Dec 21, 2014

How to go from black to blonde hair

Going from black to blonde hair is one of the more difficult colour transformations to achieve. This is because black hair is highly pigmented and needs a specialised dyeing process to be lightened to blonde.

If you've dyed your hair to the black colour that it currently is, this complicates the process a little more. Either way, as long as your hair is in good condition, both dyed or natural black hair can be taken to a blonde colour.

The dye process

The dye process that is required to go from black to blonde hair requires significant lightening. The amount of lift required can't be achieved with any form of dye; even high lift dye is not strong enough for the task. Bleach absolutely must be used.

Once your hair has been lightened, it is then simply a matter of toning it to the desired shade of blonde. This is very similar to how you would dye dark hair blonde in general, but black hair usually needs to be bleached more than once to get to this point.

In effect, the dye process is as follows:
  1. Bleach your hair to the yellow stage - this step is slightly different for dyed black hair.
  2. Tone your hair using a blonde dye.
  3. After dye care - use protein treatments and conditioners.

Hair condition

Before you can go from black to blonde hair, you need to ensure that your hair is in good condition. Hair that is not in good condition can be distinguished by breakage, split ends, a weakness when wet, a loss of elasticity, and a rough texture. If your hair is like this, it's usually too damaged to be dyed blonde.

This doesn't mean it can't necessarily stand up to the process, but the resulting appearance and the commitment to repair treatments required would mean it wouldn't look or feel its best.

You also shouldn't bleach your hair if it has been bleached or dyed extensively, or you have used a perm or relaxer in the past. If your hair is fine or thin, you need to pay particular attention to how it reacts to dyes and bleach as it is naturally weaker than coarse hair, which reduces the amount of processing it can handle.

As a simple rule of thumb, if your hair is at least a medium texture and thickness, naturally black, and doesn't contain any dye, you will often be able to reach blonde in one bleach, with minimal damage.

If your hair has been dyed black or is highly resistant, it won't lighten as quickly and will need to be processed more than once. Your hair needs to be in good enough condition to remain strong and soft in the event of multiple bleach processes.

  • Bleaching damaged hair - A more comprehensive overview explaining how to tell if your hair is too damaged to bleach, as well as what hair types are the most resilient. Read this if you're unsure about your hair's condition.

Dyed black hair

Dyed black hair won't lighten as effectively as natural black hair, and will never lighten to blonde in one process due to the sheer amount of colour that needs to be removed. This process is made easier and gentler on your hair by using hair dye remover first.

Hair dye remover is a product that reverses the oxidation of permanent hair dye. When permanent dye is used, small colourless molecules enter the hair shaft where they are oxidised into larger molecules that are trapped in the hair and give it the final dye colour.

Hair dye remover works by reversing this reaction and breaking the molecules back down so that they can simply be washed out.

Whilst hair dye remover is a great product, it won't usually be able to remove all of the artificial colour. It is still an important step before going from black to blonde hair if the black colour is a result of permanent dye though. Any colour that is removed by the hair dye remover will make it easier for the bleach to work. Dye remover can't damage your hair, but bleach can, so any reduction of bleaching is great for your hair condition in the end.

The final blonde colour will also be easier to achieve because the dye remover strips out some of the deep red tones that lay underneath the actual black colour you see. This red pigment would otherwise require more planning and time to effectively tone after bleaching and achieve a natural looking result.


Bleach powder

Wella Multi Blonde Bleach

Wella Multi Blonde Bleach

If your hair is in good enough condition for the process, the first step is to choose a bleach powder that can provide excellent lift, whilst using a lower volume of peroxide. A lower volume of peroxide reduces damage and is more gentle on your hair.

This requires a professional bleach product that is high quality and reliable. Some of the bleach powders that fit this criteria include:

These bleach powders achieve excellent lift using only 20 vol developer, making them gentler on the hair, yet still providing better lift and minimal damage.

Click the link of any of the above products to find them on amazon...

Preparing bleach

After you have chosen an appropriate bleach powder, the product need to be mixed with developer to work. Most brands of bleach are mixed in a 1:2 ratio of powder to developer, but this does vary. Use the correct ratio for the brand of bleach powder you are using.

Using any of the recommended bleach powder products above, 20 vol developer is the highest strength that should be used on scalp. These powders are strong, and anything above this peroxide concentration is going to increase irritation and damage without benefiting lightening too much.

Sectioning hair

To go from black to blonde hair requires proper sectioning technique to be able to apply the product quickly and evenly. This is important with any dye or bleach, but even more so when there more pigment involved. Sectioning will make it easier to get an even colour because there is less chance of missing a spot, and the whole application is quicker.

To section your hair properly, divide it up into four quadrants using a comb and sectioning clips. This requires parting your hair directly down the middle from the front of your forehead to the nape of your neck, then dividing it once more from the side near each ear to form four equal rectangular sections of hair. Once this is done, you're ready to apply bleach.

