Going from Brunette to Blonde is not an easy process. A lot of clients think it can just be done in one visit, by putting one color all over the hair, simple as that...but that's not the case. It takes skill, patience, confidence, experience, a colorist who knows her stuff, and a client who is cool, calm and collected through the many stages of blonding. In this post we will talk about wheather you're the right candidate for becoming a blonde, how to get there, and how to keep it looking good afterwards.
Are you ready for this?
First things first. You need to ask yourself if you're ready to be a part of a Blondetourage. Lets talk about what it entails to become a blonde.
Damage- Going lighter calls for some type of damage to your hair. If you have box color, or any type of color at all on your hair when going blonde, your stylist WILL HAVE to use bleach. There is no other way to lighten hair with color on it. Color does not lift color out of hair. End of story. This is why it's important to gradually lighten your hair when going from one extreme to the other. If your hair is already severely damaged, you need to ask yourself, and your stylist if its in your best interest to go lighter. I've had to ask clients several times, would you rather have healthy, shiny hair or dull, damaged hair? If your stylist (or several stylists) tells you it's not in your best interest to go lighter, PLEASE trust them. You will find some stylist out there that WILL lighten your hair, however, it will probably cause damage or in worst cases, break off. I'm not saying that you can't ever go light. If your hair is healthy, and the lightening process is done correctly and slowly, you can safely go lighter with your hair over time. But even then, there will most likely be some sort of minimal damage to your hair.
Time- Going from dark to light takes several appointments, and normally several hours at a time. Plan to be in the salon every 4-6 weeks to start with, and plan to spend several hours in the salon with each visit. No stylist should try to take your hair from a very dark color, to light in one session. (I will talk about the process in a bit) In fact, I have turned clients away that would just not listen to me when I said I couldn't take them from dark brown to blonde in one session. If you're planning on going light, make sure you tell your salon beforehand so they can schedule enough time for you. If you're a new client, go in for a consultation first, or tell the receptionist your current color is dark and you're wanting to go blonde.
Patience- Like I stated above, it takes time to get to the desired blonde of your choice. Be patient with your stylist, when going lighter and understand that you might have to live with a color that is "in between" what you're hoping to achieve for a few weeks. Dark hair is naturally going to lift to warmer tones, especially if it has old box color on it, so you are most likely not going to be an "ash" blonde until you're closer to the lightest blonde shade. However, it should still be a pretty color in the process.
Money- Being blonde isn't cheap, it is a higher maintenance lifestyle, not suited for everyone. If your going from brunette to blonde, you will need several appointments for full highlights about every 4-6 weeks, until your desired color is achieved. Once you've reached your desired color, you will need to come in for touch ups or a base break every 5-10 weeks depending on the contrast in your natural color vs your blonde. At this point, you can get by with just doing a partial highlight, and a full every few times, which is less expensive. You will also need to invest in good products to keep your blonde looking good, and healthy! (more on that later)
Entering the Blonde Family
Now, after deciding weather or not your ready for the blonde lifestyle, we can talk about how to get there safely, and successfully.
Go to a Pro- Trying to go blonde on your own is a big no no for several reasons. It can cause breakage, and most of the time reveals unwanted brassiness. Always go to a pro who knows how to safely take your hair light without damage, while also preventing those unwanted brassy tones! Like the client shown below, I've seen several attempts of "at home color gone wrong" and it will most definitely save you time and money to go to a professional. (color corrections aren't cheap) Don't be afraid to set up a consultation at your salon, or even a consultation at several different salons to see which one fits you best.
Be Honest- Your stylist will ask you questions about your hair history. We're not doing this for fun, we need to know exactly what was done to your hair previously, as far back as you can remember. Knowing how many times you've put color all over your hair, or how many times you've gone dark to light and then back again, will let us know how easy or difficult it will be to get you light and also tells your stylist which products to use on your hair.
