Maffew is a hairdresser, marketer, and dabbler in many things who enjoys sharing knowledge about the science of hair coloring and hair care.
Whether 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.
Read on to learn how to do this safely and effectively. You can get great results in the comfort of your own home once you understand the process.
Can You Dye Black Hair Blonde?
The process required to go from black to blonde hair is very intensive and not all hair should be subjected to it. It's important to determine whether your hair is in an acceptable condition and will handle the process before you attempt to lighten it.
If you've dyed your hair with black hair dye, that doesn't usually matter too much, although it will slow down the procedure and require an extra step. What matters most is the condition of your hair more than anything else.
If your hair has been damaged in the past, or you have fine, thin hair, bleaching black hair isn't advisable. The best candidates for dyeing black hair blonde are those who have naturally strong, and presently healthy hair that can be bleached without worrying about the risk of damage.
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 dye it blonde. Otherwise, you need to schedule a visit to a salon to have your hair checked first.
You may still be able to dye it with a slow and gentle process, but this is something that needs to be assessed in-person to ensure your hair remains healthy.
Dyed Hair vs. Virgin Hair
If your hair has been dyed before and the artificial hair color hasn't grown out yet, it's wise to take the extra step of color removal before you begin bleaching black hair and progressing towards a blonde color. 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. But if you have dyed your hair black several times, the artificial color will be deeply entrenched in your 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. You should use hair dye remover to strip out as much of the color as possible first in this case. This will reduce the amount of bleach you need to use.
What Is Hair Dye Remover?
Permanent hair dye works through a chemical process called 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.
Oxidation from the peroxide in the hair dye allows these molecules to be combined with other compounds, creating molecules that are highly pigmented and too large to leave the hair shaft again. This process causes your hair to look the intended color and makes it permanent as well.
Hair dye remover is an extremely useful product because it can reverse this reaction. The dye remover breaks artificial color molecules back down into their previous form, allowing the dye to simply be 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 color is the result of hair dye, or if you have dyed your hair with another color in the past. This step allows you to remove as much artificial color as possible and improves the lift you can get out of the bleach 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. If both solutions were mixed together when you purchased it, the reaction would have been exhausted and the product wouldn't work anymore.
One of these solutions is ordinary citric acid, which is the acid found in lemon juice. The other is a sulfurous reducing compound that reduces the hair dye molecules when both products are mixed together. Neither of these two products is hazardous or toxic, and they won't irritate your skin like bleach.
However, because the reducing compound contains sulfur, you shouldn't use hair dye remover if you have a known allergy or sensitivity to sulfur. It can also be slightly drying to your hair and you shouldn't apply it to hair that is already suffering from extreme dryness.
You need to prepare to apply the product before you mix it. After you mix the two products together, the reaction will begin and it will gradually exhaust itself if left sitting too long. When ready, 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, however, you might not notice much of a color change. The product is still removing much of the buildup of black hair dye and will make 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. 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.
Wash your hair at least two times and then condition it with a good moisturizing treatment and the hair dye removal process will be finished. You can repeat this up to three times over the next few days, taking a break between each application, though this is only necessary in hair that has been dyed many times.
If you need more information about this process or stripping the black dye out in general, you can read my related article.
Bleaching Black Hair
If you've dyed your 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 your 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 in one session and this is highly dependent on the quality of bleach powder used. 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 while it lightens from the bleach but shampoo strips these out.
The oilier your hair is before you apply bleach, the less irritation to your scalp and dryness to your hair afterward.
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 result. 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, while salon products like Wella Blondor Multi Blonde can potentially lighten your hair 7 levels in one process with only 20 vol. 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 only for use in permanent dyes and high lift dyes. Use either 20 vol or 30 vol developer depending on how sensitive your scalp is.
If you're using a specialty blonde bleach like those made by Wella or Igora, these products will have lift boosters added 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 because the better products shouldn't be mixed with a higher strength as it's unnecessary and leads to significant scalp irritation.
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.