Bleach application

The application of bleach should always be performed as quickly as possible for an even result. The quicker you can apply it to your hair, the better the result will be. Aim to have your hair covered completely in 10 minutes for perfect results, but don't worry too much if you can't accomplish this.

To apply bleach to your hair, start in one quadrant and coat thin layers of hair on both sides. After each layer is coated, move down to the next layer until you reach the bottom of the sections. The next step is simply to repeat this process for each quadrant until your hair is completely covered with bleach.

When application is complete, lightly massage the bleach into the lengths of your hair to ensure it is coated properly. Avoid pressing into the scalp as you massage though, as this increases irritation. Brush your hair up on top of your head using your tinting brush and it will stay in place, away from your eyes and skin.

Note: The hair closest to your scalp will always lighten quicker because it is warmer due to the warmth of your head. This means it can end up lighter than the rest of your hair. This can be avoided by applying bleach to the lengths of your hair about an inch away from your scalp first, then applying the rest of the bleach to your roots 10 - 15 minutes into the application.

This does require a little more application skill, but if you intend to stay blonde for a while, it is good practice for your regrowth application, as well as a skill you need to master to avoid hot roots or banding with any lighter colour.


Bleach processing

If your hair is dyed black or just plain resistant to bleaching when going from black to blonde hair, you will have to bleach it more than once. Using the bleach powders recommended above, a second process is enough to get to blonde in most cases.

You can only leave bleach in your hair for a certain amount of time as recommended by the product manufacturer. Leaving it for longer offers very little additional lightening but leads to more damage and drying of the hair. If your hair isn't light enough to be dyed blonde at this stage, it will need to be bleached again.

If you need to bleach it a second time, this has to be done no sooner than a week after the first bleach in order to allow your hair a chance to regain its moisture balance. Bleaching it sooner than this will lead to significant damage and should be avoided at all costs. The longer you can leave it between processes, the better this process is on your hair.

If your hair is light enough at this stage however, it will be yellow, golden, or at least a light golden orange colour. If you have naturally black hair and haven't applied any dyes in the past, the recommended bleach powders above will generally be able to achieve this in one process and your bleach is ready to be removed once you see yellow; unless the maximum processing time is reached first, in which case you will need to bleach again.

Dyed black hair will often continue to show red tones however, and in order to tell when it is light enough, you need to actually judge it by how dark it is, rather than the colour it is. If it's a light red colour, that doesn't necessarily mean it isn't light enough to be dyed blonde when you're dealing with dyed black hair. Dyed hair doesn't follow the same colour change rules as natural hair.

Bleach removal

Wella Performance Plus Rinse

Once you're ready to remove the bleach, this should be done thoroughly using lukewarm water first until all the bleach has been removed. After that, a gentle moisturising shampoo is necessary to make sure you have removed all of it. Any bleach residue that is left in the hair will lead to damage and will prevent your hair from regaining the correct moisture and pH balance.

Follow this up with a conditioner. If you can afford it, Wella Performance Plus Conditioning Rinse is one of the absolute best products to use after bleaching your hair. This is a professional rinse and is designed to restore the hair to its proper pH and moisture levels, reversing the damaging effects of bleach quickly and getting your hair back to prime condition.

Otherwise, use the best deep conditioner you can get and apply enough product to liberally coat your hair and boost up moisture levels.

Damage repair

A small amount of damage is always possible with bleach, even when used correctly. If your hair is naturally black, you don't have any dye in your hair, and you haven't used perming or relaxing treatments in the past, the damage will be very minimal and won't usually need significant repair, even after going from black to blonde hair.

If you have dyed black hair or had dyed your hair other colours in the past, the chance of damage is more likely. To know if you do have damage, always wait at least a week after using quality conditioning treatments. Your hair has to regain its moisture balance before you can assess actual damage.

When hair is freshly bleached it can feel rough and dry for a few days, but this isn't damage and will pass. Any issues after this period like breakage or loss of elasticity are actual damage and can be reversed with protein treatments.
  • How to repair bleached hair - Need to know how to repair damage? Find out here and you can restore your hair to excellent condition in just 1 - 2 weeks with an intensive repair plan.

Toning your hair to blonde

Now that your hair has been lightened to a point where it can be toned blonde, the final step is all a matter of applying a blonde dye to tone it to your desired shade. This dye needs to be selected based on how light your hair currently is, as well as the specific tone you want.

Blonde dye selection

Hair colour is organised into categories based on on how dark shades are in terms of the level system. This numbering code attributes each level of depth a number between 1 - 10. Blonde colours range from a level 6, which is dark blonde, to a level 10, which is lightest blonde and looks close to white.

