What to expect
When I first started dying my hair blonde I knew that it would be a big deal for my dark head of asian hair, but I wasn’t exactly sure WHAT it involved. I just knew I was determined to do it no matter what the damage, because I was bordering on to the age of 30 and figured it may be a big ask to walk around as a blonde Asian at age 30, but now that I’ve done it #YOLO!! I think I’m heading in that direction and not caring any more because being blonde is SO FUN!!!!
I figured if I bought the Japanese box of dye (which is made for getting blonde on asian hair) that showed a blonde character on it that said “bleach” it would miraculously turn my hair blonde. WRONG!!! I used about 3 boxes and it turned a nasty orange colour. Great!! Where was a guide like this one when I needed it?
Do it yourself or finding a hairdresser?
I’m going to be breaking down all the information you need, including professional formulations and knowledge that you will need to know when embarking on this journey. Doing this yourself will take lots of trial and error on your hair since you will not know how your individual hair will react to the bleach as well as how fast it will take to lighten and how quickly you apply the product. Also it is advised to get a friend that you trust to help you apply the mixture to the back of your head since it will be hard to see.
Also keep in mind doing your roots is a completely different and a more difficult process then doing it on virgin hair.
If this sounds like it’s too much for you I suggest you find a hair dresser that REALLY knows what they are doing with colour, because you will find not many hair dressers will have this particular experience or be too afraid to take it in. Trust me I’ve walked into many Asian hairdressers asking for platinum blonde and they will take one look at you and shake their head in horror.
What to look for in a hairdresser
All hairdressers are not created equal so it is really important who you choose to avoid disappointment and heartache as well as wasting lots of hard earned cash. Some of the questions I would ask a potential hair dresser are:
1. I would like to dye my hair this color (show them an actual picture of the blonde hair color you want) how long will this take?
How they should approach this:
They will first check your hair carefully and ask or note that it is either virgin hair or previously dyed hair. They will check for history of hair color because all good colorists will know that trying to bleach hair that has had permanent dyes on it before is much different and harder then doing it on virgin hair.
They will be realistic about the colour process and may say it will take up to 2-3 sessions to lighten your hair to that level. Doing it all in one go, especially on previously dyed hair is either impossible or completely damaging. They should also recommend treatments in between the process to maintain the health of your hair.
2. Will my hair be damaged after I lighten it?
They should say yes and give you options on how to keep it maintained through treatments. There is NO WAY you can have a completely shiny head of hair after that much lightening has taken place. They may not say right out it will be damaged but they should also give you a realistic expectation about it.
3. Can you show me any examples of your work that is similar to what I want
You should have a look at their previous examples of Asian turned blonde hair so you can see that they have experience with it. Unless you’re completely trusting I would not be paying hundreds of dollars for them to try it out on me. If you are willing to risk it, try finding a hairdressing college and pay ALOT less for this risk to be taken.
My current hairdresser
I currently go to Stevie English in Bondi Junction because they have proven they know how to color hair through their many hair colouring awards they have obtained. When I was searching for a hairdresser I really wanted my hair to be pink and blue and interesting colours so I was looking for a hairdresser that did this on a regular basis and loved to experiment with colours. I did a search on instagram and looked at all the past client examples and Stevie English stood out because they loved to play with colour!
They also had examples of Asian girls with platinum blonde hair on their instagram @englishhair with relatively healthy looking hair so that was the deal closer for me when choosing them as a hair dresser. I’ve been extremely happy with the result of my own hair. If you’re not in Sydney though I can’t help you with this unfortunately, but try trawling instagram for some good hairdressers! A picture speaks a thousand words!
What to use to lighten hair?
To lighten hair you will be using bleach! Nothing else will be strong enough to take your hair from Asian to Blonde, this is just nature and you won’t be able to avoid this! There are two types of bleach available and they are called Powder Bleach and Emulsion Bleach and both are mixed from Hydrogen Peroxide.
Powder Bleach is used for specific applications such as foils because it does not expand when applied and therefore can create more accurate effects.
Emulsion bleach is very creamy which prevents it from dripping and drying out and is suitable for full head application. It can expand while it’s applied and seep into areas where it is not applied which is why its rarely used for specific lightening applications.
