Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My Hair Highlighting Experience: Part 1

Hi Shine and Sparkle Report Readers!

I have started my hair lightening journey!  If you follow me on facebook, twitter, or instagram, you will know that I had my first major highlight appointment to get lighter brown hair yesterday (just in time for my weekly post)!  I had previously gone a dark chocolate brown for my base color, but now the highlights are starting to make my look much softer.  One more highlighting appointment and I think my hair with be the perfect light brown for me.  I know you are super excited for pictures, so here you go:

What is that  alien device on my head in the "before" image?  It's a...a....uh...heat generating thingie-ma-bob.  Hair color processes better in a warmer environment.  Thus, I look like a science experiment.  --Insert tangent about being selected to participate in new superhero power technology studies here.---

My Stylist and Salon:

I went to see the beautiful Ms. Krystin Collins at Groove Salon* in San Francisco.  She is by far my favorite favorite colorist I have ever met (yes I know I just said "favorite favorite").  She has a wonderful bubbly personality.  She also gives great consultations and really listens.  She also has your best hair interests at heart and really cares about you looking the best you can be (and not letting you do anything stupid!) She takes great pride in her work. I also love that she really spends the time to make sure you are her #1 focus and feel very pampered.  If you are in San Francisco, I 100% recommend her!

The Process:
  1. Base Color: This is a single process of putting color all over my head.  Mine is a dark chocolate brown.  If you did not know, "color" is actually mixing 2 products.  The actual color and a developer which contains different percentages of peroxide.  The developer is what makes the hair follicle open and change your hair color.  The percentage of peroxide determines how fast/strong/damaging the developer is.
  2. Bleach:   A very low percentage of peroxide developer was mixed with bleach and applied to specific areas of my hair to lighten them.  This is the picture in my "before" picture with all the papers on my head.  These paper versions of "foils" are packets of hair with product on them.  Ms. Krystin said that she always uses less than 10% peroxide.  Developer typically comes in 10,20, 30, and 40 percent in beauty supply stores.  Krystin mixed water with a 10% to make my bleach mixture only 5%.  She stressed that it is better to go "low and slow" rather than "fast and frying" your hair.  Doing high percentage peroxide bleach fast also gives the stylist a lot less control over the color because it might process too fast to ensure even color.  I'm all about healthier hair that doesn't look crappy!
  3. Toner:  This step adds a veil of color over my hair to make the lighter sections the color I want.  After the bleach, it was really orangey. To avoid looking like a pumpkin, Ms. Krystin added the toner to "tone down" the orange and make it a pretty light brown.  We did it twice, since I still thought the first toner was too pumpkin-esque.
  4. Reconstructing Conditioner:  Ms. Krystin used a conditioner that contained both protein and moisture to heal my hair after it's change.  I will definitely be purchasing it and doing a review after I make it through some of my conditioner stock-pile.  Yes, I'm a beauty blogger.  I have a conditioner stock-pile.  I did love the conditioner made my hair very soft, silky and smooth.  Check out my original healthy hair care routine and updated hair care routine to see how I maintain salon shine and healthy hair, even after coloring!  Let me know if you want another hair care routine specifically on maintaining my new light brown hair!

Why lightening in multiple sessions?

No, it's not my stylist trying to get more money!  Ms. Krystin explained it as follows: 
  • Color does not lift color.  Day one, she said that my previous red-brown color was not just going to go light brown with a single process because coloring it lighter over my red-brown wasn't going to do anything. Therefore, she has to use bleach to lighten my hair. So that first session, she adjusted my red-brown base color to a dark chocolate brown and did my grown out roots.  
  • Bleach Moderately.  In order to maintain the integrity of my hair, Krystin said 2 highlighting sessions is gentler for my hair.  It also gives me the opportunity to see how I feel about the current level of lightness.  She did a lot of highlighting on the upper half of my hair and just a bit towards the bottom.  The very bottom layer is still chocolate brown.  This gives my hair a lot of dimension and makes the lightness look a lot more natural since the sun would naturally bleach the lower layers less.

What is going to happen in My Hair Highlighting Experience: Part 2?

I think I'm interested in a bit more lightening in all of my hair so has an overall lighter appearance.  But I will always trust Ms. Krystin from letting me do anything that wont look gorgeous!

Thank you all for coming along with me on my hair lightning journey.  I hope this helped you learn something new or help you decide if getting highlights is right for you!

FYI, here is the link to Part 2 of my highlighting experience!

As usual,

Shine & Sparkle!

*I am not paid or sponsored by any of the products or entities mentioned in this post.  All were payed for with my own money.  These are my personal thoughts/opinions and recounting of events.


  1. I just found your blog and reading this stopped me dead in my tracks from buying a box of color-yay! Thanks! So I want to try the oil bleach kit-can I use that to do my own foil highlights? I looked at your post about that. I want to try to put a few light blond highlights into my dark blonde hair. Have done it professionally and tired of going into the salon for it.
    Top Hair Salon NYC

  2. Hi Gigi! Thanks so much for reading. I'm glad you decided to wait on using a boxed dye.

    If you think you have the technique to highlight your own head of hair (which I know I'm not dexterous enough to do so) Then here are my thoughts below:

    1) If your hair is already dyed dark blonde , you could try to highlight it yourself at home, but just know that those boxed bleach kits tend to be a bit harsher a developer than you probably need to lighten hair that is already pre-lightened. This means your risk of over bleaching and damaging your hair is a lot higher. A professional can do it so it really reduces damage by having a less strong bleach. The boxed ones don't give you that option. I think they are somewhere around at 20volume developer (note: my hair was lightened with less than a 5 developer, so think about the difference in damage)

    2) The higher the volume of developer used with bleach, the more heat sensitive it is too. Good technique and paying close attention to how the color is going hopefully will keep your results even. The heat of your head will make the roots develop faster and you will end up with different colors at your roots than your ends. Generally the hair about 1/2 inch froom you roots is warmer and will process faster. In this case you should do your roots last. If the roots of your hair have never been lightened/dyed and the rest has been, know that virgin hair might bleach slower than the prelightened hair and you should do your roots first. A professional will have lots more experience with getting even results.

    3) Pretending that the hair lifts to the lightness you want, I don't know if the bleaching kit contains a toner. If you lighten your hair, there is a high chance that it will lift to an orange, red, or yellow color you don't really like. In order to fix this you would need a different toner depending how it lifts. Most boxed bleaches contain no toner or just one shade. If it does not tone the right way, please know that the solution is a different toner not another boxed dye.

    So given those sort of big risks, it's up to you if you are willing to risk highlighting your own hair. Good luck! I hope to see you back on the Shine and Sparkle Report soon!