Purposefully white hair

The final effect  - white hair!

The final effect – white hair!

It was never my intention for this to become a “beauty blog” so I’ve kept most of my product comments and reviews about great nail polish (I’m loving Gosh right now which I get from Shoppers Drug Mart) or eye shadows (I just picked up some of the cream shadows for cheeks & eyes from Make Up Forever) far between but I thought I would do a bit of a post about ‘going white’… in terms of hair…


Toning samples close-up

Toning samples close-up

This blog is largely about sewing and costuming and crafting – and on the costuming bent, I know that a few people read this blog who cosplay… and I know that a few cosplayers want to dye their hair instead of wearing wigs (especially if you have long, thick hair like mine, which is nearly impossible to stuff under a wig). If you want to go a light blond or pastel colour (or if you just want your bright colour to really pop) one of the things you’ll likely have to do (unless you were born with light blond hair and have retained it through the years – I was, but didn’t) is bleaching out your hair.

For me… I want to go white (or nearly white…) just for kicks.

It’s not costume specific, just something I think will be interesting.

A lot of posts I’ve read when searching for “white hair” talk about unwanted white hair – how to tone it, how to cover it up, how it makes people feel old… but I want to go white on purpose.  I wanted to have “different” hair again, but with a fairly new bathroom (which was expensive and time consuming) I didn’t want to go back to the Fudge/Punky Colour/Manic Panic colours I’ve used before which stain the tiles in my shower…  I figured that this was pretty drastic compared to some of the other colours I’ve done at home, so I wanted to do some research first…

Research – first stop, Kato!

My first stop for research was model, designer, and ‘Steamgirl’ Kato’s post on White Hair.  In it she outlined her process, keeping in mind of course that her hair isn’t my hair… and the tips that worked for her might not work for me…  (Click for the full post, though you may need to be logged into Facebook and following Kato to read it).

Kato’s tips

Be patient“Don’t bleach your hair 3-4 times in a week to get it to the white stage.”

She went from black to copper-red and left it like that for a month, and then went to strawberry blond and left it for a month before proceeding to platinum blond. It took her 5 months to go from black to white.

Repair your hair“After each bleaching, I use Redken Deep Fuel protein treatments. This restores the proteins that bleaching strips away.”

She also talked about using protein treatments between washes whenever she had a bit of extra time, and also recommended a protein product from Joico.

Tone the hair“Once your hair is an extremely light blonde, use purple toners to cancel out the yellow tint of your hair.”

She used Manic Panic’s Virgin Snow toner once every couple of months, but really relied on Shimmer Lights Protein shampoo, leaving it in for about 5 minutes before rinsing it out.

Second stop – YouTube

Kato mentioned that in her research she used  “YouTube’s ‘how to get white hair’ videos that tons of cute American girls were posting” so I did the same.  I’m just amazed at how many people have no qualms about shooting video of themselves dying their hair. How strange! Still, extremely useful and they had lots of great tips!

If you head to YouTube and type in “getting white hair” there are loads of videos to watch.

Nicole Lazuli had one of the ones I watched first, and in it she shows off shampooing her hair with the AG Sterling Silver shampoo. She’s really going for a silver/grey look rather than white.. which might be where I will want to take it once I get it to the white stage – or use the same techniques to tone the hair to get rid of the brassiness after bleaching.

Nicole also talks about the dye + conditioner method of toning/dying the hair. She uses Punky Colour Blue-Black, Punky Colour Violet, and ChromaSilk in Silver, mixed with a white conditioner, until the overall mix is a pale purple.   From there, she applies the mix with a tint brush, just like putting on any other hair colour (except she doesn’t use gloves.. teehee), then covering it with a shower cap to leave it moist for about 15 minutes before washing out.   She also recommends using a protein treatment (showing off a Joico product, but not mentioning it by name).  She also posted a video about bleaching out her roots before dying them back again to get the silver colour.

xxzxczx also suggests taking time between bleaching to get your hair super light in her video (below)

She suggests bleaching to that pale yellow, then using a toner to get rid of the brassiness.  She’s in the UK (I presume, based on her accent and the way she said things cost ’50 P’) so brand names and things like that are less important – since what she has there, I likely don’t have here in store.  She specifically mentioned a brand called “Directions” for the toner, though it isn’t something I’ve seen locally, which she preferred over the Manic Panic Virgin Snow toner. Following the toner she recommends using ‘purple shampoos’; the brand she recommended was the John Frieda Sheer Blond Colour Correcting shampoo, which I did end up seeing at Wal-Mart.. (more on that below).

