This is my personal recollection of how I went from a dark brunette to blonde at Tricoci University. Please note that the times, steps, and processes may not be correct as I am not a cosmetologist nor was keeping an accurate record of the time each application that was happening. This is my personal reflection of the events that happened that day and may not be 100% accurate.
As I walked in the door at Tricoci University I was nervous. I mean, yes, I had bleached my hair MANY times in my life – gone from black, to blonde, to pink, to yellow, green, navy. But now, at the age of 35, I felt like a hair virgin again. At the age of 24, I went brunette for the first time in my life. I had been finally ready to settle down and have a “normal” hair color for the first time since I was 11 (thank you Sun-In).
A year later I met my husband, got married, had a kid, and bought a house. And now my husband and in-laws have only have known me as a having gorgeous, healthy, long chocolatey rich hair. Even when they see pictures of me in high school and through my 20’s they can’t believe my hair was platinum for most of my life. But now, it’s time for a change.
My husband has been asking me for months now to go blonde again. I hear, “Please, just once, go back blonde so I can see what you used to look like before we met” probably every 2 weeks. And with a lot of my co-workers adding fun colors to their hair and doing dramatic color changes lately, I finally talked myself into it.
I met Jeannette Chavez and started discussing color. My hair was at a level 5 and we were looking to take it to a level 9 – eventually. I had already been told by both Jeanette and Ms. Jess, the educator overseeing the process, that it was going to be extremely hard to get me to a level 9 in one day. Even with a double process of bleach they said I would most likely have to come in for a second appointment in order to get to the (now level 10/icy white “Elsa”) hair color I had decided on. So I was prepared. Even with all of my previous experience of going blonde from a dark color, I knew I was more than likely going to walk out of here either a bright orange or something similar. Unless your hair pulls really fast and is extremely healthy, this is a 2-appointment event.
And so, after my consultation, the process began.
Jeanette, along with another student Linda, began applying all over bleach. It’s a big job for one person with the length and thickness of my hair alone. Not to mention they said it had to be done in a timely matter in order to get the same results from where you started to where you finished.
About 15 minutes after they started applying the bleach, I saw it. It was lifting – and it was lifting fast! Both Jeanette and Ms. Jess watched, smushed, rubbed, and were now hopeful that we could actually get to a level 9 today if it continued to pull as fast as it was. And with that, I was determined that today was the day we were taking me to a level 9.
The bleach had been on most of my hair for about 40 minutes. They had left about 2 inches of my roots without bleach since typically the root area pulls much faster with the heat of from the scalp. And after Ms. Jess confirmed that my hair had pulled enough, they applied the rest of the bleach to my roots as well.
The “Double” Part
Here comes the double part of “double process.” With a fresh bowl of bleach they hit the darker parts of my hair again with another coat of bleach. Whatever hair wasn’t pulling anymore or that was still darker than the rest they saturated again. At this point I was probably a level 7/8 and definitely starting to slow down.
Side note: during this entire process I was checked on regularly by multiple educators asking about the condition of my scalp, any irritation, or discomfort. This much bleach on the scalp can irritate and if there had been any discomfort it would have come off immediately. I should note that my scalp felt completely fine during the entire process and wasn’t irritated at all which is why we were so aggressive and why I was able to go as light as I did in one day.
Rinse! Finally, I could get this stuff off my head! With the bleach sitting on my hair I couldn’t tell what color I had pulled to. All I saw was a white coat of bleach hiding my hair in the mirror for the last few hours and I was hopeful they’d put me back in front of that mirror as Snow White.
After washing the bleach out, there was just more bleach. This time a bleach rinse, which I didn’t even know was a thing, at the shampoo bowl. They told me I had definitely pulled to an 8/9 but there was still a lot of red in my hair. And if you know anything about hair color you know that a red undertone really means your hair is still probably neon orange. Again, I already knew that this was just part of the process. 20 minutes later they washed the bleach rinse out.
Jeanette, Linda, Diane (yes, we needed the help of a third student) and Ms. Jess had all done a fantastic job so far. This is a long time for anyone to be in a salon getting their hair colored but they had been so accommodating, funny, and just great people to be already the entire day.
