How To Lighten Black Dyed Hair

Photo: getty
How To Lighten Dyed Black Hair

Back when I was in high school, I really wanted to be Wednesday Addams. Or, really, I wanted to be any form of hot Goth girl. Being young and a total fashion victim, I decided that the best way to show my inner Goth girl style was to dye my hair pitch black. Problem: it looked awful.

You see, not everyone can pull off raven-black hair. Some people, such as myself, don’t look good with it at all. My pink-hued, super-pale skin tone, combined with my inability to get rid of dark circles under my eyes, meant that my black hair looked “off.” As in, I looked more like Samara from The Ring with a hangover.

RELATED: 15 Best Red Hair Dyes For Dark Hair (That Won't Make It Look Brassy)

Really, it was a cringe period in my life. Though I did try to get better makeup and clothing, I eventually looked in the mirror and conceded that black was not a color that suited my hair. Red, on the other hand? Well, I like to think the photos speak for themselves. I did good when I decided to change up my color.

Speaking as someone who has had to do it, I can tell you that learning how to lighten black dyed hair is brutal and tricky. Thankfully, it’s also very doable. Here’s what every bottle-dyed raven needs to know before they try a new color.

(Note: This article will get your hair to a blonde hue, but not a platinum blonde color in most cases. You really can’t go platinum blonde from black without serious hair damage in the vast majority of cases.)

1. Understand how you should treat your hair.

Before you even continue reading further, it’s important to know what to expect when trying to figure out how to lighten your hair from black to blonde. I want to point out that removing black hair dye can and will harm your hair. If you dyed your hair black, you will not be able to lighten your hair to a platinum white-blonde color without serious issues. What I’m saying is, this process can and will damage your hair.

You owe it to yourself to be gentle with your hair. Don’t attempt to do this if your hair can’t handle it, and if you have fine hair, it may be a good idea to add extra conditioning treatments into the mix and wait a couple of weeks before you actually bleach your hair.

2. Grow your hair out a little.

If you have a sensitive scalp, you will need to give your hair an inch or two of extra length. The chemicals used in lightening treatments, as well as hair dye removal products, can be pretty irritating. People who have skin that’s tough and hair that’s strong will be able to skip this step without issue.

That being said, I still cautiously grow out my hair before I lighten darker colors simply because skipping this step makes my scalp itch.

3. Purchase your supplies.

Before you can begin, you will need to get some color removal kits, bleach kits, some gloves, and a deep conditioning mask. I strongly suggest using Color Oops! for your hair dye remover, simply because it’s seriously strong. It’s often best to buy more than one hair color removal kit since black hair dye can take multiple passes to remove.

RELATED: 20 Best Vegan and Cruelty-Free Hair Dyes

For bleach, just about any drugstore variety will do. It’s often better to choose a full kit that also happens to have a gentle formula. Harsher formulas will not do well on hair that’s going to be brittle.

4. Use a color removal kit.

Before you lighten your hair up, you’re going to need to do is use the hair color removal kit on your hair. As mentioned above, I suggest Color Oops! Hair Dye Remover, but you can use any other brand too. 

Doing this part is relatively easy. Just follow the instructions on the box. It’s important to leave the color remover in for the maximum amount of time that the instructions indicate. Black hair dye is notoriously difficult to remove!

Once you rinse out your hair, take a look to see how dark it is. If it’s still very deeply dyed in, you may need to wait to dry your hair and use another color remover kit. It’s important to note that color remover alone will NOT get rid of all the black hair dye — and that’s actually okay. 

What you’re really doing here is preventing yourself from having to bleach your hair more than is absolutely necessary. Believe it or not, bleach is way worse for your hair than dye remover. So, it’s the lessor of two evils.

5. Treat your hair with deep conditioner.

Finish prepping your hair by treating it with a deep conditioner. Color removal kits are gentler than bleach, but that doesn’t mean they don’t mess with your hair’s health. 

Truth be told, just about any chemical you put in your hair will harm it. To keep your hair reasonably intact, you should give it a little nourishment. I suggest taking a pause and treating it with a deep conditioning mask immediately after you finish rinsing out the remover. My personal choice is Hask Keratin Protein Deep Conditioner, but try to find one that works for you. 

After you give yourself a conditioning treatment, let your hair dry and chill out for abut a day or two. Recovery matters! After your conditioning treatment, use your bleach kit on your hair.

6. Bleach it.

Done giving your hair recoup time? Awesome. The final step for how to lighten your hair is to use bleach on it. I usually use Splat Hair Bleach, simply because it gets the job done quick. So, grab that bleaching kit you bought and follow the instructions on the box.

I suggest sticking to a single pass of bleach if possible — and in most cases, it will be. One simple pass of bleach will be enough for most dyes to stick to your hair and remain noticeably bright. If you want to go for a very light blonde look, give yourself some time (and hair conditioning treatments) before you go for another pass.

RELATED: How To Dye Black Hair Red: A Step-By-Step Guide

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a Jack-of-all-trades writer based out of Red Bank, New Jersey. When she's not writing, she's drinking red wine and chilling with some cool cats. You can follow her @bluntandwitty on Twitter.

Sign up for YourTango's free newsletter!

YourTango may earn an affiliate commission if you buy something through links featured in this article.