Here's what I wish I knew before I bleached my hair from brown to blonde

Beauty editor Anna Bader took the plunge and dyed her hair from brown to blonde. An expert explains how you can lighten your hair gently too, and other essential tips.
Here's what I wish I knew before I bleached my hair from brown to blonde

Blonde has long been a favourite colour go-to when you're after a big beauty transformation, especially over the sunnier months. If, like me, you've been thinking about dyeing your hair from brown to blonde for a while but you haven't had the courage yet, you've come to the right place.

It's really not that big of a deal, so long as you approach it professionally. I dared to do it myself to save you the trouble, and here's what I wish I'd known before bleaching my hair, with expert tips direct from the hairstylist who coloured my hair.

How do you dye your hair from brown to blonde?

"There are countless ways to dye hair from brown to blonde," explains hair expert Tim Mathé of Lippert's Friseure in Munich. "The method and colour used always depends on the initial starting point, for example, whether it is natural hair or hair that has already been coloured before." In any case, however, colour must first be removed from the hair through the bleaching process. This unsurprisingly puts a strain on hair, which is why it should be done carefully.

Is it possible to go completely blonde in one session?

"That depends on whether the hair is already dyed a darker colour," explains Tim. "With dyed hair, several sessions are always necessary." But the process is different for naturally brown hair: "Here you can definitely achieve blonde hair in one session - but that doesn't apply to platinum blonde, for this it takes about two to three visits to the hairdresser to lighten the hair healthily."

Which highlighting technique is best for a soft transition?

Again, you have to distinguish between natural hair and coloured hair: "Dyed hair is more difficult to lighten, so you have to be a little more aggressive with bleaching and encourage colour lifting with the foil technique and the heat buildup it creates."

It's different for naturally brown hair: "There, freehand painting techniques, such as balayage, are particularly suitable to achieve blonde," says Tim. "Painting powders are especially gentle for this kind of approach, with it gently lightening while simultaneously helping to bring the desired blonde tone with, for example, beige tones or copper accents into the hair." Likewise, it can help to give the hair more shine and add more depth to blonde tones, for example cooler undertones.

How does bleaching from brown to blonde work?

Here's what my hair colour looked like in before, a light brown.

Ann-Christin Traub

Step 1: Hairstylist Tim Mathé advises me on my transition to blonde, advising on a cool natural blonde shade, which can be further lightened in another session.

Ann-Christin Traub

Step 2: He then paints highlights into my hair. For a natural result, he chooses Painting Powder, which gently lightens the hair and runs darker at the roots than at the tips.

Ann-Christin Traub

Step 3: Foils enhance the effect of the gentle Painting Powder: The colour remains on the strands for around 30 minutes during bleaching.

Ann-Christin Traub

Step 4: The colour is rinsed out.

Ann-Christin Traub

Step 5: A glossing (tint and care in one) helps create depth to the blonde tone even more, in my case to a cooler blonde.

Ann-Christin Traub

Step 6: Tim adjusts the cut…

Ann-Christin Traub

Step 7:...and then styles my hair with a round brush and curling iron.

Ann-Christin Traub

From brown to blonde after: My hair colour featuring blonde highlights!

Ann-Christin Traub

How long does it take to colour with a gradual transition from brown to blonde?

"If you want to go blonde gradually, I always advise colouring your face frame blonder right away," says Tim. "By colouring the hair in the facial contour, the top hair is spared and a 'blonde effect' is achieved much faster."

What do I need to keep in mind when caring for my hair?

"As soon as you bleach your hair, you need to step up your hair care regime," says our expert Tim. "Use shampoos for coloured or blonde hair, and ensure it's a good match for your scalp." And when it comes to conditioner? “It's best to choose a product that further intensifies the blonde tone and preserves the colour as well as adding gloss.”

Hair masks are also recommended: "Hair treatments are a must directly after colouring after every second hair wash," says Tim. "I would then still use spray conditioner on every day that a hair treatment is not used to nourish the damaged hair."

How much does the colouring process cost?

"It depends on the technique and products used, as well as the salon," explains Tim. "With us, this type of hair colouring costs about £200 to £300." One major bonus, though, is that a balayage lasts forever, because the approach does not interfere, so to speak, and the hair is allowed to continue growing.