How I Lightened My Hair From Black/Red to Blonde at Home

After months of getting my hair into the best condition possible, obsessing about the length and swearing I'd never mess around with home bleaches and hair dye ever again I completely went against my own advice and decided to lighten my hair at home. I'd been a brunette for two years after five years of being platinum blonde so have been through this process before, only last time I completely destroyed my hair. This time around I was determined to be more careful and spaced out hair dyes and bleaches with deep conditioning treatments over a period of time. I'm in no way encouraging people to follow these steps (in fact I'd highly discourage it as I know from past experiences how badly bleach can ruin hair if it's not done properly). But if you've stumbled across this blog because you're determined to go lighter at home or are looking for ways to fix your brassy hair maybe this will be useful. Be aware that the entire process from stages 1-8 (below) took me around 6 weeks, as I purposely spread out each step to avoid damage. You can obviously get there a lot quicker by repeated bleaching, but trust me on this one- the time you'll spend repairing your hair afterwards will be a LOT longer than if you're just patient. So if you're planning on going lighter at home without damaging your hair, just know that it will take a good few weeks and you'll have some rather dodgy hair colours while you do it.

Step 1. 
This was my starting colour, my hair was a dark black/brown with bleached sections that had been dyed red. I'd been dying my hair dark for around two years so there was lots of layers of dark hair dye in it.

Step 2. 
I started by using a 'Colour B4' kit, these remove the pigments of hair dye from the hair without damaging or bleaching it. It lifted my dark, reddish brown colour to lighter brown with a slight brassy undertone. I then put some foil highlights through my hair using this kit, as I wanted to brighten up the colour further as well as see how my hair would react to being bleached

Steps 3 &4.
About two weeks later, after lots of deep conditioning masks I dyed my hair twice using Superdrug's 'lightest ash blonde' box dye (pictures three and four). In theory the 'ash' in the dye should have neutralised some of the brassiness, however because this was a lightening dye which also contained peroxide it lightened my hair further taking it to a scary looking gingery red colour. I was kind of panicking by this stage, but added a few more highlights to brighten it a bit further.

Step 5.
This was when my hair reached the most unflattering colour, and it was a result of me being impatient. After about a week I got fed up with looking at the strange colour and so bleached the top section. This sent some of my hair a yellow blonde and the rest a shocking neon orange with the underneath still the medium reddish brown. Massive oops, but at least it was a lot brighter and my hair survived without breaking off.

Step 6. 
Knowing I'd need an ash blonde  dye to neutralise the orange tones I ran out and bought this medium ash blonde box dye- unlike the one from Superdrug this one deposited colour in the hair rather than lift it, and it turned the shocking neon mess as well as the underneath section to a very dark blonde so my hair was now all one colour. If you're having a disaster with orange hair this is definitely the dye I advise, it's semi permanent so although it looks quite dark once it's first been dyed (and it feels as though you've undone all of your hard lightening work) it fades out after a couple of weeks leaving behind a medium blonde and much less brassy shade. Also even though it looks dark when it's applied, unlike dark black or brown hair it contains no red tones so when you bleach or highlight over it later down the line it wont send your hair orange.

Step 7. 
Now my hair was at a reasonable medium blonde shade it was much easier to lighten, I gradually  added more and more highlights to it every few weeks. I highlight my hair (using Jerome Russel B-Blonde bleach and a 30 developer) using foil- search foil highlights on Youtube if you want to use this method. You'll probably need a friend to do this for you or at least help you with the back, but it's not too difficult and the friend that did mine certainly wasn't trained in any way! Because in step 5 I only bleached the top section of my hair, the underneath part was still darker (see the 'during' picture above) so I had to concentrate a lot of the highlights on the underneath my hair. I finished the process slowly, with a LOT of deep conditioning, hair oils and occasional protein treatment in between.

Aftercare: Condition
For the first few weeks after initially lightening my hair, it did feel dry and horrible. However it wasn't destroyed which bleach can do, just dry meaning it could be fixed with the right products. Any hair that is breaking off or is completely frazzled will have to be trimmed off, there's just no way around it. I began repairing my hair by completely avoiding heat tools and washing it with just conditioner- surprisingly this does leave your hair clean and is the best thing for dry hair as any shampoo will dry it out further. Once my hair started feeling manageable again I started using a moisturising shampoo. I used deep conditioning masks throughout this entire process, and would advise anyone lightening their hair to do the same. Herbal Essences masks for example are just a few pounds each so even if you're on a budget there's no excuse- stock up and use them a few times a week. In the early days after bleaching your hair it's a good idea to use a protein treatment. You can buy expensive protein products from salons, but again if you're on a budget a mixture of eggs and olive oil can be applied to the hair and washed out after an hour. Protein treatments should always be followed with a deep conditioner, and should only be applied every 4-6 weeks as too much protein is actually bad for the hair. Use hair oils on the ends of your hair every time you wash it, argan/moroccan oils are the best things for hair but there are lots of budget hair oils out there, including plain coconut oil which can be bought for just a couple of pounds.

