How to Dye Black Hair Blonde
If you've dyed your hair black or have naturally black hair, going from black to blonde hair can be one of the most arduous processes. It is certainly doable however, and you can take even the darkest hair color, natural or otherwise to the lightest blonde color as long as your hair is already in good condition and you haven't damaged it with other chemical treatments in the past.
Can you dye black hair blonde?
If you want to go from black to blonde hair, you need to understand that the process is very intensive and not all hair should be subjected to it. If you've dyed your hair with black hair dye, that doesn't matter too much, although it will slow down the procedure and require an extra step. The crucial element here is the condition of your hair.
If your hair has been damaged in the past, or you have fine, thin hair, bleaching black hair is not advisable for you. The best candidates for dyeing black hair blonde are those who have naturally strong, and currently healthy hair that can be bleached without worrying about problems.
Those who should not attempt to dye their black hair blonde include:
- Anyone who has had a perm or relaxing treatment
- Anyone who has bleached their hair extensively in the past
- Anyone who has fine, thin hair
If your hair isn't subject to the contraindications above, you can proceed to dyeing it blonde.
Dyed hair vs virgin hair
If your hair has been dyed before and the artificial hair color hasn't grown out yet, you would be wise to take the extra step of color removal before you begin bleaching black hair and progressing towards blonde. Hair that hasn't been dyed or where the color has fully grown out, is considered to be virgin hair, and will be highly responsive to the lightening process. If you have virgin hair, the entire process will be significantly easier for you.
Furthermore, if you have dyed your hair black several times, the artificial color will be deeply entrenched in the hair and far more difficult to remove. In most cases, it takes 2 - 3 processes before you can reach blonde when bleaching black hair that has been dyed several times in the past. In order to reduce the amount of bleach you need to use, if you have dyed your hair black, you should use hair dye remover to strip out as much as the color as possible.
What is hair dye remover?
Permanent hair dye works through the chemical process of oxidation. When you first pierce the tube of the color preparation, the majority of the dye pigment exists as colorless molecules called intermediates. These molecules are small enough to penetrate into the hair shaft, but they have no actual dye color by themselves.
The oxidation from the peroxide in the hair dye allows these molecules to be combined with other compounds and the new larger molecule not only now has a color, but is too large to fit back out of the cuticles. The dye is therefore trapped in the hair shaft and causes your hair to look the color of the dye, and become permanent.
Hair dye remover is an extremely useful product because it can reverse the process that made the dye permanent and caused these molecules to become colored. The dye remover breaks down the artificial color molecules into their smaller parts, and these can then be simply washed out of the hair again. As if by magic, the color vanishes in a matter of minutes.
Using hair dye remover
Hair dye remover should be used before you start bleaching black hair if the black hair is a result of hair dye, or you have dyed your hair with another color in the past. This step allows you to remove as much artificial color as possible and gives the bleach a real boost because natural hair color is much easier to lighten than hair dye. The more color you can remove before you start bleaching black hair, the less bleach you will have to use, and thus the less time and damage you will face through the process.
When you open the hair dye remover, you will notice it is bottled in two separate packages. This is necessary because one product starts the reaction and if they were mixed together when you purchased it, the reaction would have been exhausted and the product wouldn't work.
In this case, one of the bottles is ordinary citric acid, which is found in lemon juice, and the other is a sulfurous based reducing compound that reduces the oxidized bonds of hair dye when both products are mixed together. Neither of these two products are hazardous or toxic, and they won't irritate your skin like bleach. However, because the reducing compound contains sulfur, you can't use hair dye remover if you have an allergy or sensitivity to sulfur.
Once you've opened the packet, prepare to apply the product before you mix it. After you mix the two products together, the reaction will begin, so it needs to be prepared immediately before application or you will waste it. Mix the two solutions and apply it to your hair quickly and thoroughly, massaging it through.
You will begin to notice a color change in only a few minutes. If you had light hair previously and dyed it black, you may even return to quite a light color. If you've dyed your hair black many times, you might not notice much of a color change, but the product is still removing the buildup of black hair dye and will make the bleaching significantly easier to achieve later on.
Leave the product in for around 20 minutes before washing it out. You need to be quick during the rinsing process because you need to get shampoo into your hair and get the artificial color out. The oxygen in the air around you will slowly oxidize any dye that's still left in your hair, reversing the removal process if you don't shampoo it thoroughly. Shampoo your hair at least two times and then condition it thoroughly and you're done with the hair dye removal process.
Bleaching black hair
If you've dyed you hair black, you should use hair dye remover prior to bleaching your hair. If you have virgin hair or have already finished with the hair dye removal stage, you can start bleaching black hair to progress towards a blonde hair color.
When bleaching black hair, dyed or natural, it is very rare to be able to reach blonde with one process. In most cases, you will need to bleach it at least twice. If you bleach your hair more than once, you need to apply each bleach process at least a week apart to avoid stressing your hair. Never bleach your hair twice in one day or you will increase damage and harm your hair severely.
You should also wait a couple of days after using hair dye remover, and you should only apply the bleach to hair that hasn't been shampooed recently. The natural oils present in your hair will protect your scalp from irritation and keep your hair conditioned whilst it lightens from the bleach. The oilier your hair is before you apply bleach, the less irritation to your scalp and dryness to your hair afterwards.