Development and Rinsing
You can leave the bleach in for up to an hour depending on the brand, but you absolutely must check it every 5–10 minutes while 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 often only take your hair from black to an orange color, dependent on the product used and whether you're working with dyed or virgin hair. 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 also 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 depending on certain factors.
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. Allow your hair to reach a lighter yellow color if you want a lighter blonde, or rinse earlier for darker shades.
- How to Bleach Hair
Need more information about hair bleaching? Discover how to bleach your hair properly.
Toning Your Hair
After the bleaching stage is complete, you will reach either a yellow to golden color or 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. The remaining color will determine the toner that you use.
Choice of Toner
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 needs to be toned out using an ash blonde dye to neutralize the golden or orange tones and reach a natural blonde shade.
If your hair has only a yellow tone and no orange, you can alternatively use a pearl blonde dye instead of ash blonde to tone it and this will give a cleaner result that is beige, neutral, or white depending on depth and development time. If you have an orange tone in your hair, you must use an ash blonde color because 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 below. 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.
Dyed black hair will mostly become a lighter and lighter orange color without ever reaching yellow and this can make 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 in most cases because your hair will be more porous after lightening. This is a rule you can follow whenever you tone your hair with an ash blonde hair dye though.
Salon vs Box Dyes
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 lower-quality ash blonde hair dyes contain green pigment or too much blue and usage will result in that terrible-looking green-tinged 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 a quality brand like 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 selected, 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. 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.
- How to Tone Blonde Hair
Discover how to tone your hair blonde. If you need more directions for toning your hair, you'll find it here.
- How to Dye Your Hair
If you need more help to use hair dyes, you'll find it here, as well as tailored advice to all your hair dye questions.
- Choosing a Purple Shampoo
Blonde hair needs regular toning, and a purple shampoo is the best way to keep it looking great. Discover the best purple shampoos for toning blonde hair.
- How to Get Rid of Brassy Hair
Brassy hair is a common problem when you have blonde hair or are trying to dye your hair blonde. Luckily, fixing brassy hair is easy and quick, and you can do it at home.
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.
You should also consider using a few protein treatments and a deep conditioner and your hair will be in great condition again before you know it while having 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.
© 2014 Maffew James
Kristen Harper on January 27, 2020:
Here's my background info and what ive done to land me in this situation. Im a level 2 or 3 dark brown/auburn natural hair color. I used (cringe!) a L'oreal Ombre box kit to add some highlights to my hair, instead of doing the dipped ends ombre look on the box. I had planned to add some deep wine/magenta streaks in too, to achieve the look i was going for but I'm stopping here to seek advice before proceeding.
My hair did lift in the highlighted sections to about a level 5 orange. Even a level 6 toward the ends in places. I never wanted the really blonde highlights, only lighter than what i had, to add some depth to my really boring hair.. (they call the look i am going for "chocolate cherry cola" and even saw it referred to as "raspberry" something or another somewhere) anyway...
Okay so, my question is this:
If i wanted to stop here and tone these streaks to a light ash color now.. do i tone the entire head or do i only tone the sections of hair that i highlighted? I feel completely stupid asking this question but I've gotten so many conflicting answers from "hair professionals" that I'm just lost at this point. I have a lot of experience dyeing my hair and feel pretty confident that i can remedy this situation myself, with sound advice of course! Also, i added a few more "highlights" than i actually wanted bc these are the sections i will later add the wine/magenta color to - using foils to separate and apply only to those places. i was instructed to bleach them to achieve a more dramatic color in the end. I agreed bc i have dyed my hair purple/magenta years ago and it didn't hardly show bc of my hair being naturally dark. So if i tone those places to counter the orange, can i still achieve the dramatic magenta that im hoping for.. or should i not tone the areas i intend to dye magenta.. bleach further..? What should i do?
