How To Go Blonde At Home

Get the natural-looking colour you've always wanted—without the trip to the salon.
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Thomas Marrington
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Get the natural-looking colour you've always wanted—without the trip to the salon.
How to go blonde at home - Jennifer Aniston - Golden Globes 2010

Home hair colour technology is so advanced these days that even top celebrity colourists such as Marie Robinson have admitted that they just don't think it can get any better. (Watch this vid Michelle did with her for a refresher.) Even my own hairstylist told me that there is basically no difference in quality between salon colour and at-home kits.

What you're paying for at the salon is the pampering treatment and the colourist’s expertise (which is totally understandable since they are all trained and experienced and whatnot).

The biggest difference between salon and at-home colour is that in a salon, the colourist can mix two or more different shades to create a totally customized hue that suits you perfectly. In a box kit, you get what you get—one colour tube and a bottle of developer.

The problem with this is that you can have too much of a good thing, and that beautiful soft golden blonde on the box that so perfectly matches Jennifer Aniston’s hair can turn out more like this.

Katy Perry brassy hair

Poor Katy's hair here looks brassy and artificial because the pure gold tone overwhelmed the colour. It doesn't just happen in blondes, either—golden brunette shades all too often suffer the same orangey fate. Which is exactly why colourists mix!

(For the record, Katy could've achieved a more natural-looking golden blonde by mixing a medium golden blonde colour, 8G, with a medium neutral blonde, 8N.)

If you’re on a budget, you can totally do your own colour mixing at home. I'm telling you, it's actually super-easy to do this by yourself for a fraction of the salon price. By selecting two close colours from the same brand and range, you can create a balanced and professional-looking colour—no salon trip required.

Take Taylor Swift's medium ash blonde hair, for another example.

How to go blonde at home - Taylor Swift

This could easily be created using a medium ash blonde (8A) mixed with a medium neutral blonde (8N). The neutral colour would take the harsh edge off the ash tone, which on its own can often result in a dull, flat colour.

How the home hair colour numbering and lettering system works

The number and letter system for home hair colourants is easy to understand, although it does change according to the brand.

The number on the box is from 1-10, which equals dark to light; 1 would be the darkest black colour and 10 would be the lightest platinum blonde.

The letter that follows signifies the tone. There are generally five tones in hair colour: A (Ash), G (Gold), N (Neutral/Natural) and R (Red). Sometimes, they don't always have the letter, so in that case look for the words themselves in the colour description.

For my instructions today on how to go blonde at home, we'll be sticking with Gold and Neutral, but other combinations that go well together are Ash with Neutral and Red with Gold.

NOTE: As long as your natural base colour is in the blonde to light brown family, then using my guide below should result in a light/medium/dark golden blonde shade (depending on your start colour).

How to go blonde at home

1. Purchase two shades from the same brand and range. These should be permanent, as semi-permanent does not provide lift; Garnier Nutrisse is a great option. Never mix two different brands—the ingredients WILL differ and could cause an unexpected result (that would not be a fun reveal at the end).

Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Colour Cream

Garnier Nourishing Colour Cream, at Amazon.comDrugstore.com, ULTA BeautyWalgreensWell.ca and Walmart.ca.

2. Choose two shades that are similar levels. For example, a Dark Golden Blonde mixed with a Neutral Golden Blonde would be a 7G mixed with a 7N. Don’t mix shades that are drastically different levels. Keep within two shade ranges (i.e. if using an 8R copper blonde, only use a 7N or a 9N to tone it down).

3. Don’t mix Ash and Gold! The tonal difference is too extreme and may result in an odd colour. Only mix Ash with Neutral, or Gold with Neutral or Red. (Another bad combo, although it's not applicable for blondes, is Red with Ash. Don't do it!)

4. Mix the contents of the two boxes—both of the colour creams and both of the developers—in one bowl. Since the applicator bottles provided in the boxes will be too small to mix all that colour together, you need a bowl of your own. I recommend using a plastic or glass bowl but not metal, as certain metals react with the dye and could change the resulting colour. (The same goes for any other tools you use, like combs or hair clips.)

5. Apply your colour to the ends first, working your way up to the roots. Wait the recommended maximum development time and then check the hair. If it's not light enough, wait a further ten minutes and then wash it off. Here's a great tip for further lightening: once all the dye is applied, pile your hair up on your head and wrap it in Saran wrap (cling film) or a shower cap. This will trap the heat in and speed up the lightening process.

Wash it off and style as usual—and enjoy your new, sun-kissed, natural-looking blonde! This same process can be used to make copper reds look more natural and make ash colours more dimensional. What’s not to love, people?

Tell me:

Have you ever dyed your hair blonde at home?
Did you mix your colours or just apply it straight? (How'd it turn out?)
Which celeb has the hair colour of your dreams?