DIY Blonde Balayage

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I have pretty much always been a blonde. When I was a kid I had blonde hair, then it got darker as I got older. In high school I started playing around with box dye and coloring my hair blonde, and I’ve never looked back. After a semester of college I decided business was not the path I wanted to take, and instead I enrolled in Aveda Institute and got my license in Cosmetology. Even though I no longer work in a salon, I am still grateful for everything the experience taught me about the beauty industry.

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One thing that has been very helpful is having the ability to color my own hair, and have it actually look good. We save a ton on money from me not going to the salon, and the few times I have gone and had someone else do my hair, it never looks that amazing and I’m always left thinking, “I could have done it better myself and paid only $20.” So now I only go for haircuts.

A few days ago I was looking in the mirror and thinking my hair was looking rather dull.

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I tried to remember the last time I had colored it, and it dawned on me I hadn’t since I was pregnant with Isaac! That was almost a year ago. It was time to switch things up. When I was pregnant with him I went for a darker blonde so I could go longer before needing to touch up my roots. It worked because almost a year later it wasn’t that terrible. Just starting to get brassy.

I was watching TV one night and this girl had the most gorgeous platinum blonde hair, and I thought, yup that’s what I want. So that’s what I did.

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Lets talk about the products I used.

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The first product I want to talk about is Olaplex. This is usually only available to professionals, but you can now buy it here on Amazon. It is expensive, but SO worth it to keep your hair from breaking off. You add this product to your bleach and hair color mix, and it helps to keep your hair healthy and prevent damage. I put bleach on my hair for half an hour, and its soft and not damaged at all. This is worth the money, and you only use a tiny bit in your color, so it lasts for a long time.

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Next is the bleach. I used Matrix Light Master, and mixed it with 20 volume developer for the back, and 30 volume developer for the top.

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For the toner, I used Wella Color Charm T18 with 10 volume developer.

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Then I also used gloves, a bowl and brush, color whisk, and some clips.

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These products may seem expensive, but keep in mind I get them at a discounted price since I am licensed. You can just go to Sally’s to get these same products, even if the brand is slightly different. You also don’t use the entire product at one time. So these supplies have lasted me for many many color applications.

To start, I mixed my bleach. I used 1 scoop of bleach powder, 2 scoops of 20 volume developer, and 1/8 oz Olaplex.

The ratio you want to use is 1:2 (bleach:developer)

I started by sectioning my hair and starting in the back. I am going to go ahead and apologize for the quality of these pictures. I had set my camera on the tripod and took them with a timer, and didn’t realize until I put the SD card in my computer that it had focused on the background and not my hair. So, sorry.

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Oh yeah, and wear something you don’t care about, because its going to get ruined. This is my oversized dedicated hair color shirt.

Next I am going to grab a small section of hair, and tease it at the top. You want to work in thin sections here. If your section is too thick, the color will look blotchy. By using a thin section and teasing it at the top, that’s what creates the smooth transition of a balayage color.

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Balayage means to paint on color. So I am going to apply the color directly to my hair and freehand the placement. Since I am going for an all over platinum blonde look, I am going to apply my color pretty close to the roots. If you want more of a contrast between your roots and the blonde, start a few inches down.

I couldn’t get a very good pic of the application technique from the back, so I am going to show you on this section from the front. What you’re essentially doing is creating a V or W shape with the side of your brush.

Hold the brush vertically, and paint a line at either side of your section.

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Then making small brush strokes, fill in the rest of the section in your V or W shape, and paint the remainder of the hair with bleach, making sure its completely saturated.

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What you’re aiming for is not having any harsh lines. You want the color to blend seamlessly so the transition from dark to light isn’t as prominent.

You’re avoiding this:

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And aiming for something more like this:

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That way you can go a bit longer between color applications, and it’s softer on the eye.

So I did this on my entire head. Starting with 20 volume in the back (because it stays on the hair longer) and switching to 30 volume in the front.

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I let this sit on my hair for 30 minutes, until I was liking the color I was seeing.

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I want to mention real quick that I was going for a platinum blonde look, which is why I colored all of my hair. If you are going for more of a natural look, start applying the color further down, and color every other section, leaving some hair out.

Next it’s time to tone. Anytime you put bleach on your hair, it’s going to turn yellow or orange. There’s just no getting around it. This is typically the “oh shit” stage where people freak out and wonder what the hell they have done. Don’t worry, you can neutralize any yellow or orange tones.

Use a purple toner for yellow hair, and a blue toner for orange.

I couldn’t escape the yellow either, here’s what it looked like right out of the shower.

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For the toner I used Wella Color Charm T18. This is a great toner you can use from Sally’s.  I use this a lot when I don’t have time to go to CosmoProf, and it works great. Don’t let the purple color scare you, I have thought my hair was turning too purple before and washed it out too early, and it was still yellow. You want to put the toner on your hair and let it sit the entire 10 minutes. This will give you a beautiful neutral blonde color.

On any bottle of dye you get, there is a ratio on the packaging. This tells you how much developer to add. You can see here the ratio is 1:2. That means we want to add 1 part color to 2 parts developer. This is important because if you mix the color incorrectly, it will not work.

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Again starting in the back, I applied the toner section by section until all my hair was evenly coated, and let sit for 10 minutes.

Only use a 10 volume developer with toner. If you use anything else it will bleach your roots and turn them orange. 10 volume is deposit only. 20, 30 and 40 volume developer is for lift and will lighten your hair.

After I rinsed out the toner, I applied step 2 of the Olaplex, and let it sit for 10 minutes. This helps to repair your hair from any damage that was caused during the coloring process. For how much bleach was on my already bleached hair, my hair turned out soft and shiny. This stuff rocks! No I’m not getting paid to promote them.

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I am really happy with how this color turned out. I haven’t been this light blonde in a long time, and I have missed it! I’m sure in the fall/winter I will be adding some lowlights to tone things down, but for now I am happy with my blonde locks. My husband is too!

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Some things to note:

The reason I was able to get my hair so light with only 1 bleach application is because my hair was already blonde, therefore I didn’t have much to lift. Typically the rule of thumb is 20 volume developer lifts 2 levels, 30 volume lifts 3, and 40 volume lifts 4 levels.

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To explain levels, we identify hair color on a number scale, 1-10. Level 1 is black, and level 10 is light blonde. My natural hair color is a level 6-7, and my blonde was at about a level 8-9. This is why I was able to achieve such a light blonde color. If you’re starting out at a level 3 lets say, bleaching is only going to get you to a level 5 or 6.

You may have to go through multiple bleach applications to reach the color I achieved. If your hair is really dark, you may never get as light.

If you have black dye in your hair, its going to be really hard to remove the color to become blonde. Black is the hardest color to remove.

Virgin hair will lift better than colored hair. So if you have some old brown dye in your hair, then have 2 inch roots of your natural color, your roots will lighten faster then your ends. To prevent these “hot roots” as we call them, put the bleach on your ends first, process for 10 minutes or so, then go back and apply to your roots.

I hope you enjoyed this post and feel free to ask any questions!

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