Along with a bunch of others, I also watched SxyeBabyShaxeDoll ‘s video (below).  I don’t recommend watching this as much as the others – she’s totally adorable, but also the video is really hard to watch, and feels a lot longer than it is.  Still, she talks about Wella Colour Charm 050, which is a product that sounded perfect to get the grey/silver colour I’m thinking of too. Plus.. her hair is gorgeous.

Last step…

My last stop was to look for blog posts, but really… there wasn’t much out there!

Shopping & products


So… I headed shopping and first went to Chatters – I was hoping they’d have what I wanted, but honestly, they were kind of useless.  I did get AG Stirling Silver shampoo and conditioner

“Sterling Silver is specially formulated to eliminate brassy, yellow tones from blonde and silver hair. With its unique violet base, this mild toning shampoo removes dullness and brassiness, leaving blonde and silver hair looking cleaner and brighter. pH 4.5-5.5” 

but the sales staff were totally unhelpful when it came to any other product recommendations – the woman I talked to didn’t even say “hey, if you’re planning to go super-blond, you really should come in for a consultation and let one of our stylists help you achieve it safely without damaging your hair…” which seems to me to be the perfect upsell opportunity.. right? Oh well. The shampoo and conditioner weren’t cheap… even on their 30% off sale (which I think is permanent.. so why do you call it a sale?) the bottles were almost $30 each.

Sally’s Beauty Supply

Since Chatters didn’t have what I wanted, I drove all the way out north to Sally’s Beauty Supply, and looked for more of what I was looking for.

Now… the staff here weren’t any better.  Honestly I stood in front of the counter while two staff chatted back and forth for about 5 minutes about the cost of living in Calgary and finding a place to rent and going to university, etc,  before one of them made a half-assed “can I help you”. Gah.. Of course, when I was going to ask “could you make any recommendations of other products I might need” she was quick to say that they didn’t have any stylists that worked there, and that customers were on their own.  Thanks.  (Yep… YouTube and Facebook are more helpful than the people asking for my money…)

From there I picked up:


Also, at Wal-Mart (another place with terrible service most of the time…) I picked up:

So.. the process….

When I came back from Hawaii in February, I noticed that my hair was distinctly lighter – probably a combination of saltwater and sunbleaching… so that’s when I decided to start going lighter.  I started mostly by putting in chunky bleached-out highlights, then bleaching just a little and letting the coppery-red/strawberry-blond colours come through.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The above slideshow shows the various stages my hair went through, including the post-toning final example.
When it came to the final bleaching stage, I actually divided my hair from left to right in order to make sure both halves of my hair had the ‘right’ time of bleaching since I was doing it myself. One shot shows the division when the hair was wet, and the next with the little ‘rope braid’ where the two sides are dry, and you can see the two different colours.


Then, once I had the products I needed (in early September) I did a strand test on the blond weft hair extensions to see what products and advice would give me the look I was going for…

Testing different products to get the "white hair" look on weft hair extensions

Testing different products to get the “white hair” look on weft hair extensions

Above is a photo of the results from the tests. The left version (fairly pink) is a mix of a TINY bit of purple Punky Colour with conditioner.  Or… I thought it was purple. The dye looked purple in the container, the part that smeared on my fingers was purple, when I  mixed it with the conditioner it was purple… but since the colour is “plum” there’s obviously some pink in there as well, and it is a lot more pink than I really want.  (The photo shows a bit darker than what the colour actually is, but it’s pretty close. I left this on the swatch for only about 15 minutes.

The swatch on the right (very blue-grey) is the Wella colour charm 050 – left on for only about 15 minutes. (The instructions recommend 30-45 minutes). It’s a LOT darker than I really have in mind, though I do love the colour…

The middle swatch is a little more of what I’m looking for. This is JUST the Shimmer Lights conditioner, spread over the hair and left to sit about 15 minutes.  I think this is more of what I have in mind, this gorgous silvery-white colour – beautiful!

Of course, the blond in between each swatch is the original colour of the hair… and the colour I’m going to have to try for with the bleaching process!

Trying out the AG and the John Frieda product on the human hair extensions

Trying out the AG and the John Frieda product on the human hair extensions

Next I tried the AG Stirling Silver conditioner and the John Frieda Sheer Blond Colour Correcting conditioner to see how they’d work for toning. There’s a big different between the two, and frankly, I can’t imagine ever getting the John Frieda product again. While the cost per mL isn’t terribly different, the John Frieda product is certainly easier to find – but the AG product isn’t to hard to get ahold of (just a little out of the way) so… with these examples, it’s easy to see which is the more useful product.

