: two parts 20 volume developer and one part toner. Apply the toner to your ends first and then your roots if your roots are lighter than the rest of your hair. The most important step to toning hair is watching it. Over-toned hair can have a purple or blue tint in the light. You will be leaving in the toner for around five minutes. If you see that all of the orange has been eliminated before then, go ahead and wash the toner out. If there is still orange in your hair, leave it in until the orange is completely gone and you hair looks neutral. Wash it out.
You might be surprised with your new medium-light blonde hair. I’m sure you’ll be glad the orange is gone. I certainly was! I plan to give my hair a break for a few weeks, and then continue the lightening process.