How I Went from Dark Brown to Pastel Hair

Did you catch my recent post about my lavender highlights? Yeah... that didn't last very long. My tentative not-fully-committed approach did not leave me feeling like the badass pastel mermaid princess I had envisioned. So I took matters into my own hands...


My natural color. 

My natural color. 

Purple highlights...

Purple highlights...

The purple highlights after one shampoo. 👎🏻

The purple highlights after one shampoo. 👎🏻


I decided that I was not going to be willing to keep paying salon prices for something I could DIY. To be clear, I do not recommend bleaching your own hair. Especially if you don't know what you're doing. Don't be like me and watch 5 YouTube videos then consider yourself an expert. 

The thing is I have Trichoillomania (a compulsive hair pulling disorder), so my hair is already a mess. All the warnings about trying to bleach your own hair and accidentally chemically burning it all off and causing damage and breakage? That doesn't scare me. As someone who has already made peace with the fact that someday I might need to go back to a pixie cut or just shave my head from all the damage I've caused, chemically damaging my hair is a risk I am more willing to take. Another reason I prefer doing my own hair... I may be pretty open about the Trich stuff online, but that doesn't mean I want anyone else touching my hair and seeing all of the thin patches and short regrowth. 

Over the next few weeks after the highlights, I added a few more chunky highlights to my hair to add some more drama. Finally I decided fuck it, I'm bleaching my whole head. 

I had to go through some awkward color stages. (For those who don't know, you can only bleach so many levels of color out of dark hair in one process. And it's good to give hair a rest before bleaching it again. There's an excellent post on The Wonder Forest about bleaching your hair at home.) When my hair still had lots of brassy yellow tones, I went with more vibrant, warm pinky purple colors because they covered up any brassiness. Now that my hair is bleached to pretty much a Level 10 (except for a few pieces I've missed because oops) I have the freedom to play around with really pale pastel tones.  


Okay, here's what I've been using... 

For my first time ever bleaching my hair on my own, I used Manic Panic's kit. It had just enough bleach powder and developer for what I was doing and came with gloves and a brush and all that good stuff. I used 30 volume, not 40. I'm not *that* reckless. I started out playing with different shades of Manic Panic dye. It really doesn't stick around for too may washes, but because I was in trial and error mode, this was a good thing. I knew any "yikes, didn't mean for it to turn that color" incidents would solved with a shampoo or two. 



I did about two rounds of highlights before deciding that I really was ready to go all in and bleach all over. In this next set of photos, I had actually just bleached all of my hair, but dyed it an unexpectedly dark shade of purple. 

One brand of hair color that has totally blown me away is Overtone. Overtone is a color conditioner, but their "Go Deep" conditioner treatments are essentially a dye. They stain my sink and hands way more than Manic Panic ever did, so you know they mean business. I used their Go Deep treatment in "Vibrant Purple" and it made my hair seriously purple. I was finally feeling like a mermaid. 

(Hey! Use THIS LINK to place your first order with Overtone and we'll both get $10 off.)




As the purple faded, it turned to a pink shade I really liked, even though it wasn't what I was going for.

If you have an exact shade in mind with pastel hair, you are going to need to be patient and flexible because everyone's hair is different and it does take some trial an error if you plan on doing it yourself. Don't be afraid to be a mad scientist with mixing Manic Panic shades, or even mixing with your conditioner to give your color a boost or adjust the shade subtly. 

Shades of Manic Panic I have tried:

(I couldn't even tell you which of these shades go with which of these photos. No matter what I did, everything came out pinky purple or would fade to pink within a day or so.)


Mermaiding about town. 

Mermaiding about town. 


 

I did some coconut oil treatments to my hair to help it regain moisture and feel healthy again. (Just put on a ton of coconut oil on dry hair, let it soak in for a while, then shampoo and condition.) Once it was time to touch up my  roots, I bleached my whole head again to get the rest of my hair as close to platinum as I could. I used Wella Powder with their 20 Vol. Developer

I definitely waltzed around the house saying "look, I'm a blonde!!" before heading back into my makeshift bathroom salon to add some whimsical pastel color. 

 

It came out very pink. Purple is a tricky color. While my hair still had the brassy tones, warm pinky purples were ideal. Now that my hair was bleached enough, I decided to try for more of a periwinkle shade by mixing Overtone's Pastel Blue and Pastel Purple. This turned out to be exactly what I needed to do to achieve my dream color. 


It looks way more periwinkle in direct light. 

It looks way more periwinkle in direct light. 


FINALLY. This is the color I always imagined when I thought about having pastel hair. It was so worth it to take my time and not try to bleach too much too quickly. Now I just have to worry about roots and touching up the shade with more Overtone, but I've solved the mystery of knowing what shades of what brand dye to use.


The periwinkle faded to a pinky purple. 

The periwinkle faded to a pinky purple. 

Which then faded to a pinky blonde. 

Which then faded to a pinky blonde. 


When I touch up my roots next, I'll do a search and destroy mission for those darker strands that are still hanging around from my not-so-professional bleaching. I'll be sure to post pictures of my next round of periwinkle on Instagram, so follow me if you aren't already. 

Have your ever dyed your hair a fun color?
Do you prefer the salon or to do it yourself? 

Hair StuffKathy d. Clark