If your hair was naturally black and hadn't been dyed, the shade of yellow it has lifted to is indicative of the level, and this quality allows it to be toned through visual observation. The colour appearance of different levels are:
  • Golden orange - Level 6
  • Golden - Level 7
  • Yellow (Banana peel) - Level 8
  • Pale yellow (Banana flesh) - Level 9
  • Very pale yellow - Level 10
For a neutral or ash result, you should be using a natural or ash dye, respectively, at the correct level. For a warmer result like beige or golden, use a natural blonde that is one level lighter than your current level.

This is necessary because the final colour you get is a result of your current colour + the dye colour. Even though you may want a beige blonde for example, if you just apply a beige blonde dye, there is usually not enough ash tone present in the dye to counteract the golden tones and reach beige.

The end result is that the strong gold colour remains instead of becoming more of a subtle tone. Cool tone must be used to neutralise the excess warm tone and achieve the shade you want.

Dyed black hair

When taking dyed black hair from black to blonde, the current colour of your hair isn't always indicative of level because red tone from the dye can remain present in your hair even when it gets very light.

For example, it's not uncommon to see dyed black hair that has been lightened to level 8 still look orange, even though if it was natural, it would appear yellow instead. Here it is necessary to judge the level by the darkness of the hair.

To do this, have a look at pictures of the different levels of blonde if you can't tell already. Match how dark your hair is to how dark each level is to get a good approximation of the current level and follow similar toning rules to the section above.

You will need a green based ash blonde dye if your hair contains intense red tones as green corrects red. If your hair is more of an orange shade though, a blue based ash can be used to neutralise it and tone it to a nice blonde.


Types of dye

Toning of your hair should be done with a demi-permanent dye or permanent dye. Demi-permanent dye is only mildly damaging, long lasting, and great for toning. A permanent dye, on the other hand, is longer lasting.

You could also use a semi-permanent dye if you want an option that is completely non-damaging, but this will gradually wash out and will need to be repeated every 1 - 2 weeks to maintain the blonde colour.

  • Types of hair dye - Find out more about the different types of hair dye available...

Dye brand

The brand of dye you use to tone your hair is incredibly important because the blonde colour you will end up with is dependent on this dye. The highest quality brands give the best results. For a great blonde colour, you can use a dye from one of these recommended colour lines:

Matrix SoColor Dye

All of these colour lines are global leaders in the industry and the ash series of these dyes is blue to blue-violet based for proper toning. If you use one of these recommended dyes, you will achieve a better colour result.

Click any of the above brands to find the shade in 8 ash blonde on Amazon, which is a light ash blonde. If you need a lighter or darker blonde, or a different tone, you can navigate from there or feel free to ask for a link to the right shade in the comments section at the end of this article...

Choosing the right shade

Choosing the right shade of dye to achieve your desired blonde after lightening is a matter of using a colour that will neutralise enough warm tone out of your hair to produce the desired shade. As stated earlier, the colour you get is the result of your current colour + any colour you add.

To make choosing a shade easier, use the chart below. Shades of blonde on the left of the chart represent the colour you want, and the dye to use is listed on the right. Wherever you see the words 'at level', this means to use a dye of the specified shade that is the same level as your hair.

The reason that some of the dyes to use are specified to be used at one level lighter than your current colour is because this tempers the toning power of the shade for a controlled result. An ash blonde dye that is one level lighter produces more of a neutral blonde because there is less cool tone interacting with the colour in your hair, whilst an ash at level contributes a lot of cool tone and takes the blonde closer to ash. In this sense, you are using the dye to add a controlled amount of cool tone.

Desired shade Dye to use
Ash blonde Ash blonde - at level
Neutral blonde Ash blonde - 1 level lighter
Beige blonde Natural blonde - at level
Golden blonde Natural blonde - 1 level lighter
Strawberry blonde Golden copper blonde - at level*

Note: For strawberry blonde, the formula above will give a vibrant colour. For a more subtle stawberry shade, mix a natural blonde into the golden copper blonde to cool it down.

Toner application

After properly selecting the dye to use as your toner, application is as simple as following the same technique used to apply the bleach. Apply your dye with a tinting brush in sections, working through your hair quickly and evenly until it is all covered. Once it has been applied, you need to let it develop.

In most cases, using the shade that is specified in the chart above will mean allowing it to develop for the full processing time of the particular brand to get a rich colour result. If your hair is porous and soaks up colour really well though, the dye should be removed once it reaches your desired level of tone, or you can drop all the shade recommendations down one level.

You don't have to leave it on for the full development time, although doing so will ensure the colour lasts as long as possible before more toning becomes necessary.

Rinsing out the toner

When the toner produces a nice shade or reaches the end of processing time, it needs to be removed. This should be done using water at first until all the dye has been removed from your hair. Then, to ensure it has all been removed, you need to shampoo your hair. Follow this up with conditioner or a conditioning treatment.

If using a conditioning rinse, this is the perfect time to use it again as it can be used after removing dye too. Doing so will seal the hair, correct the pH and moisture balance, and lead to your hair feeling softer and healthier. The sealing action helps lock colour deep into the hair and last longer. You can also add a small amount of white vinegar into conditioner to replicate this effect to some extent if on a budget.

