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The Journey from Dark to Light – what you need to know

This is such a popular topic and is the wish of many of our clients each week at Emphasis. 
But safely taking your hair lighter is not always as easy as some of the filtered Instagram pictures suggest. This is why we will always do a very thorough consultation and hair analysis with you before beginning on this Journey as each persons ability to go lighter will be unique to them. Lightened hair also requires special care to try and keep the hair as healthy as possible and avoid too much damage.

Below we will break down some of the most important things that you should be away of before making the decision to go lighter. 

It takes time: 
Patience is the key to safely going lighter. This is often not a one visit process.  Going safely from dark to light will often take between 3-6 sessions over 6-12 months, and each session can be between 3.5 – 5.5hours. Here is an example of a typical first bleaching visit on one of our clients. Notice how removing the brown pigment from the hair with bleach results in orange tones. This is completely normal and part of the blonding process.

The natural Undertones of Hair:
Red, Orange and yellow tones are inevitable in the process of going lighter. The chemistry of hair lightening means that when we begin to bleach your dark hair the natural pigment is lightened and all the warm undertones in your hair will be exposed. This is a natural part of the process – but if you are not willing to be some shade of red, copper and gold during the journey to blonde you may want to reconsider this process. 

The good news is there are many very pretty variations along the way on your journey to your ideal blonde. Here’s an illustration of some of the various colours we have had in the salon recently to give you an idea.

Everyone is Unique:
Not everyone will be able to get their hair to a very light blonde, each head of  hair is unique and what is possible for one person is not always possible for everyone.  Even your own hairs ability to lighten changes over time – the results you will achieve depend on these 3 main factors                                                                                                                                                                                                           
1: Your natural hair colour: and the strength of your natural hair pigment – naturally lighter clients will more easily reach lighter blondes. Darker natural hair is much harder to reach light blonde but often look stunning with caramel and golden tones of blonde
2: Your hair history and any colours you have had in the past:  This will absolutely impact your results and often will make lightening the hair harder & will cause the lightning process to be uneven and more resistant in the areas that have previously been coloured. Also the use of low quality hair care can lead to silicone or other chemical build up on the hair that can hinder lightening.  
3: Your hairs condition and strength of each strand: Some hair is stronger than others and can handle more lightening.  During your journey from dark to light  your hair may reach a point where it can no longer handle more lightening, at this time we may need to stop going lighter. Also some hair just stops going lighter and will only go to a certain level of lightness.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you have had previous extreme chemical services like ionic straightening or perming your hair will already be weakened and we do not recommend it be lightened with bleach until it is all grown or cut out

We may recommend to do a test strand to check on your hairs ability to lighten before beginning the process


Protecting the integrity of the hair is very important to us and we may recommend that you have a Bonding Complex or Peptide rebuilder like k18 in order to go on the journey safely. There are natural limits to how far each head of hair can be lightened safely at each visit, so it is super important that we take precaution to protect the integrity of your hair as we lighten. These services work to rebuild damaged hair or protect the hair during lightening

What is a Toner? How do they work? 
A toner is often applied to your hair after lightening to perfect and refine the colour and often to counteract as much unwanted warmth as possible, that is exposed when the hair is lightened. Though it may not be possible to offset all the warmth.

Emphasis toners are beautiful ammonia free colours that contain ceramides to condition the hair as they work. But one of the big misconceptions about a toner is that it removes all the yellow, gold or orange from your blonde ….and although that is what it sometimes looks like, what actually happens when we apply a toner is that it adds colour to your hair. 

We will formulate a custom toner for your hair that counteracts your unwanted warmth or adds pigment to go towards your desired shade of blonde. In short blonde hair will always have underlying warmth and if you don’t enjoy warmer tones it will require specific home care in the form of a purple shampoo or conditioner (us blondes will always battle the brass)

So just remember that toners cannot lighten your hair, they are a deposit only conditioning process, this means that the toner makes your hair slightly darker ( the more tone you want the darker we need to go with the toner, so if you want to totally counteract all the orange/yellow we will use a darker ash toner to counteract it—if you want your hair to look as light as possible a lighter violet pearl toner is used)

As per our previous example you can see here where a beautiful copper toner was added over the bleached hair. The underlying pigment (amount of bleaching) however still remains yellow.

Essential Prescription Home Haircare:

Using bleach on the hair is a damaging process that structurally  weakens the hair strands.   The lost proteins, moisture and oils will need to be consistently replaced and rebalanced with specific home haircare. Without this, the hair will be compromised, weak, dry and tangle easily.  It will also need to be handled gently especially when wet.

Here are some of the excellent home haircare tools available to look after your lightened hair:

  • A strengthening  rebuilding Shampoo and Conditioner,
  • A restructuring Deep Treatment that contains proteins and moisture to strengthen the structure of the hair strand and replace lost moisture
  • A purple toning shampoo or conditioning colour to help maintain a bright, fresh blonde in between salon visits
  • A leave in Moisture spray to protect your hair daily from dehydration and give your hair softness and flexibility.
  • If you are using heat to style your hair (like blow drying, straightening or curling) a heat protection spray or cream is extremely important.  Heat will not just damage your hair through burning but is will also remove colour! Yes colour molecules will be destroyed by high heat. This means that your beautiful toner will fade faster and those yellow tones will return very quickly without heat protection.
  • An excellent hair oil. When bleach is applied to the hair the natural oils called sebum are depleted. These are a very important part of your hair, that give it shine as well as aid in the flexibility of each strand.  These need to be replaced, but don’t worry its so easy to do… just a few pumps of our ultra concentrated leave in elixir oil will have your hair glowing.

ALSO Remember

  • If your hair if particularly damaged you may need to treat your hair with a specialised treatment like k18 over a series of weeks to rebuild the integrity of your hair before more bleach should be applied
  • The process of lightening your hair is stressful to the hairs structure and blonde hair needs to be handled with care especially when wet.  So I recommend only using a special detangling brush with extremely flexible bristles called a ‘wet brush’ or a wide tooth comb on your hair while its wet. 
  • Your hair will feel different after lightening  (sometimes fluffier, dry, weak) this is why home care is so important and also taking the journey slowly over a series of visits
  • Some breakage is to be expected when lightening with bleach and is totally normal, but it will mean you may need to have your hair cut at each session in order to keep the ends from becoming to fragile and knotty, this means that you will lose some length and thickness during this process.

I hope this gives you the knowledge you need to decide if going lighter is right for you & remember that we are always here for you to come in and have a personal consultation to discover what’s possible for your hair  xxxkel

New Client Special

Dream Hair Makeover

On your very first visit to Emphasis Hair, you can have this once only special package, which includes any selection of hair colours and techniques for the special price of only $227!