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From Black to Blonde

How to go from Black to Blonde (With Pictures, Step-by-Step Guide & Recipe)

BY SALLY MADISON
NATIONAL COLOR TRAINER

How to go from box-dye black to blonde

As a stylist, you are definitely going to get requests to take black hair blonde.

When this happens, it is always a big ask. It is, after all, a major transformation that your client is looking to do.

It doesn't matter whether the hair is dyed black or whether it is naturally black. Either way it's a big change.

But, using the right products and the right techniques, it is doable.

In this blog, we are going top guide you through the correct processes you need to follow. 

Is it even possible to dye black hair blonde?

Virgin hair by nature is always easy to lift out and lighten. So, if your client has virgin black hair, the answer is most definitely yes.

If the hair been previously dyed black, you will need to use color remover first prior to bleaching. We will show you how in this blog. But still, the answer is yes - it is possible.

If the hair has been previously chemically treated by anything other than permanent color, and this could mean hair relaxing and hair Keratin treatments for example, then you need to do a strand test first to check that the hair is capable of responding to lifting & bleaching without losing its texture.

Always ask the client about previous chemical treatments she has done, and in particular whether these treatments were recent.

If, for example, your client did a hair relaxing just a few days prior to calling or messaging you, it would be a good idea to check that it was at least 2 weeks ago.

For every single of these cases, using good quality products is really essential when you are trying to go from black to blonde.

Check the hair condition first. Do this Three Part Test 

First, do a Porosity Test

Porosity is basically a measure of how strong the surface of the hair is. If the hair is damaged hair it will be highly porous. 

There will be gaps in the outside cuticle exposing the inner cortex. 

If your client's hair looks dull and dry, it is probably porous.

The more porous hair is, the the quicker color molecules and bleaches will penetrate it. This means that the color or bleach treatment will actually go faster. 

So, in other words, if your client's black hair is porous, this will speed up all processing times. You need to take this into account.

Sometimes, parts of the hair will be porous and other parts will be absolutely healthy. For example, if your client has long hair, it may be more porous at the ends, since she has probably colored this hair many times. Ideally, you should cut off such ends before you start coloring or bleaching. 

How do you do a porosity test?

With one finger, take an individual hair from as high up as possible. With the other finger, slide your thumb and first finger down the hair strand all the way down. from the tip to the base. Try and figure out how rough or smooth the hair is.

If the hair is smooth and glassy, that means the cuticle is dense and hard and the hair is basically strong and healthy. Virgin black Asian hair may be like this, for example. But just make sure you realize - it is going to take longer to lift and color. So you need to prepare for more bleach mix and maybe you would need to bump up the developer strength, use foil or use indirect heat to speed things up.

If the hair is slightly rough but otherwise normal, this would be average healthy, normal hair.

But if the hair is very rough, brittle or dry (and also dry looking), it is porous. It may have been over-processed in the past or more likely it is just more naturally like that. Use a repair treatment after coloring and bleaching. Ugly Duckling's Brilliant Blondexx for bleached and fragile hair is very good making such hair stronger and thicker.

Second, check the hair thickness


Fine hair will react quicker to any lifting or bleaching treatment. Thick hair, on the other hand may take longer. 

Again, this is something you need to take into account for your coloring and bleaching procedures.


Third, measure the elasticity of the hair. 

Hair elasticity is another aspect a hair stylist should take into account before attempting a major color transformation.

Hair in good condition is springy and bouncy. In order to test for elasticity, just take out a single strand of hair of your client's hair. 

Now try to stretch it. 

If the hair is in good condition, it will stretch roughly an extra 1/3 its length and then return to original size.

But if the hair is a little damaged, it will not return fully to original size.

And if it's very damaged, it will just break when you attempt to stretch it. 

If as a result of these 3 tests you can see that the hair is OK, you can now start coloring or bleaching. But first, if the hair has been dyed black, you will need to use Color Remover.

How to Use Color Remover

If the hair has been previously been dyed black, you are going to need to use a color remover before bleaching.

A hair color remover is not always strictly necessary. You can always skip and do an extra bleach application.

But hair color removers have been built to open the hair cuticle and extract the color molecules that were previously put in, and very simply, no product does this as well.

The hair color remover breaks down the artificial color molecules, and these escape out of the cortex when the hair is rinsed. 

Ugly Duckling's Color Remover, due out later this year, is fast acting, ammonia free & designed to take out black and fantasy color.

Just mix it with 20 Vol developer, 1+2 Mix and saturate the hair very well. You will see the hair color lift out. Rinse when done.

Ugly Duckling's Color Remover

Now we are going we put in some 4N (with 20 Vol) for the roots - our model wanted a shadow root look. 

Hair Before

Bleach The Hair

Now, you are ready to bleach the hair. This is the major step.

We used Brilliant Blondexx with 30 Vol, with a 1+2 mix. We got a creamy, oily white mix as below:

Bleach Mix

We applied the bleach using foil, aiming at the mid-lengths and the ends. Foil keeps in heat and helps hair process faster and better.

Notice how we are being really generous with product and really saturating the hair. You need to do this.

Bleach Processing on Hair

Which Bleach Should I Use?

Many retail bleaches and hair products just don't have the controlled lift that is required. They can lift by a couple of levels, 3 at the most.

Even so-called professional beauty products, bought at beauty stores, may have very indifferent lifting capability. You will end up using 40 Vol developer which is really harmful to the hair and will compromise hair integrity.

We do recommend Ugly Duckling bleaches because of the controlled lift they offer. They only require the use of 20 and 30 Vol developer, & never 40 Vol.

Brilliant Blondexx with Bond Protect

The Bleach we recommend in most cases is the above: Brilliant Blondexx.

It has Bond Protect built in and provides incredibly good lift & hair care protection at the same time. It lifts by up to 7 levels.

We got the black hair you see in our picture to blonde using it.

Bleaching Hair Color Levels

Bleached Hair Level 9

In our case we wanted a blonde look level 9. So we bleached accordingly. Then we rinsed.

Here is what level 9 looks like when it's come back from the back wash and has been towel-dried.

Toning after bleaching - how to select the right toner

Level 9 Bleached Hair

We toned with Ugly Duckling 9.1b (a blue based blonde hair color), mixed with 10V (violet based level 10 blonde color).

The combination of blue and violet did the neutralization and got rid of all the remaining yellow, as you can see.

Here is a shot of the hair as it is toning. You can see how strong the blue and violet pigments are:

Blue and Violet Based Blonde Colors

Final Result

Final Result From Black to Blonde

All hair shots, hair makeover by Elona Taki

Products Used in this tutorial:

  • Ugly Duckling Hair Color Remover (due out in Fall 2021)
  • Ugly Duckling Brilliant Blondexx lightener
  • 9.1b, 10V from Ugly Duckling
  • 4N for the root, also Ugly Duckling
  • 20 and 30 Vol Developer.
About the author

Sally has been a hair colorist and trainer for many years in both the US & Europe. She currently does hair color training for Ugly Duckling. She also helps develop new & awesome products for the brand.

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