After-colour care

The after-colour care required after dyeing your hair is much the same as it is with bleaching. When going from black to blonde hair, a lot of processing is required, and it is important to use deep conditioning and protein treatments to restore your hair to good condition and keep it strong.

Leave-in conditioners and hair serums can also be used to further protect and nourish your hair before styling.

Colour maintenance

Blonde colours, like all other dyes, will fade over time. This occurs even if they were achieved with a permanent dye. For this reason, colour maintenance is important and can be as simple as using a quality purple shampoo like De Lorenzo Silver shampoo or Fudge Violet shampoo.

If you need a stronger toner, your options include semi-permanent and demi-permanent dyes. Both of these can be used to completely refresh your blonde colour if necessary. It's best to use a semi-permanent dye here as it causes no damage.

Do you need more help going from black to blonde, or more information about the dye process? Perhaps you need a hand choosing the right dye to use for your desired colour? Leave a comment for tailored advice...

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Dec 18, 2014

How to keep hair color from fading

A new hair color can look great at first, but this isn't always the case after it has been washed a few times. Over time, vibrant shades of dye begin to look dull and lose their lustre. Dark colors, and even more natural shades are also prone to fading.

If you're worried about the gradual loss of color in your new hair style, you can keep it looking great for longer by learning how to keep hair color from fading.

What causes hair color fading?

Hair color fading is primarily a result of washing your hair, but the fading process is also greatly expedited by exposure to sunlight and the use of heat styling tools like straighteners or curling rods.

You don't need to adjust the way you style your hair just to prevent fading, but the way you shampoo your hair definitely needs to be looked at in order to deal with the loss of color that occurs during washing, because this is the most important factor in how long your color will last.

Washing colored hair

Colored hair needs to be washed in a different way to natural hair if you're worried about fading. This is because the washing process is the most significant cause of fading and washing your hair the wrong way will quickly lead to a faded hair color.

The type of shampoo you use is very important to help decrease hair color fading. Clarifying shampoos and anti-dandruff shampoos are two of the absolute worst shampoos to use if you have a vibrant color. This is because these shampoos are very powerful. Clarifying shampoo, in particular, is designed to eliminate product from your hair and it will rapidly fade hair color as a result.

The problem with shampoos is that you don't always know that you're using a clarifying shampoo however, and even some ordinary shampoos can be designed to work in a way that emulates a clarifier. A simple tip is to avoid shampoos that specify that they are designed for oily hair, most men's shampoos, and chelating shampoos. All of these have a powerful clarifying effect, designed to remove product build-up and oil, which will also fade hair.


Colored hair shampoo

Colored hair shampoo doesn't always have any particularly special benefit beyond that of regular shampoos when preventing fading. In most cases, these shampoos are simply either a milder shampoo or a shampoo that also contains conditioning agents, which weaken the emulsification effect and stop the product from stripping as much oil and color out of your hair.

If you suffer from dry hair or you wash your hair more often, these shampoos may be an option for you. If your hair is oily though, you're better sticking to a regular shampoo, as even though these shampoos reduce fading, they do it at the expense of actually cleaning your hair. You end up with hair that is oily and looks dirty, even immediately after washing it.

Color refresher shampoo

Color refresher shampoo is the best way to prevent fading, because these shampoos actually deposit color back into your hair while you wash it. If you're wondering how to keep hair color from fading, these products are the holy grail of color rejuvenation.

Of course, as with all toning shampoos, it's important to choose one that is actually effective and powerful enough to be used for your own hair color. In the same way that some blonde shampoos are often so weak that they only slow down fading rather than preventing it, color refresher shampoos can suffer from the same problem and not be strong enough to work.

This doesn't mean they're not useful as they still slow down the hair color fading that leads to dull hair, but if you choose a phenomenal product, it will actually completely prevent fading or even help reverse it. This keeps your hair looking beautiful for weeks after coloring.

One such product is De Lorenzo's Nova Fusion shampoo range, which is available in 18 different shades including a deep violet, chocolate, cool brown, intense red, and silver. The silver version, as an example, can tone even darker blonde hair and is strong enough to completely reverse fading.

Other brands of hair color refreshers are available, and the key to choosing the right one is in selecting a product that closely matches your own shade, both in tone and strength to maintain the amount of color that you need.


Conditioner is just as important as the type of shampoo you use in preventing hair color from fading. Specifically, you need to ensure that you use a conditioner every time you wash your hair. This is because shampoo opens the hair cuticles to clean the hair, whilst conditioner has a sealing effect that closes the cuticles and prevents color and moisture loss.

Any conditioner will help with this, but a sealing conditioner is the absolute best way to keep your hair color from fading after washing, as well as offset the fading effects of the styling tools you use. Heat from straighteners and curling irons can quickly fade hair when porosity isn't properly treated to keep the hair sealed.


