So I deleted that sucker.
Instead, I bring you the abridged version (which is still long - you may want to skip bits, or indeed all of it), together with my thoughts on the Jerome Russell Bblonde Highlighting Kit based on my experience of using it over the past year and a half.
Firstly, let me just say that if anyone had told me a couple of years ago that I would end up lightening my naturally mid-brown hair - let alone that I'd be doing it myself with an at-home kit - I would never have believed them. I'd never been interested in changing my hair colour before. But the unwelcome appearance of premature greys coupled with an allergy to PPD (the active ingredient in virtually all hair dyes) essentially left me with two choices: grey... or blonde.
Bleaching or highlighting hair is a completely different chemical process from dyeing it - no nasty PPD in sight - and very effective at disguising grey hair. I really hated those greys, so I took the plunge and went for blonde.
Why I ended up doing it myself rather than going to my salon I'm still not entirely sure. I'm usually a complete baby when it comes to things like this and crippled by the fear of everything that could go wrong. But I happened to spot a DIY highlighting kit while browsing in Boots one day and, very uncharacteristically, threw caution to the wind and went for it. As it turned out, I couldn't have been happier with the results, and I've been doing my own colour ever since. While I wouldn't rule out going to a salon in the future, this method suits me just fine for now.
Let's face it - who doesn't want hair like this woman? Just look at her. She knows how irresistible she is.
In my opinion the quality of this Jerome Russell kit is excellent. I've tried a couple of others but this delivers the best results by far - at least for me. If your natural colour is any darker than light brown, as mine is, bleaching becomes more difficult to achieve, and this kit is specifically designed to work on all shades of hair, even black.
To give you a brief idea of the application process, the first thing you do is perform a skin patch test and a strand test - this second test is to determine how long you need to leave the bleach on to get the colour you want, and if your hair is strong enough to take it. Then you put on your highlighting cap. This has tiny holes all over it, through which you pull strands of your hair with a small metal hook. Then you mix together your bleach and developer and apply it generously to those strands for the predetermined time, checking it carefully at regular intervals.
And that's it. Slightly more complicated than an at-home dye, but not exactly rocket science. If you want a more detailed description of how to use such a kit, there are plenty out there, especially on YouTube, so I wasn't sure how helpful it would be for me to add another to the mix. Besides, once you get the basic idea, it really is just a simple case of following the instructions provided. However, for anyone who might be considering giving this a go, some of the things I've learned through using it might be worth knowing, so here goes:
- Pulling your hair through the cap is by far the most annoying and time-consuming part of the process. It takes me a good couple of hours. It's really important to keep the strands quite fine and as uniform in size as possible, and take care not to accidentally skip too many holes. While a friend's help might be useful, I have always managed to do this by myself - you just need an extra mirror for the back. Basically, the more care you take over this step, the more professional the finished result will look. Be patient!
- Err on the side of caution when it comes to the length of time you leave the bleach on. This will vary for everyone, but I have found through trial and error that twenty minutes is enough for me to get the caramel colour I want. Even though your hair might look scary when you first remove the cap - mine honestly looks radioactive - don't panic until you have washed and dried it. It will look very different then. If it's still not blonde enough you can always bleach it again, but you cannot take back over-lightened or frazzled hair. (This is particularly good advice if you have a PPD allergy like me - dyeing over it with another colour is not an option!)
- Even if you're still not sure of the colour once it's dry, wait a week and wash your hair with purple shampoo (see below) a couple of times. This stuff works miracles and you'll probably find that the colour will mellow out so nicely that you no longer want to bleach it again. I think that people with brown hair worry a lot about brassiness when they are using bleach, but I have personally found it to be only a very temporary issue when the process is freshly done, and sometimes even then it doesn't look brassy at all.
- Be a complete goody-two-shoes about following the instructions, performing the safety tests and checking the time while the bleach is on your hair. It's just not worth the risk of something going wrong.
Finally, my hair would like to introduce you to its two best friends.
As I said, purple shampoo works wonders at keeping any brassiness at bay and this one by Provoke is both cheap and really effective. And while bleached hair is always going to be drier than non-bleached hair, a good deep conditioner once a week helps mine to stay soft and sleek, or at least as soft and sleek as it ever was. I love this one from Herbal Essences.
Have you tried at-home bleaching? Would you ever consider it?