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Lighten Up!

So excited to share this HUGE job (just over 6 hours!) I accomplished this last week!

A little back story:  Alison is a new client that wanted to get her box-dyed, dark brown hair lifted back out to the blonde she'd been missing for a while (plus, this way,  she'd have matching hair colour with her adorable little boy!).

We booked an appointment for about 2 weeks ago,  but during the consultation a few major things came out:

  • Alison knew exactly what shade of blonde she wanted (really light blonde - level 9 for all my hairdressing peeps reading)
  • Alison also knew exactly what results she didn't want (nothing other than that really light blonde)
  • I didn't have enough time booked that day or another opening that week that I felt comfortable living up to her expectations.
  • She had a wedding to attend that weekend.



Alison was disappointed.  Of course.  So was I.  I like to try and make everyone's hair dreams come true and I wanted to help Alison!  So, we took a look through my book and found a nice BIG time slot for her in which I felt that I could achieve what she wanted.

Patience is a  virtue.

This is what Alison came in with (a dark brown, about a level 4/5):


 Now, anybody who knows my hairdressing style, knows it's all about keeping the hair SUPER healthy.  Alison had just deep conditioned her hair the day before to prep it for it's date with me.  

We started by using a Colour Remover.  This is NOT a "bleach" or lightener.   Basically a colour remover shrinks down artificial pigments in the hair so that they can get out.  It will not remove natural pigments (a little tidbit that might come in handy some trivia night - natural hair colour molecules are called "melanin").  Unfortunately Joico does not carry a colour remover in it's repertoire, so for our adventures today we used Paul Mitchell Backtrack.

Here is Alison's hair after the Paul Mitchell Backtrack Colour Remove treatment (the hair is still wet, so remember that makes it look darker):

From here, I decided to go straight in with lightener (some people use the term bleach - stylists tend not to use this term as it has, unfortunately, led to people use ACTUAL bleach on their hair - DO NOT DO THIS.  EVER.)  

For those keener stylists - I'll tell you why I went straight to lightener as opposed to another colour remover treatment.....remember that colour remover only removes artificial pigment.  Those first six inches at her roots are almost 2 levels darker than the ends that had been lightened to blonde in the past.  The roots would not lighten more than this with colour remover, so I would have to use lightener anyways....

Here's the picture of Alison after the lightening process:

Isn't that pretty????  LOL  Sunset orange - just what clients LOVE!  

You may note as well that the last few inches are still pretty dark.   From the lightening in the past, her hair at the ends was more porous and wasn't letting go of the dark colour that had gone over it a few times in the year and a half of going dark. C'est la vie (I'm a beautician, not a magician and would it be worth the dry, frapped ends?  Not in my opinion).

At this stage I did another deep treatment to help replace some of the natural (keratin) proteins that colouring hair removes.  Lucky I have the Joico Hair Repair System on my back bar (fancy name for "what's available at the sink") which includes Joico K-pak Reconstructor (LOVE this stuff - it can save you if you're a hair chameleon)  It gets those proteins back into your hair to nourish and strengthen it from the inside-out.


And then we were ready for our final step.  A full-head of foils (highlights) and then colour all over in between to neutralize, or counteract, that lovely orange we had achieved.  

Stylists - I know you want to know....I used straight ash tones, half and half 8A and 9A and of course, it was Joico.

Isn't it amazing what patience can do?? On the left, the hair is wet and I've shown it dry on the right, for colour comparison.


Pretty amazing, right?!  All in one day.  Here, again, is a re-cap, in pictures, of the steps we followed:

This is a type of job that not every stylist wants to take on.  It is huge, time-consuming and labour intensive.  For me, it's a labour of love.   Can you even imagine how accomplished I felt as this was drying??  Thank you, Alison for trusting me and believing in me.

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I simply have to say, "BRAVO!!" Putting in all the time and effort is not what most would do. I am happy to hear I am not the only nut job out there!!!! LOL!! It is not so much about the money ay. It is a deep satisfaction in knowing you did the best that was in you to do with what you had to work with!!! I am a Joico lover too!!! I am not nuts about working with ashes, but after seeing this amazing transformation, I am about to tackle this very same beginning to finish on my daughter's brown-colored hair. She is hoping for the final outcome to be as beautiful. Wish me luck and thank you so much for this incredible layout of steps and knowing their is " the end of this dark hair journey!!" God bless you...keep up the excellent work!!


Hi, I was wondering if you can use this treatment & process on box dyed black hair? I have asked in salons & been told you can & that it should lighten to dark brown. My worry is that because my hair has been dyed black for about 3 years now & also is very fine & thin that the treatment will damage or even make it fall out :/! I have been several different colours over the years, including blonde for about 8 years so my hair has been through alot!


Amazing transformation, Jessica! The blonde looks great and it's interesting to see the amount of effort that it takes to go there from brunette.

One day, perhaps I'll take the plunge... :D