Leave-in products

If you're using the right shampoo and conditioner, the fading of your hair color will dramatically slow down, but you can also take this a step further by using a leave-in product. Two such products that can really help are leave-in conditioners and smoothing serums.

Leave-in conditioner helps to prevent color fading by protecting your hair from the environment, and further helping to seal it and keep color in. You can use one of these products by applying it after washing and towel-drying your hair and it will help prevent both dryness and color loss.

A smoothing serum like Redken All Soft takes this a step further by acting like a barrier to the external environment. Whereas a leave-in conditioner will add moisture into the hair, a smoothing serum prevents it from being lost. Serums effectively smooth the hair, making it soft, supple, and shiny, whilst also protecting your hair from the fading and damaging effects of heated styling tools and humidity.

Both of these products can even be used together, and if you have dry, frizzy, or frequently styled hair, they are a great option to help your hair look and feel its best.

More information:

Want to know more about how to keep hair color from fading, or have a question about fading? Leave a comment for more information...

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Shades of black hair

Black hair is the darkest hair colour possible, but that doesn't mean you can't tailor it to your own unique style. Despite being such a dark colour and popularly considered to be available in only the one shade, there are actually a few different shades of black hair, and these different colours can really create a more interesting look.

The different shades of black hair

Although the most common shade of black hair is a flat black colour that can be called black, neutral black, or natural black, there are other shades that incorporate different dark tones or are slightly softer than the traditional black shade. Some of the hair colours you could consider include:

  • Natural black
  • Soft black
  • Blue black
  • Red black
  • Violet black

Natural black

A natural black hair colour is completely black, with a slight propensity towards the cooler tonal family due to the strong blue tone that is present in the shade. Of course, the blue tone in this case isn't anywhere near as dominant as in a blue black shade, but it does mean that this shade will best suit someone with a cooler, paler skin tone.

If you have a warmer or darker skin tone, this isn't the best hair colour for you though as it can make you look dull and appear to clash with your features, adding age and a tired look to your complexion. As for eye colour, this isn't important to the same degree as your skin tone, but green or blue eyes will really benefit from natural or blue shades of black hair.


Soft black

Soft black looks a little like natural black that has begun to fade. In this sense, it is a black shade that is somewhere between black and a dark brown colour. This means that it is less intense and causes less of a contrast between your hair and skin tone.

If you have a warmer or darker skin tone, you may find that a soft black colour suits your features a lot more than a true black. This is because the different tones present in your hair and skin don't clash as intensely or prominently. This colour doesn't suit lighter skin colours very well and should be avoided if you have cool toned skin.

Blue black

Blue black is also known as ash black. This is one of the more interesting shades of black hair but isn't as out of the ordinary as the other two non-neutral shades available. Because it contains a stronger and more dominant blue tone, this hair colour looks like a very dark blue when viewed in light.

Due to the dominance of blue, which is a cool tone, this is another black hair shade that is primarily suited to a cooler skin tone. Particularly, if you have a very pinkish skin tone and green eyes, this colour will make both of those features more vivid and dazzling.

If you have warmer skin, you should absolutely never use a blue black dye. This colour will clash terribly with your skin and make you look ragged and old in this case.


Red black

Red black hair is similar to blue black except that the intensely dark tone that is most dominant in this case is a red tone. This results in producing the warmest colour out of all the different shades of black hair available.

If you have a very warm skin tone, red black hair is a sure bet and will really enhance your appearance by complimenting the warm tones within your complexion. This colour shouldn't be applied if you have a cool skin tone though, as it won't generally work well with such a complexion.


Violet black


Violet black is a beautiful shade that incorporates strong violet and red tones to produce a very unique hair colour that not many people tend to have. This makes it a really interesting shade to try, but it's very hard to find as not many dye brands stock a violet black colour.

Violet black, unlike many of the other shades of black hair, can often be worn against either a cool or warm skin tone. It will generally suit a cooler tone best, but that doesn't mean you should discount it just yet. The red tones that are also present in the shade help it match warmer features in many cases.

Other ways to make black hair more interesting

Even with a variety of different shades of black hair to choose from, it is a dark and somewhat plainer colour in the end. Luckily, there are many different ways you can make your black hair colour more interesting.

Black hair is very dark, and as a result, any colour you add in the form of highlights will really stand out. If the highlights are a vibrant unnatural colour like blue, green, or purple, this is even more of a contrast. Try incorporating streaks, chunks, or panels of bright colour into your black hair for a great way to individualise your style.

More information:
  • Hair colouring tips -  Get better colour results at home with these application tips for salon quality results...
  • How to prevent colour fading - Find out how to slow down fading in your new hair colour and keep it vibrant for longer...
  • How to use salon dye - Salon colour gives a better result than box dyes. Find out how to use it for the best results...

Want to know more about the different shades of black hair or whether a particular shade will suit your features? Leave a comment for colour matching or more information...

