As we emerge from Lockdown 2, and crawl towards its unkindly sequel: Confusing Tiers, I feel a duty towards my girls, gays and theys driving home to their Tier 3 (god tier?) destinations. Already clipping back the debris of an ill-advised fringe or googling how long does it take to grow out a buzzcut, they will have been warned against performing another self-administered ANTM makeover, but come December 14, and this sorry lot will be fervently rinsing the Superdrug website of all its at-home bleach kits. For entirely selfish reasons – I cannot bear to receive another text that reads IZZIE, WHAT IS TONER?! – and because a girl once told me I ‘toned like a goddess’, I’m setting down once and for all a text that will reshape the literary canon, that will become absorbed into the national curriculum, a text that will eradicate the humble hairdresser: The Glover Guide To Perfectly Bleached Hair.
Much like The Scouts, the at-home Bleacher must always be prepared.
Much like The Scouts, the at-home Bleacher must always be prepared. This means in the week preceding your Final Transformation you must watch as many of Brad Mondo’s Hairdresser Reacts to Bleaching Fails as physically possible. Not only do they contain Brad Mondo’s excellent words of wisdom, they also go beyond the simply successful tutorial video by demonstrating all the traps that the hair novice (you) could possibly stumble blindly into. Common mistakes include: trying to lather bleach like shampoo, not buying enough bleach, not bleaching for long enough, bleaching for too long, and, the classic, trying to bleach your hair four times in one evening. Needless to say, do not copy these people but, rather, treat them like the tragic hero – suffering so that future generations of Bleachers do not have to.
Next, also like The Scouts, you’ll need to gather your tools. Obvious purchases include:
– Lightening powder (bleach) – I recommend Jerome Russell’s High Lift Powder Bleach.
– 30 Vol Developer – Again, Jerome Russell’s Medium Lift Cream Peroxide is preferred. And make sure it’s 30 vol and not 40; 40 vol will destroy your hair, even if its really dark. For super dark hair, just bleach it with 30 vol developer once or twice more, leaving a few days in between each bleaching session.
– TONER. Toner is a godly essence. It is the only modern form of ambrosia and one of the holiest substances known to man. Were I in a tyrannical or monarchical position, my first and only act would be to make it illegal to bleach ones hair oneself without completing a comprehension test on the values of toner. It will save you from the perils of orange and yellow, and I urge you not to panic when bleaching your hair until you have applied this nectar of the Gods. Once again, Jerome Russell’s Maximum Blonde Toner in atomic or platinum blonde is great. But Knight&Wilson’s Colour Freedom White Blonde Toner really steals the show for being far bigger and less drying.
– A tinting brush (or several), a mixing bowl, and hair bands/plastic clips, for sectioning.
For the aftercare, you can go as fancy as you like. You can raid the spoils of Olaplex and its exhaustive nourishing collection and break the bank in the process. Or you can keep it simple (read: cheap) and cop Provoke’s Touch of Silver Brightening Shampooand pair it with the endlessly fantastic and restorative Knight&Wilson PurePlex Bond Reconstructing Conditioner.
Now for a step that, unfortunately, is not at all like The Scouts: The Bleaching Process. Assemble your pals, ensure that Sufjan Stevens and/or Phoebe Bridgers are intoning sweetly from a Bluetooth speaker or a phone in a cup and section your hair into four parts, dividing at the ears and down the middle of the back. Bleach should be applied to thin strands of hair, starting with one section, and not touching the roots until the hair has been developing for at least twenty minutes. For a whole head of hair, it’s best to complete one or two sections, applying the bleach to the ends, letting it develop for a while, then going back into the roots and letting it all develop together for a max. 45 minutes, before washing that out, and moving on to the next sections. You should also get your friend/mum to do the back and check your hair over before you start letting it develop for any spots you’ve missed. I like to work through my hair like a book, starting at top, doing a thin, page-like section, then pressing it over to the other side and laying the next piece over that one. According to Brad Mondo, my guru and only source of information, bleach should be applied so that it sits toothpaste-thick on the hair, and it should never, ever, be lathered.
Bleaching is an equal part technical to vibe-based process, so before you apply that first toothpaste-thick dollop onto your thin, virgin strands, you must utter a prayer to the guardians of y2k Depop and those scary sixteen-year-olds on TikTok. Your hair is in their hands now.