In the photo to the left, the purple product is the AG Stirling Silver, and the pink/purple and yellow container is the John Frieda product – and you can see that the blond hair extension doesn’t look any different…

Below shows the results – both products were on the human hair extension for about 20 minutes, which doesn’t represent how I’d use the product on a regular basis, but would be workable for a deep condition and colour boost once a week or two weeks.

Hair Toning continued -Left to right - Shimmer Lights,  John Frieda, AG Stirling Silver

Hair Toning continued -Left to right – Shimmer Lights, John Frieda, AG Stirling Silver

Once the two conditioner samples were dry, I photographed them as above – the sample on the left is the Shimmer Lights, in the middle is the John Frieda, and the right is the AG Stirling Silver… The blond in the background is the original colour.  The AG isn’t quite as purple as the Shimmer Lights – but I still like the result!

By this point I had started using the toning shampoos/conditioners in my hair, and although I was seeing some change, it wasn’t quite as drastic as I really wanted.  I decided that I’d follow the direction of mixing some semi-permanent colour along with conditioner and see how that worked. Back at Sally’s I picked up some Beyond The Zone Color Jamz in “Purple Passion” along with some Manic Panic’s Virgin Snow toner.

I also picked up some Manic Panic Ultraviolet, and did a test comparing the Purple Passion plus conditioner, and the Manic Panic Ultraviolet plus conditioner with the Virgin Snow.

The Virgin Snow was ok, the Purple Passion was too plum-coloured for me, but the Ultraviolet was just right!

Colour + Conditioner

So once I had completed all of my tests, I finally mixed up (three) batches of the Ultraviolet plus a lot of conditioner until the mix was a pale purple, and started putting it on my hair!

The final effect  - white hair!

The final effect – white hair!

I left the mix on my hair for about two hours, and when I rinsed it out – I loved it! It took away a lot of the brassiness, and left my hair soft and smooth! I’ve been able to keep all the length and my hair doesn’t feel dried out or anything like that. (Though it’s definitely more fine and prone to feeling oily). On some strands there is a slight grey-tone because of the purple dye, and I know I’ll need to re-dye every now and again because the dye is only a semi-permanent, but I’m really happy. There are some strands at the back that still have more colour, so when I touch up the incoming roots, I’ll probably bleach them out as well, but other than that, I love it! It’s going to be a lot of upkeep, and it’s very dramatic. 🙂

So… if you’ve gone ‘white’ on purpose – what are your techniques and tips to share?

6 comments on “Purposefully white hair

  1. […] remember all of the products I’ve used, I figured I’d make up a short post as a follow up to my Purposefully White Hair post a while back. (And yep.. other than semi-regular trims, I haven’t had to cut my hair at all […]

  2. Heather says:

    Hi, thanks for all of your testing and sharing the results. I’m not trying to be white but trying to reduce the brassiness of my blonde dyed hair. I’ve tried a few of the products you have, and having run out of money, I need to make sure my next purchase is going to be worth it and you’ve helped me a great deal.

  3. Hey this is helping me so much !! ive been wondering what i needed to get grey/silver hair and the wella 050 looks like that will be it 😀 however can you please answer one question for me? i know you put the color of the hair in between the swatches but my computer lighting is a little weird and i cant tell if the extensions are platinum a little yellow or a lot yellow prior, i really want this to work on my hair but i have medium yellowish hair. will this work for me? thank you so much for your time

    • Dawn says:

      I ended up doing the Wella later on – and it’s GREAT – but, it doesn’t last nearly as long as some of the others. If I wanted to keep it consistent, I’d probably have to do it once every two weeks (I wash my hair about 3-4 times per week though, if you wash less frequently then you may have to do it less)
      The original extension hair I bought was pretty much the lightest blond they had – but I found on my own hair I had to bleach my hair even lighter still to get it really white/silver. If your hair is medium-yellow, I’d definitely suggest bleaching further to get it as close to white-blond as possible. Then the toner will cancel out the ‘blond’, leaving you with just ‘white’.
      It’s a VERY time-consuming hair colour, and although I love it, I haven’t kept it up. I just let the purples fade, then do them darker, then let them fade… etc. If I didn’t, I’d probably be dying my hair every 7-15 days, and I just don’t have time for that…..
      Please note, I am NOT a hair stylist, I don’t have ANY professional training.. I just like playing around. If you want to do it RIGHT – go to a professional. I can live with doing things wrong…

  4. […] I’d also picked up two new colour products. I thought I’d share them with you here, since my purposefully white hair  posts are some of the most-searched for posts on my […]

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