If you’d like to try this at home…

By Ashley Probst

1. Gather materials

  • Non-metallic containers to mix the bleach and color separately
  • Hair bleach and developer
  • Hair dye of your choosing, which will typically come with a dye brush and latex gloves
  • Petroleum jelly to protect your skin from getting stained
  • An old towel and clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty
  • Hair clips to section hair and a shower cap are optional, but recommended
  • Products specifically for colored, chemically-treated or damaged hair to use afterward and keep it healthy

2. Bleach your hair—Especially if you have dark hair, it will need to be lightened before dying it a vibrant, unnatural color. If you try to apply color without bleaching your hair first, it will simply add a tint to your natural color. Depending on the natural color of your hair, you may want to consider going to see a professional to ensure that it turns out white-blonde, which will hold color the best, as opposed to the yellow or orange hair that results when lightening goes wrong. If you opt to purchase your own bleach, you can find kits at any local beauty supply store. For medium to dark blonde, buy 20 volume developer; for dark blonde to medium brown, buy 30 volume; for dark brown or black hair, buy 40 volume. Some hair may require multiple bleaches, such as long, thick and/or red hair, so be sure to buy extra bleach in case you need more than you anticipate.

3. Rinse out the bleach—If you decide to bleach your hair at home, be sure to read all instructions on the kit before applying the product to your hair. Typically, you’ll need to wait about 30 to 45 minutes before rinsing the bleach out of your hair. It may feel dry and brittle, but this is normal. Don’t wash your hair at this stage.

4. Tone your hair—If your hair turns a yellow-blonde instead of white, you may need to go back to that beauty supply store and purchase a purple toner. The toner will aid the lightening process and the color purple is what turns your hair into the optimal shade of blonde.

5. Get ready to dye your hair—Wait a few days after lightening your hair, so you don’t completely destroy it all in one day. Some people also claim that dying their hair when it’s a bit oily helps the color stay. Others swear by washing their hair with clarifying shampoo before dying it. Regardless of how clean your hair is, apply petroleum jelly around your hairline and on your ears to prevent them from getting stained. Also utilize latex gloves and your clothing to protect your skin from the hair dye. Mix the dye in a non-metallic container and wait a few minutes for it to develop.

6. Dye your hair—This step is often easier with the help of another person, so ask a friend, family member or significant other to be part of this process. The best way to ensure your hair color will come out looking like it was done by a professional is to use hair clips to section your hair before applying the color. Separating your hair into four sections is ideal. For all-over applications, color the roots first and then move down to the ends. Continue doing this until your hair is completely covered in the dye. UUsing a shower cap while your hair processes will keep it out of the way and it helps your hair soak up the color. Applying heat will shorten the process, but how long you keep the dye in will depend on the color and your specific hair type.

7. Rinse your hair—After the allotted time has elapsed, rinse out the dye with cold water until the water that runs from your hair is clear. Don’t shampoo your hair immediately, but if your hair dye kit came with conditioner, clean your hair with that alone.

8. Maintain your color—Most bold hair colors are only semi-permanent which means they’ll wash out and fade rather quickly. Avoid shampooing your hair too often and especially wait at least a day or two after initially dying your hair to wash it. You can typically wash it once every two or three days to help keep the color in tact. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shower! Continue to condition your hair every day and do a deep condition on the days that you shampoo. Showering in cold water helps as well.

9. Touch up your color—Hair is constantly growing, which means your natural color will start to come through at your roots. How often you’ll need to touch up your hair will depend on how quickly your hair grows. You will need to re-apply bleach (and possibly toner) to your roots and then apply a new coat of color all over to rejuvenate your look.

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