I went blonde again. I know every living being on this planet and possibly others said I shouldn’t, and I know I said I wouldn’t. It’s just that I couldn’t face any other possibility. Blonde me is ideal me.
Plus, I mean, my hair was pretty busted up:
I actually kind of liked the fade at first, but by this point my roots were inches long and the lengths were just a tinge too pink to be blonde and a tinge too blonde to be pink. It was time to move on – and truth be told, I decided probably at least a month ago that I was moving back to blonde.
I’ve found my usual toner, Wella T-18, difficult to source in Montreal. When I finally found a store that had it, they were out of stock. The owner, who had gorgeous silvery blonde hair, told me she was desperately waiting on it too. I intended to do my hair that very day, and out of sheer stubbornness I decided to come up with an alternate solution. Trawling the depths of my brain, I remembered that I had heard of people using diluted purple dye to achieve the same effect as toner. This seemed logically sound to me, as purple is the opposite of yellow and that’s the whole reason purple shampoo is, you know, purple. I then hopped on YouTube to see what the scene kids were saying about it, because as far as I’m concerned if it’s good enough for them it’s good enough for me. Generally, the scene side of YouTube seemed to be on board with this DIY toner idea.
Armed with my new knowledge, I marched into Pharmaprix and bought a bottle of TRESemmé Breakage Defense Conditioner (because it was on sale and because “breakage defense” is a welcome term when you’re a fake blonde) and a tub of Manic Panic Ultra-Violet, which is exactly the dye all the scene kids used.
I couldn’t tell you the exact proportions I used: I initially mixed a dollop of Manic Panic in with quite a lot of conditioner, but it looked like such a deep purple that I got freaked out and added progressively more conditioner until I had a bowlful. I actually don’t think it would have been that potent; the pigment just goes a long way in the white conditioner. I smeared it all over my wet, freshly-bleached hair. I concentrated it on my roots, as they had been bleached from brown, but my lengths were slightly yellow from the bleach, so I did put the toner all over my head. I let it sit for about 20 minutes. I knew from experience with other purple-based toners that it would probably stain the more porous chunks of my hair a very faint lavender, but I didn’t mind. I kind of like the look, and the longer it had to sit on the roots, the better. The purple stain rinses out in a few washes, anyway.
Here’s what my hair looked like immediately after bleaching:
Clearly, I could not go out in public like this. Say no to brassiness, people. After slapping the toner on, here’s what I got:
I did get the purple stain, as anticipated. This lasted through a few washes, but it’s faded significantly. Here’s a picture from today, about 4 washes in.
The slight purple tinge is more visible in these pictures, but in real life it’s pretty much gone. You can see around the roots that it didn’t completely tone down the brassiness, although it did make a pretty significant difference. I’m going to do a bleach bath just on my roots and then tone them one last time and then I think we’ll be all good! For comparison’s sake, in my 2-year tenure as a blonde I’ve used Fudge Whiter Shade of Pale and Directions White Toner and had pretty much identical results.
I see two main benefits to this DIY toner as compared to Wella T-18. The first is financial. Only the tiniest bit of dye is needed, so even though a pot of Manic Panic is about 3x as expensive as a bottle of T-18, I will be able to use this about a zillion times before I run out. And I need 2 bottles of T-18 to get all my hair anyway! The Manic Panic is also much gentler. You may remember that my hairdresser speculated that I had developed an allergy to the T-18; indeed, the past few times I did my roots prior to the great hair disaster of early 2016, the bleaching portion was fine – it was the toner I had a reaction to. Wella T-18 is a liquid toner that you mix with developer. This DIY toner uses only Manic Panic hair dye (which is gentle and plant-based) and a conditioner, so it really doesn’t fry the ol’ scalp. I felt no discomfort keeping this on my head for 20 minutes, whereas the past few times I’ve used T-18 I’ve only had it on for about 5 minutes and felt burning pain on my scalp as well as nausea. So as much as I love my T-18 and think it’s the most effective toner out there, I’ll probably stick with my Manic Panic concoction for now for the sake of my scalp.
However, as with any toner, this isn’t a miracle worker. It’s not going to take mid-toned yellow hair down to platinum. My lengths are a very pleasing shade of pale blonde at the moment – because they were already blonde and I just did a bleach bath to take the pink out. But my roots were obviously much darker (my hair is naturally medium brown), so even undiluted 30 volume bleach didn’t take them down to the optimal level for toner to really work wonders. Wella T-18 is the only toner I’ve found that’ll bring once-bleached roots down to a platinum. Everything else will yield the same results that you can see here.
I have to say, the pink was fun, but it’s so good to be a blonde again. I said I’d stop, but I was lying.
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