Your Guide To High Lift Hair Coloring, The Alternative To Bleaching

They say that blondes have more fun — so who can fault us for wanting to get in on the action?

Although we love the warmth and depth of a toasted brunette or cowgirl copper, some seasons of life call for bottle blonde. As flattering as the look can be, the process of getting there is not as fun. Bleaching your hair can be long and stressful, particularly if you have naturally dark hair.

Going from raven black hair to platinum blonde takes several rounds of bleaching, in which your hair becomes more and more susceptible to damage. Whether you're simply dyeing it post-bleaching or you're looking to be the next Pamela Anderson, bleaching is rarely a one-time thing. If you desire lighter hair but don't want to take on the risks of bleaching your hair, high lift hair coloring may be the solution for you.

The bleach alternative lightens your hair color without being as damaging as bleach. However, it's not suitable for everyone, so read ahead to see whether you should high lift hair color your strands.

What is high lift hair coloring?

As the name suggests, high lift hair coloring "lifts" or removes your hair color, effectively lightening it. Although most hair dyes and bleaches contain a small amount of ammonia, high lift hair colors have a larger amount, allowing it to lift the melanin found in your strands. Lightening or dying your hair will always come with some damage. However, the detrimental effects from high color hair lifting compared to bleaching is smaller.

This isn't particularly because it's a "safer" option. While bleaching can lighten your hair by up to eight levels, high color hair lifting only goes up to four. For people with black or dark brown hair that want to go for a light blonde look, that can't be achieved with high color hair lifting alone. Platinum blonde can only be achieved for people with naturally dark blonde hair. Additionally, the process only works on hair that hasn't been dyed, so you can't switch between colors using this method.

How is high lift hair coloring done?

The high lift process is very similar to bleaching hair. High lift hair color boxes come with the standard bowl and brush, as well as the proper developer needed for the hair. With bleaching, it's okay to go down to a 30 volume developer. However, high lift hair coloring requires using the 40 volume one since the dye is much more pigmented.

Typically, high lift hair colors tone the hair as it lightens it, so there aren't really any extra steps needed afterward. After rinsing out the dye, wash and condition as normal. It's best to avoid heat right after the process since your hair is still susceptible to damage. Opt for gentle, sulfate-free hair products and moisturizing ingredients. If you do have damaged hair, Olaplex No. 3 and other reparative products should be able to restore your hair while keeping the color intact.

While the pigment is strong, the hair color will start to fade. Deep condition your hair often and use colored shampoo to prevent it from growing dull or brassy.