Thursday, March 26, 2015

DIY: How To Lighten Roots at Home Between Highlights- Bump the Base (in 10 minutes)

I wanted to share with you how I lighten my roots at home myself in between highlights with my stylist. I am not a hairdresser and don't have any training (although I often wish I did!). These directions were given to me by my Stylist when I asked how I could lighten my base between highlights when I just can't take anymore of my roots!

A bit of background first: Unfortunately, I don't suit my darker hair. I was a blonde kid and like many people my hair grew darker as I got older. I have been highlighting my hair for as long as I can remember. I used to do it at home with the cap with the holes in it- ouch! Eventually, I had to get it professionally done and the results are much better but highlights are pricey! from around $70 for partial highlights (the crown area) to $100 and up for a whole head (this isn't including the cut and style!) Not only is it expensive, but my stylist is pretty far from me so I only go every 3-4 months. I've tried some stylist locally but found the one's that I went to were either not consistent or over-processed my hair to the point of tons of breakage!  I've even tried going back to different shades of brown more times than I can count and I've learned that I look best blonde.

My natural colour is between a level 5-6 from what I've been told and although it's very ashy and dull, it pulls a LOT of red! If I was a true level 6, as many hairdresser think I am, I could probably get a nice blonde with a box of hair dye in the ash family without it pulling so red and having to resort to bleach. I have seen a few well known stylist who told me I was a level 6 and they could get me a gorgeous blonde with just one step (not having to bleach and then tone), but, it always came out some shade of orange!

So, when the mood strikes and I can't take anymore, I go to it with my Stylist's valuable instructions in hand! If you are interested in giving this a go, here are the deets....

Here is what you'll need: 

  • 20 vol developer (Goldwell 20 volume)
  • hair colour (Goldwell 10P)
  • mixing bowl
  • Tint brush (I got my mixing bowl and tint brush in a kit at the dollar store)
  • shot glass (I use for measuring)
  • gloves
  • Towel and clothing you don't care about getting dye on
  • a clock or timer

The colour I use is Goldwell Topchic in 10P (for"pastel pearl blonde" it's a cool tone to keep as much brassiness out as possible)

Mix a 1:1 ratio of dye to developer. 1/2 of the tube of dye is 30g. (I use a shot glass to measure the developer)

1:1 Ratio
Mix well:
Here is your product ready to be applied

Instructions for application:

  • Shampoo hair and towel dry
  • comb through hair
  • put on gloves
  • apply your toner (mixture) to roots with brush, sectioning with fingers or end of brush
  • massage toner into roots throughout the hair
  • leave on for short time, keeping an eye on it for desired results (approx 6-10 minutes) -this is the tricky part for me; if I leave it too long it does get lighter but I get more orange to it, if I get it just at the right time, I get a lighter, softer brown/dirty blonde look. (I don't have a trained eye for this so sometimes it comes out better than others, but it's always better than the super-dark roots) 
  • rinse dye out thoroughly
  • condition
  • rinse 
  • apply leave in conditioner if you like or other styling products and style

These are my roots from the top view (yuk, I know) and to make matters worse, I have a few grey hairs right where I part my hair! And a side view. This is about 2 months of growth since my last highlights:

Here are the final results (my hair has been dried but not styled.) It's not perfect, but definitely softened the look.

Here is a close up of the final product (again, just a rough blow dry, not styled.) As you can see, it really does soften the drastic difference between my highlight and my natural root colour, softening and blending it with the rest of my hair- it's def. an improvement from my original roots! I left the product on for about 8 minutes and it did come out with just a hint of orange to it this time, not as ashy as I would like, but it sure beats the dark roots. And, it will buy me some time before I have to go see my stylist and shell out $150 for highlights, cut and blow-dry. Note: I do have a few grey's where I part my hair and this volume of developer is not high enough to cover them, plus, leaving it on for only a few minutes is not long enough for grey coverage. Therefore, If you have a lot of grey's I wouldn't suggest this method, but if you only have a few this will help blend them in.

My stylist said it's better to leave it on for less time rather than more to avoid getting it too light or too brassy, and if it's not light enough just repeat the process another day.

Note: if your hair is even a shade lighter than mine, you should get great results!

You can purchase Goldwell 10P and other similar products linked here. Goldwell 20 volume developer is linked here.

