Tori loves dying her hair all colors of the rainbow and shares her tutorials with others.
How I Found This Product
I recently started a new job that doesn't care if my hair is dyed (score)! I've had the itch to re-dye my hair for a couple of weeks now, so yesterday I just went for it. My boyfriend and I went to Sally Beauty Supply to pick up my standard set of supplies and decide on a color.
Normally, I buy Ion Color Brilliance Ammonia Free Powder Lightener and mix it with 20 Volume Sensitive Scalp developer of the same brand, as I've always had good results with that combination. But when I went to grab the Powder Lightener I noticed Ion had a new product, creme lightener, that I hadn't seen before.
I called my sister, who is a hair-dye-at-home aficionado, to ask her if she'd ever used it or heard of it and she said no. I'm a little adventurous and I've always had good experiences using Ion products, so I decided to try it out on a whim. I didn't read any reviews until after my hair was already finished.
Before you begin using my directions as a process to lighten your own hair, I just want to preface by saying I am not a licensed professional. I am a do-it-yourself person who has been dying my own hair for many, many years. My methods of using these products are what work for me, and sometimes different methods work better for different people, especially those with different types or colors of hair than me.
Before lightening your hair at home, read all package directions. I also recommend looking at 2–3 different reviews with directions to ensure that the information you are using is uniform. If it doesn't work out the way you wanted, do not hesitate to visit a professional to have it fixed.
Ion Color Brilliance Bright White Creme Lightener comes in a 10.6 oz squeeze tube. which I think is a good amount for the price. Overall the packaging is user-friendly. I used about 3/4 of the bottle during my first round of lightning, and the remaining 1/4 to touch up spots that I missed.
My one complaint about the packaging is that I feel like I missed a small portion of the product because you can only squeeze out so much before you reach the hard plastic opening and can't squeeze anymore. I even left the bottle standing up overnight to see if any of the remaining product would settle into the opening but unfortunately, it did not.
Supplies I Used
Ion Color Brilliance Bright White Creme Lightener
Sensitive Scalp 20 Volume Creme Developer
Haircolor Mixing Bowl
Tint Brush (helpful for spreading mixture in roots)
Generic Value Products Conditioning Shampoo (Purple Shampoo, this is the one I use but you can use whatever other brand you like)
It's a 10 Miracle Leave-In (not required but it's what I used afterward)
First, I took a shower the night before to ensure that any hair styling product were out of my hair. If you have residual products such as gel, hairspray, mousse, etc in your hair, it will mess with the lightening or coloring that you are doing and it may not take evenly.
The next day, I mixed a 1:1 ratio of 20 volume developer with the creme lightener in the bowl. I used the tint brush to mix it together. The texture of the mixture looked like a chalky paste. The more you mix it the smoother it gets.
From here there are a couple of ways to apply the product. Lightening products work quickly already, so you have to work fast or be prepared to apply and rinse out sections of your hair at a time instead of your whole head.
I think the best way to apply the mixture while keeping your hair neat and not missing any pieces is to use the tint brush. Do your roots first: Start where your natural part is and paint the mixture on. Once you finish that layer, lift it up and put it to the other side, so that you can do the section underneath. You may need a friend to help you with the back of your head, but with this product you need to work very, very quickly. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes, then rinse it out. After your roots are done, section your hair out in 1–2 inch sections using clips and apply the bleach mixture using your gloved fingers to rub it in. Let it sit for another 10–15 minutes and then rinse it out.
Alternatively, you could do what I did, which is not the best way but it is a way. I applied the lightening mixture with my hands, as if I was shampooing my hair, making sure to rub the product into my roots and scalp to ensure full coverage of my roots. Then I went back over with the tint brush to apply the product to any areas of my hair that looked like they weren't fully covered. If you do it this way, you have to be prepared to do a touch-up round, because no matter how much you think you've coated, you will most likely miss a spot. I was lucky and only missed some small spots on the back of my head so I just did a quick touchup round and was ready to go.