mamajenni70 on March 29, 2019:
Your articles have been very helpful and I thank you for making them. My natural hair is very dark brown. I have been dying it with box dyes sine I was in my teens. Less when I was younger, more as I got older. I am soon to be 49. I have been dying my hair black for many years. Now it is too much to keep up with for me because my hair grows fast and the grey would come in to often for me to keep coloring my hair so I decided I wanted to go lighter, not really knowing what color I want. Something to blend better but not really wanting to go all out blonde. I did use color remover a couple times over a year ago now. My hair had reddish/blonde tints. There is some darker underlying tones I think. I am notcing how orange it is to me now though. After seeing another woman advising ash color and reading your article I think I will try ash color. Now at this point and time I know I would like to try a darker ashy blonde type hair. If you can give me any advice please do. I rarely ever have gone to hair dresser and mostly am not happy with what they do as far as hair cut. I have never had coloring done by hair colorist. I would like to try to fix myself. Thank you so much for any further help but if not I am going to try ash blonde. Thank you for the help you already provided to so many people. Also just to add my hair is naturally curly too and tends toward dry. I was told at a young age not to wash it so often but didn't listen to that advice until a couple years ago. I will listen now though :)
Angela Santos on July 28, 2018:
Hi!!! I bleached my hair and I want to become blond or gray. Can I just use the purple toner shampoo? Thanknyou☺️
Flashed on May 15, 2018:
What your wrote is really informative.
Mariana on August 25, 2017:
Hi, I have level two virgin hair and I want to bleach it so that I can dye it gray. I've bought 20 and 30 vol developer, schwarzkopf igora vario bleach, olaplex, the wella toner in t18 and ion toner in snow cap. I've done my research and know I'll need to bleach my hair more than once, but I was wondering if i should use 30 vol depeloper twice, 30 vol the first time and 20 vol the second time, or 20 vol developer three times? What would cause the least amount of damage?
dione2284 on August 12, 2017:
Hi, I really need help, my step daughter wants to go lighter for going back to school next week, she's been dying her hair for about a year with black demi permanent box dye, I've used colour b4 twice and it went reddish brown but then a week later went back to black, I took her to hairdresser and she took a sample, she said it took 3 hours for the colour to lift to a dark orange, but she can't fit my step daughter in before school. I've dyed my own hair and bleached it before so I want to give it a go, I bought Olaplex and Wella Blondor as well as a 30 and 20 developer, I was thinking of a bleach bath on her hair, will this give any lift to it? Would just like to get her to brown and lighten over time, at the minute she has about 3 inches of strawberry blonde (her natural colour) roots. Can someone please advise the best method for her, bleach bath or straight up bleach and how to apply?
AMANDA BLACK on July 29, 2017:
In the last 6 weeks I have used Oops Color aremover and have bleached it 3 times, toned it with Wella T18 all while using Shimmer lights purple shampoo everytime I've shampooed. All I can say is "AHHHHHH!!!!" It's still very orange. I've used 30 volumn developer each time. I feel like I've tried everything, including soaking my hair in coconut oil before applying product to my hair. I mean it is getting lighter each time but I'm at my witts end with this. Should I try a 40 volumn developer on the tips and 20 on the roots? I mean other than the color you'd never know my hair has been bleached it's really healthy. What should I do next.
I'd also like to add that I have been also doing hot oil treatments, dandruff shampoo and baking soda washes, as well as dawn dish soap. ( The blue one ).
Robin on July 16, 2017:
I dyed the bottom half [ from ear to ear] down black . Now I want to go back to blonde. It's been a couple of months that I dyed it haven't put anything on it since. What would you recommend using to get the black dye out
Tim on June 04, 2017:
Very very helpful thank you so much I probably would have lost all my hair if it weren't for you
LMo on March 26, 2017:
Help! I am Black and have natural unprocessed black hair. I tried L'Oréal natural blond hilights for dark hair, but it went dark copper. So I bleached the hair with 30 vol and it went brighter copper. I am so disheartened. What should I do?
Mona R. on December 19, 2016:
I have blonde hair, but dark roots im trying to stay away from bleach, had a bad experience with hairdresser who obviously didn't know what she was doing. She put a toner on me and burned my scalp and I had a amount of breakage on top of my hair. What product would you recommend I use to lighten my roots?
