In the last 7 years or so, the only time I haven’t had black hair was a short 18 month stint as a redhead. When I first started dyeing my hair, I never went lighter and gradually went darker until I fell in love with inky black locks.
It’s been a bit of a blessing and a curse finding ‘that colour’ that seems to suits me so well, that despite my light brown regrowth, feels like it should be natural colour.
The black hair became my trademark look but I started wanting a change. It’s not a easy decision when you still love your current colour AND the simple fact that getting rid of black dye is never easy… but I thought ‘why not?’, I can always dye it back to black eventually and it would be good to have a change- I’m the least adventurous hairdresser when it comes to my hair!
So the first step in the process was figuring out what colour my hair was capable of achieving, without turning to goo. I am forever thankful for the incredible invention that is Olaplex, which makes this kind of change much easier as the damage is minimised. Olaplex is a two step in-salon only process- The Step 1 Solution is added into the regular bleach and Step 2 is a after colour treatment. Both act at multiplying and strengthening the bonds of the hair and it’s been a lifesaver for me and my clients.
That being said, it’s not a miracle worker. I knew it would help reduce breakage and damage but it has limitations. So that I knew what I was in for, I cut out a section of my hair at the back (small enough to not notice it missing but big enough to be able to work with it easily) and bleached it with Olaplex added. Eventually I would like to try to go Marilyn Monroe blonde but knew that I’d need to settle on a inbetween colour first.
Two bleaches and the strand reached a great level 7 copper colour but it took a further 3 bleaches to get it white blonde and the hair was sufficiently fried (even with Olaplex)
But now I knew! Blonde was not a option for now but I could get to a copper with my hair still feeling healthy! So on Friday last week, that’s what we did.
Now before I go any further, I want to say that I will be adding in some technical info for any hairdressers reading. I would also like to briefly explain how removing colour works as it can be confusing for non-hairdressers. For instance, when talking about having to remove the black from my hair, my father assumed that I would have my natural colour still underneath and that would be the result. That is not how it works unfortunately. Once you have applied a permanent colour on your hair, you can’t get your natural colour back unless you grow it out.
With every level of colour (we use a scale of 1-10), there is a natural underlying pigment. So as you lift up from black, you will be presented with the corresponding pigment. This is the case even with natural hair.
So when someone decides to use a box colour to go blonde, and perhaps they are a medium brown, the box colour needs to lift up 4 or 5 levels, through all the the underlying oranges and yellows. Often, they are never going to achieve that and that’s when you get bright orange home hair disasters (and remember, it’s going to cost you a lot more for us hairdressers to fix it than if you’d just come to us in the first place).
Anyway, enough of a hairdressing lesson, I just wanted to explain what went on with my hair!
Onto what we did… firstly I made sure I didn’t colour it anymore since I made the decision 2 months ago. The more the black faded out, the better!
So first application, we mixed up Keune Powder Lightener with 30vol/ dash of 40vol and the correct measurement of Olaplex Step 1. Olaplex slows down the processing and they recommend bumping up the developer by one level hence the dash of 40vol.
This was applied to all the coloured hair and left without heat for 60 minutes.
As you can see, it’s a lot darker on the bottom than the top where there is more colour buildup and we knew that would be the case but by applying it everywhere first, we could see the banding easily.
Before applying the second application we did the Olaplex Step 2 Treatment to ensure the hair was prepped for the next round.
We used the same mixture for the second application, but this time started by applying on the last 3 inches first, and then moved up to the midlengths. The light orange band towards the top was light enough already so we left that out. This time, we checked and watched it as it lightened up but it worked a little slower and probably ended up leaving it for 50-60 minutes.
We didn’t apply the Olaplex Step 2 this time since it was the last bleach application, just shampooed and blowdryed in preparation for the tint.
You can see my hair is now bright yellow orange which is around a level 7. It looks pretty dry and frazzled in this photo but that’s because it had only been shampooed and not conditioned (conditioner closes the cuticle so it’s best not to use it right before applying a colour).
The kind of copper I wanted was a more natural golden copper, not bright orange. So we mixed up a bowl of 3/4 Keune 7.43 (the 7 is the level of colour, 4 is the primary reflect being copper and 3 is the secondary reflect being gold) and 1/4 of 8.34 to just make it slightly lighter and less orange. We also added in the Olaplex Step 1 again which you can do with tints but just far less than bleach – only 3.75mls for over 60g of colour.
The colour was mixed 1:1 with 10 vol since we needed to even the colour out and it was applied all over and left for 35 minutes without heat.
At the end of all this, the colour was washed out, Olaplex Step 2 applied for 20 minutes and then I had a decent inch cut off my ends as they weren’t feeling super healthy.
Thanks to Olaplex, my hair is still feeling really good and I don’t feel like I have to be careful with backcombing. I’m really happy with the colour although might lighten it up just 1 more level in the coming months to get it a slightly lighter copper. I still dream of trying to go blonde but I know that will mean waiting a year or more for new growth that hasn’t already been bleached. In the meantime, I’ll be using Olaplex as a stand alone treatment to ensure that my hair is in the best condition it can be.
I know that was a lot of information and the purpose of sharing it all was so that you could see how big a process it is and why it should be something done at a professional salon- please don’t try to bleach out black hair at home or you risk a major disaster!
On a final note, I’ve had LOTS of questions about what I now use on my brows! It’s a custom mix I made and I’ll be sharing it in just a few days so stay tuned.
Thanks to my fabulous work mates Bex, Kenji, Meira and Monique for all helping at various stages through the day- the total time from start to finish including a cut was 8.5 hours! Good things take time, don’t ya know?! If you are in Auckland, come see us all at Killer Hair.
Goodbye Dita Von Teese, hello Rita Hayworth <3