Aftercare: Colour
To maintain my hair I wash it using a purple shampoo/conditioner to get rid of any brassiness probably around once a week (the rest of the time I use a moisturising shampoo and conditioner, usually Tresemme or Dove.) Yellow toned hair can be corrected to blonde with a toner, but be aware that this will only work on yellow and not orange hair. My advice to anyone who's had a hair mishap sending them orange is to use a semi permanent ash blonde hair dye, then gradually lighten from there with highlights. I keep on top of my roots by dying them with a standard blonde box dye, on my regrowth this lifts right up to a nice blonde colour without being as harsh as bleach powder and blends in perfectly with the rest of my hair. I can then easily add more highlights every few months if I want to brighten the colour further.

Have you ever attempted a dramatic hair colour change at home?


  1. It really suits you lighter! xxxx

  2. oh my god! You're hair looks gorgeous! I was so shocked when I saw the picture hahah It still looks healthy too, just think what it would be like had you not tried to be really good with it the last few months!
    Looks great :)

  3. You look lovely with light hair!!

  4. The lighter hair looks so good on you :)!


  5. Wow, it looks professionally done. You did a terrific job on it and look absolutely stunning as a blonde. Big thumbs up, girl! xo-Tina

  6. Both look great on you! I do like the blonde thought, compliments your skin tone nicely! Found your blog on the blog hop hope you can visit me and my sister's blog as well!

    Stay pretty and we'll follow you!

  7. Hey, I'm a new follower! Found you thru the BLT blog hop! You look pretty in both colors. Thank you for the tutorial as well! :)

    Follow back? :)


  8. Oh wow what a cool change. I love it. Following ya now from the followers to friends hop...
    If you're up for it we're riding the wave of life at, ups and downs and round and rounds and I'd love it if you'd join me/ us.


  9. Your hair looks lovely!
    I enjoyed reading this post!
    I found this post through Blog Hop! :)

    Natasha Carly x

  10. It looks really pretty Stacey! In the past couple of years I have died my hair dark then returned back to blonde, its nice to have change now and again :0)

  11. Stopping by from the Followers to Friends blog hop and wanted to say hi!

  12. Very cute!! I love the light color. How often will you have to redo the roots? Does your hair grow fast?

  13. Wow this sounds kind of complicated, but the results are fantastic! Sounds like it it was a big success, overall!

  14. I actually like both hair colors on you! I'm always wanting to do something different with my hair. I'm a natural blonde but have dyed it many colors in the past!

  15. Although both colors look great on you (and despite my naturally being partial to darker hair) I think the blonde looks wonderful. You certainly are brave, going through all of that, and dealing with the in-between stages, until it was just right. I don't think I'd ever be able to manage that - I'm just far too impatient.

    Over the years, the one thing I've learned is that the less product I put in my hair on a daily basis, the healthier it is. I dye it about every 6-12 weeks, but occasionally go crazy and do a few different colors over the course of a month or so. Since they are all dark, my hair always feels nice and silky. The 3 times I've gone lighter, I've always hated how my hair responded to it.

    Visiting from the Thirsty for Comments Thursday hop! Thanks for linking up!

  16. Hi, Liked how it ended up - beings out your eyes more.

  17. Great Help! xx But about how long did it take you to go from Pic 1 to 8?

    1. it probably took me about five weeks to go from pic one to pic 6. It then took about another 6 months to get to pic 8 but only because I didnt want to over bleach my hair, and I was reasonably happy with the colour aside from a bit of brassiness. I added a few highlights probably every other month, and between that was deep conditioning like crazy :) hope that helps x

  18. What colour ash blonde did you use?.the link is inactive.ive just used colour b4 x2 on my dark chocolate hair and have gone copper orange at roots which is ok but also a weird lunminous yelliw green hue all over.tried bleaching a small section with jerome russell 40 % but didnt shift!

    1. Hey Sarah, I feel your pain- I have been in this situation many times myself! I recommend the shade Medium Ash Blonde from the Clairol Nice n Easy range, number 106 is permanent and 73 is semi permanent (which is good if your hair is damaged as it's more gentle). Id use one of these to even out the colour, and then a few weeks later try bleaching again or going to the hairdresser to add highlights if you're happy with the base shade. Let me know if you need any more help, I'm not a hairdresser but have done this a lot with my hair over the years so can recommend products that worked for me xx