How to Go From Black to Blonde Hair With the Least Amount of DamageAugust 02, 2023
Have you been craving a major transformation? There are few makeovers as dramatic as making the switch from black to blonde hair. While the process tends to be a bit pricey and time-consuming, there are ways to make the change without sacrificing the health of your hair, so long as you're willing to be patient and seek out a professional — this is one DIY hair makeover we wouldn’t recommend.
Below, we spoke to Tom Smith, hairstylist and international color creative director at evo hair, about how to make the transition from black to blonde hair as stress-free and minimally damaging as possible.
How to Go From Black to Blonde Hair
Step 1: Find a Pro
If you’ve been thinking about the DIY route to go from black to blonde, we’re once again encouraging you to skip it. “Even for many professional colorists, it is a daunting and advanced task — and so trying to DIY it is a recipe for patchy color and broken, damaged hair,” says Smith. Find a colorist you trust, and ask to do an in-depth consultation before you begin the dyeing process. “It’s also important to follow the recommendations of your hair stylist and trust the process,” Smith adds. “Don’t get disheartened if the color isn’t as you hoped from one go — let things settle and continue the process under the direction of your trusted colourist.”
Step 2: Assess the Condition of Your Hair
“Going from black to blonde is one of the most invasive things that you can do to the structure of the hair,” says Smith. “Unless the condition of the hair is considered as a priority, irreparable damage can occur.” This is why it’s so important to consult with a professional colorist before going blonde.
When Smith takes a client from black to blonde hair, he asks them for a full breakdown of the chemical hair treatments they’ve gotten in the last two years, which includes services like bleach, chemical straightening and keratin. He also informs his clients of the price of going blonde. A makeover of this caliber can take all day (or multiple appointments over the course of weeks) and will require serious upkeep in the form of regular touch-ups and moisturizing hair products. It’s best to know the financial commitment before you commit to going blonde.
After chatting about your hair history and the services you’ve had previously, most colorists will perform a strand test by applying bleach to a small section of your hair and seeing how much it lightens. This will allow the stylist to see how long it will take to get you to your desired shade of blonde without compromising the health of your hair.
Step 3: Be Patient
The easiest way to keep your hair healthy when going blonde is to go slow and steady. “When the hair is naturally thick and strong, and has not been dyed black multiple times, a nice shade of blonde is almost always achievable with the correct approach,” Smith says.
However, as he mentioned above, if your hair is very fine or has been dyed black multiple times using box dye, going blonde will be much more difficult. In that case, Smith recommends lightening the hair gradually over the course of multiple salon visits and keeping a realistic goal in mind. You might not be able to achieve full platinum status by the end of your first appointment, but your stylist can help you figure out the lightest you can go while still maintaining the integrity of your hair.
Step 4: Repair Your Hair Before the Appointment
Depending on the condition of your hair, your stylist might ask you to use extra conditioning products and avoid heat styling before your blonde appointment.
“In the cases where the condition of the hair is a concern, I require my client to take home Olaplex No.0, No.3 and K18 leave-in mask, which I task them to use together for six consecutive washes,” says Smith. Smith also puts his clients on a heat-styling ban — except for limited blow-drying — during this time and even two weeks after the bleach appointment. Using a reparative hair-care routine, along with limiting heat styling, will help prep your hair for the bleach process and keep it healthy afterwards.
Step 5: Start the Transformation
Still with us? OK, it’s time to go blonde. “The process itself varies case by case, but typically it begins with meticulous lightening of the hair in slices that cover the entire head, focusing on the darkest areas first,” explains Smith. Smith will only “lift” or bleach a client’s hair a maximum of twice in one day, followed by a final stage of coloring to correct the hair’s tone and dimension as required.
If another session is necessary, he recommends waiting at least two weeks in between appointments to keep your hair soft, shiny and healthy.
How to Maintain Black-To-Blonde Hair
Use Nourishing Hair-Care Products
Once you go blonde, you’ll want to continue using hair products that will moisturize and condition. Invest in sulfate-free shampoos, conditioners and reparative hair masks — the Redken Acidic Bonding Concentrate Shampoo and Conditioner are both great choices for repairing dry, damaged hair. The pH-balancing formulas help strengthen the bonds of your hair and work together to defend hair against the consequences of coloring, heat styling and even mineral buildup from hard water. When one of our editors tested out the accompanying Redken Acidic Bonding Concentrate Intensive Treatment, she noticed that her hair felt softer, looked smoother and had significantly fewer flyaways.
Tone Your Hair as Needed
Once you go blonde, prepare for purple shampoo to become your new best friend. Since purple is across from yellow on the color wheel, the color helps cancel out brassy and yellow tones in your blonde, which will keep it a cool, creamy shade similar to what you walked out of the salon with. Even golden blonde hues can benefit from the occasional wash with a purple shampoo — just make sure to wash with one no more than once a week, otherwise you run the risk of dulling your hair color.
We love the Evo Fabuloso Platinum Blonde Toning Shampoo, a deep purple rinse that gently cleanses, softens and neutralizes brassy tones in blonde hair.To refresh your blonde after each wash, you can also spritz on the Matrix Brass Off All-In-One Toning Leave-In Spray, which will detangle, add moisture and neutralize brassy tones.
Maintain Color and Shine With a Hair Gloss
A hair gloss is an easy way to refresh your color and add softness and shine without an extra visit to the salon. We love the L'Oréal Le Color Gloss One Step In-Shower Toning Glosses, which come in multiple shades that blondes will love: Blush Blonde, Cool Blonde, Honey Blonde, Platinum Pearl, Silver and Silver White. The glosses won't lighten your hair, but they will tone, condition and enhance shine.
No matter how careful your stylist may be, there’s no denying the damage bleach can wreak on your hair. In order to keep it healthy, it’s important to limit heat styling as much as possible. Now is a great time to let your hair air-dry and experiment with all the heat-free hairstyles, from sock curls to braided buns.
If and when you do heat-style your hair, make sure you’re applying a good heat protectant beforehand. One of our go-tos is the Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine 10-in-1 Leave-in Spray, a leave-in treatment that smooths frizz, adds shine, detangles and defends against up to 450 degrees of heat styling.
Schedule Regular Touch-ups
Blonde is a notoriously difficult and expensive hair color to maintain, especially if you have naturally dark hair or are going full platinum. The frequency of your touch-ups will depend on the blonde you’re going for. In a previous article on when to touch up different blonde processes, Smith explained, “As a general rule, the more contrasting your dyed shade is with your natural color, the more frequently it will need to be maintained.”
He recommends touching up platinum hair every five to six weeks to get a flawless, even lift, while those with blonde highlights or a balayage can get away with fewer visits to the salon.