How to Safely Go From Dark Brown to Light Brown Hair at Home

Glam Girl Gabi
by Glam Girl Gabi
12 Materials
2 Hours

If you’ve got dark hair and want to lighten up and add blonde highlights, here is the tutorial for you! I’ll show you how to go from dark brown to light brown hair at home, with some tips to help you get the best results!

My hair has level 3 (very dark) and some level 7 (dark blonde) and I want to add some lightness all around for a JLo-inspired look.

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Tools and materials:

  • 30 volume developer
  • Lightening or bleach powder
  • Hair repair product (like Olaplex)
  • Toner
  • Demi hair color a bit lighter than the natural color
  • Small whisk
  • Mixing bowl
  • Rattail comb
  • Cut foils
  • Hair color painting brush
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner


When you use a lightener the higher the level of a developer like 30 to 40 volume can do a lot of damage to your hair. Your hair can melt or break off so please be careful! Do a patch test if you’re unsure.

Make sure to wear old clothes you don’t mind ruining and apply the bleach in a well-ventilated area. If your skin is sensitive, you may want to wear gloves.

Sectioning the hair

1. Section the hair

Divide and part the hair.

Mixing the bleach and developer together

2. Mix

Mix the amounts of bleach and developer as directed on the packaging with a small whisk in a bowl.

Lightening hair

3. Start applying

Start with the area that is the darkest or where you want the lightest effect first, but leave a subtle bit of darkness at the front.

Use the rattail comb to create a weave with the hair. Place the foil at the base of the strands to bleach and paint the color on the hair, supporting the foil beneath it. Tuck the foil upward to completely encase the hair.

How to lighten hair at home

Weave the hair consistently and finely. Once the first few layers are done in the front, start the sides. Here, use a diagonal approach to softly frame the face. 

How to lighten dark hair

Do both sides. Keep alternating the sides so they process evenly.

How to lighten hair

Make sure the areas of the head are processing at the same speed so the level of lightness is equal and balanced. 

How to lighten hair without damage

Once the front of the face has about 2 to 3 levels, do the sides of the head horizontally going upwards towards the middle of the head. Keep alternating by doing one side and then the other.

Lightening the back of the hair

When it’s time for the back, the weave doesn’t have to be that fine. It can be a bit thicker because there is a lot more movement in the back of the hair.

Backcombing hair to soften the section

It is very challenging because you can’t see what you’re doing. I backcomb my hair in that section to soften any mistakes.

Lightening hair at home

Keep adding foils working towards the center. Once all the foils are done, rinse out the bowl and hair paintbrush.

Leaving the foils on to process the lightener

4. Process the lightener

The color depends on your starting color, the product you’re using, the volume of the developer, how long the bleach is left on, and if your hair has been bleached before. 

Keep the foils on for about 35-45 minutes. Keep checking the front panel that was done first to avoid over-processing. If you’re doing this, it may take less time depending on your hair.

Washing hair after lightening

5. Wash the hair

Once the color has been processed, remove and discard all the foils. Shampoo the hair and lightly towel dry it.

How to tone hair at home

6. Tone the hair

Whenever you add bleach to dark hair, it usually goes warm, so it’s important to control the orange, but without making it look gray. Keep the beige tone with a B color, but also deposit an ash color in a blue tone to control the brassiness.

Here, you will paint over the highlights in a demi color and blend the highlights into the roots so there’s no harsh demarcation in the hair.

Painting on the areas that look brassy

Place the hair dye color that is a bit lighter than the natural base color in the bowl. Use the hair paintbrush to paint on the areas that are brassy. 

Painting the toner onto the hair

Rinse the bowl and brush. Place the toner into the bowl and paint the hair with the toner.

This process is called a shadow root. Shadow root gives a lived-in, ultra-modern vibe to the hair and blends any lightener mistakes. It also softens the looks of the highlights.

Process the hair for 15 minutes or until the brassiness disappears.

7. Rinse and condition hair

Rinse the hair thoroughly and condition it with a hair repair product.

Blow dry hair

8. Dry hair

Blow-dry the hair for extra volume to show off the color! For the best results, read my tutorial on How Best to Blow Dry Short, Layered Hair With a Round Brush.

Dark brown to light brown hair at home

Dark brown to light brown hair at home tutorial

This gorgeous look is worth it! Though it may be challenging to lighten dark hair at home, it can be done. Please let me know in the comments if you found this tutorial helpful and if you lightened your hair! 

Suggested materials:
  • 30 volume developer
  • Lightening or bleach powder
  • Hair repair product (like Olaplex)
See all materials

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Join the conversation
2 of 3 comments
  • Dmotan Dmotan on Sep 27, 2022

    I agree 100%. I would leave this in the hands of the professional.

    Unfortunately, my stylist put much too strong bleaching agent on my hair and I have lost about 40% of my hair. I thought it was strange when she said I didn't need to come back even though I am going all white and we had talked about how much time it would take to do this but I think she saw what was in the sink and didn't want to tell me what happened.

    I am being very gentle with my hair and don't mess with it a lot except for putting on avocado oil and conditioner.

  • Marlene Marlene on Oct 28, 2022

    I also agree.. Leave this to the professionals! I've had professionals screw up my hair, n call over other beauticians n tell me they all love it, n it's one big fat lie!!!! They'll never c me again!!!!! Just because u have that title "Beautician" under ur name, it doesn't mean u know what ur doing period!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    But that aside, ur hair turned out Gorgeous!!!!!!!!!!!🤩