Can I touch up my blonde hair at home without impending embarassment?!
April 27, 2012 11:09 AM   Subscribe

Can I keep my hair blonde using at home products? Is there anything I need to know to not screw it up? Can anyone recommend specific products?

A couple of months ago I went to a local salon and went from my natural dark brown to an all over "golden" blonde (if not a bit brassy). Apparently my ends still had some remaining black dye on them so they didn't lift quite as much (looks similar to the ever so popular ombre). It has gotten to the point now that I really need a touch up, and I'd like to lighten the ends up again so that its more uniform as well and wouldn't mind everything being lighter but its hard to be prepared to spend $150 at the salon every 4 - 6 weeks. However, I really like the blonde and I want to keep it. I'm used to dying my hair at home all the time, but I've never done anything going from dark to lighter. One of my co-workers dyes hers lighter all of the time, and she uses at home products. The most recent time she did it hers looked better than mine does, and I paid 150 for it. Any advice? Can I do this without totally screwing it up? Pointers? Product recommendations?
posted by Quincy to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
It really depends on your hair. I color mine at home all the time and I've "fooled" stylists. My hair takes color really, really well, so it's easy for me to change the color on a whim. I like the Loreal Preference brand. If you want to reduce the brassy-ness, go for an ash/cooler shade. I just used shade 8A (Ash Blonde) today and it looks fantastic.

So if your hair takes color easily and without staining your scalp, go for it.
posted by cooker girl at 11:24 AM on April 27, 2012

Ask your co-worker what she uses, and if she has any other tips for you.

I'd want a professional to handle any extreme changes like you're describing, but maybe that's over-cautious.
posted by orange swan at 11:31 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Well, its not too much of an extreme change at this point, I'm already all over blonde, was just wanting to touch up my dark brown roots, and maybe be a little lighter (or less brassy) all over
posted by Quincy at 11:34 AM on April 27, 2012

Mentally budget, plan on spending the $150 on going to get your hair professionally dyed.

Now buy your box of Loreal and do it yourself. Read the instructions carefully, especially the part about root touchups, and just do it.

Does it look good? Fantastic!!
Does it look not-so-good? Off to the salon, you've got $150 that you were expecting to spend on it already.
posted by aimedwander at 11:53 AM on April 27, 2012

Whoa nelly!

That 8A cooker girl just recommended in a "permanent color" MAY NOT BE BLEACH-Y ENOUGH to lift your "natural dark brown roots." nor may it lift out residual color, though it could change the hue to something you like better. Or, just add more hurt to the situation (muddyness, greenishness). If you thought brassy was bad , wait 'til you have weirdly colored ends with red roots!

Natural dark brown most likely requires a double-process to lift to blonde (bleach, then toning). If you are determined to DIY I'd recommend looking for those highlight/streak kits. Do your parts, a zig-zaggy zone beyond the part, and your hairline, then run some streaks through different parts of your length. process until your roots are as light as the rest (rub off a little bleach, check it, then dab some more on), and past the orange stage to something closer to yellow. Get a demi-color/gloss too, in a light, cool (the above mentioned ash) tone and put this on as a sealant/toner after the bleach is all washed out, immediately to within a few days.

Please understand on each strand of hair there's three or four set of circumstances that have to be treated with different processing times, and that the hair closest to your scalp lifts REALLY FAST, so chances are by the time you get to the other side of your head applying, the place you started is ready to rinse out! this is why i think doing a highlighting approach might be an easier way to ease in, and you can go hog wild once you are more used to applying the stuff in a finicky fashion to one part of the strand, the later, another.

(oh and also that salon or another might do root retouches at a different rate than your initial appointment!)

good luck!
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 11:56 AM on April 27, 2012 [5 favorites]

When you did have it colored blonde in the salon, did it take forever to even get to golden blonde? Did she tone it (sounds like no, since you say it's a little brassy)? If it was relatively easy to get your hair to golden, you'll have better luck; my Hispanic dark-brown hair takes hours and much processing to get even past orange; I'd never try to blonde at home.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:02 PM on April 27, 2012

They did do a lift and then a toner (its not super brassy just a bit). Once they got the lifter on all over it didn't seem like I sat for too long before they rinsed it. And it was super light before the toner (with the exception of the aforementioned darker ends)
posted by Quincy at 12:08 PM on April 27, 2012
posted by pearlybob at 12:27 PM on April 27, 2012

Virgin roots, double-process bulk, old-dark-dye ends? With that combination, I would totally go with the salon, even though I'm relatively adept with DIY double-process and getting the right percentages figured out.

Worth the money to not have to worry about results (or at least be able to hold a professional responsible if something goes horribly awry).
posted by batmonkey at 12:29 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

You will not be able to "lighten up the ends" by using home color. The colorist who originally lightened your hair should have used some sort of color remover to first strip the black dye or as much of it as possible from your hair. That's not something that I think you should attempt at home. You'd really need to go to someone who specializes in color correction, since it seems the first person screwed this up. You're best bet might be to live with the ombre look until your hair is long enough to just cut the dark ends.

