How I Dyed My Brown Hair Blonde at Home

Yes, you CAN go from brunette to blonde by yourself, on a budget! How I achieved my ultimate shade of blonde.
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Thomas Marrington
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Yes, you CAN go from brunette to blonde by yourself, on a budget! How I achieved my ultimate shade of blonde.
Thomas brunette to blonde

Ever since I was 12 years old, I’ve wanted to be blonde. Kind of a weird thing for a 12-year-old boy to obsess over, right? But obsess I did!

The summer after year seven (that's seventh grade in North America), I was finally allowed to get highlights—which made me ridiculously happy, even though they looked fairly awful and got cut out within weeks. The point is, that experience was what started my journey with hair colour. Ever since then, I’ve been fascinated by the subject and consequently have been about every shade of blonde (and brown and red) imaginable. Even purple and a questionable salmon pink!

My blonding experiments haven't always run smoothly, however. A year ago, after a nasty accident with some ‘beachy’ salon highlights the day before prom—‘zebra’ doesn’t even begin to describe them—I abstained from any hair colouring whatsoever, and stuck to my natural mid-brunette. Which was kinda boring! And so, towards the end of last year, I decided to bite the bullet and once more satisfy my blonderexia.

Why I Went Blonde at Home

I’ve gone blonde twice before in an upmarket salon at £60 a pop (ouch), and the results were nice... but not perfect. Both times, I had to modify the colour myself, in order to get what I wanted. (Told you I was obsessed.)

Being on a student budget, I began looking around for the best DIY solution. Now I'm sharing it with you guys—in case anybody else out there is seeking blondification, without ever having to step into a salon.

My Brunette to Blonde Inspirations

Before we get into how I did it, I'll show you what I was trying to achieve. I had two main inspirations in mind for my blonde. Blake Lively:

Blake Lively blonde hair

And Cody Simpson:

Cody Simpson blonde hair

I was looking to achieve something similar to Cody’s medium-blonde quiff, while incorporating some of the richer, multi-tonal highlights that Blake Lively is famous for.

My Brunette to Blonde Supplies

My first step was researching the options out there for at-home colour. Having used Garnier Nutrisse many times in the past, I studied their range and, after much deliberation, purchased the ultra-lightening shade, 10 Camomile (100 Camomile in North America), which is Extra-Light Natural Blonde:

Garnier Nutrisse 100 Extra Light Natural Blonde

I also picked up shade 8.13 Ash Beige Blonde from the their Radiant Blondes collection, which appears to be discontinued now in North America. According to Garnier’s helpline, the next closest shade would be L’Oréal Paris Excellence Creme Colour in 8BB Medium Beige Blonde (in Canada, it’s labelled as C13).

LOreal-Paris-Excellence-Creme-Triple-Protection-Colour-in-C13-Medium-Beige-Blonde

I then grabbed the Wella Streaking Kit for adding highlights afterwards. In North America, you can try Revlon Frost & Glow, which uses a cap as well:

Revlon Frost & Glow

Day 1: From Brunette to Dark Blonde

Here's the mid-brunette I was starting from:

Thomas brown hair before

To begin with, I used the ultra-lightening Garnier shade to lift up my medium brown hair. I was mega-impressed with this dye; it managed to lighten my hair by about four levels to a brassy medium blonde. I’d recommend this to anyone as a first step in going from brunette to blonde. Make sure to follow the package directions; you may need to purchase two kits to have enough product, if your hair is long.

Straight after that, I applied the ash beige blonde colour to neutralize the brassy tones, but I was a little less impressed. Although it did a good job at calming down the colour and making it a nice champagne shade, it was definitely a darker blonde than what I was ultimately after. However, if you're looking for a natural look, along the same lines as Michelle's new colour, you could stop here.

Excuse my #superhappyselfieface:

Thomas dark blonde hair

Day 2: From Dark Blonde to Canary Yellow (oops!)

The following day, I used the Wella Streaking Kit to add highlights to my newly blonde hair. The placement was great, thanks to the cap that comes with it, but unfortunately the bleach made it canary yellow! Rather than resembling Cody Simpson, I was a dead ringer for Tweety Bird. Onto the next dye!

Day 3: From Canary Yellow to Beige Blonde

On the third day, I went straight to Boots and purchased L’Oréal Paris Casting Creme Gloss in 801 Satin Blonde. The exact equivalent colour in Canada is L'Oréal Paris Healthy Look Crème Gloss Colour in 8.5A Light Ash Blonde, or in the U.S., 8 1/2 Blonde/White Chocolate.

L'Oreal Paris Healthy Look Creme Gloss 8 1:2 Blonde White Chocolate

Having used this before, I knew it acted like a toner, and luckily it came out the exact beige blonde colour I was hoping for:

Thomas medium blonde hair

But wait! There's more

Initially, I maintained this colour with a purple toner shampoo from Superdrug, which I mixed with a deep conditioner. I applied this mixture once a week and let it do its thing for an hour, kind of like a toning masque. (In North America, you could do the same thing using something like John Frieda Color Renew Tone Correcting Shampoo, and the conditioner of your choice.)

About two months later, however, I had my hair cut back to my normal style—short back and sides and longer on top, much like Cody Simpson’s. The unfortunate consequence of this was that my brown roots had crept in, making the back of my hair almost completely dark again. I was desperate to have an all-over blonde so that it looked as natural as possible, so once again I reached for the (colour) bottle. Except this time, I needed a SINGLE colourant that would more or less achieve all four of the steps outlined above. Not asking for much, right?

The Best Blonding Product I've Ever Used

Luckily, I found what I now consider to be the bored brunette’s Holy Grail hair colourant. I saw the box for Garnier Nutrisse Radiant Blondes shade 10.13 Very Light Ash Beige Blonde, which is the same shade in the U.K. and Canada. (In the U.S., try LB3, Ultra Light Beige Blonde.)

Garnier Nutrisse Radiant Blondes 10.13 Natural Very Light Ash Blonde

Immediately, Gwyneth Paltrow’s super-blonde shade sprang to mind:

Gwyneth Paltrow light blonde hair

Goopy and I are similarly toned—we both have blue-grey eyes and slightly tanned skin with more than a hint of redness to it. Based on this, I decided to give it a go (‘cos I’m impulsive like that) and I’m really glad I did!

This was probably the best blonding product I’ve ever used. In just 35 minutes, it lifted the medium brown to a creamy medium blonde, and my previously dyed hair turned a soft platinum colour.

Thomas blonde final

The two shades blend really well to create a natural-looking blonde, which seems to suit my skin tone nicely. Plus, the upkeep is super-easy from now on; I just have to touch up my roots with this dye!

Since using this colour, I’ve found that I don’t need to tone it as much with the purple shampoo. In fact, I actually prefer it a little brassy. (Sacrilege! I just found that the more I tone it, the duller it gets, 'til it completely washes me out and just looks grey.) As for my hair condition, it has felt totally fine afterwards, despite this being a high-lift blonde.

Blonde dreams finally achieved; Garnier's light beige-blonde being a wonder product for sure! Or at least until the next time I get the urge to transform my hair colour...

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Have you ever made a drastic colour change like this?
Would you ever attempt to go blonde at home?
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