Shay on November 27, 2016:
Are you still answering people are have you forgot about the post just wondering cause there is alot of questions that hasn't been answered in the past 6 months I have a question but I don't want to waste my time are your if it can't be answered
Lea on November 21, 2016:
I have dyed my hair black for over 10 years but I want to dye it blonde because I tired of seeing my white roots showing can you tell me the best thing to do to achieve the blonde hair with little dark roots that I want?
kay on October 19, 2016:
I have dark brown hair and i have been wanting to go completely blonde... (sort of like a tinted platinum blonde). I have thick, natural frizzy, and extremely wavy hair... Is it okay to use L'oreal hair dye from some place like Walmart or Target?
Bunny on September 25, 2016:
I have approx 80 percent grey hair. I have been dying it dark brown for over 10 years. I want to go to a silver or white hair color. I bleached it 1 time so far with wella Blondor. I was able to achieve a light orange on the dyed hair, but my roots were golden yellow. A pretty color. I put a wella pale blonde T14 toner with a couple caps of cooling violet additives in it. It's now honey blonde on the dyed hair and my roots are silver/white.. How can I get my roots to blend better till I bleach again? Should I just bleach next time a week from 1st bleach or use a dye removing shampoo first? I didn't use a dye remover wash before my first bleach. Thank you for any advise !!!!
Regina on September 14, 2016:
Hello, thank you for this post. I can't see the hair level chart to determine what ash tone I need to get. Was it removed or am I just not seeing it? Could you send me a link? Thank you!
Luke Yancey on August 24, 2016:
My girlfriend has black hair and is trying to dye it to blonde! Thank you for your advice. It was nice to know that it will be easier for her since she has never dyed her hair before!
nat on July 16, 2016:
I have been trying to dye my hair blonde so I can go a vibrant red but I seem to end up ginger no matter how many time I dye it blonde my sisters has the same hair cour and hers worked after second dye
Lilliee on July 16, 2016:
Hi recently I've thought about going from black to platinum blonde but I have red undertones , I am currently in the stage where your hair turns a orange gold color , if I bleach one more time is it possible that my hair can turn into a just gold color and not another stage of orange gold color ? If that makes sense , thank you
Barbie on July 04, 2016:
Hi I had my hair ruined by 2 salons who made me a horrible blondish I now have dark roots and greys 4 months worth and want to go a darker shade like caramel kiss from loreal feria I'ive been this color before but never from this color blonde to it always from darker to the caramel.. i cannot get anything but boxed dye what do you suggest and to help bring it back to life afterwards? its naturally curly and ruined i hate to cut it all off
KAT on June 14, 2016:
I've been dying my hair black for 10 years- cheap boxed dye ($3 Cairol) and surprisingly my hair is very healthy..in fact whenever it seems dull is my favorite time to dye because it always look so shiny afterwards, ha. It is waist length and I am now wanting to give myself an ombre...is 40 volume safe to use with salon bleach? I plan to do oil treatments in between color removal and bleaching. Also-what are your thoughts on Olaplex?
Diana on June 03, 2016:
My hair is a natural dark brown and a week ago I had very light honey blonde highlights put in but I want to go all light honey blonde but I cannot afford a salon every month. How do I do this and how do I keep up with the roots
Kat on April 22, 2016:
I have been dying my hair box black for 6 years now, and I really want to go lighter, not really blonde, but just brown is fine. I used loreal hicolor in vanilla champagne twice now and my hair is still black. Should I just give up?
April on April 08, 2016:
My natural hair colour is a light brown, I don't know how many times I have coloured it, I now have black hair and I have recently used a hair dye remover and some of the hair was dark brown and some was more of a light brown, I used b blonde bleach kit I used two of them and there wasn't enough hair dye so I went to the shop and brought xx live blonde colour and I have put that on to my hair some of my hair is really light blonde and the rest of the hair is like a brassy but I wouldn't say the hair was orange I've put the blonde hair dye on so hoping it all goes blonde do I just have to keep putting blonde on until it goes to the colour I need my hair as I do want it light blonde x thanks
Jessejames2306 on March 31, 2016:
Hi Maffew, I was hoping you could help me with choosing a hair colour that suits me?!