You might be able get away with touching up the roots. I have seen one or two brands of home dye that have lines specifically for brunettes going more than two shades lighter than their natural color (perhaps L'Oreal and Revlon). I think that they probably just include a stronger developer (perhaps 40% as opposed to 20%).
posted by kaybdc at 12:38 PM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

Feria for Loreal. Good stuff!
posted by Neekee at 12:53 PM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Wow, thanks. I kind of thought that the unintentional ombre was a screw up on the part of the stylist, but then assumed that it was probably something that could not have been prevented. Can I lift the roots and rise, and then do an all over gloss or toner to get an even color?
posted by Quincy at 12:53 PM on April 27, 2012

I'll bet your stylist will do your roots touch-up for less than the full-on $150, if you ask. It's not worth wrecking your salon job to mess with it at home. If you had just gone from Winter Wheat Blonde to Natural Golden Blonde, I'd say go for it, but why risk looking like Madonna after a hard night?
posted by Ideefixe at 12:54 PM on April 27, 2012

ugh and by you're, I meant your.

I kind of thought that the unintentional ombre was a screw up on the part of the stylist, but then assumed that it was probably something that could not have been prevented. Can I lift the roots and rise, and then do an all over gloss or toner to get an even color?

You might be able to get an even color between your roots and the blond that you got at the salon. However, it won't "fix" the dark ends. I think you either need to cut them off or consult with someone who specializes in color correction.
posted by kaybdc at 2:00 PM on April 27, 2012

I have chin length medium brown hair that is light, cool blonde. I usually use about two boxes of at home color for one trip to the salon. So I'll go to the salon, get highlights or a root cover for about $80 or $60, and then when my roots start to show again, I use box blonde a couple of times. I use a natural shade because ash turns my hair green-ish and golden turns it red. I put it all over my hair because I am not that patient. The roots are always a bit darker when I use the box blonde, but it usually looks pretty good and saves lots of money.

I haven't gotten all over treatment at the salon since I initially went blonde. I just don't see the point.

If you want to tone down brass, you might try purple shampoo or conditioner. I use it.

What I would probably do, if I was in your shoes, is try the at home color first in a shade that matches or is close to what you have right now. I would let it process on the darker parts longer (if you have the patience for careful application) and then apply it to the blonder parts for a shorter amount of time. This is just what I'd do.

They probably also wouldn't charge you $150 at the salon again. You could get an estimate before you dye at home.
posted by amodelcitizen at 2:15 PM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

- I've found a double process is not necessary for my naturally dark brown hair.

Been dyeing it professionally and at home since I was 14. I'm 40 now.

- box blonde uses a 20 vol peroxide, hence, no lift and brassiness!

- I use a 40 vol peroxide + toner (single process) to lift my dark brown hair when I do it at home....

I do the roots, let it sit for however long it takes (40 to 45 min), and I lather up the color on my roots with water to deposit the color on the rest of my already dyed hair, rinse, shampoo, condition.

Once your hair is dyed, it is super porous and VERY susceptible to damage. Don't pull the color all through your already dyed hair and leave it on for the full 40 minutes unless you love split ends and frizz.

- I don't understand if the darker ends were a mistake or on purpose? If it was a mistake, you should have notified the colorist and stopped back into the salon, even if you liked the effect. They owed you a discount or a touch-up, but I don't think you can show up and discuss it now, so long after the fact. Just telling you for the future.

- If you were a double process and the dark ends were a mistake, I would go to another salon. That's a ridiculous amount of bleach and should have stripped out your hair sufficiently. Also, double process is pretty damaging. Next time, a better stylist if you go that route!


You can do this yourself, but I agree you should have an experienced friend help you the first time. Also, buy the right volume of peroxide (40!) and your own color to mix yourself at the beauty supply store. The box stuff is expensive, and since it only features a 20 volume peroxide, it is useless for lifting your color.

Good luck!
posted by jbenben at 2:50 PM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

And to piggyback on what amodelcitizen said:
If you want to tone down brass, you might try purple shampoo or conditioner. I use it.

I use Lush's Daddy-O, which is meant for this, and it smells so good I get complete strangers complimenting me on it every time I wash my hair.
posted by fiercecupcake at 2:55 PM on April 27, 2012

Once your hair is dyed, it is super porous and VERY susceptible to damage. Don't pull the color all through your already dyed hair and leave it on for the full 40 minutes unless you love split ends and frizz.

Repeated for emphasis. This is why you should only apply color to your roots. Because it is super porous, it is not only susceptible to damage, but more easily picks up new color. This is why people with bad home coloring jobs end up looking like a calico cat. One colorist told me that you should only pull the color through the rest of your hair every 5th time AT MOST (and that's only if the color has faded and needs a touch up). I haven't found it to be necessary at all. Here's a tip: coat the previously colored hair (everything within a 1/2" or so of your roots) with conditioner or a small amount of argan oil before you apply color to the roots to prevent color from getting on anything but the new growth.

To keep your dyed hair in the best condition possible, try to find sulfate free shampoo and whatever you end up using, try to go as long as possible between washes. It also helps to limit use of blow dryers and flat irons.
posted by kaybdc at 8:45 PM on April 27, 2012

If you have Sally's Beauty Supply (or similar store) near you, they carry salon-powered hair dye.

I'm very like you - dark hair to blonde, don't want to pay $150 monthly for it. I spent about four hours in the salon the first time getting it light enough, though, and my hair "pulls red".

I have a hair stylist friend, and what she recommended was to bleach and then process. Spend the most time on your roots, then pull through the color to the ends near the end of the process (~5 min). Unfortunately, I react badly to the bleach so have stopped doing it, so I can't get nearly as light blond.

Good luck!
posted by bookdragoness at 4:27 PM on May 16, 2012

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