During each rinse, I used the Generic Value Products Purple Shampoo to remove brassiness and tone down the yellow that comes with lightening my hair. I followed up with OGX Coconut Water Conditioner and rinsed with cold water to seal my hair cuticles
After getting out of the shower, I used It's a 10 Miracle Leave-In to help rehydrate my hair after lightening. I waited 2 hours in between my first round and my touch up round, so that my hair could mostly air dry and rest a little bit. When I went back for my touchup round, I used my hairdryer on the warm setting (not hot) and the diffuser attachment to finish drying it before applying my touchup round using the tint brush and only covering areas that needed extra attention.
After rinsing the touch-up lightener out, I did two rounds of purple shampoo - the first to remove as much of the lightening mixture as I could, and the second round I let it sit for about 7 minutes before rinsing to remove as much brassiness as possible. I followed up again with conditioner and then the leave-in product after I got out of the shower.
Overall, I was very impressed with this creme lightener and would recommend it if you're looking to lighten your hair and dye it a bright color! I had no issues with using powder lightener, but I appreciated how fast this product worked once applied to my hair. My hair was originally a dark blonde with some residual yellow-blonde highlights at the bottom. This product lifted my hair so quickly that I only left it on for about 10 minutes before rinsing each time. The only thing I felt was a slight warming feeling on my scalp as the lightener reacted with the developer—no burning or stinging.
My hair felt soft and shiny, and split/fried ends were minimal. For my just-above-shoulder-length hair, I only needed to use one bottle to achieve the desired color, but if your hair is longer than mine you may have to use two. I bought two 8 oz bottles of 20 volume developer to use with this lightener and it ended up being the right amount, as I only needed about 10.5 oz of developer for a 1:1 mixing ratio. You will definitely need purple shampoo, because as with any hair lightening product it will typically lift to a yellow-blonde. If you have any other dyed colors in your hair at the time of using this product, you may have different results.
I've listed all of the ingredients on the back of the bottle here for reference. Before using any kind of lightening product, I recommend checking the ingredients for any known allergens, so that you don't have any kind of allergic reaction to the product. For some of the lesser-known ingredients, I've included links to information or short descriptions of the properties of the ingredient—that way you can learn a little bit more about ingredients that you may be unsure about.
- Mineral Oil
- Potassium Persulfate (lightening compound)
- Ammonium Persulfate (lightening compound, not Ammonia)
- Sodium Silicate
- Sodium Metasilicate
- Petrolatum (Assists in preventing outside dry-out)
- Sodium Persulfate (lightening compound)
- Ethylhexyl Stearate
- Sodium Stearate (Soap)
- Kaolin (White Clay, absorbs oil)
- Magnesium Oxide (Mineral)
- Sodium Laurel Sulfate (Foaming Agent)
- Silica (Anti Caking Agent)
- Titanium Dioxide / Cl77891 (White Pigment)
- Hydrolyzed Keratin (Moisturizer)
- Chamomilla Recutita Flower Extract (Calming Agent)
- Helianthus Anuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil (Provides Nutrients)
- Beeswax (Softens ad smooths)
- Hydroxyethylcellulose (Natural Thickening Agent)
- Xanthan Gum
- Bisabolol (Fragrance)
- Ceteareth-30 (Emulsifier)
- Hydrogenated Castor Oil (Emulsifier/Fragrance)
- Tetrasodium EDTA
- Butylene/Ethylene/Styrene Copolymer (Viscosity Increasing Agent)
- Ethylene/Propylene/Styrene Copolymer (Viscosity Increasing Agent)
- Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Cross Polymer (Viscosity Increasing Agent)
- PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil (Fragrance/Emulsifier)
Overall, after researching each ingredient individually, there seems to be a low toxicity hazard and should not cause much, if any, irritation unless you are allergic to a specific ingredient. One thing about the ingredients that I appreciated was the inclusion of keratin, sunflower seed oil, and chamomile extract, as all of these ingredients are needed to ensure that your hair is not overly damaged, is receiving proper nutrients, and that your scalp is not irritated while you are using the product.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: What is developer used for when dyeing hair?