I have been dying my hair 'darkest brown' for as long as I can remember, I'm 29, relatively fair skin, blue grey small eyes & my hair is quite long & thick. I would LOVE to dye my hair a lighter shade but I have absolutely no idea what colour would suit me best? I adore balayage/ombré look & would love to transition to maybe bronde?
With my Italian background I'm scared that going lighter will enhance my ethnicity. Can you pretty please suggest shades/tones/colour & maybe a cut that would suit me? Take a look at my pics by clicking on my profile
Marga MA on July 05, 2015:
Thank you Maffew. I tried a wig but it didn´t stay on as i am doing cartwheels, flips... I will look for a good hair dresser in my city and follow your advice, thanks a lot for your help!
Maffew James (author) on July 05, 2015:
There's not really anything you can do to make dark brown hair look that light without actually dyeing it. At least, not for a result that isn't very unnatural or odd looking. The only real alternative is a wig.
As for the bleaching, you can do this, but you need to be careful bleaching hair that is permed; damage will build up more rapidly from the cumulative effect that these chemical processes have on your hair. For dyeing back to dark brown, you can do this as soon as you want, as long as your hair is strong enough to take the dye. It will need to be filled prior to dyeing to pre-pigment it though, as all that warm base tone that is stripped out during bleaching needs to be added back in to achieve the reverse effect and create a natural looking dark brown result.
Marga MA on June 29, 2015:
I need to dye my hair blonde for a show. My hair is dark brown, strong and healthy but I do have a straightening perm and colour ( to cover up some greys). I have been looking for non permanent options but they all look awful: green, gold, wet hair look and don´t really cover ... Do you know any products that could work? If not, could I bleach my hair? I could do without the coulouring for 2 months before bleaching if needed. How long do I have to wait until I can dye it back to dark brown?
Thanks a lot!
Maffew James (author) on May 11, 2015:
You'll need to lighten it quite a bit more to reach a light blonde result. This means more damage to. Light brown is much easier and achievable if the orange is light enough though. Apply light ash brown over the orange once you start to see it transitioning towards more of a gold tone and this will cover and tone properly. Red shades are also fine if that's what you want. As long as the colour is dark enough, it will cover properly. It really just depends what you'd prefer to do.
Bianca on May 08, 2015:
my hair is naturally black but like a year ago I dyed my hair more than once tried to do it blonde but no salon could get it so I went red then back to black. I bleached my hair yesterday again and its orange and some of my roots are still black cause did myself and I guess I couldn't see every spot. I am wanting a light ash blonde but I don't know if I should just go light brown or Red?
Maffew James (author) on April 30, 2015:
Protein treatments are the best way to prevent breakage. If you start out using one once to twice a week it will gradually ease the problem by repairing the damage that has occurred. Conditioning treatments soften your hair and make it feel and look nice, but they don't actually repair structural damage like a protein treatment does.
As the damage and breakage decreases, you can cut back use of the treatment to once every 1 - 2 weeks to maintain strength.
Maffew James (author) on March 13, 2015:
It needs to be very light for a pastel colour to work. If your hair was natural, it would look the colour of the flesh of a banana at this point, but hair that has been dyed black tends to continue to show red tones even when it gets this light, so it's not always as easy to tell how it's transitioning through the levels. When it does get light enough, it'll likely look a pale orange-yellow colour.
At this point, you probably have at least 2 processes left before it is light enough, but there's no definite answer. It could take more or less depending on how your hair reacts. In any case, just be very mindful of your hair's condition as you continue to bleach. As you've bleached it in the past and then covered it with black dye again, your hair will stand up to less subsequent bleaching.
