My hair sucks.
When I was young, my Dorothy Hamill wedge/bob flipped out on one side. When hair got big, no amount of teasing, curling, and Aquanet could persuade my fringe to mimic the fantastic mall bangs my friends had. The Jennifer Anniston layers of the 90s framed a million lovely faces, but only managed to draw attention to my awful hair.
In my adult life, my hair has been in a constant state of flux. Between short haircuts, I am plagued by bouts of amnesia resulting in grow out attempts. They never end well, and my recent attempt is no exception. And let's face it - I'm a girl, but not always a real girlie one. My uniform is holey jeans and a t-shirt. I get dirty and do stuff. Hair doesn't get top billing. Sometimes no billing at all.
But while I don't have beautiful hair, I do have scissors and a ridiculously serious dedication to all things DIY. So I'm bleaching, coloring, and cutting my hair. Today. Right here in this hair'ible.
Disclaimer: some of my projects could be described with words like "unsafe", "ill-advised", and "in direct violation of local building code"... making stuff awesome is risky business sometimes. As Bob Dylan put it, "Behind every beautiful thing there is some kind of pain". He also advised we ought to "Play if f#$!ing loud!". I don't know exactly where I was going with that, but please evaluate the possible risks before undertaking this or any other project.
Step 1: Ready, Set...
Before you begin, it's a good idea to weigh the pros and cons of hair DIYing. The pros are that it's going to save you a bunch of cake and doing stuff yourself is fun. Plus, if it turns out awesome, your friends will be super impressed. The cons are that it might be a disaster. You could fry your hair. It probably won't turn out exactly as you planned. I've cut my own hair several times, and I still never get it quite right. I always go into a hair experiment assuming I'm going to screw it up and end up with a buzz cut (see photo). I'm unafraid to ruin my hair because, hey - it's just hair... and I kind of enjoy a buzz cut. But seriously, if you are protective of your hair, this probably isn't a great idea.
If you're still in, let's round a few things up. For this hairdo, we'll need:
- Powder lightener
- 20 volume creme developer
- Plastic gloves
- Tin foil
- Paint brush
- Box drugstore hair color in desired blonde shade (the cheap stuff works fine)
- Spray bottle with water (if you want to cut it wet)
- Hair clips
- Sharp scissors
- Unwashed hair
Step 2: Lighten & Tone
Mix the lightening powder and developer per the package instructions. Separate your hair into sections. Work one section at a time, keeping the rest out of your way with hair clips. Back comb (tease) your hair where you want the color gradient to begin. Using a foil backer, take a small section of hair and paint the lightener on, starting with the ends. Make sure the ends are fully saturated. Keep "painting" the section of hair, using less lightener on your brush as you move upward. By the time you reach the back comb, just feather into it lightly. Wrap with foil.
Check a foil or two every 5-10 minutes until your hair is the desired lightness. When it is light enough, remove the foils and rinse thoroughly.
Toning/dying your lightened hair will help remove the yellow. Now if we were professionals, the toner would be incorporated into the above. We're not professionals. This here is a low-tech operation, so grab your box of blonde hair color. Follow the instructions in the box. Mix and apply. Make sure your ends are saturated. I applied about two thirds of the way up the hair shaft. Wait the recommended time (usually somewhere around a half hour). Rinse and condition. Condition the hell out of it. Your hair will be very thirsty after the trauma you just subjected it to.
Note: I sent my darling guy to the beauty supply joint (won't mention where, but it rhymes with Rally's) to get the powdered lightener and developer. The girl working there asked him what it was for and when he told her, she turned on him. Got really snotty and told him I should go to a salon because this sort of thing was not appropriate for DIYers. So thanks, mean girl at the beauty supply place. Gave me extra reason to nail it.
Step 3: Cut and Style
Section your hair off again. You can cut wet or cut dry. When you go to a salon, they always cut it wet. I personally like to cut it dry because I don't know what I'm doing and I can better see the result of every snip. When I've cut it wet, it always shrinks up further than I expect when it dries.
Starting with the side sections, lift your hair with your fingers at a ninety-degree angle from your head. Holding it straight between your forefinger and middle finger, slide your fingers toward the tips of your hair until they are at the length you want your layers to be cut. Trim the length of hair extending from your fingers. I cut with the scissors at an angle to add more texture/variance.
Repeat on the other side, the back, and the top sections. Finally, comb your desired amount of bangs straight down over your eyes. Snip, snip, snip. Straight across for blunt bangs, on a slight arc for a more blendable style.
Now go back through, because surely you missed a bunch (at least I always do).
Now style your hair. I first used a flat iron to straighten my hair. I then went back through with the flat iron, curling random sections into waves of varying degrees. My hair was pretty dry even with all the conditioning, so instead of using regular styling products, I actually just twirled a little regular old hand lotion into the ends. (I'm sure there's a good reason not to do this, but I'm kind of uninterested in what that reason might be. For the first few times after my DIY lightening, it worked great). Now that my hair has seen enough conditioning cycles, I just use a little mousse or creme hair product.
Tip: Start by cutting off a little less length than you want to. You can take larger snips once you get more comfortable.
Step 4: Before and After
Now stand back, check yourself out, and give yourself a high five. Maybe it didn't turn out how you planned, or maybe it did. Either way, I think you look fabulous, though with your mad DIY skills I am unsurprised. Besides, nothing makes a girl look hotter than being brave, throwing caution to the wind, and doin' that s**t herself.
Keep doing awesome stuff!