My current Hair Color: “Bronde” and how to get it…

(**Disclaimer! I’m not a hair professional, but have just done my research and worked with my own hair to get results I’m happy with. But whenever dying your own hair at home, please follow manufacturer’s directions and consult with a professional when possible or in doubt)

As you all know…I’ve been lightening and coloring my hair since late last year, in an attempt to get a lighter color that is neither brassy, or too harsh/dark for my complexion. Check out my articles on hair coloring and soap capping. And recently I’ve been rocking a hair color that I found out was called “bronde”; too light to be a solid brunette, and too dark to be a blonde. Kind of a caramel color in between two opposites. A nice neither region that I would like to reside in for the next little while. Why? It’s not as high maintenance as a light blonde, and it’s not as brassy as that rust color dark hairs get when they lift too little color. It’s just peachy. Check out this Vogue article about this hair color to get some inspiration. But for how, here are some famous “brondes”:

Jessica Alba: at the tonight show with just the perfect balance of light and dark caramels and soft, bouncy waves.
Amber Heard on GQ? As a darker blonde than she normally is, I think she’s got a lot more mystery and allure…
Beyonce is Bey-youtiful with a hair colour that compliments and warms her complexion. 

Okay, so you get the idea…how the color should look, but now how to achieve this neutral tone, middle level “bronde”color…Go to an expert hair stylist who does great hair color, or try it at home with these tips!**

For Brunettes want to go Bronde:

Step 1: Lighten enough: Believe it or not, us brunettes (black or brown hair) have to lift a level or two above middle lightness to achieve ‘bronde”. It’s not fair, but it’s just the way it is. For those doing this at home, you need to get to a level 7 lightness, at least. Check out swatches on how light a 7 level is.

Step 2. Tone/Glaze: This is so important as it adds the finishing shine and touches to a lighter hair color. Lightening dark hair always brings out warmth. And warmth is the enemy when trying to achieve a gentle tone in hair. Use a demi permanent hair dye with a low peroxide developer to add ash (blue/green) pigment to your strands. Use a lighter level than your hair is. So as a level 7, get a level 8/9 ash tone color. Toning with an dedicated hair “toner” only works for hair that has been lifted past a level 8.

A bit on the warm side, but I will be toning/glazing with a demi in the next week or so.

For blondes wanting to go darker to Bronde:

I’m not the most experienced in this matter, since I am a brunette, but here’s what I do know:

  • Use a demi-permanent hair color, since you are depositing only and not lifting levels. It’s gentler and from what I hear, shinier!
  • Stay away from ash tones. Ash upsets the darkening process by getting too dark/green too fast and then you’re stuck with it.
  • Always use a demi color one or two levels lighter than you want to achieve. So if I were a light blonde, I would do a 7 or 8 with warm/golden tones to get to caramel. Depending on the intensity of bronde you want, diluting the hair color formula with a clear gloss demi would be smart for avoiding over saturation and it looking flat and fake whenever dying darker.

Hope these tips help for all that want this hair color. I find it suits all skin tones and ages and just looks really healthy. Try it today.

**DISCLAIMER: all advice I give is based on my own personal experience with hair color. I’m not a professional hair stylist, so use my advice with a bit of caution and never hesitate to consult to a professional! Thanks!



My Hair Coloring Journey Part 1: Soap Capping and Toning

No More Orange Please!

Orange…That is what I am dealing with when it comes to dying my asian hair; it’s full of red/orange brassiness underneath all that mysterious black. Any kind of chemical processing, on my hair will eventually expose brassy tones as a color job fades. So to cope, last spring, I decided to dye my hair to ash brown, but unfortunately it came out way too dark, almost black, but at least no orange! But as summer rolled around, I noticed it was a very flat and boring color. Ash colors are great, but on darker brunettes, the cool tones are just lost, and unnecessary. I decided then to warm up to a strawberry blondish.  But without bleaching first and using just a 30 volume peroxide for lift, I achieved reddish brown hair…not too bad, but slowly, as winter set upon me, and several shampoos after, I noticed rusty orange had showed up harshly and suddenly to ruin the party.

