Should you bleach your hair?
Pictured: All pictures sourced from the multi-award winning Capricorn Hair Studio
White and grey hair, soft pastels and the platinum blonde look are all having a moment right now, so you may be flicking through magazines and asking yourself "Should I bleach my hair too?" There are a few things you'll need to take into consideration if you're intent on making a big colour change.
Are you a hair dye junkie?
If you change your hair colour super frequently, you'll need to tell your colourist during your bleach blonde consultation. That means if you've played with wash-out party colour style dyes, semi-permanent colours, or henna (especially henna!) you need to let your hairdresser know. You hair may look brown or black at the moment, but as soon as your hairdresser starts lightening your hair, they'll be able to see every colour you've been for at least the past six months, if not longer. The majority of the time, this won't be a problem, but it doesn't hurt to fill your hairdresser in on your hair dye history so that they know what they are up against.
Take some snacks to the salon, you'll be there a while
If you've never been blonde before, this you need to know. Getting a full head of foils, plus toner, plus having your crowning glory styled at the end will take a l-o-n-g time. Don't plan any pressing appointments around salon time slot, you'll most likely be there for several hours.
Bleach blonde hair doesn't come cheap
If you want your hair lightened professional, with as minimal damage done to your hair as humanely possible (and trust us, you want this) then going blonde will not be cheap. If you're going from your natural dark hair to blonde, most salons will recommend you have 3-4 initial appointments a few weeks apart so that they can slowly transition you from dark horse to blonde bombshell with causing chemical breakage. This means that in the early days, your hair can be kind of a weird, orange shade. Once your colourist has got your hair looking fabulous, you'll need to rebook fairly regularly if you want to hide your regrowth and maintain your blonde tresses. Cha-Ching! That's the sound of money leaving your bank account.
How is hair bleaching done?
Pictured: Click right to take a sneak peak at the blonde process
If you've booked in at a professional salon, you'll have your 3-4 initial appointments to gradually change your hair colour. The number of initial appointments will vary depending on a few things, like what your natural colour is, the amount of previous dye left in your hair, your hair texture and how well your hair colour lifts.
Bleaching works by removing your hair's pigment and any build up left by dyeing. You may have heard of hydrogen peroxide (in fact, this is where we get the term 'peroxide blonde') but this chemical in itself isn't solely what is used in the bleaching process. For hair bleaching, highly diluted hydrogen peroxide is mixed with ammonia and more water. Then your colourist will mix a powder lightener with a developer, also known as an activator, and the level of developer will determine how much colour will be lifted out of your hair.
How long does it last?
Thank goodness having dark roots is on trend at the moment, so you can get away with more regrowth. But if you want that all over platinum blonde look all the time, your roots will need to be dyed around every four to six weeks. Your time between appointments will depend on how quickly your hair grows and how much your roots showing bothers you.
Is hair bleaching safe?
When done in a professional salon, hair bleaching is safe. You may experience some irritation of your scalp during the process itself because, let's face it, going blonde isn't something our scalps are evolutionarily equipped for. Of course, if your scalp is burning and you are in actual pain, tell your hairdresser immediately but slight discomfort is normal the first time you get your hair lightened.
Salons also know how to lighten your hair safely. We've all heard some horror story about hair breakage or it simply falling out in clumps, and that's due to extreme damage most likely caused by inexperienced home bleach jobs. Your hairdresser will most likely reach for an additional product like Smartbond or Olaplex to prevent damaged hair. If you're bleaching your hair at home (and more on this "adventurous" decision later) then you'll need to take steps to protect your hands, your eyes and to a lesser extent, your bathroom. You don't want to get hair bleach anywhere that is isn't supposed to go, because it can burn and cause irritation. Wear gloves and don't let any chemicals come into contact with your eyes. On a superficial level, you'll want to ensure that you're only using designated 'hair dyeing' towels, because bleach will lift colour from fabrics too.
Going Blonde: What To Look For In A Hair Salon
If you're in-between hair dressers right now, or if box-colours have been your best friend for a while, then it's time to pick someone you can trust to take you to blonde.
Find an expert in your style
Do your research on the salons in your area and see what they have to offer. We know that social media can't give you all the details, but check out their Instagram account and see what success they've had when it comes to highlights, taking people from brunette to blonde, balayage etc. If they are an award-winning business when it comes to colour, even better. Don't be afraid to ask to book in with the most senior colourist they have if you are extra nervous. Going blonde is going to cost a lot of money anyway, and booking with the top dog should mean you're in the safest pair of hands.
You should feel comfortable
You want to find a salon that tells it like it is, but also makes you feel heard. Sometimes us non-hairdresser folk can rock up to an appointment with pretty unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved in a single day (blame it on all those 'Black To Blond In One Sitting' vlogs we've watched on YouTube!) Naturally, you want a professional to be honest with you about what shade of blonde is going to suit you best, how many appointments you'll need to achieve that shade, what it's going to cost you and how you'll need to take care of your new do. But you also want a colourist who will listen to what you want. Nothing worse than being like "Oh my god I love it" when you're secretly crying on the inside.
How To Bleach Your Hair At Home
Video: Dee wanted to achieve platinum blonde at home, and ended up with a lot more than she bargained for.
The short answer to "How do I bleach my hair at home?" is: Don't.
If you don't know what you're doing, so much can go wrong with bleaching your hair at home. You can end up paying way more than you ever would in the first place just so that a hairdresser can fix your DIY disaster. Having said that, people are always going to want to experiment and most chemists sell at home hair bleach kits. If you must do it yourself, here's a general idea of how to go about it.
- In the weeks leading up to the Big Bleach, use deep conditioning and repair hair masks to get your luscious locks into the best condition possible.
- Buy a bleaching powder and a developer. Remember that developers come in different strengths according to how much lift you want. Generally, 10 vol will lift one to two levels, 20 vol two to three levels and 30 vol three to four levels. Don't try using 40 vol at home, it's way too high for a novice.
- Section your hair like your would if you were straightening it. You don't want to miss any areas and end up looking all patchy.
- Follow the instructions and mix the powder and developer in a non-metallic bowl until the products reach a yoghurt-like consistency
- Put your gloves on and grab your tinting brush. It's best to get the help of a trusted friend, because you'll need to work quickly from the front to the back of your head. Some sources suggest leaving your roots until last because the closer your hair is to the scalp, the quicker it tends to lighten.
- Leave on for the time period stipulated by the instructions before rinsing, then lightly shampooing.
- Apply a toner to the hair and let sit for around 20 mins before rinsing to avoid a brassy, yellow finish.
If you're not happy with your end result, don't say we didn't warn you.
What To Expect When Your Hair is Bleached
If you've never been blonde before, you'll need to make some changes to your hair care routine and your style in general.
- Listen to your colourist's instructions on how to maintain your colour. This will usually mean buying toning shampoo and conditioner.
- Your colourist may suggest extra products to keep your hair looking shiny and feeling strong. Take these suggestions on board.
- If you've just gone from brunette or black to blonde, your go-to make up look may not suit you anymore. You might have to head to Pinterest or Instagram for inspiration on how to compliment your new look.
Different Kinds of Blonde
The blonde on the colour chart that will suit you best will depend on your skin tone and eye colour. As a rule of thumb olive undertones will suit honey blonde. Pinky undertones will benefit from a creamy, beachy blonde. Porcelain complexions will suit platinum or ashy blonde. Speak to a professional. What you may think is the right colour for you could be a bad idea. Here are some stunning examples of different blondes to give you a rough idea of what's what.