As a stylist, when you have a brunette client and hear their goal is to go blonde, automatically, you start to think of multiple different scenarios and outcomes. Unfortunately, bleached hair falling out is always there, at one end of the spectrum. There are many factors that can play a role, and they make brunette to blonde hair transformation a win or lose endeavor.
This article is to inspire you to believe that your desired shade is perfectly achievable. At the same time, it is to inform you that going blonde from natural brunette hair is not as easy as it may seem. If you aim for stunning results like the ones featured below, attend to the top 5 rules to consider.
Let’s start with some basics of hair color science here. Stylists recognize 10 levels of hair color, from dark brown to light blonde hair shades. Applying blonde hair dye on a brown base will not help you achieve any change – before you dye your brown strands lighter, they should be “lifted,” which is stripped of their naturally dark color. As you might have guessed, the more dramatic the change, the more damage to your hair. This is why the rule of thumb is to go only two shades higher within one appointment and never to apply bleach to hair that is already compromised.
This takes us to the next rule, which is discussing your color ideas in advance and getting ready for the change. To avoid a bleaching nightmare, do not contemplate blonde hair without making your hair strong and healthy first. Move to your ultimate goal in small steps, and you are sure to love the result!
There is a blonde hair color for everyone, the trick is to find the best shade for your skin tone. Basically, you need to understand if a warm or cool tone will be the best fit for your complexion. You can do this by looking at the undertones your skin has. If it has pink undertones, you can see blue veins, and your eyes are blue or cool brown – go for cool blonde colors like ash blonde, icy, and platinum blonde.
Warm tones of blonde like caramel, creamy, and honey blonde will flatter women with yellow and golden undertones and hazel eyes. It doesn’t mean that toning your brown hair platinum blonde is a big no – it may work exceptionally well in some cases. If you really want a particular shade of blonde, go for it, and don’t hesitate to ask to tone your hair again if the experiment doesn’t prove a success. A warmer or cooler tint can be achieved with semi- or demi-permanent toners, that do much less harm than bleach.
Seek consultation about going blonde well in advance of the hair color appointment and be frank with your colorist about your hair history. It may seem irrelevant for you, but it is very important for a stylist to know if your current brown tone is your natural, or if your hair has been color-treated, box-colored, or pre-lightened.
Most of my own personal clients looking to go from brunette to blonde arrive with a great canvas and mostly virgin brown hair. If you, too, wish to dye your hair blonde for the first time, your stylist will apply a strand test with a 20 volume bleach to see if your hair will be able to lift. Thus, you will be able to discuss the timeline for reaching the desired shade of blonde.
However, if your hair is box-colored or color-treated, your hair will have a bad reaction to the lightener and your stylist will most likely come up with a longer-term plan. This can mean something like having appointments every 8 weeks for an Olaplex treatment and a trim and using hair care products at home to nurture your locks.
Even if you manage to go blonde in one appointment, you should understand that this color requires frequent and often costly salon visits and quality hair care back at home. This is one of the cases when beauty comes at a cost, and you should better be ready to assume it.
I always give my client the heads up and never guarantee no breakage whatsoever. Even if your colorist uses Olaplex every step of the way, there is a great chance that hair ends will be compromised due to the process of bleaching and toning your locks (by the way, my tip is to get rid of dead ends and have no breakage moving forward). Thus, get ready to pamper your hair and style it without any hot tools. Store good quality, sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner and apply a leave-in conditioner on each and every wash day. After a full blonding service, a hair mask once every 2 weeks will also be a must. You will also have to use purple shampoo to maintain the salon results at home and keep any yellow and orange tones away between the salon visits.
Brown hair regrowth will be very much visible on blonde hair color. Root concealers can now help you out with that, but don’t let them delay your touch-up appointment! Larger regrowth is a huge challenge for a stylist, as heat from your scalp will make hair near the roots process faster, so there is a risk the applied hair colors won’t match. Modern hair color trends like balayage and shadow roots make it easier to maintain brown to blonde transformation, but it doesn’t mean you can get away with no maintenance at all. Thus, it will still be a sound move to pre-book the next visit to the salon 6 to 8 weeks after the blonde hair color service.
Always be specific about your ultimate goal and what shade of blonde you are trying to achieve. Believe my experience, blonde highlights on brown hair take you very far from the color you are used to, so why not try it before committing to all-over brown to blonde hair change. Balayage, foilyage and hand painting all provide impeccable results and bring you closer to the look you want to achieve.
For most of my clients, I choose a foilyage method with some added hand painting depending on the amount of lift I am trying to achieve. I start in the back of the head using diagonal back sections and work my way to the crown of the head to ensure a seamless blend. After that, I will smudge roots with a shade that’s a bit darker than the client’s natural color. And I get a gorgeous brunette to blonde look with a seamless blend!
This photo is an example of foilyage that ensures brightness with seamless results, incorporating various amounts of natural and added dimension and giving beige blonde vibes.
There are stylist’s tricks that help to further minimize the damage, too. For example, the best way to achieve bright blonde ends like these is to wet balayage the hair after you have done your full balayage. This way you can lift quickly and with less harm to your locks.
After all, do not try to go blonde at any cost. Instead, ace your color appointment for subtle yet chic hair color transformation. Here, we have a scenario where the client had previously darker hair that was resistant to lift. We had to work with what we have and still achieved these beautiful brown highlights.
My journey in the hair industry hasn’t always been an easy one but I have always paved a pathway to differentiate myself and my skills. Through years of education and work ethics, I am very pleased with knowing I can make brunettes’ dreams come true. They say blondes have more fun – well, now brunettes can too. Thank you for taking the time to read my article. Follow me at @jacquelineciulla for even more hair color tips and inspiration.