At-home magic "toner" shampoo to keep me blonde?
March 15, 2015 3:00 PM   Subscribe

I've been getting my mousy light brown hair highlighted blonde for going on, oh, 15 years. I'm totally sick of spending $1200 a year maintaining it (just writing out that figure is horrifying). I need help figuring out how blonde hair works.

At this point my hair looks almost totally blonde, so I think I've crossed the line from having true highlights to approximating all-over color. I tried talking to my stylist yesterday about other options, but I left feeling confused. I've looked at previous Asks like this, which gave me an idea that I could ask for balyage, but I'm kind of lost otherwise.

Can someone explain to me, in plain English, if it is or isn't possible to color my previously highlighted hair into just all-over blonde (so no more foils)? Is this something I could do at home, eventually, so that I could touch up my own roots? I am confused about single-process versus highlights versus whatever else is out there. One option my stylist suggested is that I could come in for a "toner" (I think toner with peroxide?) that would subtly lighten my natural hair to blend in better with the highlights to make the regrowth less noticable and buy me a few more weeks in between appointments. This is still $30 though, and I recall someone mentioning something in a previous AskMe (which I cannot unearth) about buying this same type of toner online and applying it at home. Does anyone know what this miracle product might be? I'm a little too nervous to try to do any two-step processes or mix anything myself, but I can handle rubbing something in, waiting, and then rinsing it out. Thanks for your guidance.
posted by Yellow Silver Maple to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
How long is your hair? I have shorter hair, and bleach and tone mine platinum blonde with box stuff at home every 6ish weeks to the tune of like $200 a year. If you have longer hair that may be harder to do yourself without damaging you hair, so I'll leave the details to someone with long hair. However, with shorter hair, it's very doable.
posted by amileighs at 3:21 PM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I used to get bleach salon highlights on my dishwater blonde hair, and after going through the cycle a few times, I also always just ended up with a head full of blonde. One option was to occasionally get all-over color done and then highlights on top of that, but that gets pricey. Over the last several years I've just started coloring and highlighting my hair at home using Loreal Couleur Experte, especially in shade 7.1 Vanilla Icing. The only issue I notice is that sometimes my ends are a little darker/ashier than the rest of my hair, which I'm pretty sure could is a problem that could be solved by using a filler, but I haven't tried that myself (I did have someone use a filler on my hair at a salon when going from bleachy orange to light brown, and the results were awesome).
posted by jabes at 3:34 PM on March 15, 2015


My sister-in-law used to get high/low lights done professionally, but switched to one-step home color a while back and has been happy with the results. (I can't see any difference at all since she changed methods.) And I've been using L'Oreal Excellence Golden Blonde since my now mostly gray hair was mousy brown. On the few occasions that I splurged on a pro job I felt like I wasted my money.

I suggest buying a box of L'Oreal (Excellence is permanent, so you might want to start with the Preference line, which fades over several weeks) and test an inconspicuous strand.
posted by she's not there at 6:07 PM on March 15, 2015


I have red hair, a color very well known to fade. I learned about this type of conditioner that deposits color every week. Then I learned all it is is semi permanent dye put into conditioner in about a 1 to 10 ratio so I just went to Sally's Beauty Supply and bought some and I can finally keep my red hair!
posted by eq21 at 6:30 PM on March 15, 2015


You can do this at home, especially if you have shorter hair. The drug store brands like L'Oreal or Nutrisse are pretty foolproof. The challenge may be finding the right blonde--not too brassy or orange. I have been coloring my mouse-colored hair for years and am happy with the results. The only disappointment is when they discontinue a color (Nutrisse/Garnier is the worst for this.) I have short hair and use only half of the box at at time--I just keep one of the squirt bottles and measure half of the contents of each of the color elements into it. The remaining unmixed color goes back in the cupboard for next time. So, very cheap way to have blonde hair, even cheaper if you use coupons. Longer or thicker hair may take more than one box of color. I use L'Oreal Paris Excellence Blonde Supreme Creme Haircolor, Extra Light Ash Blonde 01 and get very light blonde, even lighter in areas where there is a lot of gray. My hairdresser suggested to ease in to the color by combing it in, rather than drenching the hair the first time. The L'Oreal I use comes with a comb-like applicator. Now I just rub it in, wait, & rinse it out.
posted by Nosey Mrs. Rat at 8:10 PM on March 15, 2015