The bleach powder you use needs to be a salon powder. You can't use cheap bleach powder or packet kits from the supermarket or pharmacy and hope for the best. These bleach powders cause more damage and don't lighten your hair anywhere near as effectively. A cheap bleach powder will lift about 3 levels with 30 vol peroxide, whilst salon products like Wella Blondor Multi Blonde can potentially lighten your hair 7 levels in one process. The salon bleach powder also contains conditioning agents and nourishing ingredients to help keep your hair in better condition while the bleach is working.
The volume of developer used shouldn't be too high either. The use of 40 vol developer is always overkill and should never be mixed with bleach. This volume of peroxide is reserved for high lift dyes that are designed to use it. Use either 20 vol or 30 vol developer depending on how sensitive your scalp is. If you're using a specialty blonde bleach like Indola Rapid Blonde, this bleach will have lift boosters added to the product and you will only need to use 20 vol developer for maximum lift. You should defer to your bleach powder for individual directions if in doubt.
To bleach your hair, divide your hair into sections. Your hair should be parted from your forehead to your neck, and then again from ear to ear to give you four easy sections to work with. Bleach should be applied one section at a time by taking thin layers of hair from the section you're working in and covering both sides with the product. Begin at the top-most layer, and work your way down to the bottom of your section before moving on to the next section and proceeding in this manner until your hair is entirely covered with bleach.
You can leave the bleach in for up to an hour, but you absolutely must check it every 5 - 10 minutes whilst it is processing. If your scalp is becoming overly irritated at any stage, wash the bleach out immediately. When bleaching black hair, this first bleach process will take your hair from black to an orange color. This is normal and needs to be expected with black hair. You will either have to tone the orange with a semi-permanent color or put up with it for a week before you bleach it again to get to blonde.
After this first process, you need to wait a week before you can bleach your hair again to allow the natural oils to build up and give your hair a chance to rest. When you apply the second bleach process, you will see your hair lighten from orange to either a yellow to golden color or a much lighter orange. Hair that has been dyed black will just get progressively lighter orange as it lightens, and this is normal. Hair that is naturally black will begin to turn yellow. Both can be toned to blonde as long as you've lightened your hair enough.
- How to bleach hair
Need more information about hair bleaching? Discover how to bleach your hair properly.
Toning your hair
After the second bleaching, you will reach either a yellow to golden color or a much lighter orange color. Natural black hair lightens to red, then orange, and finally to yellow, and it is at this point that it can be toned to blonde. Dyed black hair however, will usually just become a progressively lighter orange and never appear to be yellow. This is normal and a result of the artificial pigment in your hair.
At this stage, all that's standing in the way of your new blonde hair color is the predominant warm pigment in your hair. This will be toned with an ash blonde dye in order to neutralize the golden or orange tones and reach a natural blonde shade. If your hair has only yellow tone and no orange, you can also use a pearl blonde dye instead of ash blonde to tone it. If you have orange tone in your hair, you must use an ash blonde color. It is the blue tone in the ash blonde that will counteract the orange in your hair and tone it to blonde.
To tone your hair, choose either a pearl blonde shade if your hair is mostly yellow, or an ash blonde shade if your hair is a light orange. The shade you use should be a level lighter than your current bleached color, and you can see what level you've bleached to by looking at the hair level chart to the right. For example, if your hair is exactly golden, with no orange tone left, you can see that it is a level 7 medium blonde. Tone this with a level 8 pearl blonde or ash blonde hair dye.
For dyed black hair, the fact that it will mostly become a lighter and lighter orange color without ever reaching yellow makes ascertaining the level a little more problematic. Gauge your current orange color against the different levels to approximate your current level and then use an ash blonde dye that's one level lighter for best results.
When you tone your hair, always use a shade that's one level lighter than your hair is. Using the exact shade will over-tone your hair and make it far too ashy. This is a rule you can follow whenever you tone your hair with an ash blonde hair dye.
You should also choose a dye from a salon brand rather than use a supermarket box dye. In particular, a high quality salon brand. Many ash blonde hair dyes contain green pigment and will result in that terrible looking green ash blonde color. This is an oversight of the manufacturers because green neutralizes red pigment and when you get down to the blonde shades, you're dealing with yellow and orange pigment primarily. Use a dye from Indola, Igora, Matrix, or Wella to avoid this problem, and don't use any dye that is called 'matte ash' because this is usually an indication that it contains strong green pigment.
Once you have your dye, mix it with 10 vol peroxide and section your hair just like you did when you bleached it. You will apply the dye in exactly the same way, and the quicker you apply it, the more even the color will be. Leave this dye in only until it tones to your desired shade. You do not have to allow it to process for the entire development time, and depending on how light your hair has become, this may result in too much ash tone. Rinse out when you're happy, and you will finally be blonde.
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Now that you have blonde hair, you will need to maintain it to keep it looking its best. The blonde color you have will fade with time unless you use a color refresher shampoo or regularly tone it with a semi-permanent color every few weeks. How often you tone your hair is completely up to you, and you may find that you like a warmer blonde and prefer to just leave it for longer.
Follow up with a few protein treatments and deep conditioning and your hair will be in great condition again before you know it, and you will have successfully journeyed from black to blonde hair.
Do you have a question about dyeing black hair blonde? Need some help with the process or have an experience to share? Leave a comment for tailored advice and share your insight with other readers.
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.