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Q: My hair is naturally a medium brown. I've been getting it done at a salon for a while now, and it's light blonde mixed with some brown and red. I plan on going all-over light platinum blonde at the salon soon, but my hair grows fast, so I won't be able to get root touch-ups at the salon. I was just wondering if my hair would turn out right if I just used an all-over super-light blonde box colour when my roots start to come in? — Taylor
A: Taylor, going platinum blonde on a budget is a common problem, especially when your hair isn’t within the medium blonde to light brown range. Fortunately, home hair colour has come a long way. If you are unsure about the process, it's smart to go to a salon for the initial blonding, because you are much more likely to get a good result.
After around four to six weeks (depending on how much re-growth you can put up with), you’ll want to touch up your roots, which is when you might consider using a home hair colour.
First of all, don't expect miracles. Going platinum blonde is never easy, even at a salon, so be realistic about what home hair colour can do. It's not going to turn your medium-brown roots to a platinum blonde, but neither would a bleach, either. At the salon, colourists use toners after the bleaching process to neutralize yellow and create the platinum shade. At home, you can do something similar with drugstore products.
An excellent brand that I always recommend is Garnier Nutrisse. I recently used one of their super-blonde shades to lighten my medium-brown hair, so I know firsthand how well they work. I recommend using Garnier Nutrisse Ultra Color in LB1 Ultra Light Cool Blonde.
This product will lighten your roots significantly to a medium blonde, which will blend nicely with the platinum ends.
This photo of Gwyneth Paltrow is a perfect example—notice how her roots are actually one or two shades darker than the rest of her hair (it's not just the lighting), but they still blend beautifully?
Our roots lift more easily than the rest of our hair because the natural heat from the scalp speeds up the process. To aid the lightening process even more, once your roots are fully saturated with the dye, I recommend covering your hair with cellophane and blasting with a hairdryer for a couple of seconds; do this every five minutes during the development time. This will trap the heat in to produce optimal lightening.
Finally, a great product to maintain your hair’s platinum tone between colours is a purple shampoo.
Clairol Shimmer Lights is a well-known brand of purple shampoo available in North America and, if used as instructed, will help keep brassiness at bay.