One option my stylist suggested is that I could come in for a "toner" (I think toner with peroxide?) that would subtly lighten my natural hair to blend in better with the highlights to make the regrowth less noticable and buy me a few more weeks in between appointments. This is still $30 though, and I recall someone mentioning something in a previous AskMe (which I cannot unearth) about buying this same type of toner online and applying it at home. Does anyone know what this miracle product might be?

IANAHS & IANAB, but, I understand "toner" to be hair colour that's made of a low-volume developer mixed with a colour that's meant to correct brassy tones in hair that's been bleached. (They use colour theory to figure it out, can't remember if you'd have to go ashy or violet or what.)

I think it's a trick to work out which developer and colour to use, for how long, especially if your natural colour is dark (because a weak developer, or one that's been left on for not very long, will "lift" your natural colour to something orangey; that's got to be accounted for in the choice of haircolour). You could go to a hair/beauty supply store like Sally's (or maybe even a local drugstore, depending) for the parts, but it's going to be a bit of a risk.

(Or, you can scour reviews and forums to see how others have achieved the effect you want with different products. Or, you can pay the $30 this one time and ask your stylist as many questions as you can get away with. However, when it's time for the next dye, your hair will be a different colour, and some other decision-making process will need to happen :/ I don't know, blonde hair is expensive. I think that's why a lot of people who do their own dying tend to choose colours close to their own. Would you consider going darker?)
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:42 PM on March 15, 2015


I think we have the same color hair.... Know exactly what you mean. The best way to lighten dirty blond hair is to be out in the sun. But if that is not enough, try John Frieda's products.

For example:
http://www.amazon.com/John-Frieda-Blonder-Lightening-Shampoo/dp/B005MIFI3E/

I had good success with the shampoo and the lightening spray. I would still be using them if my hair hadn't lightened on its own as I started going gray :(
posted by amy27 at 11:01 PM on March 15, 2015


I've been working on this exact problem for a while with my own hair, and I can say a little about what works and what doesn't.

I started with the Shea Moisture light blond, which smells fantastic and comes with generous samples of conditioner and good shampoo, but on its own makes me more yellow than anything else. Next time, I think I'll switch brands and get something more explicitly ash blond, not "golden" or nonspecific blond.

So after the Shea Moisture color, I first attempted to tone it out with Wella Lightest Ash Blond #T18 (around $5 at Sally Beauty Supply) with a 20 volume developer, following instructions from teenagers on youtube. The results were...barely perceptible. I bought some purple shampoo from Whole Foods, and that did next to nothing. Time for the big guns.

My favorite toner so far has been the Platinum from the Blond Brilliance line, and Blond Brilliance also makes the best purple conditioner (it's inky indigo and doesn't smell bad, which is amazing). Shimmer Lights purple shampoo seems to help with daily/weekly maintenance, in combination with that inky conditioner. Also, be sure to avoid heat styling and basically condition the FUCK out of your hair as long as you're coloring at home. Use oil treatments if your hair isn't too fine. Condition to the max!

Then, to polish it up a bit (it'd been a while since I had a cut, and I was starting to look like David Lee Roth), I got a trim and had my stylist apply an ashy glaze--the "glaze" effect is essentially a demipermanent color with something that makes my hair really shiny, and it costs around $30. IMO it looks great.

All of this combined is still less than the cost of one highlighting-and-beyond color session at the salon, and a lot of these supplies last for multiple uses. Plus, I figure it's worthwhile to spend a bit more at the beginning while I figure out the right combination of what will work to keep my hair blond. Good luck and have fun with it!!
posted by witchen at 7:51 AM on March 16, 2015


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