So you’re an Asian girl with naturally black/dark tresses who has gone blonde (or wants to) and has somehow ruined her hair. Or fears ruining her hair.
I’m not saying you’ve come to the right place because I’m no pro, but I sure can offer some help! Or, at the very least, a shopping list.
I get a lot of questions about The Path to the Blonde Life— how to do it, what do they need, how much will it cost, can they do without this or that etc etc.
Here’s the thing: going blonde takes time, effort, and money. So many people go into bleaching their hair unprepared or unwilling to spend on after-care. THAT IS SILLY. I cannot stress this enough: do not go blonde if you can’t afford it.
Here are four (of many) things you should know:
1. You cannot go blonde in one go. Okay, technically, you can but you shouldn’t and I do not recommend it. Double processing (bleaching more than once without at least a week in between or bleaching and then applying a permanent dye/toner that needs developer afterwards) is a sin, one that I’ve committed and regretted in the past.
2. You will need purple shampoo and/or toner.
3. You will need some sort of protein re-constructor.
4. These are not always readily available in the Philippines.
I’ve basically had the same hair care routine for the past two years because I found something that works for me. My hair isn’t healthy; bleached hair can never be. It’s damaged with dry ends but it’s soft and isn’t brittle (I’ve been pulling at the ends while writing this— playing with my hair is one of my many bad habits— and it’s not snapping off). It’s not gummy when wet and crunchy when dry. It’s not gross to the touch.
That’s kind of an achievement!
So you’ve decided to skip the professionals and go the DIY route. Here are the things I use and you’ll need:
Virgin Coconut Oil
Virgin coconut oil is magical and soaking your hair with it before bleaching will minimize damage from the peroxide. Apply liberally (I prefer on damp hair because it’s easier) and let sit for 1-2 hours before bleaching over it.
Bleach Powder and Developer
For powder, I use two brands: HBC and ShineMoist. HBC is blue bleach that comes in plastic packs (around PHP100 a piece) and I usually use two at a time. ShineMoist is white bleach and comes in a tub and costs PHP350+.
I’m not sure if there’s a difference between blue and white bleach powder but I prefer HBC’s.
I also like HBC’s developer (oxidizing lotion) better. Volume 40 or 12% is the strongest (also the most damaging) and is what I use if I want a super high lift. However, volume 30 or 9% should be fine if you’re already blonde.
I use a 1:1 ratio when mixing bleach and developer.
A plastic mixing bowl and tinting brush
You can use a glass bowl, too, but never a metal bowl. I got mine for around PHP20 each from Hortaleza stores.
Never apply bleach with your bare hands because your fingertips will sting.
Optional: ear caps, hair cap, cape
I lost my ear caps and have always used an old towel or shirt around my neck and upper back to protect those parts from the bleach. For my ears, I just wipe off any bleach with tissue.
When it’s warm, I skip the hair cap because I don’t need extra heat to process the bleach. When it’s cooler or when I bleach at night, I use a cap to trap heat and if that’s not enough, I also use a blow dryer.
If you’re bleaching your hair for the first time, your hair will turn out orange. It will be ugly.
Depending on your hair health, wait at least a week before bleaching again. If your hair was already dry or damaged to begin with, you’ll need a month to baby your hair back to health and you will probably need a trim.
You’re blonde now! Congratulations!
Now it’s time to care for your hair. If you don’t have money to shell out for salon treatments, then you probably won’t have money to pay for the products that you’ll need, too. You can’t go blonde on a budget if you live in the Philippines.
TONER & SHAMPOO: Clairol Shimmer Lights Shampoo for Blonde & Silver hair
I got the 31.5oz bottle for $19 on Amazon and it’s lasted me for 2 years (and will probably last another 3 months). Granted, there are times when I don’t use it every week because it’s very drying and I really really hate shampooing my hair. However, I also sometimes use it like a regular toner by applying it on dry hair and leave it on for 30 minutes to an hour. That uses up more product than regular shampooing.
Toner only really works on yellow to pale yellow hair. If you’re a muddy orange or a medium to dark blonde and aiming to go lighter, this won’t have much of an effect. It will cancel brassy tones but don’t expect platinum blonde hair.
NO TONER? You have two options:
1) Make your own by mixing a purple semi-permanent dye (I love Special Effects and Crazy Color) with white conditioner.
2) Use an ash or gray dye. Again: don’t double process! I don’t really recommend this, though. Avoid harsh chemicals as much as possible, babycheeks!
Our local Lush stores might carry Daddy-O but I’ve never used it so I can’t tell you if it’s a good toner.
PROTEIN: Joico K-Pak Deep Penetrating Re-constructor
Bleaching ravages your hair so you need to replenish the protein and moisture that it loses during the process. K-Pak is my all-time favorite treatment (but really, the only one I’ve used). I paid $37.50 for the 35oz bottle and again, I’ve had it for over 2 years now. I use this 2-3x within a week after bleaching just to baby it back to “normalcy” and then go back to using it once a week or once every two weeks.
This product is a godsend. I will probably not bleach my hair when I run out because that’s how much I need this.
I’ve also heard good things about the Aussie 3-Minute Miracle Reconstructor but I have yet to try it.
Virgin coconut oil
Aren’t you glad that VCO is easily available in the Philippines and for cheapsies??? Besides minimizing bleach damage, you can also use this whenever you feel that you need an intensive oil treatment. I’ve tried leaving it in for 18 hours but I personally find it a hassle so I wash it out after a couple of hours.
Extra virgin olive oil
Now that I’ve run out of pure argan oil, I find EVOO to be a good enough substitute. I am extra generous with this stuff when my hair is freshly bleached because it makes my hair feel super soft without the -cones that “unpure” argan oil and commercial conditioners have! It’s also great on days when I shampoo. I just apply a little bit on damp hair, as if it were a leave-in conditioner or hair serum.
That’s how I keep my blonde hair relatively healthy without salon treatments.
You know, it’s actually not that expensive, especially when I’ve been using the same big bottles of purple shampoo and K Pak (the two most important things you need) for the last two years. Of course, I lucked out because I didn’t have to pay for shipping. If you have relatives or friends going to the US, definitely have them get those for you!
I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have, provided that I know the answers!