‘Do or Dye – Going, and Staying Blonde on Budget

Taking a weekend break from my normal fashion posts, and talking about something that weighs heavily on my mind at times: My hair. 😉

When I look through old photos and post on Instagram and Facebook, I am often reminded of my different hair color experiences. My natural color is a dark dirty blonde, with serious strawberry and red undertones, however the brighter tones only show if I am out in the sun a lot and my hair color lightens, or I cheat and use Sun-In. When I am stuck indoors working, my hair stays a drab darker dirty blonde/brown with no bright tones throughout. When I am in a crunch and I have nearly zero dollars in the Hair Fund, I grab a semi-permanent box color that is a rich darker-than-chocolate brown. It’s a habit that I need to get out of though, because no matter how bored I am with my hair, dying all-over with that dark color is always a regret! When I was younger, I could pull off the edgier darker hair, but now, I feel like it looks horrible on me, since I definitely need heavy makeup to balance out super dark hair with my Irish skin tone, and I never have time for major makeup application! I’m lucky if I get to put on mascara most days! 😉

Now that I have a blonde baby girl, I always want to match her to a point! She’s got the most beautiful golden dirty blonde curls, and I just adore them! I decided to go blonde, because to me, it’s a way more natural look on me and my skin tone! I hardly need any makeup at all when I am blonde, because my skin tone just goes perfectly with it.

Surprisingly, I haven’t worn clip-in extensions in about a year! My hair has gotten so long!

Recently, my husband treated me to two super swanky salon visits and I appreciated it so much! However, my stylist ended our last appointment on a drab note and took on another client WHILE my hair was all wrapped up and being lightened and I swear she let it go too long. Now, I have golden hair, platinum hair, dark roots (ugh, balayage gone wrong), dirty blonde hair…and I am not liking how I have like 75 different colors on my head. Mind you, in total, nearly $700 was spent on my hair, and as I head home from my salon appointment, I have dark roots like I’ve skipped two salon visits for touch-ups! Balayage is wonderful, but I hate these dark roots…something went wrong here! 

My bright blonde bun does not even look like it belongs with my dark ‘roots’. 


Honestly, I’m the worst salon customer ever.

I’m super difficult to please when it comes to my hair. I actually have made a personal promise to myself to not ever use friends or family for services for skin, hair, makeup, personal styling, etc. Folks, I would be in fights with all of you every time, so just know that I am protecting our bonds by going to someone random! 

After two salon visits, and feeling like I will never get what I ask for while also spending upwards of $200 each salon visit, I felt it was time to take matters into my own hands. It has become ‘Do or Dye! Mind you, I have heard all the horror stories about bleaching your hair at home. I think a lot of it is just hogwash to get people reliant on paying $250 on salon services. I have a budget to stick to, and for $250, I could buy supplies to do my hair at home for probably close to 5-6 months, rather than one salon visit that I am unhappy upon leaving. I have always had to touch up my hair color or cut my hair once I got home from salon visits. It’s maddening to me to spend hundreds and still be unhappy with the result. Also, when you have tons of expenses like child care, travel, house needs, etc., your $300 salon visit becomes a huge problem and if you can’t figure it out at home, you resort to sporting really bad roots that turn into a horrible ombre over time, or you reach for an $8 box of dark brown and hate that you are being lazy and covering up hair color you paid so much for. It’s a no-win unless you can learn how to DIY your blonde, trust me.

It’s really simple to understand how to color your hair. You need to know the color wheel, you need to research products, and you need have patience and be open to learning as you go. You also need to know your hair. My hair has been dyed a few times over the course of about 10 years. I always used semi-permanent whenever I did dark box dyes, and my hair does not damage easily and I can use heavy duty developer. I also know several tricks and products that you must add to your home hair dying kits to avoid breakage and damage. See them in my list below!

I’ve been cutting my own hair for years, so this has all been a simple transition for me!

After consulting some stylist connections I have, and researching using Google, Pinterest, YouTube, etc., I have built a list of necessary supplies for my blonde maintenance.

Keep in mind, I am certainly not a stylist, nor have I ever been trained on any of this, but I’ve learned a lot through trial and error, and I know that my stylist connections know exactly what they are doing. 

SUPPLIES (Purchased at Sally Beauty Supply)


L’Oreal High Performance Quick Blue bleach powder $19~


Blue bleach powder is a must if you have brassy, reddish tones that show through when you lighten.

L’Oreal Oreor Creme 40 Volume Developer $5~


Some people can get away with 30 volume developer, but I don’t want to have products burning my scalp for hours, so I go hardcore and just watch my hair’s progress. 40 will make things go quicker!

Olaplex Dupe! ION Color Brilliance Absolute Perfection Booster Step 1 $1~

step 1.png

Pour this in the bowl with your bleach and developer! It will help strengthen your hair and reduce breakage. It’s been titled as the next best thing next to Olaplex, which is only available to salon stylists to buy, unless you want to buy something super sketchy and marked up on EBay.

Olaplex is a buzz word in salons, and some salons charge an extra $30-100 for the treatment. There’s a bit of a monopoly on the product(s) since only stylists with licenses can purchase it. ION’s 2-step products are becoming famous for being the Olaplex dupe that any average Jane can buy at her local Sally Beauty, for like $1.99 per step!

My hair is literally healthier than before I lightened it, thanks to my Olaplex dupe! 😉 Shoutout to YouTubers who shared this amazing tip! 

ION Color Brilliance Absolute Perfection Color Sealer Step 2 $1~

step 2.png

Just like Olaplex, there are 2 essential steps. This goes on after you tone though, as it’s really like a deep conditioner. You want to seal your toned color, not the color after bleaching. (Just a note, these packets are tiny, so buy a few!)

