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Taking hair from black to ash blonde


Bleaching box dyed black ash blonde

Bleaching hair that has been dyed with black box dye can be a challenging process.

But with the right approach and precautions, it can be done.

In this step-by-step guide, we'll walk you through the entire process of safely bleaching your hair to remove black box dye and achieve a lighter base for your next hair color.

In this tutorial you will learn:

  • What products to use
  • How to mix and apply the bleach
  • Learn when you need to rinse after applying the bleach. 
  • Learn which toners typically work well on box dyed and bleached hair. 
  • Hair care & maintenance for box dyed and bleached hair.

The starting point

Black cherry box dyed hair

Black cherry box dyed hair

Our client came in with black cherry box dyed hair. 

The hair was not in too great a condition as a result of the color build-up from the box dye color.

She wanted us to lift out her previous color and go ash blonde.

This is what we did...

What products to use

Brilliant Blondexx

Brilliant Blondexx - Bleach with Bond Protect

Brilliant Blondexx Hair bleach

We used Brilliant Blondexx bleach.

It contains Bond Protect (Plex Technology). It has a very effective lift: more than 7 levels.

At the same time the Plex Technology protects the hair as you lift.


We needed both 20 and 30 Vol. It's a good idea to always keep both strengths for color correction of this type.


The toners that we used here were the following:

  • Ash Grey Additive & 7.1b for the lengths
  • 6N for the roots 

Coloring tools

Mixing bowl, applicator brush, sectioning clips, and a coloring cape. 

Shampoo & conditioner or mask

As we said before, the hair of our client was not in too great a condition anyway when she came in

On top of that we had to bleach it twice and tone it.

So using acidic and sulfate-free haircare afterwards does help.

And anything with Plex technology is perfect to help strengthen and recondition the hair after the entire process.

We used Brilliant Blondexx Shampoo & Mask.

It contains Plex technology and is acid based and sulfate-free.

In general, we would recommend you to be very thoughtful of what haircare products you use after a major color correction process.

Step 1: Prepare the bleach mix

Bleach & 30 Vol developer

Bleach & 30 Vol developer for the first application

For the first application for the lengths only, use 30 Vol.

The mix is 1 part bleach to 2 parts developer.

Stir really well until you get a smooth, wet paste. 

Step 2: Apply bleach on the hair

Divide the hair into four or more sections using sectioning clips.

This will make the application process more manageable.

Let down one section and apply, sectioning very finely.

We suggest you use foils at the beginning.

It will help keep in heat and help the bleach process.

You are doing color correction on box colored hair, so you need to really drench the hair in the bleach.

It should be totally saturated. So no half-hearted measures, please!

Fold up the foils as you work and then let it process.

Step 3: Check the lifting, re-apply fresh mix if required

Orange hair after bleaching

Hair is orange after the first bleach

Now open up the foils at the back and see how much the hair has lifted.

As you can see, it is still very bright orange.

So at this stage, we make a second mix, with 20 Vol developer this time. 

And we re-apply.

Step 4: Check one more time, and rinse

Hair after 2nd application

Hair after 2nd application

We give it another 15 minutes.

We can see that the hair is not lifting beyond light orange.

It's been around 35 - 40 minutes in all, and we have bleached the hair enough.

So rinse the hair. It's important not to leave the bleach on for too long, as this can lead to excessive damage.

It's time for the toners to do their job.

Luckily, they are Ugly Duckling toners and very intensely pigmented!

Step 5: First Toning

Ash Grey Additive on hair

First toning - ash grey additive on entire head (roots to ends)

We first apply Ash Grey Additive.

This is a special product from the Ugly Duckling toners and additives section.

It is made to neutralize and tone down orange.

We mix with 20 developer (1+2 mix ratio) and apply to the entire head from roots to ends.

We wait for it to change color and completely get rid of the orange.

Then we rinse.

Step 6: Second toning

Apply toner blue based ash blonde

Now we apply 6N to the root area.

And on the lengths we apply 7.1b Cold Ash Blonde.

7.1b is a blue-based ash blonde, meaning it contains blue pigments as well as ash.

Use 20 Vol for all these operations.

The mix of 1 part color to 2 parts developer is good.

Rinse when the color has developed, or after around 25 minutes.

Step 7: Rinse and Condition

Mask with Bond Protect

Brilliant Blondexx mask

We rinse with Brilliant Blondexx shampoo and mask.

Both contain Bond Protect, both are sulfate-free and both are acid based.

The final result: Ash blonde

The result

The picture above shows our final result.

Maybe not as blonde as our client would have liked.

But nonethless a substantial improvement to that cherry-black box dye she came in with!

Proof that even the trickiest color removal is possible.

Providing you use the right quality of bleach.

And the right toners!


Hair by Elona Taki

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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