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Using professional hair color

It's no secret that salon dyes are a superior product compared to box dyes. Salon hair color offers diverse shades, better lightening, longer lasting results, and a better color overall. That's why if you dye your hair at home, you should be using professional hair color if you want the best results.

Differences between salon dye and box dye

There are a few major differences between professional dye and supermarket box dye. The first, and most obvious, is that salon dye is packaged as a single tube of dye. The product doesn't show pictures of models are examples of how it is intended to work.

This is a good thing because the pictures on box dyes are unrealistic and set many people up for unintended results. The color on the box isn't the color you end up with, because final color is a result of your current hair color plus the dye that is applied. If you dye your hair regularly, you can benefit from the mindset that dye adds color, rather than changes color. The pigment that is already in your hair will affect what you end up with after coloring.

Box dyes try to be a one size fits all product, but this isn't possible in hairdressing because everyone has different hair. If you want to get the right hair color every time you dye your hair, the first step is to understand that dye can't magically change the color of your hair. The dye you use needs to be adjusted to account for the tones in your hair that you want to emphasize, and that which you want to neutralize. The final colour after using a dye is a result of the dye color + your current hair color.


Developer volume

Another major difference between salon dye and box dye is the volume of developer present in the dye. When using professional hair color, developer is chosen in the volume that is necessary for the task at hand, and this gives you more control over the results and limits damage where possible.

This means that the lowest effective strength will be used for the result you want. Box dye not only doesn't tell you what strength of developer is present, but may not have the right concentration for the results you want, leading to mistakes or additional damage.

Other differences


Apart from these major differences, box dye also differs from salon dye in that it:
  • Generally contains cheaper ingredients
  • Doesn't last as long
  • Often isn't true to level or tone
All of this means that when you use a box dye, what you are getting is a color that doesn't look as good and fades quickly. Manufacturers design the products this way to ensure you need to use them often to maintain a vibrant color.

How to use professional hair color

Using professional hair color isn't dramatically different from using box dye. Unlike box dye however, the developer is not included and will need to be chosen and mixed into the dye. You should be using a tinting brush and bowl to apply this kind of color for the best results, but you can also use a shake bottle if your brush skills aren't so great or you simply prefer the bottle.

Preparing salon dye

After choosing a shade of salon dye, this is where using professional hair color starts to be different from a box dye. Unlike box dyes, where the dye is squeezed into pre-measured developer, salon dye is emptied into a tinting bowl.

At this point, you will need to select the appropriate developer for the results you want. The developer volumes and their specific roles include:

  • 10 vol developer

    This volume of developer has next to no lightening power. Use it for darkening or toning hair, but don't try to use it when you need to lighten your hair significantly as it won't work.

  • 20 vol developer

    This developer strength lightens your hair 1 - 2 levels. You should be using 20 vol in your dye when the shade you want is up to 2 shades lighter than your current color. You should also be using 20 vol on resistant hair that doesn't seem to hold color, as this will help the dye penetrate deep into the hair and develop properly.

  • 30 vol developer

    This volume is able to give 2 - 3 levels of lift. This amount of lightening is enough to take you from a dark brown to light brown color in a perfect scenario.

  • 40 vol developer

    40 vol developer is meant to be used with high lift dyes. It can be added to other dyes too, as long as the brand is designed to handle it. When used in a high lift, it is able to provide up to 4 levels of lift. In a perfect scenario, this is enough lift to take you from dark blonde to pale blonde hair.
Looking at the different volumes of developer, it's fairly clear which you should be using for any color task. Once you've selected the correct developer, it needs to be mixed into your dye.

This is usually done in a 1 to 1 ratio of dye to developer, but some brands may require a 1 to 1.5 ratio. High lifts are always mixed in a 1 to 2 ratio. If in doubt, check with your particular brand for the right mixing ratio to ensure it works properly.

Want to use a shake bottle? No problem. Simply place the correct ratio of dye and developer into the bottle, shake, and apply just like a box dye. You'll still get the benefits of using professional hair color, but without needing to develop your brush skills.

Lightening hair: Hair dye only effectively lightens virgin hair. Hair that has been previously dyed can't be properly lightened with more hair dye and needs to be bleached. You can still tone your hair or dye it darker because these processes add color, but it's best to avoid attempting to lighten it further with dye in most circumstances.

Applying salon dye

Salon dye should be applied using a tinting brush for the best results. To do this correctly, it is best to segment your hair out into sections using sectioning clips. A simple part down the middle from your forehead to your neck, then again from each ear is the best way to do this.

Once your hair is sectioned out, application is a simple matter of taking thin layers from the top of a section, applying dye to each side, and then working your way down to the bottom of the section before moving onto the next section. This process is quick, helps you avoid missing any hair, and provides an even color result due to the speed and accuracy of the application.

Rinsing the dye out

Rinsing of hair dye is the same using professional hair color as it is with a box dye. Your hair should be shampooed and then conditioned after the color has been thoroughly removed.