Answer: Developer is what is used to lift your hair color level. It often has peroxide in it. The higher the number on the developer the quicker it works and the more damaging it can be if used incorrectly. I typically use volume 10 if I am removing color from already lightened hair, and volume 20 if I am lightening virgin hair. However, if your hair is naturally medium blonde or lighter, you shouldn't ever need to go higher than volume 10 to lighten.
Question: I have dyed my hair black using Wella a few times. I want to go to a brightish red now. The rep at Sally's told me I can use a 30 developer in all my hair for 30 min, and would maybe need two rounds. Is this ok? Now I'm doubting. I don't want to burn my hair.
Answer: I would say it depends. Have you lightened your hair before you went black? If so, that already treated hair may not be able to handle volume 30. If your hair has never been lightened, only dyed with semi-permanent black dye, then it will be fine with volume 30. You have to be careful, especially if you have a lot of hair. It just is more powerful and works more quickly, so you have to keep an extra eye on the clock and make sure that you put a day or two in between rounds of lightening to ensure you don't damage it.
Question: Did you tone your hair? Should I tone mine if it's orange?
Answer: No, I did not have to tone my hair after because my hair doesn't have red tones because it is naturally dark blonde. Orange can happen after any lightening process if you're lifting from a darker or more red-toned color, in which case you will need to tone once you're done. I recommend Wella T-18.
Question: My hair is blond already but I want it lighter, can I use a 30 developer instead of 20?
Answer: I would not. 30 volume is very damaging. If your hair is a lighter blonde than mine already, I would even recommend going lower than volume 20 - you should use volume 10. That way you don't fry your hair before you even get to wash out the lightener.
Question: Can I use 30 Vol lightener on hair roots? I want to achieve white, while I have dark brown roots.
Answer: You can, but I wouldn't recommend it because 30 Vol is very strong and has more potential to fry your hair. If you're starting from dark brown, it may take a couple of rounds to get to white - using a stronger developer may get you there faster, but it's going to be at the expense of the integrity of your hair. If you do decide to do it, be extra careful watching the time and don't leave it on for more than 10-15 minutes especially when mixing with this particular lightener, since the lightener works very fast.
Question: My daughter has dark brown roots and it fades to a very light brown. The sales person had us to get 20 volume bright white developer. Can we use the developer by itself to lighten the darker parts or would we need to mix with something else?
Answer: You do need to mix developer with a lightening product such as this one. Unfortunately, the developer does not really work on its own as a lightening agent. Out of all of the Lighteners I have tried, the Ion Bright White Creme Lightener is the gentlest and easiest to work with, especially when compared to powder versions, so this is the one I would recommend.
Question: I was told at Sally's Beauty Supply to use Volume 30 creme lightener to lighten my hair but I see you used Volume 20. Is it okay to use 30?
Answer: It really depends on how dark and thick your hair is. If your hair is dirty blonde and thin, 30 will fry it. If your hair is dark brown and thick, 30 is probably okay.
Question: Would you recommend using a dye after using the developer and lightener?
Answer: It depends on what you are going for! If you want blonde hair, I'd follow up with a toner. If you want another color such as blue, pink, or red, then yes you can use a dye. If you like how it turned out though you don't necessarily have to do anything to it!
Question: I want to dye my tips emerald green. I have black hair and have never dyed my hair. Should I only lighten the tips of my hair with the lvl 20 developer?
Answer: Hi Anon, yes - if you want only the tips of your hair you will only need to lighten the tips. Since you have dark hair though, I just want to caution you not to try to lighten too quickly so that you don't damage your hair. A lot of times on darker hair, any kind of lightener will most times come out orange on the first round. Don't be frightened if it does- let your hair rest a few days (using a conditioning treatment of some kind also), and then apply the lightener again. For a color as dark as emerald green you won't need white hair - just a couple shades above will work fine.
