From Red to Blonde

Monday, March 4, 2013

Actually I was a blonde for years.

I’ve been blonde, blue black, black black and had a red streak in the front. I’ve used mousses, semi permanents, permanents, once, disastrously, bleach and those weird pot things that you shake up.

But about 6 months before I started blogging in 2008 I went bright red, and apart from a brief foray into brown for my sisters wedding, that’s the colour I stayed. Part of the reason is that red is such a huge pain to get out. The last time I was bright red was the time of what is known as the “wine and bleach incident” when a friend and I decided to bleach our hair one drunken university afternoon. Her natural locks went a beautiful bright blonde. Mine, already covered in red dye, went what can only be described as tabby and 7 hours and £90 in the hair dressers later I was brunette.

The next time I went from black to blonde, in around 2001, I did it gradually and spent a fortune at the hair dressers, but 10 years later I decided I was ready to DIY it again.

I decided to go back to blonde in May 2012, and it’s taken a full 10 months to get almost the shade I want. If you’re going to DIY the process of getting red out of your hair there is the potential it could take a while. You could speed the process up by trying bleaching over the top once you’ve stripped out the red, but you are running more of a risk of a hair disaster!

For my own interest, and for anyone else who’s interested, here’s the path I took to go from red to blonde hair. I don’t guarantee that following me won’t result in tears….

Here’s what I did to go from red to blonde hair.

May 2012

I purchased a packet of Colour B4 from Boots (other pharmacies are available) and I spent an hour sat in the garden with my head wrapped in clingfilm. When I washed it off I found, as I partly expected, that years of red dye had stained my hair, so I was now a sort of strawberry blonde colour.

colour b4

As my hair started to grow out I had 2 choices. Chop off the stained bits and go super short, or persevere with odd coloured hair for a bit.

I opted for lots of up dos to hide my coloured ends as my natural mousey shade grew through, and the occasional semi permanent colour to try and even it out a bit. You can just see the red ends on the inside of the rolls in these dos!

July – September 2012


October 2012

Then in October I thought there was enough of my natural colour to go for the chop and have it cut out. Once I’d had the cut, however, it was still really obvious that there was a fair bit of red left still, so I wasn’t quite brave enough yet to bleach it for fear of stripes! You can see in this picture quite clearly that the top third is really my natural colour, the middle is slightly lighter as a result of the peroxide in my red dyes, I would have happily dyed blonde over that, but the bottom third still clearly shows red.

Because my hair before was much shorter round my face, these have been the last bits to lose the red.


November 2012

More semi permanents meant I spent much of November looking pretty mousey.


December 2012

The at the start of December I got fed up and bought a blonde dye. Feria Extreme Platinum if I recall correctly.

The orange at the ends was still fairly obvious, so I took myself off to the hairdressers again to have them chopped, and was left with a fairly even golden blonde, but quite dry hair, so I decided to leave it a while before trying again.



February 2012

One more dose of dye all over, this time Live Color XXL 00A Absolute Platinum and a splodge of Directions White Toner left it a nice creamy blonde, but still not as blonde as I wanted! Another product that is useful for keeping the yellows at bay between toners is Touch of Silver Weekly Treatment Shampoo, which is a purple toning shampoo and at £3.09 is cheaper than many of the premium hair brands.

I used a lot of setting lotion in January curling my hair, so for most of February I left it to rest again, just touching up the roots, and getting one more hair cut to get rid of the dry ends. You can see in this picture from mid February that it looks quite dry from setting lotion.


This weekend I decided that was enough rest and it was time to give it a proper go, went to Savers and bought the strongest dye I could find without messing about with bleach, which is XXL 00B Max Blonde and a silver boxed toner that they also had in Savers (but whose name escapes me now) and as of yesterday afternoon this was the result. These 2 pictures were both taken on Sunday and you can see how much less gold there is in my hair post a further dye and tone.


I might try toning it again, as I’d like it even whiter, alternatively I found myself quite taken with the pastel pinks and lilacs next to the silver toner I bought in Savers, what do you think of Pastel Hair?

9 1/2 months after I first stripped out that colour, I’ve finally gone from red to blonde hair, without the help of anyone who knows what they’re doing and without my hair falling out. Bonus.