How the hair lightens
Asian hair lightens in a very specific order. It starts off black and moves to brown, red, orange and yellow. I have included the picture below for an idea of what the stages look like.
The hardest to remove colours are red and yellow, so moving between the red stage to the pale yellow stage usually takes the longest.
Bleach opens your hair cuticles letting it seep into the the inside and alter the coloring of your hair. This leaves hair porous and bleached hair will be known to really suck in colour applied after vs. regular hair with closed cuticles. Think of a sponge being able to suck in more water.
Once your hair is porous you will find your hair is less elastic and the structure of your hair will weaken which will cause lack of shine and breakage. Yes your hair will break easier!
How light do I want to go
There are many different types of lightness and tones when it comes to hair so I’m going to explain a little bit about this to you.
Level of lightness
In hairdresser speak there are 10 levels of lightness with 1 being the darkest and 10 being the lightest. This has nothing to do with tones of warmth or coolness just pure colour lightness. The image below will give you a general idea of what the numbers mean, 1 is not shown but this is just black.
So when the hairdresser is going you want a 9 or 10 this is generally what they are referring to.
You will find that ASH tones are generally much darker looking even if they are at a level 10. This is because cool tones actually darken bleach hair when applied. I will explain a bit more on this later.
Tones or shades
When I first looked at a professional hair colour chart I was overwhelmed with the choices!! These are those sample hair boards your hairdresser may give you to choose a colour, but once I understood the breakdowns and categories of how these charts are organised I found reading them a lot easier, so here we go! I’ve included a chart below which I will work off as a guide, generally it works from cool, to warm and golden tones to red and copper tones as well as neutral tones. Anything with “N” is a neutral tone.
Have a look at how the chart is organised so you know how to ask for your hair color, It may be an “ash tone or “neutral” tone. Knowing this is a good start 🙂
How to mix your bleach application
So now hopefully you have figured out how light you want your hair to be and your desired colour it’s now time to mix your bleach. I will be teaching you how to mix your own bleach mix from professional salon products as opposed to over the counter boxes, which have their own instructions and are all different.
The two products I use are Powder Lightener Bleach and Developer (doesn’t really matter what brand)
There are usually two types to chose from. regular or blue. Blue powder just adds a bit of counter to the yellowness however it doesn’t make a huge impact. I would usually choose blue anyways.
The important part here now is to choose what level of Developer you are mixing with your bleach powder.
Types of Developers, also known as Peroxide
10 volume or V10 = 3% hydrogen peroxide
20 volume or V20 = 6% hydrogen peroxide
30 volume or V30 = 9% hydrogen peroxide
40 volume or V40 = 12% hydrogen peroxide
Best bleaching conditions
The process of bleaching is affected by the moisture and temperature. Head and moisture activates the process so you will often find hairdressers reapplying bleach to areas that are dry, or using glad wrap or a cap to lock moisture in as well as applying heat or blow drying to heat up the bleach and make it act faster. This also means any part of your hair closer to your scalp which emits heat will bleach FASTER then your roots. Take note of this when doing roots (apply it there last).
Tip: Wrap your hair in glad wrap or a shower cap to keep your mixture from drying
Applying a colour on top of bleached hair
Once your hair is bleached is will be ready to either apply a color on top or a toner on top. Bleached hair reacts very differently to normal hair so if you are choosing a permanent colour to apply on top of your bleached hair always go 2-3 shades LIGHTER then your intended colour. This is because your hair is porous and will really suck in the colour. A medium brown will turn into a DARK brown on bleached hair so be VERY careful with this step.
A hair dying kit is really hand for this: http://amzn.to/1BTLkaS
Note: Also if you want to achieve bright solid colours like primary reds and blues etc, you WILL need to dye your hair blonde first or you will achieve a very dull non bright color. This is also a fact of life that can’t be avoided. Even dark colours like Blue Black need to have a base of blonde/white hair for it to be a TRUE blue black. If you are unsure about the lightness needed to achieve your hair colour consult a professional hairdresser 🙂
Toning your bleached hair
If you ever wondered why you see lovely white blondes and almost lilac blondes while you sit in front of the mirror in a yellow mess, you’ve probably forgotten to tone your hair! Trust me I’ve been there many times, mainly out of pure laziness. To get your hair from a brassy yellow mess to the bright blondes and ash blondes you see, you will need to tone your hair. There are many types of toners from silver to purples and it really depends on how silver/white you want your hair to be. To get rid of the yellow and enjoy a nice natural blonde I would tone it lightly with a silver toner. For a white/silver and almost lilac colour you can use a stronger colour like purple toners.