I am so happy I asked my hairdresser how to do this. It may not be perfect but it really makes a difference for me, not only in how I feel about the way I look, but it saves me some time and money. The hair colour is only about $12 for 2 applications! The developer bottle is not expensive and will last a long time since you only use 1 oz. The gloves and mixing bowl with brush are only a few dollars and I reuse the same ones each time.

Let me know if you try this or if you need anymore details on how I do this.

xo Amy


  1. I have highlights put in my hair and I agree, it is so expensive! This is such a great in-between hairdresser visits solution!

    1. This really does buy me some time between visits and therefore saves me some money. Probably at least 1 trip per year which is $150! ;)

  2. Love your writing style and your honesty hon ♥ I actually have the opposite problem - my roots are dead white, and I'm forever (well fortnightly) touching them up with colour so that I don't look like a self-neglected old lady. But I used to do this routine before the greys took over - sigh the things we do hey xxx

    1. Thanks so much! My stylist said if I was all-over grey, she could get me a beautiful blonde! Just a highlight and cut costs me $150 cad each time and this isn't even a high-end salon! xo

  3. My hairdresser does this after highlighting my hair. She uses 30 developer though and only keeps it on 3 minutes as 30 developer lifts a lot faster than 20. I also have level 5 hair exactly like yours. Same story...very blonde as a child and hair darkened to a mousy dark blonde/light brown that makes me look dull. Glad to have seen this article as I have moved town and my new hairdresser is not as clued in with these kind of things so will just do it myself.

    1. That's great that your old stylist told you what she uses so now you can def do it yourself. It's so easy and great to do between highlights as well!

  4. This is great to know as I have exactly the same issue as you do. My hair is also a drab medium ash tone and grabs red and turns orange with a box color. Would love to try this on my own hair sometime. Thanks for the clear instructions in plain English that most people can understand!

    1. Let me know how it goes if you try it. It's so easy. It's literally like just washing the roots of your hair (in terms of application), the leaving it on for 6 minutes, rinse, condition and your done! Yesterday I purchased 10N to mix with 10P as I'm getting greys and hope it will help cover them.

    2. At what point do you start the timer? I have thick hair in the back so I’m thinking I would have to apply in stages.

    3. I start timing from when I start applying it

    4. Thank you, I really appreciate this information. My story is exactly like yours.

  5. That sounds like try. Your hair sounds EXACTLY like my color and I do have a few gray hairs which seem to blend well after a highlighting! Choosing a color to work with has always been a problem. Glad you posted this! Normally, between highlights - (I go about as long as you do so root length is an inch or more)I use John Fieda's "Bo Blonder" spray. It's a small bottle and I usually use about 1/2 of it. Amazon lists it for about 6.99 but I buy it at ULTA when I get a coupon off a 15$ purchase minimum and buy 2 at a time. I had to resort to that after Eco Bella stopped producing it's 8 oz lightening Gel which worked so well nothing could compare. Sad that they stopped making it - and yeah I wrote and complained! Anyway, right before I wash my hair, part it as I go, and I spray mainly the roots with Frieda product (it won't matter if you get it on the lighter part. Then I cover my head when finished with a clear processing cap(Like hotel shower caps - I always buy a bag of 25 or so and keep on hand. I then use a hair dryer on the outside of the cap for about 15 mins to warm up the formula so it will lighten faster and more thoroughly. I then keep the cap on and go about my business for another maybe 30 mins, then I wash my hair. This works really well, without the ugly brassiness you speak of. If you sit outside in the sun on a warm day, the process will be quicker but I've noted more brassiness doing it that way. After I wash my hair it looks just like the pics you posted of your finished method using the products you suggest. So just another idea for any of you who feel you match up with this writer's description of her hair!

    1. Thanks for sharing your tip! I have thought about using the john frieda lightening spray but I go REALLY orange with it. When I use the Goldwell and wait only 6 to 7 minutes, it's more like a very light milk chocolate colour / dirty blonde and it doesn't pull so orange.

  6. Thanks for posting! Very helpful :) I have the exact same hair color and story - white blonde as a little girl to an awful mousy color as an adult with a few greys. Do you do this root touch up right before you go to your hairdresser or mid-way between highlighting visits?

    1. Hi, I do this base bump in between highlights. Usually about 2 months after I've had my highlights done, I do this base bump method and then I can go another 1.5 months before getting highlights again. Right now I'm doing my own foil highlights. It's fun!


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