Vanessa on March 11, 2015:
I have always returned to dying my hair black (boxed dye) each time I think I'm adventurous and try to go lighter. I bleach my hair using a 30v bleach, Kaleidocolors in blue, that I purchase at a local beauty supply store. It hits the red stage, then pumpkin orange.. I immediately freak out and put more black dye. I have gone to get my hair done at a salon which can get pretty pricey because of my color and length. This time, I decided not to freak out. Yesterday I used a color remover to lift some build up of color. It didn't do much; it was still pretty much black with a red tone. I used a clarifying shampoo and applied a deep conditioner overnight. This morning I washed my hair, let it air dry, and applied the 20v bleach to my entire head, starting about 2 inches below my scalp. I used 20v because I wanted something more gentle on my hair. Well, because my color is so dark, it only lifted one or two shades and left me with a deep red color. I deep conditioned and let it air dry again. My hair felt healthy and moisturized and looked in great condition so I decided to apply the bleach again, this time using a 30v developer. One hour later it was a nasty, bright orange. I know I have to let my hair rest, so I toned it with an ashy color by Wella. It's still orange-ish, enough to make me keep a hat on for now. I currently have a deep conditioner in of extra virgin olive oil, honey, and milk. My end goal is to have my hair light enough for a pastel lavender. How many more times do you think I have to bleach my hair in order to have a light enough color to hold pastel lavender dye? Thanks!
Katie86 on February 04, 2015:
Maffew James (author) on February 04, 2015:
In that case since you're not after that exact colour, you can use most ash tones at level 8 to tone your hair as long as there isn't too much red tone present. If you still have a lot of red after reaching level 8, you can mix Wella Koleston 8/2 into your chosen shade to add green tone which neutralises the red. Also, you can always feel free to come back and ask if you have trouble with the bleaching or need help neutralising any unwanted tone that is revealed by the bleaching.
Good luck with your colour.
Katie86 on February 04, 2015:
I'm a base shade level 2 and I'm going to go though the process of bleaching it and then tone it to an light ash blonde. The I colour is a USA product so just wanted to know what I could get here in UK instead. Thanks
Maffew James (author) on February 04, 2015:
The I.Color soft ash tone is a violet blue base and gives a softer silvery ash than most other ash dyes. There's not always a comparable shade in other brands.
In Wella Koleston, the best comparison is a /8 or /9 tone, but there is no 8/8 (There is a 9/8 but this is lighter and won't adequately tone darker blonde hair). Taking this into account it would be best to go with 8/1 in this brand, which is still a softer ash but not completely the same as I.Color.
Other comparable shades by brand:
Goldwell Topchic 8AS
Loreal Majirel - No comparable shade, but you could use 8.1. A mix of 8.1 and 8.2 would create a close approximation.
Loreal Inoa - No comparable shade either, but you can use 8.1.
Majiblonde are level 9 shades and won't give a level 8 deposit.
Are you specifically after a colour very similar to I.Color 8SA, or do you just need a good ash for toning your hair? Whilst most brands don't have a completely comparable shade, all brands have ash shades that can tone your hair and I can help you find the right shade from the brand you prefer.
Katie86 on February 04, 2015:
What could I use instead of Iso I Color Permanent Conditioning Creme Color - 8SA Light Soft Ash Blonde
Gold well tophic
Thanks :) x
Heather on January 30, 2015:
I plan on getting my hair blonde. My hair currently is a light brown. I was told to bleach my hair till it is a pale yellow color and then dye it and then tone it. Is this true? And when do I wash and condition my hair? Ty
Maffew James (author) on December 12, 2014:
There's no way to avoid it unfortunately. Black hair goes through several colour changes as it lightens. Black gives way to deep rusty red, which gradually turns to a lighter red. This then changes to orange and then to yellow. You need to reach the yellow stage for true blonde.
However, if you just want lighter highlights and they don't have to be blonde, you can bleach them to orange and then tone that with a semi-permanent light ash brown dye. This corrects the orange and takes it to a neutral brown so that you end up with brown highlights in black hair. The semi-permanent has no effect on the black as it is too dark to show tone from it, so it's easy to apply to the highlights.
Alternatively, if you're feeling adventurous, when you bleach highlights you can then weave them out again and apply more bleach for a second process (After letting your hair rest for a week). This is an incredibly arduous process because you have to use the tail of a tinting brush or tail-comb to separate all the bleached hair out for the second process. It's definitely doable, but somewhat annoying. If you do this, I'd recommend clipping out each section of highlights first before you begin applying the second bleach. This way it's all ready to be foiled and you won't end up with uneven highlights from the time spent separating each section while the bleach is processing.