Prepare for your visit- It's never too early to start using good products on your hair to get it in the best possible condition. Weeks prior to your hair appointment, start using a good protein based shampoo and conditioner. Deep Condition the heck out of it. And continue to do this for as long as you live. Or at least while your a blonde. The day of your visit, come with clean, dry hair so your stylist can see your natural color, easily. Sometimes when hair is unwashed, it makes the natural color look darker than it really is because of oils, and build up.
1st Visit- Depending on your hair history and how dark your hair is, your stylist will most likely start your first appointment by doing highlights all over. They will artistically choose what to lighten. Since you will still have some of your previous color left in between what is being highlighted, they should not leave too much contrast, or take too "chunky" of sections in order to keep the color looking beautiful and natural until your next lightening session. If your hair is extremely dark or has years of box color on it, your stylist could "strip" the color by doing a color removing process, and then proceed to do highlights. Talk to your stylist about which option is best for you. In the photo below, this client came in with one solid brown/red color. We did a full highlight the first time in order to break up the color and lighten her gradually all over. It is SUPER important to make sure your stylist knows ahead of time that you're wanting this type of change. If you are scheduled for a partial highlight and come in requesting a big change like this, your stylist will only be able to do what she has enough scheduled time for prolonging the process of going blonde even more.
2nd & 3rd Visit- Over your next few visits your stylist will strategically highlight the darker pieces out of your hair each time. As you can see from photos two and three above. Each time you should get lighter and lighter!
Once your desired color is achieved and you've come to the conclusion that blondes have more fun...its time to schedule highlight touch ups for a while. You can play with lowlights, or different hues of blonde still. Your stylist has been putting lightener (bleach) from scalp to ends with each visit prior (hence the concern of damage) and it's now time to give your hair a break, and only focus on the "outgrowth" for a while! Sometimes I have clients who are what I like to call "blondeorexic" (no judgement cause I'm guilty as well) But going lighter and lighter and lighter to the point of no return is not good for your hair!
Everyone's lightening process will be different depending on the history of your hair, and texture of hair. Someone with less coloring processes, and thinner, fine hair may be able to lighten their hair more quickly than someone with years of color that has super thick resistant hair.
Keeping up with the Blondetourage
After investing time, money, and emotions into being a blondie, it's probably in your best interest to know how to make the most out of your new lifestyle! Refer to my How to prevent brassy hair post for info on how to keep the perfect hue!
Invest in GREAT Products- This will be the foundation for keeping your blonde hair looking like perfection. Nobody wants straw like hair. A new favorite of mine is from the entire Gold Lust line from Oribe! I would highly recommend using this every day, as well as the deep conditioner once a week. This is probably the most important part of being blonde. You have to keep your hair healthy during and after the process!!
Get a Glaze- A glaze is a sheer shade that helps achieve the perfect blonde tone and seals in an extra 4-6 weeks of shine. You can pop in the salon for a clear glaze to lock in color, shine and softness, or a toning glaze to help keep your blonde from getting brassy in-between touch ups!
Use a Purple Shampoo- Using a purple shampoo is a must. Use it once a week to cut out yellow tones, and help keep your blonde bright and beautiful! Purple is the direct opposite of yellow on the color wheel, "therefore" canceling out yellow tones in hair. Another new favorite is from Oribe as well! It's called Bright Blonde Shampoo, and it's pretty amazing!
Shampoo Less- Try making your color last longer by shampooing less! Use a dry shampoo to help you blow dry less, preventing heat damage. I LOVE the PHD Dry Shampoo from Living Proof.
*Insider tip* It's a white powder, so I cheat a little and spray it a somewhat heavily right where I part, and it makes my roots look lighter when I'm due for a touch up!! Great for Blondes!
Use Caution with Heat- As you can see being blonde is all about the products, good shampoo, good conditioner, and good leave in products! Since blonde hair is more fragile, you want to use caution when applying heat. Always use a heat protector and make sure your not over doing it with the heat tools!