I always liked my dark hair. Even when my friends were experimenting with fun colored hair and lightened locks. I always stood steadfast in my decision to stay close to my natural hair color. After years working as a receptionist in a hair salon, I knew that taking my hair from black to blonde was notoriously difficult, despite how easy Kim Kardashian made it look. I knew it wasn’t realistic to get to the color I wanted within one day without it completely frying my hair.
After years of the same-ole hair, I decided to start the process of going blonde. Not just blonde, but blooooonde. Like Legally Blonde. With the help of my amazing hair stylist, Claudia Cody, I was able to go from black to a buttery blonde and man, did I learn a lot about how intensive the process actually is.
What you should know first
There’s are some important things to consider before making the big decision to go blonde…
Damage- When going lighter, you will have to use bleach. There’s no other way of lightening it. Damage is inevitable but the goal is to damage it gracefully and then repair it as you go deeper and deeper into the lightening process.
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.
Patience- Be patient with your stylist, when going lighter and know that you will 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 so you are most likely not going to be the certain tone of blonde until you're closer to the lightest blonde shade. But don’t fret, the in-between color should still be pretty!
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.
What I did First…
I texted my stylist and good friend Claudia, at Clementine Hair Lounge and told her, “Make me blonde!”. The first thing that came out of her mouth was, “finally!” followed by “Lets set an appointment and have a chat about it first”. Claudia has been my stylist for years and I trust her with my hair but if you don’t have one, I suggest that you do a bit of research on finding a stylist that is experienced with blondes. Key word- experienced. Read reviews, go on Instagram or even ask your friends.
I sat down with my stylist and showed her my inspo pic. She asked me questions about my hair and how I have been taking care of it. It’s crucial that you answer these question honestly so that they can get an idea on how to proceed and give you a realistic timeline for your hair end goal. Everyone hair is different and therefor should be treated as so. For example, someone who has virgin/untouched hair will be easier and take less time. However, if they have hair that's already processed with lots of dark dyes, it will take a lot longer. We both wanted to keep the integrity of my hair. I knew the best possible way to get to my end goal without ruining my hair would be to be patient. I personally didn’t want to leave the salon with orange/brassy hair. My worst nightmare.
We decided it would be best to do a full highlight and gradually keep doing that until my hair was at a level where we could do an all over bleaching session. Why? My hair is super fine. I have my genes to thank for that one so we had to treat it very delicately.
So a bit of education about why going dark brown to blonde should be done in stages. Understanding your level of hair color is important when coloring hair, so let’s talk about what it is. It’s basically a universal system that refers to how light or dark a hair color is–the lower the number, the darker the hair.
My starting hair level was sitting at a 2. Check out the chart below to see what you fall under.
Now that we have talked about levels. Let’s talk about another level system- Bleaching levels. We all have an underlying base pigment. In black hair, it’s a red base and in blonde hair, the pigment is golden orange to pale yellow. As you move up the color system you go from red, to orange, and lastly to yellow. When you bleach your hair, it strips away your color and reveals this base pigment. This is why it’s important to bleach in stages and not all in one visit because you will go through all these stages and fry your hair. It’s NOT cute guys. See this not so fancy but helpful chart below on bleaching application tones.
Your hair stylist will also use your base pigment to see which toner needs to be used on your hair. For example, let’s say you come in and with first application of the bleach, you get to a red level base pigment. Your stylist will try to neutralize/cancel out the red by toning it with a green based toner. Green is on the opposite side of red on the color wheel. You come in again for your 2nd application, your hair pulls at an orange base level-your stylist will tone with something with a blue undertone to cancel out the orange. Etc.
So how long did it take me to get me blonde? Five sessions in 5 months. Well that may seem like a long time, I couldn’t be more happy. That time let me gradually get used to having lighter and lighter hair. Going black to blonde all in one sitting would have been a shock. I went about every 4-5 weeks between lightening sessions.
In between sessions, I made sure to do my part and nurture my hair with the products my stylist suggested. Which leads me to my next topic…
Now, it’s time to invest in some great products. This will be the foundation for keeping your blonde hair looking great:
Use a Bonder- The first thing my stylist said was crucial for my hair to heal between sessions is “bonder”: re-balances hair pH levels, which is critical for hair repair from the inside out. Benefits include reinforcing weak bonds in damaged hair, adds smoothness, prevents future breakage, and restores hair’s natural pH levels. I use Redken Redken pH Bonder Post-Service Perfector.
Use a Purple Shampoo- I use a purple shampoo once a week cut any yellow tones and keep my blonde locks bright. Sometimes I just use drop of it in my regular shampoo. Be careful not to leave it on for too long because it will turn your hair purple! I use Fanola No Yellow Shampoo.
Use a deep conditioner- I use a deep conditioning hair mask at least once a week for intensive conditioning of my hair. Pretty self-explanatory. I use Redken Extreme Mega Mask.
Use a dry shampoo- not only is it good for us lazy girls but shampooing your hair less per week keeps your color lasting longer! In between shampoos, I love using Pureology Style + Protect Refresh & Go Dry Shampoo. It smells great and refreshes your hair to perfection!
And that’s it folks! I hope you learned something after reading this post. The key to going from dark to blonde is patience and a little hair care love.