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How to lighten dark hair without bleach


What Happens When You Don't Want to Use Bleach?

For dark hair which needs to be lifted by more than 3 levels, we generally recommend that you use bleach.

It is the ideal solution. Especially if you are using a quality bleach which does not require the use of very high strength developers.

But what happens if you have a client who is totally opposed to using hair bleach?

In that case there is a workaround using Ugly Duckling products.

We will show you how in this blog.

First Do Your Hair Analysis

First, check the hair.

Is it virgin hair? Virgin hair is always easier to lift than hair that has been previously colored.

But if, on the other hand, the hair has color build-up from previous hair colorations, then you will need first to do some color stripping.

And in this case bleach would really be the right solution.

Set Realistic Goals with Your Client

Expectation settings are most important. Especially when your client has said that she does not want to use bleach.

You will need to explain that you are going to give her is highlights and that you will help brighten the overall look of the hair.

But clearly you won't be able to achieve a level 10 platinum blonde.

For that you would need bleach.

Choose Your High Lift Color

We would suggest you use any of the following high-lift colors from Ugly Duckling:

High Lift Blonde 100  


High Lift Ash Blonde 100.10 


High Lift Deep Ash Blonde 100.11


Make your mix with 30 Vol Developer

Use 30 Vol developer, making your mix 1 part color to 2 parts developer.

Apply on sections of the hair

Apply on broad sections of the hair, saturating very well.

The more the hair is literally soaked in the high lift color mix, the better lift you will get.

And if you want the lightness to shine through, put in a lot of highlights.

This will give the appearance of lighter hair overall.

Foil works well because it keeps in the heat in, thus allowing the hair to develop and lift more and faster.

Rinse when done.

Watch the Video Tutorial Now

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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