It’s hard to see in this photo, but the brassiness that is peeking out from under neath is kind of visible. My ends are darker because I did a reverse hombre a while ago…
My arsenal for color correction: Bleach powder, 20 vol peroxide, shampoo and conditioner. The Wella color 7A (ash) is for toning that orange after lightening…

I realized my hair turned rusty because without bleaching and lightening my hair first before coloring, the brassy tendency of my hair type would always be exposed in the end. My hair color had to start out light enough to support whatever color I was putting in. So I decided I would do a soap cap to correct it. “Soap capping” aka “bleach bathing” is a formula of bleach and developer then diluted by shampoo meant to be a gentler method of lightening hair. It’s great for removing previous color or lightening a couple of levels. There are articles online on how to do soap capping to lighten hair but the ratio I used was 1:1.5 lightener to shampoo, lathered it into my hair and put a developing cap on it. And it worked. I went from brassy dark brown hair to orange hair! I know, it’s contradictory to have orange hair, exactly what I didn’t want, but once it got to a true orange color (and not the same brassy orange tint I disliked), it was ready to have an ashy color put on top to cover it.

Yikes! this is how it looked after treating with a soap cap! It got rid of the previous color, and lifted my hair to a level 6.5, I am now ready for toning/color…

So to neutralize the orange, I picked up a color with a lot of blue tones…basically an ASHy dark blonde in a level 7 (even though I was a level 6.5, I didn’t want to go darker with a level 6) And voila…the results were pretty nice. I am now rocking a light brown, with no signs of orange, even though I am still on the warmer color side; it’s impossible to totally irradiate the orange, because black hair just has so much of it. But I still think it turned out as close as I could get it with the most gentle and simple techniques.

Yay…no more orange…just a neutral light brown all the way. It’s a pretty colour, but I am not done yet…more to come…

So to recap, soap capping is an effective way to achieve gentle hair lightening. When a developer/bleach mixture is diluted with shampoo, it spreads more evenly, strips pigment slower, more predictably, and is safe enough to do at home on your whole head. If it isn’t light enough, you can wait a day or two and then re-soap cap so that your hair is less stressed out with the process.

My Tips for Safe Lightening at home:

  1. Watch the lightening like a hawk under that cap: Things can change every 5 or so minutes, so to get the amount of lightening you want with little error, keep checking the color as it works. And to prevent frying your hair, don’t leave a soap cap/lightener on longer than 50 min.
  2. Choose the weakest method of lightening and repeat if necessary: That is, don’t be in a hurry to get to what you want…Bleach, even when diluted with shampoo is still a very powerful chemical capable of damage. My first soap cap lifted my hair 2.5 shades! And it was only in my hair for 35 min.! Had I used full on bleach, I am pretty sure my hair would have been fried or too light in some areas! So be careful and go slow.
  3. Do redo darker hair spots: Sometimes, depending on where the hair is on the head, or previous chemical processes in the hair, the lifting results vary. For example my ends didn’t lift enough…I had to go back and redo  the ends the next night. But because I used a gentler method, redoing lightening in just some areas will be less damaging.

So am I done? As if!! I am actually aiming for a pinkish brown color. Keep on reading for my part 2 where I will be tinting my light brown hair with a pastel pink semi permanent…

Mishaps in Home Hair Colouring 101

I like doing things myself, and for the longest time, I used to go to hair dressers to do my haircuts, my colouring…etc. But for the last couple of years I have been doing everything myself.  And I’ve learned so much from this.  It wasn’t easy.  Doing your own hair means making a few mistakes here and there, and taking time to correct it. But don’t fret.  Doing your hair yourself also means you get what you want, and you don’t have to pay hefty fees to stylist that sometimes make mistakes too!  They are professionals, but they are not flawless.

Back to Brown

I recently decided I wanted to go lighter than my natural black again.  I used to rock a dark blonde way back when, but this time around, I decided I wanted to do an ashy light brown instead because it is healthier since it is less levels of lightening.  My hair had grown out at the roots and was virgin black hair to my ears, and below was pre-lightened brownish hair stained with a tinge of purple from when I rocked purple hair.  So here begins my misadventures.  I want to tell you right off the bat that if you have hair that is not uniform in chemical treatments, this is where colouring gets tricky. I mean really tricky.  But still, I am not bowing down to the professionals yet.

