featured, hair & beauty

(My) Blonde Asian Girl Essentials / How I Bleach My Hair


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.

The ends aren’t raggedy.

That’s kind of an achievement!

bleaching tools

filipina blonde

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.

Plastic gloves

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.

blonde after-care

filipina blonde

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.

filipina blonde

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!

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  • Reply malen August 7, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    Aussie 3-Minute Miracle Reconstructor is awesome. i haven’t repurchased yet coz i still have a tub or treatment conditioner from the salon. it’s super cheap but the shipping is expensive! :(

    • Reply Helga August 11, 2014 at 3:41 pm

      Lagi na lang nadadali sa shipping! Haha

  • Reply Beauty By Tellie August 7, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    You’re looking super hot… and glowy! Love how you take photos :o I found your old Flickr as posted by one of your old Askers and wheeee! Everything looks soooo good. Did you ever consider being a photographer?

    • Reply Helga August 11, 2014 at 3:42 pm

      Thanks, Tellie!

      And nope haha I can only take photos of things I like.

  • Reply kittykath August 12, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    The toner you speak of is available locally.

    You can get the clairol shimmer lights shampoo and conditioner from here: {redacted}

    Comes in 8 and 16oz:)

    • Reply Helga August 12, 2014 at 6:03 pm

      I don’t like promoting sellers that put an insane mark-up on items. :)

  • Reply kittykath August 12, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    Well yeah, it is insanely priced so I’m going DIY or just hope relatives/friends can bring me some :))

    • Reply Helga August 12, 2014 at 6:13 pm

      Haha yeah. The biggest bottle is less than 1K and lasts over 2 years so it’s super sulit.

      I ordered L’Oreal Silver shampoo from strawberrynet on ebay for a little less than PHP700 (close to the non-sale price on Amazon) with free shipping. I hope it’s as good as Shimmer Lights (or even better)!

  • Reply kittykath August 13, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    Not bad! :) Do tell if you like it better than clairol’s. Heard that Joico’c color endure violet works really well and smells yummy too. I’m tempted to try that one out.

  • Reply Jooley August 14, 2014 at 8:40 am

    Although I’m going to bleach just to have crazy colors again, these are great tips! Where do I find the Joico K-Pak reconstructor tho?

    • Reply Helga August 15, 2014 at 2:23 pm

      I ordered from Amazon! :)

  • Reply Patty November 15, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    Hi! Thinking of dyeing my hair crazy colors again. Just saving up for the hair care products. My previous bleach session left me with almost-fried hair. So I cut them off last June. I suspect the reason was that I don’t really invest in after-care. I just slap on some mayo or other natural treatment.

    Do you use hair masks? If so, what are they? Human Nature changed their hair mask and I read bad reviews on the product :(

    • Reply Helga March 12, 2015 at 2:20 pm

      @Patty, Hi! You can try using virgin coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil. :)

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