My brunette to blonde story includes a lot of brassy hues, a hint of ginger and not so much patience. I wanted ash blonde with lowlights and a stretched shadow root through the top. Now, I’m half Greek Cypriot with the features and skin colour to match, so I needed a cool blonde shade otherwise I’d look darn right silly with warm, golden blonde.

This is the dream hair colour(s):

brunette to blonde in one sitting ash ashy blonde balayage roots diy
Hair Goal
Disclaimer: Don’t try this at home. If you do, your hair colour and condition will vary!
Step One: Salon Highlights
Firstly, I booked to have a full head of highlights with Lora at Fratelli Hair Salon in Cambridge and like any reputable salon, I was advised it was highly unlikely it would happen in one sitting. I was optimistic and hoped it would. So I went along had a full head of highlights with olaplex and it lifted so much but it was too warm and a little ginger toned. So I had some more blonde painted on and left with blonde hair but with that brassy tone that we all have to go through.
This stage is inevitable if you’re brunette and I was so pleased it lifted that much while actually remaining in good condition. This is so important, your hair can’t go from brunette to blonde in one sitting if you want it in good condition! I booked to have it redone in 6 weeks and fully believed I’d have the patience to wait.
That night I covered my hair in coconut oil to help recover the loss of moisture and did so every night for the next week.
brunette to blonde in one sitting ash ashy blonde balayage roots diy
Stage One
Step 2: More bleach…
My patience lasted 24 hours. I decided I’d try work on the hair I had and added half a head of highlights. It took out most of the brassy strands and was more of a lemon blonde. I, rather ashamedly, added some more bleach to the left over ginger patches and used a purple shampoo. I then smothered my hair in coconut oil and it was dry but not breaking.
Step 3: Toner
I bought the Wella T18 Toner online and prayed it wouldn’t turn my hair green. I covered my hair in the toner (after mixing it with developer) and left it on for 30 minutes. If worked. Hallelujah. Well, kind of. So it’s definitely an ashy blonde but also a little patchy. The Wella T18 Toner won’t lift your hair therefore it needs to be as light as you want it to be before you use it but it’s so good at removing orange! One thing I’ll mention is that throughout this brunette to blonde journey, the toner was way more harsh on my hair than bleach!
Step 4: Lowlights/Roots 
I had too much blonde in my fringe area so I started by adding lowlights balayage style and a shadow, stretched root. I followed ellebangs video (check it out, she knows her stuff) and painted my roots, blending further down from the front to back. The effect is that darker brown peeks through rather than straight lines. I washed and realised it still needed to be broken up.
Step 5: More lowlights
Finally I added lowlights with foils, a few through the bottom, middle and top. I also dyed some more of the fringe ensuring if was blended. It worked!
brunette to blonde in one sitting ash ashy blonde balayage roots diy
Stage 4/5
Having a full head of highlights in the salon where they used olaplex was worthwhile as it done the hard work of lifting it while protecting my hair from damage. I don’t recommend bleaching and toning at home but if you have no patience like me, just make sure you have the right equipment and products. You can buy hair dye brushes, bowls and clips from eBay! I’ve also purchased Olaplex 3 to use once a week in order to keep the condition as good as possible. Also, search You Tube as there are so many easy-to-follow tutorials!
So now I have ash blonde hair with grown out balayage/lowlights. I want it cooler so in a few weeks I’ll use another toner but the fact that I got it from dark brown to blonde in one week without my hair breaking, is amazing. And a relief. Now, let’s see if blondes have more fun 🙂
PS. I’ll upload a photo of my FINAL hair colour once I’ve applied another toner! I’m also going to add a few more lowlights through the top for more of a shadow root.
UPDATE
brunette to blonde in one sitting ash ashy blonde balayage roots diy sombre shadow stretched roots wellat18
The FINAL Result!!

So, firstly DO NOT use the Jerome Russell toners. Just don’t. Okay, got that? I actually use the Jerome Russell bleach at home but the toner messed my hair up. I applied the Jerome Russell platinum toner over my already ashy hair to try make it a little lighter and oh my goodness, my hair was left dull and awful. It lost its shine completely and lifted the brown on my roots to an orange shade.

So, I had to add a few more bleached highlights and another wella t18 toner (this is my toner of dreams), before adding more dark shadow roots. Prior to this I used olaplex no 3 to give it some tlc after all the harsh processing on my hair. I also applied coconut oil the night before and kept it on while I bleached – it made no difference to how light it went but so much difference in the condition. I’ll keep using olaplex no 3 once a week and coconut oil masks twice a week as, while my hair is not breaking, it’s dry and needs as much moisture as possible. My hair is naturally dry anyway and in all honesty, it’s not that much different than when I’ve been on holiday in the sun for two weeks but again, I think this is a result of coconut oil and olaplex!

So, I am done and I am really quite pleased with it. I refuse to touch my hair again regardless of its imperfections (it’s a little free spirited like me) and will hopefully keep it until at least Easter to justify the time and cost. What a journey but we (me and my hair) are there and it’s brightened up a difficult few weeks 🙂

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