So I grab the light ash blond colorant I always use when I used to do a dark blonde. It has a base of dark blue toner, to combat any orange colours in hair that arrive when trying to lighten hair.  I know this time I was aiming for brown, but I still wanted the toning effect to get rid of excess brassiness, so I thought the same colorant can be used, but to get brown, I would just use weaker volume peroxide for less lift.  Okay…so guess what?  I was right about using a weaker peroxide, but wrong about the blonde ash toner in my colorant! It saturated the middle shafts of my hair–the parts of the shaft that were the most porous, and when I washed out the colorant, I had stained the mid sections an ashy green!  I also still had some purple tint on the very ends, and my roots were a warm brown colour, because it was healthy virgin hair that resisted the stain of the ash green. I basically had 3 colours in my hair! Not what I wanted at all.

I don't know if you can see it. Photos are deceiving. But my midshaft is green, my ends are ashy, and my roots/top is overly warm brown!
I don’t know if you can see it. Photos are deceiving. But my midshaft was green, my ends were ashy, and my roots/top was a warm brown!

Trying to fix Tri Coloured Hair!

So not happy, I start researching how to get rid of the greenish part in my hair.  I figured that I could live with a bit of uneven hair colour tones, but just not ashy green.  I heard remedies from bleaching again, to ketchup, to salt!  I decided on using a lemon juice soak to get it out.  After an hour of soaking the bottom half of my hair in a mixture of lemon juice and conditioner, I washed it out to find little to no change.The ash colours were still there.  And I was still unevenly coloured.

After the lemon juice to try and fix the green. I still had a lot of ash to my mid section, and if anything, the lemon juice just lighted everywhere. Still tri-coloured! Yikes.
After the lemon juice: I still had a lot of ash to my mid section, and if anything, the lemon juice just lighted everywhere. Still tri-coloured! Yikes.

Emergency Box Colouring:

I don’t usually use box colour kits from the pharmacy, but waking up to tri-coloured hair was bothering me a lot.  Warm roots, grey/green mid-shaft, and greyish purple tips was driving me mad.  I walked to my corner pharmacy to fix this once and for all! Two boxes of colour kits since my hair is long.  I figured where I had gone wrong was in using a colourant with a ton of toner in it to begin with.  The ash blond colourant was made for people who were aiming for blonde, not brown, so there was no darker colour but bluish toner to fill in areas that I had pre-lightened before, therefore staining it green. The science of hair colour finally hitting me in my face.  Every hair color has a tint of either red/gold/green. But there is also a base colour of different concentration depending on how dark you wanted to go.  Ash blond does not have any base colour. Where as if I wanted brown, I would have to use a brown base especially where I had pre lightened before!  Too complicated for words.  After the redo in a light golden brown colour from the store, the green was finally covered.  But then a new problem presented itself. Dull brown hair!

I got rid of the greeny part in the middle, but now the ends were stained by dark colourant, making the colour flat, especially from the bottom half down.
I got rid of the greeny part in the middle, but now the ends were stained darker than the top, making the colour flat. My roots/top was also still warmer than the bottom!

Clarifying to remove the over dye:

I put lemons into my hair again to remove the over-dye.  When hair has over dye in it, the strands are too saturated, they can’t shine because of it and are weighed down.  This is when one can use different remedies and products to remove some of the dye. I used lemons, because I had some, but I think clarifying shampoo works too. After this I shampooed twice.  The result the next day was this:

My ends are still darker, but at least it doesn't look like a different colour in the middle. With more shampooings, I think the colour will lift a bit more to be more even
My ends are still darker, but at least it doesn’t look like a different colour in the middle. With more shampooings, I think the colour will lift a bit more to be more even.

So at the moment I am rocking a slight reverse ombre, which is lighter at the crown, and gradually darker in the ends, which is not the worst thing.  If it really bothers me, in a few weeks, after my hair has rested from all the peroxide, I can always lighten the ends and recolour.  But my main point is still true.  DIY hair colour may require tweaks done over the course of several weeks to give your hair a rest. So no, the professional stylists have not won, but I know now to have a bit more respect for how hard hair colour chemistry can be.