The whole process of how I bleached my hair really isn’t that long. If you’re considering bleaching, here’s how the process went for me!
Background: Six or so years ago, I bleached a little clump of my hair blonde (I had to do it twice), and that’s as far as my bleaching experience went. Around a year ago, I dyed my hair to a light-ish brown. It long since grew out to a natural black when two and a half weeks ago, I dyed it again making it turn reddish brown using a cheap $3 dye.
I’ve watched a lot of bleaching hair videos, and it seemed easy enough, but my dad said I should just get it done at a salon to avoid disaster. I ended up going to Kayo at Circa 92, located in Costa Mesa. I’ve been going to her for a while for haircuts, and so far my experience with her is really good!
Alrighties, boys and girls. Here’s the thing – even though I knew I wanted to go blonde, I brought a picture to show Kayo and make sure we were on the same page on what shade of blonde I wanted. Because guess what? There’s a lot of different shades, not to mention if you have darker hair, you can only go so light in one day. Your stylist will be able to tell you what’s possible and pricing for it as well.
Takeaway: bring multiple pictures of the exact shade you want!
And you probably already know, but bleaching totally kills your hair. You want to do everything you can to prevent damage (apart from the actual bleaching) so in my case I didn’t wash my hair the day before so the natural oils might prevent some damage. I know I talk about coconut oil a lot, but you could also use coconut oil on your hair a few hours before going into the salon (or doing it yourself). Just as the natural oils in your hair will help some of the dryness, so will coconut oil.
Since my hair was already lightened, Kayo said that one process of bleaching (meaning you bleach all your hair once) might be enough but to wait until my hair dried to see the final color. I was glad that she didn’t immediately jump to two processes, because I was relatively sure I wouldn’t need it.
The actual process didn’t take too long, and I’m not going to lie – my scalp (mostly near my neck) itched like CRAZY. Not much you can really do about it other than try and distract yourself. Once the bleach was in, Kayo said to wait 50 minutes. I’m pretty sure I actually didn’t wait that long, but I was on my phone, so who knows?
She washed out the bleach and blow dried my hair. My roots were bordering on white, the hair close to my head showed bright yellow and orange tones, and the bottom half was dark-ish and orange toned. This is totally normal! Black hair tends to have yellow tones, so when you do something like bleach it, it comes out like a bright golden yellow (not cute) rather than blonde.
After the blow dry it was slightly lighter, but we both agreed to do it again. The second time she only did the bottom chunks that were dark and orange, and some of the top that was orange. However, since she did bleach it twice, it was considered a double process, and she did charge me.
After the second time my hair was washed and blow dried again (I think about 20-30 minutes), my hair was definitely lighter but the bottom didn’t quite range out of the orange tones. Although Kayo assured me that any bleaching after the second time would be free, I didn’t want to continue the harsh damage in such a short time.
The whole process took about two and half hours (and cost $120), and I did end up with a bright yellow head and slightly darker orange tips. I do wish it would have come out a little more even, but that how it was.
The next day I went to Sally’s Beauty to get some toner and get the yellow and orange down. Because I have medium-length hair, I figured I would be safe with only one bottle of toner.
I got Wella’s Color Charm Toner in T18, which is the lightest ash blonde. The bottle is 1.4 fluid ounces. Toner also requires a developer, so I got the Ion Sensitive Scalp 20 Developer. I wasn’t sure whether to get the 8 oz or the 4 oz, but since I only got 1 bottle of toner I stuck with the 4 oz which turned out to be more than enough. Both items came out to a total of $10.
I was a little worried that I would do it wrong, but after a few YouTube videos, it didn’t seem too terrible. With toner and developer, it is suggested to have a 1:2 ratio. So I cleaned out a potato salad container (I’m not joking), grabbed some ill-fitting latex gloves and began. I emptied the toner into the bowl (and it smells a lot stronger than I thought so open a window) and poured a little over half of the 4 oz developer. I mixed it with a plastic spoon, and starting applying it.
At first it was clear, but it does end up a purple. I wasn’t worried since I knew that was how it was supposed to be. Purple cancels out the orange and yellow tones, which is also why purple shampoo is so popular with people who’ve bleached or colored their hair blonde. (PSST. I talk more about purple shampoo here if you’re curious). Slight warning: it’s a little messier than I thought, and yes there’s a potential for a stain on the counter, so just make sure to clean it up quickly! Also, toner can be itchy! At least doing it myself made it easier to scratch.
The directions say to wait about 30 minutes after application before washing it out, but I didn’t need that much time. Application took about 10-15 minutes, and then I waited another 10 before hopping in the shower.
There are some who say to use shampoo after toner, and others who say definitely don’t do it. To be safe I didn’t. After it air dried, this is how it looked!
As you can see, the yellow tones are almost completely gone! It’s hard to see in this picture, the bottom is still darker, but the orange has faded. My ideal color is a little lighter, but I really don’t want to do anything to my hair for a while. I can tell my hair is pretty dry because I haven’t washed it in a couple of days and it’s not oily at all which is not usually the case. I’m definitely going to deep condition soon.
So I hope that helped if you’re planning or thinking about bleaching your hair!