How do you 'Blonde?'


Striking, luxurious – and always on-trend – blonde hair hues top the list of my most requested color services. And while finding that perfect shade is of the utmost importance, how you get there matters, too.

As an educator and behind-the-chair stylist, I too-frequently see stylists default to the same technique: bleach and tone. But to create customized blondes, it’s important to employ a variety of methods. From high lift treatments to blonde-natural level hues, discover how you can shave valuable minutes from your service, preserve the integrity of your client’s locks, plus get the look you’re after, in this simple how-to: How do you ‘blonde?’

Know your options – and know when and how to use them

While you might be aware of the various ‘blonde-ing’ solutions, many stylists claim that it’s much simpler to control warmth when using the classic bleach and tone technique. On the surface, this might be true. But there are simple methods that you can use to control warmth, regardless of your chosen technique. Try shaking things up by trying something new – and for added dimension and shine – use a variety of techniques to achieve optimal results.

Option #1: Choice Natural Series, Levels 7-10. Using your guest’s inspiration image as a point of reference, start by looking ahead; determine what level your client anticipates being. Once you’ve established the level that you’re aiming for, you can easily ascertain which ‘natural remaining pigment’ (or contributing pigment) you’ll be left with. Using this information, select a Natural Series that will balance out any undesirable tones.

  • Neutralize. Step 1: Choose the appropriate base color for neutralizing unwanted natural remaining pigments. Step 2: Mix in equal parts desired tone. For example: The natural remaining pigment of a level 10 is yellow. If you’re aiming to achieve a cool beige hue, neutralize the yellow with a violet/blue base. Violet will neutralize the yellow, while the blue will act as a cool reflective tone (giving you the hue you’re after). If the fifty-fifty mixture isn’t giving you your desired level of control, trying mixing two parts neutralizing base with one part reflecting tone.

Option #2: High Lift ‘Blonde-ing.’ Using the same process outlined in Option 1, gently lift and tone with a low-level developer. You’ll be astonished by the beautiful, dimensional results!

  • Forgo high-level developers. Though a high level developer may seem to be the obvious choice to get the lift you’re after – this isn’t necessarily the case. Instead, use a carefully considered combination of ‘Natural Series’, and a low level developer. In fact, the lower the level of developer, the more controlled your color results will be. A high-level ‘Natural Series’ that contains more ammonia than it’s lower-level counterparts, and this can be used in conjunction with your developer to achieve the desired level of lift. If your formula is correct – but your end results are too warm – you’ve more than likely used the wrong developer – in this case one that was too-high. Because even though your client’s goal is to be three to four levels lighter, that 30 or 40 volume may be brining out too much Natural Remaining Pigment, which can result in hue’s that are too-warm.
  • Quick tip: Let the diameter of the hair shaft act as your guide. If the hair is fine, drop the developer down a level. This will keep your client’s strands from ‘over lifting,’ which is when unwanted warmth can occur. Instead, rely on a combination of the ammonia (in the hair color) and the developer for lifting – which will ultimately result in a greater level of control.  

Option #3: Strategic brightening and lightening with bleach. If you’re looking to create contrast, or add a pop of color, your favorite lightening agent is the right tool for the job. However, these pieces are most effective when used as an accent, as opposed to a base for the whole head of hair.

Tending to the mid-lengths and ends. If you’re implementing a foiling technique, addressing the mid-lengths and ends in the foil are key to a fresh, glossy hue, plus will help to create the dimension that every blonde is looking to achieve. Post foil, refresh with a demi-permanent color, which will add shine.

When I’m looking to achieve custom blonde shades, I make use of all of these techniques – often during a single color service. If you’re diverse in your techniques, your blonde client’s will leave with multi-dimensional, signature hues, which will guarantee they return to your chair time and time again.

Until next time!


Image Credits
Color: Lupe Voss
Styling: Geno Chapman
Photo: Manuel Voss
Model: Madison Chappell
Makeup: Marc Cornwall