Try and ignore the fact that my hair is set beautifully in the first picture and all straight and boring in the second, I didn’t think it was ready for setting lotion immediately after the dye.

red to blonde hair at home

Products to go from red to blonde hair:

How I went from dyed red hair to platinum blonde without a hairdresser

13 Responses
  • Franca
    March 4, 2013

    well done! One of the reason’s I’m staying mousey brown is because I spent years of my life going throigh this kind of thing (though looking much worse!) first getting rid of red, then of blonde.

    I do LOVE pastel hair, you should give it a shot!

  • Jo
    March 4, 2013

    Good job doing it yourself! Last time I needed to change from red I just chopped it super short, I admire your dedication.
    I have pastel pink hair right now, and had pastel lilac hair before. I love it! I get tons of compliments on it, and it’s pretty easy to maintain since it doesn’t look bad if it fades a little. If you want it super light you can mix the toner with conditioner before applying it to get a nice even pale colour.

  • straighttalkingmama
    March 4, 2013

    I blumming love it! Fabulous!! I was platinum blonde when I first met my lovely husband but I’ve been red forever (I have also been black, dark brown, copper, you name it I’ve been it!). I do worry about the day that red will just make me look older and I have to change, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go back to mousy brown.

    You look stunning as a blonde!

  • Pearl Westwood
    March 4, 2013

    Wow well done for being so patient with it! Ive stayed black for years for the same reason, it is such a pain to strip out. I was thinking of going blond and getting a bob so Ive bought a cheap wig to play around with first ha ha x

    • Anna
      March 4, 2013

      You showed lot of dedication and perseverance. Well done you.


  • Tasha @ By gum, by golly!
    March 4, 2013

    Impressive results and fortitude doing it yourself over that long of a period… having had all colors under the sun at some point, I’ve totally been there and wanted to stab my eyes out. Right now I’m sick of the black dye I’ve been doing for ages, so I’m going to go back to my around my natural medium-brown– professionally, only because I grew out black once before and well, see aforementioned stabbing of eyes. I’m ready for a change, but don’t want to deal with red again for all the reasons you mentioned. 😉

    Rambling aside: I think the new color looks just gorgeous on you! Red suits you great as well, but the platinum is so striking with your coloring! And would be the perfect palette for hair chalks. My mom (yes!) just tried this and put lavender streaks in her all-gray hair and it’s fabulous. Plus it washes out so if you don’t like it, no commitment.

  • LandGirl1980l
    March 5, 2013

    What a journey! Looks fab!

  • Helen Mae
    March 5, 2013

    What a big difference! It looks great both colours but it’s a really nice shade of blonde that you’ve achieved 🙂

  • Perdita
    March 5, 2013

    Pure glamour as ever! Love it!

    I don’t even know what my natural hair colour is any more. I was considering dying it black for a while, but this also has disaster potential over red (purple streaky bits if it’s too blue based) … hmmm…

  • Mim McDonald
    March 5, 2013

    That’s a lot of work, but it has very nice results! You always strike me as having perfect hair – I don’t think I’ve looked at any photos of you in all this time and thought it was anything other than lovely!

    • Gemma
      March 5, 2013

      Aw, thank you! I keep the photos of my hair looking terrible in a locked box 😉

  • Shona Meeks
    March 5, 2013

    Like many of the comments below, I have tried every colour under the sun from highlights to bright pink on the bottom half, but I have been black now for ages, and on one hand i love it, but on the other, i would love to be blonde. So i done what you done one day, stripped it, but 3 boxes of colour B4 extra strong later, no difference. I then had it stripped twice at the hairdressers, no difference. The reason, i hade been using Live XXL cosmic blue and the starry night black for about 2 years and apparently there is something in these dyes that melt – yes MELT into your hair when heated applicances are used – which (sods law) i use everyday to curl my hair. So now i am still black and no closer to blonde. I suppose this is just a warning to anyone who uses Live XXL dyes …. Your hair looks fab btw – and i am quite jealous 🙂

  • Natalie@ Quirky Vintage
    March 24, 2013

    pastel hair is sweet. i’d love to see you have a go. it esp looks good with bright or dark lippie! what a transformation. I kinda liked how it looked when the ends still had red in them. it was like that defabroje (or whateveer you call it where the ends fade to blonde) but the other way round