Other than that, the type of bleach you use has the biggest impact on how well it lightens. Cheaper bleach won't lift as well or as quickly as high quality salon bleach. Products like Wella Blondor Multi Blonde and Loreal Platinum Plus are infinitely more powerful than their cheaper counterparts, and they can achieve lighter results using lower volumes of peroxide.
Ravindi ayodya on December 11, 2014:
I bleached my hair about 1 year ago. And then i wanted black hair. I dyed jet black like 4 months ago. And now i want to do highlights. The first time i bleached it came out an orange colour. Can you please give me some tips to avoid that
Maffew James (author) on October 22, 2014:
That's great April! I'm glad to hear that your colour was successful.
April on October 20, 2014:
Thank you my hair turned out beautiful!
Maffew James (author) on October 15, 2014:
Hair dye remover only removes permanent dye. This is because it works by reversing the oxidation reaction that makes the dye permanent.
When you dye your hair with permanent dye, the dye exists as colourless intermediate molecules first. This is why it's white or beige when you first mix the colour.
The intermediate molecules are small and can fit through the hair shaft into the cortex, which is the inner part of the hair. Once there, the developer (Hydrogen Peroxide), oxidises the intermediates. The intermediates become too large to fit back out of the hair shaft so they are trapped in the hair. They also take on the actual colour of the dye, causing your hair to be coloured with the new dye.
Hair dye remover reduces the oxidised bonds and breaks the dye back down into colourless intermediates which are simply washed out of the hair. It is for this reason that it only works on permanent dye and it won't remove anything else, including metallic salts.
Now, the reason you don't want these minerals in your hair when bleaching is mainly because they will act as catalysts, boosting the bleach reaction and driving it out of control. This causes your hair to heat up, suffer a lot of damage, and the lightening process itself, whilst boosted, will end up uneven. This same effect can be seen in people who wash their hair with hard water and then bleach their hair.
There are a few things you can do to limit this effect. The first is to start using a chelating shampoo. These shampoos are designed to bind to minerals and remove them from the hair. A shampoo like this will help to remove the metallic salt and allow you to use bleach safely.
You can also use specific bleach powders like Loreal Platinum Plus, which are designed to bind to and neutralise metals as they lighten. Most high quality salon bleach powder has the ability to chelate metals in the hair. Cheap generic brands don't do this. Use a powder like Wella Multi Blonde, Loreal Platinum Plus, or Igora Vario for the best results.
Alternatively, you can use a lower volume of developer to bleach your hair. Because minerals in the hair catalyse the oxidation of the bleach, cutting down on the amount of oxidant, ie peroxide, will decrease the reaction speed. The minerals will still catalyse the bleach, but because the bleach is milder, it never becomes out of control. This method will be slower to lighten but it will maintain the integrity of the hair and prevent excessive damage.
After you've lightened, you'll need to use a dye to tone your hair. If you don't tone the hair, it will be a bright shade of gold or orange. For this, use a salon dye instead of a box dye in order to avoid the same problem in future. You'll need to use an ash shade to correct the warmth and achieve a nice true brown or blonde colour.
april on October 13, 2014:
About 6 months ago, I dyed my hair a darker brown with Clairols Natural Instincts. I now want to lighten my hair. I used a color remover and plan to bleach it to a lighter shade. I read that metallic salts and bleach don't mix. Would the color remover also remove the metallic? Does a certain amount of time have to pass before bleaching? Years ago I used to dye my hair all the time with natural instincts, then I slowly went back to blonde at the salon (Higlights) until I reached the desired shade. Then I decided I wanted to go dark again which was done at the salon. Then the last time I dyed was the boxed natural instincts 6 months ago.
I guess my question is how do I know when or if its now safe to bleach? When my hairdresser slowly took me back to blonde she asked what brand of box dye I used. She didn't say anything and continued to slowly lighten my hair over the course of a year. There was no obvious reaction of the metallic dye an bleach. So in wanting to lighten my hair should I be worried?
