Saturday, January 21, 2012

Battle of the Blonde

This is a story of warning...

SO every once in a while I get a touch bored with my hair and decide to do something drastic.  Last September I got the idea in my head to dye my hair a nice, medium brown.  Easy enough, right?  Well, anywho... my "medium brown" turned out to be a dark brown, with nearly black tips framing my face.  It looked really pretty and I loved it until winter happened, I lost my nice sun kissed glow, and my Swedish skin turned a shade of albino...

Long story short, I got the urge to work my way, gradually to my natural state of blonde.  And got impatient.

Last week, during a stint of sickness, boredom overcame me and I headed on over to my local drugstore and picked up a one-step lightening kit.  *Tip: The kit says 45 minutes for a reason.*  I left it on for 30, started to feel some burning and in a moment of panic... washed the bleaching mixture out before it had a chance to fully lift past the orange and yellow stage.
(The stages go as follows: Red-Brown. Red. Red-Orange. Orange-Yellow. Yellow -Orange.Yellow.Pale Yellow)

One heart attack later my hair was a delightful carrot orange... a shade that would make that girl from Paramour jealous.  It was NOT CUTE.

When it comes to hair "disasters"... and important thing to remember is DO NOT PANIC.  Easier said than done. 

So I deep conditioned and assured myself that in the morning I would use that bottle of Salon "L'oreal Preference Mega Blondes" (MB1 ultra light natural) that I'd purchased and it would make everything all better.

Well even though it didn't completely fix the problem, it did help.  L'Oreal's Salon Mega Blondes is a high lift, promising to lift up to four levels.  The lift got my hair to that, slightly more friendly, yellow stage, but since it was a neutral shade, it lacked the violet/blue (*think the color wheel) base that would bring an end the brassiness. 

If you know your basic color wheel blue is on the opposite side of yellow. It cancels each out, leaving a neutral shade

After several hours of research, several washes in "purple" based shampoo (a great way to keep blonde hair brass-free) and not enough money in my pocket to go to a salon, I put on a hat and decided to head over to Sallys and ask for help.

Because of all the yellow and gold tones, the girl sent me on my way I with 20 V (regular lift) developer and Clairol Professional Liquidcolor HiLift Ultra Cool Blonde, (ARCTIC blonde, ironic name given the weather outside my window) which has blue and violet bases to neutralize all the brassiness and enough "lift" to break through that final phase of yellow.

Here is my result:
It's a little warmer than I would normally go, but overall I am thankful this ordeal has come to an end.  I'm a little bit older, a little bit wiser, and WAY smarter.  This was quite the learning experience and I don't regret it.

Here's what I learned:
  • when the directions say 45 minutes, there is a reason.
  • drugstore lightening kits are usually not strong enough for "bold" changes like my own
  • the color wheel is amazingly useful in correcting hair color blunders.
  • If you can, just go to a professional for this sort of endeavor, it'll save you a lot of time, effort, and heartache.
Hopefully my story will either a) stop someone from taking the same journey I did or b) offer some solutions to correct a mess.

Remember, don't panic, it's just hair, and if you can't afford a salon (although that is ideal) there are things you can do to make it better.  Put a hat on and have someone assess the damage you've done and see if there's measures you can take at home.  I suggest a lot of deep conditioning and argan oil to give your hair a little tlc throughout the ordeal.

Some products to help you on your way:
Salma Hayak Black Currant Intense Hydration Hair Mask

* This conditioner contains Black Currant, which has a high amount of gamma lineolic acid. GLA is an essential fatty acid known for helping hair, skin, and nails. Papaya Fruit Extract is used in many Latin American cultures for restoring hair health because of it's vitamin content. This product also contains Wheat & Amaranth proteins that promote strong hair and this is paraben free.

Organix Argan Oil

* This rare formula has a centuries-old history of providing natural vitamin E and antioxidants while renewing your hair's cell structure, sealing in shine, and creating lush softness. A precious blend of Moroccan argan oil which instantly penetrates the hair shaft restoring shine and softness while strengthening. Derived from the southwest region of Morocco, argan oil protects from styling heat and UV damage while creating soft, seductive, silky perfection.

John Frieda Go Blonder Shampoo and Conditioner

* Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Lightening Shampoo gradually lightens blonde hair for a year-round sun-kissed look.  The formula, containing a natural Lightening Complex, gently reduces the color pigments in the hair.  Gentle enough for daily use.  Ammonia and peroxide-free.

Addition 1/22/12:  TONERS
I forgot about toners!!  Toners can be used depending on the results after hair is lightened.  Once you know what you're working with, a decision can be made as to what toner to use in order to neutralize any unwanted tones like yellow or orange.  Toners are ammonia free colors and will give your hair shine and color vibrant.  Ask someone at Sally's, your local beauty supply store or a Salon, about what base toner you need.  If you know what you're doing, you can even mix some in with a color-safe conditioner to keep your color fresh.  As always, follow the directions on a bottle!  Even toners can result in haircolor mishaps if used incorrectly.


  1. Great post!! This is exactly what i needed to read since I am going to be dying my hair myself instead of going to the salon next time. I'll only do my roots, so it won't be as scary. but if i end up with orange roots, i wont panic so much (easier said than done). but i will definitely take some of your advice and maybe try some of the products you suggested!

  2. I just discovered colorfix (color remover), there are other brands too, but it's a sulfur based hair color remover (artificial like the brown you had) way more gentle than bleach, and gets your hair ready for more bleaching with less damage. Great photos!