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The Process From Brown to Blonde

You can transform your dark tresses into a gorgeous blonde and you can do it at home. To go from brown to blonde requires patience, the right products, and a bit of knowledge. Your dark hair color can’t be transformed to blonde by a single coloring treatment. Hair color, especially dark shades only lighten through de-pigmentation, which is bleaching.
Before beginning the process, it’s important to answer a couple of questions.

The Process From Brown to Blonde

How healthy is your hair right now?

Taking your hair from dark brown to blonde can be harsh. If your hair already is processed or if it’s dry, the lightening process may harm it. To prep for your journey from brown to blonde, use a restorative shampoo for at least a month before beginning the process. Avoid or drastically reduce your heat styling and allow your hair to return to its natural state.

The Process From Brown to Blonde

What blonde works with your skin tone?

It’s likely you want your blonde to look natural. The general rule is to only lighten your hair about two shades lighter than your natural color. Typically, if you have dark skin and dark eyes, a honey blonde is a dramatic change but still looks natural and gorgeous. If your hair is already a dark blonde or a medium brown, opt for a cool, ash blonde.

Note: When going from dark brown to blonde, it’s better to take a multi-day approach to allow your hair a chance to rest and to achieve the best results.

The Process From Brown to Blonde

Lightening Dark Hair

The first step for taking your brown hair to blonde is to lighten it. This is done with a lightening powder and a developer. Follow the directions on the products (it’s typically a 1:2 ratio of powder to developer), always wear protective gloves and avoid getting any product on your skin or your eyes.


Tip: Always do a safety strand test first to make sure you’re not sensitive or allergic to the product.


Apply the lightening solution from the tips of your hair to about an inch from the roots. Don’t apply to the roots yet. Allow the lightening solution to set for about 20 to 30 minutes or a full 40 to 45 if your hair is really dark. Wash out the solution (keep your gloves on.) Never leave the lightening solution on longer than 45 minutes or you can fry your hair.


Working in quadrants may take a bit more time, but it allows you to have more control and can be easier especially if this is your first time lightening your hair.

The Process From Brown to Blonde

Is it Orange?

As your dark hair lightens, it’s likely it will pass through an orange stage. Don’t panic. This is normal. The orange will lighten.

The Process From Brown to Blonde

Lighten the Roots


Apply the lightening solution to the roots. As long as your roots have not received a color treatment recently, they are considered virgin hair. Virgin hair lightens faster. Leave the solution on for about 10 minutes. Wash out the solution (keep your gloves on.)

The Process From Brown to Blonde

Coloring after Lightening

It’s time to add a blonde color to your lightened hair. Choose an ash or golden shade to tone down any brassiness that may have resulted from the lightening process. Not sure what blonde shade may work best for you. Consult with our Ion color specialists online or by phone.

It may take more than one lightening/coloring treatment to take your dark brown to blonde. Consider waiting  several days in between treatments to allow your hair a chance to recover.

The Process From Brown to Blonde


After taking black or dark brown hair to a shade of blonde, be sure to deeply condition your hair at every wash because lightening can remove moisture from your hair. Use a sulfate-free color protection shampoo and have your stylist trim your tips frequently to manage any split ends or breakage.

Pro tip

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