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Bleaching Out Permanent Dyes

★★★★★
Published on 16th April 2010

Like many people, I have used a lot of permanent dyes without considering what ‘permanent’ really means until it is too late. Just don’t laugh at my silly pictures! For reference, I am growing my hair and it is naturally dark brown.
So, I had dyed my hair permanently deep red and dark brown using box dyes and decided to go blonde. Now if you are impatient like me and you can’t afford to go to the salon, you will probably be itching to try bleaching at home.
The first step I took was to dye my hair with a semi-permanent brown box dye, and then to use a home highlighting box kit. Now I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this part, but that is what I did, and this is how it looked:

As you can see, it is nowhere near blonde! If I was starting from scratch, I would bleach it all over instead in the hope that it would give a more even result. However, I left this for three weeks before doing anything else. The instructions on the box advise this, plus it gives your scalp a chance to recover.
My next step was to use a boxed “lightening” kit, but again, I would just use bleach if I did it over. As you can see, I now have an orangey blonde, but this is a suitable base for colours such as red, orange, dark green and purple. It was NOT light enough for turquoise!

After highlights

After 2nd bleach

I tried using a toner at this point, but the nature of the toner is to neutralise the orange tones to brown, which will not make it lighter!
My next step towards blonde was finally buying some decent bleach – 30vol developer and blue tinted bleach powder, and it is cheaper than the box kits if you buy from a hairdressing supplies store. My roots needed touching up at this point, so I put bleach on the roots and then on the ends for the last 30 minutes of the process. The exact timing for your hair is determined by a strand test. I now have a yellow blonde, which can be toned to an icy colour using a lavender semi permanent dye.

With toner (and some forest green)

After 3rd bleach - the pink on the left is bleached out dark purple

Don’t forget to carry out a strand test before each time using bleach to test how strong the hair will end up.
After another six weeks, I needed to touch up the roots again. I wanted to include this as the picture shows how light your hair can go if it is natural. The roots lighten more because of the heat from your scalp. The final result is not perfect I know, but it is blonde, and will be an ideal base for most bright colours.
So, my main tips are for all blonde with minimal damage:
• Be prepared before you start the process, it may take a while
• Leave at least three weeks between bleaches
• Do not bleach the same hair more than three times
• Use a decent bleach powder and 30vol developer for dark hair
• Think before dyeing your hair a dark colour, even semi-permanent dyes can be tough to get out
I don’t claim to be an expert dye-er, but this worked for me, so I hope it helps

Lavender "toner" with bright pink at the front

After bleaching the roots

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