The Chem Shot
Next was the custom conditioning treatment called a “Chem Shot.” After all that bleach my hair was in need of some serious moisture. I was not ready for a chemical haircut, and even though my hair still seemed pretty healthy, I wanted to make sure it stayed that way.
Jeanette brought me back to the chair to blow dry some of the water out before adding the toner. Ms. Jess wanted to see how light we had gotten and the undertones in my hair now that we had gotten me as light as possible.
As soon as I saw the wet mop of hair on my head I instantly said to myself “OMG – I’m orange.” And I’m not gonna lie, I was disappointed – can you tell? Everyone kept commenting on how fast I was pulling, how I was a level 8/9, and how we were actually going to get me blonde/blonde today – and then I see myself and – orange. Liars.
What I had forgotten is how different lighter hair looks when it’s dry then when it’s wet. And as Jeanette started drying it I started seeing it get lighter…and lighter…and OMG, I’m almost a yellowy 9!
She dried me about 80% of the way and then Ms. Jess came over to take another look. I loved having the educators there to help all of the students. It was so cool to see them teaching the students about color and toners and why they would try one over another. Ms. Jess actually did 2 test strands of toners instead of just making a guess which really impressed me. She mixed up 2 different toners, one with more blue and one with more violet (I think) and she put it on a watched them. As she said, “I definitely don’t want you to walk out of here with purple hair, so let’s get this right the first time.” I loved that instead of trying to rush me out of there she was willing to take an extra 20 minutes on a test strand just to make sure they got it right. Multiple other students even came over to learn why she was going to use one toner over another, how each of the test strands had come out, and what to learn from it.
Honestly, I have no idea which toner they picked from the test strands. My roots were much lighter and a yellow shade which faded down to my darker, orange ends. Me and my reverse ombre were excited to see what the toner would do too.
They mixed up 2 bottles of toner and Jeanette and Diane attacked it from both ends (Linda was working on another guest now). Toner works fast and needs to be done as quickly as possible which is why again I had 2 people working on my hair. I can’t lie, I definitely felt pampered with all this attention today.
By this time, I was back at the shampoo bowl again with Diane getting the toner rinsed out. FINALLY, all the chemicals were off my head and getting rinsed down the drain. Ms. Jess came over as usual to check on the color and again commented at what good shape my hair was still in. In fact, I think I had 3 different educators come over to check out my hair and the elasticity of it. I loved that I was being looked after by everyone at the campus. Even if Ms. Jess wasn’t around there was someone else checking on me, my scalp, and my color. It was definitely a group event which made me feel much better about doing such a radical color treatment at a beauty school with students who were still learning while they worked.
This was what I had been waiting for all day – I was finally going to see the results of all this hard work, and all that sitting, had achieved.
Jeanette brought me back to the chair sat me down in front of the mirror. Again, I was slightly shocked since I still had a decent amount of orange and yellow tones in my wet hair but I knew that from the last time she blow-dried me that with hair color, things aren’t always what they seem.
I was finally blow dried and styled! My color was not platinum but I was definitely a level 8 blonde. Even though it would need more work to get to platinum, the color was actually very pretty. I was lighter in my roots, which was to be expected, but it faded beautifully into a warm strawberry blonde. As you can tell from my picture, I was happy.
I had an amazing time at Tricoci University in Glendale Heights and am planning on returning in about a week to finish the process of going platinum. I cannot thank Jeanette, Linda, Diane and all of the educators enough – especially Ms. Jess who made me her personal mission that day.
Whether you’re going to Tricoci University or not and you plan on going from brunette to blonde, do your homework. I spent a few hours educating myself on what to expect, the process, the risks, and most importantly, getting realistic expectations. A double process like this in NOT FOR EVERYONE. I had taken care of my hair for the last 9 years, meaning lots of conditioning treatments, almost no blow-drying, all natural henna hair dye (Nutritint), and just babying it in every way possible. This is unrealistic for most people. If you highlight your hair, use flat irons or curling irons regularly, or use cheap shampoos or conditioners – your hair might not survive the way mine did. So again, just make sure you do your research and get a consultation before making any radical changes. This will prevent lots of tears and what I like to call – getting the dreaded “chemical haircut.”
By Erin DiGangi