Question: Do I need a developer to use the ion color creme lightener?
Answer: Yes - in my article I recommend 20 volume sensitive scalp developer from the same brand!
Question: After we wash out our hair with the conditioner how much should you use shampoo on bleached hair?
Answer: I typically wash my hair with shampoo and conditioner every three to four days. Make sure the shampoo you are using is sulfate, silicone, and paraben-free so as not to harm your color.
Question: I have super short hair in a pixie cut. Can you save unused product still in the bottle?
Answer: Yes! You absolutely can.
Question: How long are you supposed to leave Ion Color Brilliance Bright White creme in your hair?
Answer: I do not leave it in more than 20 minutes once I have finished the whole section I'm trying to do.
Question: I was wondering that if I've already died my hair can I do the bright white cream lightener & the 20 volume developer wash it out and I already have the blue/purple shampoo? Will it still have a yellow kinda tone if I don't use a toner?
Answer: My hair usually does have a little bit of a yellow color if I don't use a toner to cool it down, but if you leave purple shampoo in long enough it does help tone it down a bit. It also depends on what color your hair was before you tried to lighten it as to what color it may be when you try to lighten it now.
Question: I have dyed black hair, should I use the Ion Color Brilliance Bright White Creme Lightener 30 or 40 for the max lightning affect?
Answer: I wouldn't use 30 or 40 to lighten dyed black hair especially if it is dyed with permanent dye because your hair is already damaged from chemicals. Be aware also that lightening hair that has been permanently dyed black may not yield blonde hair either, and it may take a few rounds (a couple of days apart, to allow your hair to rest) to achieve blonde. I have never gone blonde from permanent black though so I would not consider myself the expert on this.
Jen on July 15, 2020:
I have dark brown hair colored using demi-permanent for years and would like to go a shade lighter. Will the creme lightner work for that? How long do you think I should keep it in using 20 developer?
Mary on June 10, 2020:
I have dark copper hair, I would like to lighten it a little. I do not want to
be a blond. Tried that was not for me.
Bev on November 05, 2019:
Can I use this product once a week. I shampoo everyday and it doesn’t on my hair longer than a few days.
Susie Lang on May 04, 2019:
I HAVE PALE BLONDE HAIR ALREADY BUT I WANT LIGHTER HIGHLIGHTS IN FRONT, MY QUESTION IS HOW LONG WOULD I LEAVE THE ION IN FOR , AND IS THE RATIO OF ION BRIGHT WHITE CREME DEVELOPER AND THE 20 VOLUME CREME DEVELOPER USED 1 EQUAL PART TO 1 EQUAL PART aka 1 TO 1 RATIO, THANK YOU FOR ANY SUGGESTIONS :-D
ToriM (author) from Atlanta on March 22, 2019:
if you are using a chemical-free semipermanent or temporary dye such as manic panic, arctic fox, or wella color charm, then you can dye it as soon as your hair dries from the shower after lightening. If you are using a permanent dye or one that requires chemicals such as peroxide or developer, it's best to wait a few days to let your hair rest.
Laurie moretta on March 08, 2019:
I want white, I have dark brown roots and pink on ends, I want to achieve white roots, blue on ends
Rossann ross on February 26, 2019:
How long after I lighten my hair cami color it
Kimmy k on January 07, 2019:
I used it with 30 developer and my hair was and orange red looking from where i strip my color bug now my roots are blonde and my ends are a lighter Orange
ToriM (author) from Atlanta on August 05, 2018:
@milly, you can for permanent or Demi permanent dye - I've never mixed developer with semi permanent though - never needed to!
milly on August 01, 2018:
hi can I mix ion sensitive developer with one n only hari color
Stacy on April 24, 2018:
I love that product, works great