What is the Best Way To Go Blonder at Home?

"I want to learn to do this on my own and achieve a better blonde."
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Thomas Marrington
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"I want to learn to do this on my own and achieve a better blonde."
Blonde hair dye over highlights

Gem wants to achieve a light platinum blonde hair colour at home.

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Q: I really want to achieve a platinum/beige, creamy ash blonde hair colour at home. My natural hair colour is quite a dark brown, but I have it highlighted to a sandy blonde, and then sometimes I use a toner that also lightens it. Even when I have highlights done, my hair is stubborn and doesn’t take the colour that well, and then within a week or two the brassy orange tones appear, which I can't stand. 

I've never tried colouring my hair at home, but I'm tired of the hairdresser's, and I just want to learn to do this on my own and achieve a better blonde. Can I dye it all without having to strip the colour out with bleach? — Gem

A: Gem, lovely picture! First, here's the bad news. Unfortunately, I don't think it's realistic for you to go platinum blonde at home—and I'll explain why.

From the pictures you sent me, I can see that your natural colour is around a level 4/3, which is very dark brown, nearly black. This is why, as you mentioned, your hair doesn't take particularly well to the colour; it's because it's naturally so dark. So you would have to bleach it first, maybe even twice, to get it platinum, and then tone it afterwards. Lifting the hair above two shades requires bleach, and this in particular is when the brassy tones start to develop.

The good news is that you would look stunning with a slightly darker, richer blonde. I'd also like to move you away from foiled highlights to a more sophisticated double-process colour. Personally, what I would love for you is a rich light brown/dark blonde with subtle, tone-on-tone highlights. Your existing highlights will work well for you because when you dye over them, you will get some subtle colour variation anyway.

You have a beautiful face, and your skin tone and features remind me of Mariah Carey. Here is a example of a colour I think would be very flattering on you:

Mariah Carey, Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala, 2010

Mariah Carey at the 2010 Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala.

For this sort of look, you would need to lift your natural colour by about four levels. 

I recommend using Garnier Nutrisse Radiant Blondes 8.13 Beige Ash Blonde or Garnier Olia 8.13 Champagne Blonde on your regrowth to lighten your natural colour up a bit. Leave it on your roots for the maximum time and add an extra 10-15 minutes just to give it an extra kick (checking it the whole time!). 

After that, I suggest you mix Garnier Nutrisse 70 Almond Creme and 73 Dark Golden Blonde. Apply the mixture all over to fill in those previous highlights and achieve a soft, warm dark blonde.

Mariah Carey, Project Canvas Art Gala, 2012

Mariah Carey at the 2012 Project Canvas Art Gala.

This second look is a bit lighter and brighter because of the balayage effect, with the highlights concentrated towards the ends. This sort of colour would require a bit more work. 

First, you would need to mix Garnier Nutrisse 70 Almond Creme with 73 Dark Golden Blonde, and apply the mixture all over to achieve the base colour. After this, you can use a highlighting kit (which will contain bleach) to put some subtle streaks through your hair, concentrating them towards the ends for a naturally sun-kissed effect. You wouldn’t need to leave the bleach on for long, as you only want subtle tone-on-tone colour variation to create movement and dimension.

After this, I would concentrate on deep-conditioning your hair and getting as much shine on it as possible! Try and reduce heat styling, too, especially with on-the-hair tools such as straighteners or curling tongs. I recommend Bleach London’s Reincarnation Mask for this; it's the best deep conditioner I have ever used.

As a final note, lightening hair exposes the warmth in it, so you will most likely be left with some brassy tones. Make sure you pick up a purple shampoo such as Provoke Touch of Silver Twice a Week Treatment or John Freida Tone Correcting Shampoo to neutralize any brassiness and ensure a soft, natural-looking blonde!