There are many shampoo and conditioner products for blonde hair that has an inbuilt purple tint in it that will help take out the yellow as you wash your hair, and this is probably the easiest!! Some of the stronger products though will take some getting used to, to keep it from going patchy as you shampoo, because if you’re like me, you also find it hard to shampoo evenly.
If you ever get confused you can just ask for the toner section of the hair colour section or walk into a store that sells professional quality salon products for more choice of toners. It may take a few trial and errors to find the right toner for you.
Try the Wella toning range: http://amzn.to/1EQjVUS
What Shampoo and Conditioner to use
As mentioned above, the best shampoo’s and conditioners are silver, lilac or purple shampoos! Silvers will keep your blonde look natural and unyellow, and as you move onto the lilacs and purples, it will keep your blonde hair, white/silver blonde bordering on lilac. I personally love that silver like colour and it’s the best part of being blonde!
You’ll also find your hair is much more porous, brittle, and unhealthy and this will just be a reality you need to face. You sacrifice your health for the colour! You can make it appear more healthy with treatments like nano-max which I love or leave in conditioners and hair oils. These will just cover up the porous holes in your hair and make it look healthy, but remember that the damage has already been done! You’re just now making it look healthier.
The after care of bleached hair is just how you would treat any damaged hair. Give it a nice trim often as the ends will get split easier and your hair will break more. I also love to put some natural oils like coconut oil onto my boar bristle brush to keep it shiny and healthy as I brush. For those of you that haven’t heard, a boar bristle brush is much more gentle for your hair and is more able to distribute your hair’s natural oils from the scalp to the ends to keep it look healthy and shiny. For a bit of a boost I just pour some oils onto my brush.
Most of the time when you go blonde your hair dresser will recommend you get a nice chop after so be prepared to miss some of your length after this process!! Even if you do it yourself, I recommend you head to the hair dressers for a trim after you’ve died your hair at home.
Moroccan Oil: http://amzn.to/1AKi43c
Almond Oil: http://amzn.to/1vyNiLz
Hair Treatments: http://amzn.to/1vyNn1P
This is probably THE most fun part of being blonde! The lightness of your hair now gives you complete freedom to play around with any hair colour you like, and have it turn out like it’s supposed to (not murky or discoloured). You can even play with pastels by mixing solid colours with conditioner! I have a whole tutorial on this if you want to check it out.
These colours tend to all be wash out colours so don’t expect them to last long on your hair! I would also advise AGAINST using dark semi-permanent colours if you want to keep your blonde hair. I’ve done this before and you CANNOT wash it out no matter how hard you try. This is because your hair is most likely damaged and porous and the semi permanent colour is sucked into the centre or your hair strands and unable to be washed out. Even my hair dresser said it’s not likely to wash out even if it was labelled semi-permanent. To darken your hair for a day you may consider products like hair mousse! I have a tutorial and introduction to this here.
Currently yy favourite colours so far have been lilac and pink!! I’ve also tried green and may consider a pastel blue and mint sometime 🙂
You can also consider using extensions to chalk in some pastel colours if you don’t want to commit as I must admit the in between period where the color washes out is not the nicest!
[insert hair extension tutorial]
So there you have it THE complete guide to going blonde with Asian hair!! I hope that my 2 year journey of being a blonde Asian will help you on yours if you consider going down that road :)!
I would like to say that it is SOOO fun being blonde and that I don’t do it to be a Caucasian person! I just love the colour just like anyone is allowed to love a colour, even if they weren’t born with it. Well I currently love pink so does that make me want to be a Unicorn?? Haha maybe it does :)!! I’d love to be a Unicorn!!
Anyway I wish you the best of luck on your hair adventures and I’d love to hear your comments on if you’ve ever gone blonde or want to in the future!!
Here are some posts you might be interested in
Also I have a huge playlist of hair videos and tutorials on my channel so please check it out: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLpThn6Vz7qBdum_4WOCwm78wI1nZxsJG6
Take Care and Love you all!!