Avoid Breaking the Bank and Your Hair: Bleaching Your Hair at Home

Our hair is one of the ways we can express ourselves and can often change our overall look. Natural blonde is the second rarest hair pigment at 2% of the world's population. The slight variation in blonde is caused by varying shades of red, black and brown in the genes. Blonde is typically achieved by the bleaching of one's hair, and thankfully science has come a long way from ancient Greece, where vinegar and wood ash were used to lighten the hair. This ancient technique would lighten hair in small amounts, but if left on too long, it could cause extreme breakage. The easiest and stress-free way to achieve blonde hair is to visit a cosmetologist, but they can be pretty expensive and their schedule may not line up with yours. 

Thumbtack averages the price for bleaching, toning, styling and drying at around $110-150.

Now that we realize that the stylist is too expensive, but the thought of ending up with straw hair scares us to death, what do we do? 

Lightening your hair can actually be as easy as picking a day and grabbing a friend. Depending on hair length and thickness, getting a lightener could cost around $5. This particular lightener, L'Oreal Quick Blue High-Performance Powder Lightener, has positive reviews and I have personally used it before. To mix almost anything hair related, you will need a developer. The volume depends on your skin sensitivity, a lower volume is less likely to irritate the skin, but the strength also is weaker. While the price is always what I look at first, I recommend sticking to a consistent brand and get the larger bottle, it always helps to have some extra and it is needed for the toner. The developer also costs around $4. Using foil sheets is optional, I chose not to use them personally, but if you are willing to spend an extra $7.50 (this is for a box of 200 full-size sheets), the bleaching process will not take as long and will have less of a chance to damage hair. Mix the lightener according to the included directions and apply it to hair. If you have the time, doing a test strip can always help you gauge if you will be happy with the results (remember that after lightening, normally hair is toned so that will not be the finished product.) Additionally, the test strip can help you to determine if you are allergic to the lightener. Depending on what shade you want your hair, you should adjust the time you leave the lightener on your hair. Periodically check on your hair; I recommend following the time mentioned on the lightener packaging. Sometimes using a hairdryer on your hair for the first few minutes can speed up the process but be careful; if heated too much, this can cause hair damage. 

Next, wash out the bleach (use shampoo but do not condition) and towel dry the damp hair. Here you can decide if you need to use a toner. Hair that appears yellow, orange, red or generally brassy is a good candidate to be toned, but if you like the shade of your hair after bleaching you can stop here. (If you decide to stop, I would suggest using a hair mask at this point to begin to repair any damage that your hair may have undergone). Next up on our hair journey is toner. This is the point at which the options depend more on your goals. I recommend choosing Color Charm Permanent Liquid Toner. Additionally, many of the reviews mention paying attention to your hair during this process because if left on for too long the toner leaves a purple/lilac tint. Again, follow the directions on the toner, making sure to evenly apply it, and if you chose to use foil when lightening you can also use it here. Wash out your toner with shampoo and conditioner (ensure your hair products are color-safe). You will need a purple shampoo, I use Shimmer Lights Conditioning Shampoo for Blonde & Silver. Always look for a darker purple color in the shampoo itself.  I apply it to my dry hair and leave it in for 15-25 minutes to keep my hair light and non-brassy. 

This is how I started doing my hair, rather than going to the salon. Doing my own hair empowers me and gives me confidence that I control what my hair looks like.

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Edited by Katie Carnefix