Blinding like the Sun
March 11, 2020 6:00 PM   Subscribe

Help me fix my too-yellow hair.

I decided to lighten my hair in lieu of an expensive visit to the salon. Yes, I am well aware that the salon people are trained in this sort of thing and I am not. Nevertheless, having had less than stellar experiences at even expensive, they're-supposed-to-know-what-they're-doing type places, in which the hairdressers appeared remarkably clueless as to what care my hair type needs (fine, lots of it, naturally light brown/dark blonde) I figured I'd just try it myself. And the results are pretty okay for my first time doing this. (I used Blonde Brilliance Lift and Tone, as recommended by a Sally's employee). The resultant color, despite the careful application of the bleach for a balayage effect and the use of Wella 18 toner afterwards, remains sunny yellow. It doesn't look Big Bird bad, it doesn't even look bad, it's just... not the color I wanted. I'd (sigh) had highlights done at the salon years ago, and they did get the tones ashy the way I wanted. After screwing it up, making it too yellow, and correcting it. It's the correcting part, turning it ashy, that I'm not achieving on my own here.

The toner turner my hair purple but washed out to the lovely aforementioned warm blonde. I like warm blonde, it just doesn't suit my skin tone, which also has undertones of yellow. There is no contrast. I tried Silver Lights shampoo. It helps... a little. But because you aren't supposed to overdo it with purple shampoo, whenever I use my regular shampoo, it goes right back to lemon colored. My water is very hard, which makes it worse.

I looked at YouTube, talked to the associates at Sally's, looked here at old answers, etc, but nobody and nothing has told me yet what exactly I did wrong and how to fix it. I don't want to just dye it back to my old color. What with all the processing done to it now, I don't know what color I'd get.

Please don't just tell me "go to the salon and have them fix it." That is the last resort. My hair isn't that bad. It just needs that final tweak. If it is too hard to do myself I'll go (resignedly) to the salon. It's just my experiences in them are less than pleasant, and if anyone here can help me fix this myself I would really appreciate it.
posted by Crystal Fox to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (7 answers total)
Response by poster: For reference, the color is almost exactly like this.
posted by Crystal Fox at 6:12 PM on March 11, 2020

Have you tried mixing the purple shampoo with your regular shampoo, to dilute it a bit? (IANaColorist)
posted by PaulaSchultz at 6:44 PM on March 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

Dawn dish soap? "Chelating blonde hair and following with a purple shampoo/conditioner might be your remedy to remove brass from your hair without using an actual toner." Advice runs: "Begin by getting your hair completely wet, then use Dawn dish soap working it into the scalp all the way to the ends of your hair and fully rinse. Next, squeeze the lemon on your hair, leave it for a minute and rinse again. At this point your hair will feel SQUEAKY clean and dry but DON’T FREAK OUT! Use your most hydrating hair mask and enjoy a brighter, shinier and healthier hair. IMPORTANT: *THIS IS NOT SOMETHING YOU WANT TO DO EVERYDAY! PLEASE STICK TO ONCE A MONTH OR WHEN YOUR HAIR NEEDS IT.*"
posted by Iris Gambol at 7:22 PM on March 11, 2020

The best purple shampoo I've used is Fudge (Clean Blonde violet or similar) - others do not compare. Leave on for 5 minutes or so every three days, it is a miracle worker for brassiness. My hair naturally tones quite warmly, but it's a great ashy colour now.
posted by teststrip at 10:54 PM on March 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If the purple shampoos don’t fix this, I think what’s happened is maybe you haven’t lightened enough. No amount of purple shampoo or conditioner can compensate for that. I asked about diy bleaching here a few years ago and I think most people are more risk averse with their hair than me (lots of ‘go to the salon’ answers) so pinch of salt i am not your stylist etc etc.

One way to check if you’ve lightened enough is just to look at colour charts online. Just google hair levels bleach blonde, or something like that. If you think I’m right and your hair feels nice, just bleach again. There’s lots of confusing advice online but 20vol checked every five minutes should be pretty safe. You want to get it the right shade of yellow for the shade of blonde you want - eg if your end result colour is 10.xx, you want to bleach to level 10. Putting a level 10 colour on a level 8 bleach job will give you a golden colour because the underlying pigment is a layer of orange/yellow under your ash (or T18 or whatever). You need to think about colour as translucent; imagine layers of coloured cellophane or sheer fabric.

I do my balayage with permanent colour so I can’t advise about the wella toners but if you do end up trying permanent colour, also check the numbers; they mean gold or neutral or ash. First number is level, second numbers will be primary and secondary tones. Again, google will give you charts and the website of your product will give you specifics. I find permanent colour gives you a more reliable result so when I want ash, I get ash.

I ignored all the advice to go to the salon and have been a DIY blonde since 2015 and I love it. My hair is a bit dry but still looks good and I have been every level of blonde from 8 up to platinum. MeMail me if you like.
posted by stellathon at 12:46 AM on March 12, 2020 [9 favorites]

I am hardly an expert even a little, but I did spend a summer fucking up my hair for fun and everything you've written here sounds to me like you just didn't get it light enough. stellathon's comment backs that up.
posted by phunniemee at 4:46 AM on March 12, 2020

The level of expertise in Sally's Beauty varies widely. You should have a good idea what you are doing before you walk in. It probably will take another bleaching session-- you normally can't drop more than 2-3 levels at a time. You need to assemble the parts yourself, not use a kit. Get an oil based developer and some powdered bleach. Wear gloves.

It is essential to understand the Level System. You have to get past red/orange/yellow. The best description of your desired outcome is the same color as the INSIDE of a banana peel. Then you tone with a violet based toner.

Browse the Killer Strands website. The information is scattered across several pages, but the advice is technical and very good. I don't think the shop is being maintained, and the proprieter died a few years ago.
posted by ohshenandoah at 5:46 PM on March 14, 2020

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