Coloring Your Dark Hair: A How To Guide

People have asked me, "Callen, how did you get your hair so light?"

My response, "By severely damaging my hair."

I am not a professional hair stylist, nor do I claim to be an expert, bu one day over Thanksgiving break, I had the crazy idea that it would be cool to have gray hair.  And so, I did and it was awesome.

Gray hair - don't care
I thought that I looked dope with silver gray hair.
It was cool for a couple of days, then it wasn't.

How did I manage to achieve this oh-so-trendy look that it's borderline passe?  Not by being patient! And that's one of the main reason I had to chop most of my hair off.  From Thanksgiving through my birthday, I've sported several hair colors ranging from my natural black hair to silver white and all of the awkward colors in between.

Simply put, unless you are a professional (and even then), it is nearly impossible to turn black/dark hair to gray/silver/white without causing some damage to your hair (and your scalp).

My first recommendation is to really think about it:  

  • Is it something that you really must have? 
  • Would you have the patience to go through the process? 
  • Do you have the time, energy, and resources to maintain the up-keep?
  • Do you have a transition plan once you decided that it's no longer for you?

Sounds dramatic, huh?  But then again, if you're like me - impatient and has no emotional attachment to my hair, then my advice is to GO TO A PROFESSIONAL!  Don't do it yourself.

Of course, there wouldn't be an evil affiliation - duh!
My hair color evolution from Thanksgiving to March 13, 2017.
(Not pictured: all of the hideous, brassy tones
and the faded color that looked like mold.)

Here's the breakdown of how I was able to achieve the look:

  1. BLEACHING - Professionally referred to as "lifting".  I had to get it done 4 times.  A total of 8 hours just to reach the next stage.  It burned like hell!  My scalp was all scabbed up from the ordeal.  And when it flaked off, it was embarrassing AF.  Not to mention that in between lifting, I had to live with brassy orange hair for a couple of days, then corn yellow hair, some sort of blond, and finally a really light blond.  None of which looked good on me.
  2. TONING - Toning is basically coloring with a lot of hair conditioner and whatever the blue stuff was.  This is an important step because it counters the brassiness from bleaching dark hair.  If you've ever accidentally bleached a dark shirt, you may have noticed that the bleach spot turned reddish gold.  It's the same thing with hair.
  3. COLORING - This is the step where things like "dimensions" and "depth" are added to your hair.  The coloring process is what creates the final look, but this cannot be achieved without the first 2 steps - if you have dark hair, at least. For my hair, we used Ion's Color Brilliance in Titanium.
  4. CONDITIONING - After the color set and your hair is rinsed, you will need to condition your hair to salvage it from all of the chemical processes you've put it through.  This is an on-going throughout the life of your new hair color.
  5. MAINTAINING - If you intend to keep your new hair color for a few growth cycle - which I was told .50 inches per month, then you would definitely want to repeat steps 1 to 3 every 2 months.  You also need to use a shampoo made for color treated hair to avoid fading.
Did I like the end result? Yes!  Did I think I looked good with light hair and dark facial hair?  Hell yeah - in an evil villain sort of way.  Would I ever do it again?  Ummm... hard to say.  On one hand, my hair was severely damaged that I had to cut it all off - and just a few months from my favorite event: Des Moines Art Center's Big Hair Ball!

But I did learn one thing, even though I say that I'm not emotionally attached to my hair, it's still kinda sad to see all of your hair chopped off - especially when you've been used to seeing yourself with longer hair.  I can now relate to the girls on Top Model when they have a breakdown over their make-over.