A simple tip for color removal that prevents and removes skin staining is to emulsify the dye with a little warm water prior to rinsing. To do this, all you need to do is dampen your hair with the water, then massage the dye. Massage the dye against any color that is on your forehead and you'll find it washes off your skin with ease.

This works because hair dye is the best solvent for hair dye. If you allow dye to stain your skin and dry in the air, it's hard to get it out. The stain dissolves into wet dye simply because 'like dissolves like'.

After-color care

Professional hair dye tends to be less damaging than box dye as the ingredients in the dye are superior. Box dyes often use metallic pigment and other damaging ingredients, but high quality salon dye is free of these inferior compounds. This means that there is usually less damage from using professional hair color.

However, the rules of after-color care still apply and it's good practice to apply a deep conditioner after removing the dye and shampooing your hair. To further address any dryness, a leave-in conditioner can be applied to towel-dried hair before air drying or blow drying and styling as usual.

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Have a question about the differences between box dye and salon dye, or the benefits of using professional color? Need more help using salon dyes? Leave a comment and discover a better way to dye your hair and get the color you want...

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Dec 17, 2014

The best toner for platinum blonde hair

Platinum blonde hair can be a difficult colour to maintain. Dark roots are always an issue, and fading of the colour leads to yellow hair quite quickly. To keep your platinum looking great, you have to tone it properly and regularly.

This itself can be problematic because of how light the shade is. When you have platinum hair, you can't use a toner that is too dark or your hair will simply turn grey. In the worst case scenario, strong toners can even turn your hair purple or blue when applied to lighter blonde shades.

You also don't want to use a dye that will damage your hair more after you've already bleached it significantly to reach platinum. This is why semi-permanent mousses like Igora 9.5-1 are the best toners for platinum blonde hair.

What is Igora Expert mousse?

Igora is a high quality professional dye brand that produces a range of hair dyes for salon use. Their semi-permanent mousses are also used by salons, but the real benefit of this product is that it's easy for absolutely anyone to use at home too.

The great thing about using a semi-permanent dye is that it won't cause any further damage to your hair. Very few people have hair that's naturally this light, and it's not unusual to have to bleach your hair in order to get to a platinum shade. If your hair is naturally dark, a lot of lightening can be involved.

This leaves platinum hair weaker, so it's important to avoid stressing your hair too much after the dye process by using toners that aren't damaging. Igora mousse is one such toner and because it contains a conditioning base, it will actually condition your hair while it tones.

Igora 9.5-1 mousse

Igora 9.5-1 is a pastel ash blonde shade. This is another factor that makes it the best toner for platinum blonde hair. As a pastel shade, it has just enough colour to give a perfect white or silver result without overpowering pale blonde hair.

It's also incredibly versatile because the 9.5-1 shade is produced in both dye and mousse form. If you're looking for a more permanent option, Igora Royal 9.5-1 is a permanent pastel dye. The mousse version of this shade is a non-damaging semi-permanent colour that lasts several washes.

The mousse is easy to use and won't take time out of your schedule either because it can be applied in the shower after shampooing your hair. Application is as easy as pumping the mousse into your hands and spreading it evenly through your hair. For even better results, apply it by brush. You can use a product like this every time you shampoo your hair, or only as often as needed to keep fading at bay.

Igora Viviance 9.5-1

If you need more intensive toning, another great option is Igora Viviance 9.5-1. This is the same shade found in both the mousse and Igora Royal permanent dye, but in this case, the product is a demi-permanent dye. This kind of dye is a lot less damaging than a permanent dye, but still gives long lasting results.

This product shouldn't be used as often as the mousse, as it is a more intense toner. A demi-permanent dye like this should preferably be used every few weeks to dramatically refresh your colour, whilst the mousse will keep it toned between then.

Viviance dye is used in the same way as any other dye.
Your hair should be sectioned out for even colour results, and the dye has to be mixed with double the amount of Viviance developer lotion before application (Mixing ratio 1:2). Apply the colour systematically to sections of your hair, quickly and evenly. Leave it to develop until it has toned to the desired shade and then rinse it out.

Goldwell Colorance Mousse

Goldwell Colorance is another mousse option that is just as easy to apply as Igora's mousses. Ease of application, and pastel toning options make the colour line one of the best toners for platinum blonde hair.

If you prefer your platinum hair to look white, rather than silver, Goldwell Colorance 10P is a good option for this. As this mousse is very pale, it is simpler to achieve a neutral white result and avoid over-toning. If you do prefer more of a silver or even a soft violet-silver effect, 10V is an option for this.

ISO I.Luminate 9SA

I.Luminate is a demi-permanent colour line like Igora Viviance. As with other demi-permanent dyes, this product can be used for intensive toning of platinum blonde hair with practically no damage. The tone of the 9SA shade is primarily violet, with a hint of blue to produce a soft silver tone.