I totally respect the chemistry and art of hair color. I went to my hairdresser since I was 15 and I am now 29. Sadly I can't afford to go anymore. I have a 4 mon. Old an it makes me feel guilty. So any help you can give me I would greatly appreciate. Thanks I really like your website.
Maffew James (author) on September 22, 2014:
No problem Lola, let me know how it turns out!
Also, if you run into any problems along the way, or have any more questions, feel free to ask away.
lolaisglam on September 22, 2014:
Hi Maffew James,
Thanks so much for your reply. I took your advice on board and purchased shades 5.1, 6.1 and 8.1. I'm looking forward to seeing the results.
I'm so glad I came across your hub page. :)
Maffew James (author) on September 20, 2014:
Hi Lola, that sounds like a great colour idea!
Even though it makes sense to use the first dye to lighten your hair, in the case of ombre you need to layer the bleach to get that transition of colour, so in this case every colour should be applied after your hair has been lightened. Also, even though your bleach states it can lift up to 8 levels, this isn't completely true. In some cases it will do so, but for the most part, expect about 6 levels of lift with any certainty. This is definitely the case when your hair is so dark. As you go lighter, you move through levels quicker because the lighter levels have less actual colour between each other.
To lighten the hair, mix up 30 vol bleach and start by applying that to the ends. Use 20 vol bleach on the mid-lengths, brushing up through the 30 vol a little so it blends. Then apply 10 vol bleach to the top and blend this as well. Leave it on for up to 50 minutes, or until it reaches the right stage. The ends need to be yellow - gold, the middle needs to be a light orange - gold colour, and the top needs to be orange.
You may need to repeat the procedure if your hair is resistant and doesn't lighten to this extent. If this happens, rest the hair for a week, then do the same thing again. Once it lightens to the required level, you can dye it.
As for the dyes, you're using a beige tone and you'll run into problems here. The primary tone in the colours you've selected is gold, and the secondary tone is violet. These dyes won't actually tone out the orange and gold base colour that's left after you've lightened hair. The problem is that if you apply a beige colour to orange hair, the orange isn't toned out, and nothing really happens. I'd recommend using either a natural or natural ash tone instead of the beige.
Even in the case of the yellow ends, the yellow isn't really beige blonde and when you apply a beige colour over it, the additional gold just makes it more yellow. You need to actually tone some of that yellow down with ash tone to produce an authentic golden blonde or beige blonde.
It sounds strange, but the colour you use in hairdressing, isn't the colour you will get. The colour used + the colour present in your hair is what determines the result. For example, if you bleach your hair to orange and then dye over that with an ash brown, you might expect to get ash brown. In reality, what really happens is that the ash is used up neutralising the orange tone, and you're left with a colour that is either neutral, slightly ash, or slightly warm. You have to factor in your hair's current colour whenever you choose a shade to use.
When you're ready to actually dye it, you need to use the same technique to apply the dye so that the transition of colour is preserved. Apply the lightest dye first, then the darker dyes in that order. Blend the lighter dyes upwards to dilute the darker dye above it and the ombre will look blended. These dyes should indeed be mixed with 10 vol because you don't need to lighten the hair after pre-lightening it with the bleach.
lolaisglam on September 20, 2014:
Hi Maffew James
I have virgin level 2 hair and I'd like to do an balayage/ombre. I bought 3 different colours by L'oreal Majirel in the shades 5.32 (for the top) 6.32 (for the middle) and 8.32 (for the ends)
I've read a few of your posts and therefore have concocted a method to achieve my desired colour but I'd like to know your opinion beforehand.
Should I mix the 5.32 with 30 vol developer since I am lightening by 3 shades?
Should I then bleach the middle and ends of my hair before I dye it with the 6.32 and 8.32? The bleach I intend to use is the L'oreal Infinine Platine which is said to lift the hair up to 8 levels.
Do I need to tone after I have bleached my hair before I go ahead and dye it with the 6.32 and 8.32 or do I just dye it?
When I do dye the pre lightened hair, should I mix the dye with 10 vol developer since it has already been lifted?
Thanks a lot for your invaluable hubs thus far.