How to Dye Your Hair Blonde Without Bleach
Bleach is one of the most important products at your disposal for achieving blonde hair, but what happens if you're very sensitive to the product, or you simply don't want to use it? Bleach does have its drawbacks, but luckily, it's not always necessary to use it and it is possible to dye hair blonde without bleach. You can achieve blonde without bleach using high lift dye or even regular permanent dye in many circumstances.
Lightening hair without bleach
If you want to dye your hair blonde, your options are fairly limited. Whilst there are many people who believe that you can lighten your hair using natural ingredients like lemon juice and honey, this is largely fruitless in practice. These ingredients work to lighten your hair because they intensify the effect of the sun's ultraviolet radiation, which has a bleaching effect on hair and clothing, but the effect is very limited. You can sit in the sun for months straight and dark hair will never lighten to anywhere near blonde with this method.
In reality, there are only two ways to actually lighten your hair to a noticeable degree:
- Hair bleach
- High lift dye
If you don't want to use bleach, this leaves the high lift as your only dependable option, because it is the only other product able to significantly lighten dark hair.
- How to Use High Lift Hair Color
How does high lift measure up to bleach? How do you apply a high lift dye to really maximize lightening? Discover how high lift dye works and how to apply it to best reach your desired color.
Can you dye hair blonde without bleach?
You can dye hair blonde without using bleach by using a high lift color, but your hair does need to meet certain criteria first to ensure it will lift. If your hair doesn't meet these requirements, the dye will either not work at all, or it will not lighten your hair all the way to blonde:
- No permanent dye should be present in your hair
- It can't be darker than light brown
The only effective way to lighten hair other than bleach is a high lift dye, and these carry the above criteria for their use. High lift dyes can't lighten darker hair to blonde, though neither can any other dye. The only product that can do this is bleach.
If you want to avoid using bleach, you can only dye your hair blonde if it is at least a lighter shade of brown. The product simply doesn't have the ability to lighten very dark hair to blonde, though this can depend on your starting color. Leave a comment if you have any individual hair concerns and want to know whether your hair is light enough.
The other stipulation is that you have to have virgin hair. What this means is that your hair hasn't been dyed before or any permanent dye has fully grown out and has been cut off. Color doesn't lift color and if you've dyed your hair previously with any permanent hair dye or even darker temporary colors, you can't lighten it properly with another hair dye until it grows out. There is unfortunately no exception here because hair dye can't lighten artificial color. The only product that can do that reliably is bleach or hair dye remover.
If your hair is light brown and hasn't been dyed before, you can dye it blonde without using bleach. If you don't fit these criteria, you usually can't and will need to use bleach. Any attempts otherwise can result in red or orange hair and an expensive trip to the salon for a color correction service.
Choosing a high lift dye
To dye your hair blonde without bleach you need a high lift blonde hair dye, and the usual tools required for applying dye to your hair, like a tinting bowl and brush.
The high lift blonde dye you choose needs to be an ash tone. You may not want ash blonde hair, but this will not be the result because of the way color works. The ash tone is required to neutralize all the orange and yellow pigment that appears as it lightens, and if you use a warmer shade, you will end up with orange or yellow hair. You have been warned.
Because you need as much lift as possible, and a strong toning effect, you need to choose a salon dye here. Supermarket box dyes won't work because they're neither high lift dyes, nor powerful lighteners in general. You can't lighten your hair properly using them unless it is already close to what you want. You need an actual salon brand like Indola or Matrix for dark hair.
If you can't decide which dye to use, Matrix SoColor UL-AA and Indola Profession 1000.11 are safe choices and excellent for lightening hair. Wella Koleston 12/11 or Igora Royal 12-11 are other options. All of these dyes are salon high lift dyes that contain extra ash tone to counteract orange and gold tones as they lighten.
Preparing a high lift dye
High lift dye needs to be mixed with 40 vol peroxide in order to work. This is because the dyes are designed to achieve maximum lightening with this volume of peroxide. The dye also needs to be mixed in a ratio of 1 part dye to 2 parts 40 vol peroxide. This is the standard mixing ratio for high lift dye but, rarely, this can vary. Confer with your preferred brand for more specific instruction.
Hair dye brands that have a line of high lift dyes will often produce a lift booster product that is designed to be mixed with their high lift dye. You don't have to use this lift booster, but can add it for extra lift on darker hair. The lift booster should be mixed into the high lift dye before you add the peroxide, and you can use about 25 percent lift booster to dye with most brands. Keep in mind however that the more lift booster you add, the more you dilute down the ash pigment, reducing the toning power of the dye in exchange for more lift. Lift booster is also harsher on the scalp and hair.
Before you begin mixing the dye, ensure that your hair has been properly sectioned out into quadrants. Do this by parting your hair from the middle of your forehead through to the nape of your neck, then halving it again with another part from ear to ear. This will allow you to quickly and evenly apply the high lift dye to your hair and lead to the most even results. Once you are ready, you can mix up the dye and begin applying it.
Igora Royal's 0-00 blonding creme is an example of a lift booster designed to be mixed with their high lift dyes. You can add this product to any high lift dye to increase the lightening effect.
- How to Dye Your Hair
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Applying high lift dye
After you've sectioned out your hair and prepared the high lift dye, you can begin applying it to thin sections of hair, starting at one quadrant. When you apply the dye, take sections of hair from the top of the quadrant you're working on and cover both sides of the section with dye, gradually working your way down to the bottom of the quadrant. Continue in this fashion through each of the four quadrants that you've divided your hair into.
Once you have covered all your hair with the high lift color, the dye will need to process for a good 50 minutes or so in order to lighten and tone your hair to blonde. In the same way as if you were using bleach, you need to check the dye every 5 - 10 minutes to examine the lightening process. If your hair is lighter or responds very well to lightening, you may need to rinse the dye out sooner, and this is perfectly fine.
What is your favorite shade of blonde?
- How to Dye Hair Blonde
Dyeing your hair blonde is a little more complicated than most colors, but with the right preparation and knowledge, you can achieve a beautiful and natural result.
- How to Tone Blonde Hair
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After lightening care
When your high lift dye has completely processed and the desired level of lightening has been reached, you can rinse the product out. Whilst high lift dyes are designed to lighten and tone hair simultaneously, the results you achieve may still be brassy, and it's the lightening effect that is most important. If your hair turns out brassy, this can be corrected with a toner to finish the color off.
Apart from this, your hair care regime after using a high lift dye should be much the same as if you had bleached your hair. Protein treatments, deep conditioning, and leave-in products are all beneficial for your hair after using a high lift dye to lighten it.
High lift dye is an effective way to lighten hair that is already dark blonde, or at least light brown. For hair that is darker, you will need to use bleach in order to dye it blonde. Hairdressing is all about using the right product for the right hair in order to end up with a color that looks great and makes you feel good.
Do you need advice to dye your hair blonde? Leave a question in the comments below for tailored advice and share your insight with other readers.