WELLA Color Charm Permanent Toner in T18 $5~


Almost everyone I know has to use a toner after lightening their hair. It’s a necessity for me. I hate yellow and orange hair! I get WELLA in T18 and T10, because I have a range of colors in my blonde, thanks to my last wonky salon visit. Sigh.

Note: Your hair will even out a few hours after you tone. Also, any greyish hues will ‘wash’ out as you shampoo over the next few days. It will be very platinum!

L’Oreal Oreor Creme 20 Volume Developer $5~


This goes with your toner, not your bleach! In order to lighten hair, you need 30 or 40 volume, but toning needs to be done with a 10 or 20 volume. I use 20 volume because I am hardcore about it and I hate orange hair on myself.

Colorful Products Neutral Protein Filler $2~


It’s called a hairdresser’s color insurance for a reason. It restores your hair’s natural proteins and makes your hair stronger so that color is applied evenly. Have you ever had color grab some areas of your hair more? -That’s because the hair was probably damaged and missing essential proteins! The more you know! You put this on about 15-20 minutes before applying bleach, and then you start lightening right over top of it! No need to rinse!

You will also need: 

1 plastic mixing bowl

1 hair colorist brush

1 packet of deep conditioner, or have your deep conditioner on hand (use a white cream conditioner)

A comb

Box of foils

Gloves to protect your hands from harsh products

Plastic spoon

Hand-held mirror to see the back, unless you trust someone to do the back for you

Dingy t-shirt that you don’t care about getting bleach on

Purple shampoo and conditioner to use afterwards

Deep conditioning treatments, coconut oil, argan oil, etc., for after your treatments

Aquaphor or vaseline


  1. Start with unwashed hair, and pick a day when you haven’t recently showered. Your natural hair and scalp oils will help preserve your hair’s health and your scalp. Bonus points if you have put some coconut oil on your ends and throughout! No need to rinse any of that out! Apply some Aquaphor or vaseline to your skin just below hairline for some protection from the bleach.
  2. Apply the Colorful Products Neutral Protein Filler all over, and comb through from roots to ends. You will want to leave this on for about 15-20 minutes before applying your bleach mix directly over top. Mix your bleach up while you wait!
  3. Throw your gloves on, measure out 1 scoop of Quick Blue bleach powder and put it in your plastic mixing bowl. Add your ION Color Brilliance Absolute Perfection Booster Step 1 into the bowl as well. Next, slowly add your 30 or 40 volume developer and stir the products with your plastic spoon until you have a creamy cake batter consistency. You can make more bleach mix as needed! Just repeat this step!
  4. Apply the bleach mix using your brush, and foils. I actually don’t even use foils in the back of my hair, because it’s just too much to try to do on yourself. You really need to be able to see your hair using your hand-held mirror at this point too.
  5. If you are doing roots, just apply it to roots, otherwise, I would do full out foils everywhere for a first time.
  6. Grab a magazine or watch some reality TV for about 25-45 minutes depending on how your hair is processing. Don’t leave bleach + 40 volume developer on for more than 30-45 minutes, because the products stop bleaching after a certain time, and then they just start damaging your hair without any further lightening. 
  7. Clean out your mixing bowl, and then put about half the bottle of your Wella toner in, and then add your 10 or 20 volume developer until you have that cake batter consistency, however this can be more liquid.
If you have a color like on the left, don’t freak out! Toner will help you!
  1. Check your hair processing, and get your washing station ready. Use a big kitchen sink, or a laundry tub sink! 
  2. Rinse your bleach out and apply your deep conditioner. Let it sit a few moments before rinsing that out thoroughly!
  3. After you’ve rinsed your hair several times and you are confident that you have gotten all the conditioner out, towel dry your hair, and apply your Wella toner + developer mix, by sectioning your hair and really painting it on yellow/orange/brassy areas using your brush. If you have orange tones, you will want to use a blue-toner; if you have yellow tones, you will want to use a purple-toner! If you are like me and you have 75 different colors in your hair and it lightens to a light lemon yellow and then goes into a brassy orange, you will want to mix toners! I use Wella T18 and T10! 
  4. Leave your toner on for about 20-30 minutes, depending on how brassy or yellow your hair was. If you want it to be platinum, leave it on as long as you can! I actually have really strong hair that I can tone twice after a lightening process…apparently it’s horrible for your hair, but my hair is totally fine and I am happy with the results because I doubled up on toning!
  5. Rinse your toner out and apply your deep conditioner again, because toners are very drying. Make sure you get all the blue and purple toner out, or it will begin to dye your hair those colors!
  6. Apply your ION Color Brilliance Absolute Perfection Color Sealer Step 2 and leave it on for at least 10-15 minutes. I always leave conditioners on longer than I am told, so I go about 25 minutes with it on!
  7. Rinse out your conditioner, this time use your purple shampoo and purple conditioner, and then let your hair dry, or style it however you want!
  8. Use coconut oil or argan oil (or other natural oil) masks on you hair at least once a week! I do these on low key weekdays or weekend days when I have specifically decided to stay home and relax! I actually have an argan oil spray to use when I am in between oil treatments! I use it like a detangler too!

Good luck!

Here are my Before, After, and During photos! Enjoy!

hair journey.PNG
It takes me about 2 hours or so at home, and costs about $15-20 worth of supplies. When I buy my supplies from Sally’s, I have enough for several months worth of blonde maintenance! (Ignore my pizza-face! I’m coming off of bad hormonal medication! Lol! :P)
After – Left, Before – Right ~ Notice, no more dark balayage roots! Yay! 



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s