Going from Brunette to Blonde
It’s one of the season’s hottest trends, but it’s also one of the trickiest transformations to achieve. If you’re a glossy brunette looking to switch up to boho blonde, here are my tips and tricks for getting the best results, with this most difficult of colour changes.
I do think that most shades of brunette can get to blonde, but depending on your darkness, the level of blonde you will achieve varies. It is possible – Kim Kardashian has famously gone from raven hair to platinum and back several times – but it takes a long time, a lot of hard work and a huge amount of maintenance to get the right look. It’s a difficult task and you need to have realistic expectations about the level of blonde your hair can actually reach. If your hair is deepest brown, you might not be able to reach the dizzying heights of icy white blonde without causing serious damage to your hair.
So how should it be done? A gradual process is always best for your transforming your colour. For a healthy shade of blonde, I definitely believe it should be done as a gradual transition, not an overnight transformation. Taking brunette to blonde should be done in stages to maintain the health of the hair and also to allow you to decide where to stop. Using highlights or Balayage is a great way to gradually lighten the hair over a period of a few months, and if you find a shade on the way that you really love, you can stop there and just maintain that colour instead. But to keep the hair looking healthy, it should be done slowly and carefully.
I would advise using these Balayage techniques to get the new colour looking as natural as possible. I prefer to use subtle techniques rather than a block colour; depending on the look we’re going for, I like to use either Balayage or highlights to weave the colour through the hair in a natural, sunkissed kind of way.
And once you’ve got your colour, how you should you maintain it? There are hundreds of products out there for coloured hair, but how do you know which one is best for your new lighter tone? First of all, I would say you should wash your hair less often if it’s been bleached or coloured, and you should steer clear of any clarifying shampoos as they will strip the colour. Instead use a gentle cleansing shampoo every other wash, and for the washes in-between, use toning shampoo to reduce brassiness. This is essential whatever shade of blonde you’re going. A silver or purple shampoo will minimise any brassy, yellow tones and will keep the colour looking bright, ashy and fresh.
Bleaching will of course damage the hair too, so conditioning is a must – use a deep-conditioning mask or treatment once a week and use a colour-specific conditioner to keep the hair nourished. You can also look into in-shower glossing treatments every few weeks to keep the colour looking healthy and shiny.
Many girls changing from brown to blonde hair might worry about how to get the colour looking natural, but also how to maintain it in a low-key way. Not all of us can afford to get to the salon every other week to get a root touch-up. I like to use a technique called ‘root stretching’ or ‘root dragging’ to get a blonde colour looking more natural on darker-haired girls. What this means is using the natural colour of the roots, and gradually pulling this colour into the lengths to merge between the natural and the dyed. It looks much more natural and also makes the overall style much lower maintenance, as you can afford to let the roots grow out a little more and get a colour touch-up a little less often.
So how often should you head into the salon? It varies depending on what you’ve opted for – highlights/Balayage or a block colour. Block colour will need a root refresh every few weeks, especially if you’ve gone for a really icy platinum tone. Highlights generally need a touch-up after six-eight weeks to keep them looking fresh, and Balayage or a root drag can wait around eight-ten weeks. The longer you can leave it, the less stress to your hair, but of course it should still look great!
Brunette to blonde can be a tricky transformation and to decide on the shade of blonde you want to go for, it’s best to discuss with your hairdresser to see what you can achieve and what would work best with your skin tone. Your colourist can do a strand test to see how well the hair takes bleach so I would absolutely recommend doing this to see what you can expect from the appointment. Your colourist can also advise on your skin tone and whether you should be looking for a dark or a light blonde, with golden or silver tones.
You can also look to celebrities who’ve made the leap to see how to pull off this transformation yourself. Jennifer Lawrence is a great example of a brunette who pulls off blonde beautifully. She had a really rich, glossy brunette colour when she first came to our attention, and she’s gone to really bright blonde before, but the ashy, soft blonde tone she’s wearing at the moment is really gorgeous and it looks natural on her, which is key for me. It’s multi-tonal, has great depth but still looks really healthy and shiny.