Overall, the shade is very delicate and useful for producing a soft silver colour that can last several weeks before fading becomes overly evident.

More information:
  • Dyeing hair blonde - Find out how to dye your hair blonde and get the colour you want...
  • How to use professional dye - Want to know how to use salon dye for better colour results at home? Discover how to select colour, mix, apply, and dye your hair properly...
  • How to maintain healthy hair - Is your hair damaged from bleaching it platinum? Find out how to restore it and treat any problems...

Have a question about choosing the best toner for platinum blonde hair or need help using any of these products? Leave a comment for all your questions answered...

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Dec 11, 2014

Types of hair color

Hair color is one of the best ways to change your look and style. When you dye your hair, you can choose from any color of the rainbow, whether natural, or bright and fun.

Choosing the right dye is important and affects how long your color lasts, as well as how the dye is applied and used. There are several different types of hair color.

The different types of hair color

Hair dyes fall into a few different families which describe how they work and how long they last. These families, in order of how permanent they are, include:
  • Temporary color
  • Semi-permanent color
  • Demi-permanent color
  • Permanent color

Temporary hair color

Temporary dyes are the least permanent types of hair color and can be used to temporarily change the color of your hair without damage. These dyes are applied as a rinse after shampooing your hair and generally only last one wash. If your hair is porous or has been previously bleached, a temporary hair color can sometimes last longer.

To apply a temporary hair color like Roux Fanci-full, you need to shampoo your hair first. The color is then applied by using the bottle to squirt the product into your hair and distributing the dye to where it needs to be with your hands. If the dye you are using is dark, it is best to use gloves or else you can end up staining your hands. Follow this process with conditioner and the dye process is complete.


Semi-permanent hair dye

Semi-permanent hair dyes stain the hair by penetrating superficially into the hair shaft. This allows them to last a few shampoos but still wash out over time. Like with temporary dyes, they do not cause damage to the hair. If you have porous or recently bleached hair, these dyes can last significantly longer because the color is absorbed deeper into the hair.

Semi-permanent color comes in a few different forms, including gels, creams, and mousses. How you use each of these products is dependent on your goals, but for the most part, they are used after shampooing your hair and before conditioning; just like a temporary dye. You can also apply semi-permanent dyes to dry hair for a more intense color.

Once applied to the hair, a semi-permanent dye needs time to stain the hair. The longer these dyes are left in, the longer they will generally last before they wash out completely. When application is complete, wash out the dye and follow up with conditioner if necessary. Most semi-permanent hair dyes have a conditioning base however, and you may not need to apply conditioner unless you suffer from overly dry hair.

How long does semi-permanent color last? - Find out how long this kind of color can last and how to keep it for longer...

Demi-permanent hair dye

Demi-permanent hair dye is one of the more permanent types of hair color and can last several weeks. This longevity occurs because these dyes contain a combination of oxidative dye and direct dye. Oxidative dye is the permanent dye that is found in permanent hair color, whilst direct dye is found in semi-permanent colors. They don't penetrate the hair as deeply as permanent dye and this also contributes to their shorter lasting effects.

A demi-permanent dye can last anywhere from 1 - 6 weeks before it appears to have faded noticeably, depending on how porous your hair is, and how dark the dye is that was applied. They're less damaging than permanent hair dye and can be a good way to try a new color without as much commitment. They are also the perfect dye to use as a toner.

Demi-permanent dyes are mixed with a low volume of developer and applied in the same way as permanent dye, by using brush. Once applied, the dye needs to develop for a period of time before it is removed. After removal, your hair should be shampooed and then conditioned. The same care routine for permanent hair dyes applies to a demi-permanent.

Permanent hair dye

Out of all the different types of hair color, permanent hair color is the longest lasting under ordinary circumstances. These dyes work through a chemical process called oxidation. At first, the dye is colorless or nearly colorless when it is removed from the tube, but once combined with the hydrogen peroxide found in developer, the color begins to oxidise.

This is why permanent dye is actually permanent. Initially, the dye exists in the form of small molecules that can easily penetrate deep into the hair shaft. Once oxidised however, the molecules are larger and can't escape back out of the hair. This new pigment becomes trapped inside the hair where it gives the hair its new color.

To apply permanent hair dye, the dye needs to be mixed with developer. For darker or tone-on-tone results, 10 vol developer is used, whilst a higher volume of developer can be used to lighten hair during the dyeing process. Hair that has already been dyed with a permanent or demi-permanent dye can't usually be lightened any further with another dye because color can't lift color. It can, however, still be dyed darker or toned.

Once application is complete, the dye needs to develop for a period of time to become permanent and form the final color. Once this process has finished, the dye can be rinsed out and the hair should be shampooed and conditioned. After color care can consist of treatments, leave-in conditioner, and other products to restore moisture.

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Wondering which of the different types of hair color you should use for your own hair goals? Leave a comment to find out...

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