Bleaching your hair… it’s not for the faint of heart…

So… one day you decide, I want to go blonde!  And if you’re like me, bored with your hair colour and love variety, it’s bound to come up sooner rather than later.   Now, we’ve all seen the celebs and think wow, I want to do that shade!  And you think, easy peacey, I’ll get a home bleaching kit and look like Gwen.    Hold on to your hats …  you might need them.  If you’re a brunette like me, you more than likely need at least ONE.

Maybe you don’t need to hide your face… but if your hair isn’t right, this could come in handy…

I’ve been just about every colour on the black to blonde spectrum and let me tell you, not everything is pretty.  My hair is the darkest of brown without being black.  That’s what the salon lady told me.  Why she didn’t call it black, I don’t know…  at the store I see soft black, almost black, black, dark black (seriously??), and blue black.  It’s almost as bad as mascara and eyeliner with their ‘blackest black’ and ‘onyx black’ shades.   Honestly, I like simplicity.  Just call it black.  Blue black at least has that blue sheen, that one makes sense.  And we have off white, why not off black?  Anyway, I digress.   The point is, I have super dark hair.

Snow white hair is the ultimate blonde, right? Who doesn’t think “hey I want to be a sexy blonde bombshell!” at one point or another in their lifetime?

And the boxes at the store say things like ONE STEP bleach blonde!  And you think omg, I have it made!   It costs what? 15 bucks!?  (some may be up to 20) and the salon wanted what? over a hundred!? SOLD!!  So you take your generic (or brand name) bleach in a box kit.  You go home with dreams of blonde hair dancing in your head.   I will look so much sexier!  I will look so good and I’ll be so happy!  And more importantly, I’ll look way different than I do now!

So…  if you’re smart, you decide to do the project on the weekend.  If you’re not, you will definitely need the hat…  It’s murphy’s law.  If you must look good for something the next day, it’s going to blow up in your face.   I always do my crazy hair thing over the weekend.  Then at least I have one more day to try to correct the insanity.  This comes with experience.   My first hair insanity happened when I was in middle school.   It went something like this:

I said, This is blonde!?

My hair is much darker but the end result, well, that’s what I wanted. Her “after” photo.

Yeah… not my best look…  my skin tone doesn’t really do orange well.  Plus I hate orange.  I like the fruit but hate the colour.  The box never said anything about my hair going orange!  So, I spent the next day hiding around and praying no one asked what the hell happened.  Fortunately for me, I was invisible and a loner, no one cared and no one asked.  I was lucky and unlucky at the same time.  I wasn’t much of a social butterfly growing up.  You wouldn’t know that now, but back then, I didn’t really talk to anyone.

After that hair insanity I started looking for information.   Oh, in case you were wondering, I dyed my hair back to black which was a shame but it was better than orange.  Black trumps all.  I didn’t learn until a long time later that your hair isn’t really “black” and it doesn’t go the way the box or the charts tell you it’s supposed to go.

This is what the boxes and chart show you. I see no orange in there, do you?

I was naive in my youth.  I thought OK fine, I’ll lighten to medium brown which is two levels higher than very dark brown, right?  No issues…  Then once I’m there I’ll go lighter into dark blonde…  That’s two levles higher…  and then I’ll go to medium blonde, which is what I thought I wanted.   Yeah, OK.  It should work, in ‘theory’ as far as a middle schooler goes…or someone with no hair experience.  It doesn’t work that way.  Let me just help you.   First of all, no box of hair dye will take out a previous colour.   So you can put bleach blonde platinum on medium brown and you just might go to orange but you’re pretty much stuck where you are…   Why?  Because hair colour is much more than a simple box.   First, let me show you how hair REALLY goes:

Ah… see… THERE is your orange!

As you can see, I’m already at ‘red’ so as I progress in the chart, I go more towards orange.  The bleach kits can take you to ‘heaven’ but you need to do them (usually) twice because orange is a seriously stubborn phase.  See… orange doesn’t go away until you reach ‘gold’ stage and even then it’s still kind of orange.  Your blonde is really ‘yellow’ and above.  Here someone was nice enough to make a chart using actual hair.

I think she’s missing level 10 but ey, I didn’t make this so I’ll take her word for it.

See what I mean about stubborn orange?  So why do these kits lie?  They don’t lie… per se’…  Nature does have something to do with things too.  Some people have more ‘gold’ in their hair.  You’ve seen them… they go away to some tropical island and come back a beautiful golden tan and blondish.  I go on the same vacation and I come back burnt and orange.  It really isn’t fair…   The point is, the box does work, for SOME people and that’s all it needs to advertise that it works.  Also, their dark brown is not my dark brown.  Their dark brown is a level 3 and mine is almost a level 1.

Now you’re probably wondering when I get to the ‘good stuff’ and stop explaining stuff.  Alright, here it goes, in simple terms.  Bleach. 40 Vol peroxide. Gold.

BUT before you run off and get these products find good, high quality brands for your hair type.  Also, if your hair has been through insanity, you will burn it straight off if you do this.  Those ingredients are for healthy, not messed with (too much) hair and yes, do the strand test so you know how much time you will actually use.  Make sure the bleach you use is for “on the scalp” use.  Oh and one more thing, if your hair is kind of light, like a level 4 (or a 3 that lightens easier) you might need 30 volume instead.   I use 40 because my hair is really dark.  Less is better because it’s not as damaging so if you’re lucky and can use 30, that’s better.   If you’re a 6 I’m not sure why you’re here or why the box kit didn’t work for you but if 20 volume doesn’t work, try the 30 also.  My point is, only really dark hair should be using 40 volume.  That’s for us lowly 1, 2, and some 3’s.

Word to the wise:  Bleach mucks up your hair.  It basically opens up your hair shaft, destroys what makes your hair whatever colour it is, and then leaves the left overs for you to use as hair.   This is why bleach blonde hair tends to come out like straw because basically it’s husks on your head.  This is also why if you’ve already messed with your hair too much, your husks will just melt off.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.   The box won’t tell you.  It will just show some model with gorgeous blonde hair that was probably naturally blonde or done professionally.  If you bleach your hair you have to condition it like crazy and baby it like it’s the last hair you’ll ever have.  I hope you can understand why.

Now there are a lot of tutorials on how to bleach your hair so I doubt you need yet ANOTHER one from me.  I still say hold on to your hats because even if you’ve done it a million times before, you WILL mess up again.  Wrong bleach, wrong bottle, who knows… wrong toner…  it happens.  But maybe now you’ll have a little more comprehension and a little bit of help!  Happy colouring! 😀

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