How to lighten dark brown hair with box dye?

dye without developer

For many years, I thought that the only solution for lightening my dark brown hair was to fall into the claws of bleaching. And if something was really sure it’s that I would never expose my hair to such a dangerous process.


Since my hair was virgin, meaning, I’ve never summitted my hair to any type of chemical treatment be it straightening, perms or dyes, I decided to research if it was possible to lighten my brown hair with boxed dye.

To my surprise, I had found the solution. Effectively, I could change the color of my hair using boxed dye, but I could only lighten it two or three tones.


I wasn’t interested it being blonde. I simply wanted to lighten my dark hair to give it a little more life and light.

Now, before proceeding to dye my hair to lighten it, I informed myself well because there are some basic rules to dye your hair and you don’t need to be a professional to understand them.

They are rules that, when applied, can make the experience of lightening your dark hair much easier, preventing your hair from getting stripped and your pockets too.


In the box, you will find two fundamental elements: the dye itself and the developer, which you should mix to apply it in your hair.

The developer is a chemical substance that eliminates your natural color so that the new color can be introduced in the cortex of the hair where the color molecules live to transform them.


Another important thing to lighten your hair is to decide between using a semi-permanent or permanent dye.

Permanent dyes are for people that:

  • Are ready to live with a new color for at least six months
  • Will cover the growth of their roots every twenty days
  • Know that they will have to spend some extra bucks on hair care


Semi-permanent dyes are for you if:

  • You aren’t very sure if the result you’ll get you will like
  • You want more of a color change than just one tone.


Very well. I had already decided that I was going to use a permanent dye. All I had to do was get to work.

Do you want to know what results I got?


I’ll tell you, but first, let me tell you:

  • How to prepare your hair to lighten it
  • Necessary materials
  • Step by step to lighten your hair with boxed dye
  • After care to maintain your color


Are you ready for a total transformation?


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How to prepare your hair to lighten it

The key to getting a great, new color in your hair is being sure that it is in good condition.

Because healthy hair will take and maintain your hair vibrant for longer, so treat it gently, use adequate styling products and shampoos and apply a deep nourishing hair treatment at least once a month.

Have you ever heard of coconut oil? No?

What world have you been living in?


Coconut oil is your new best friend. At least three days before the coloring, apply an overnight treatment with coconut oil to condition and prepare your hair so that it gets a new color without greater risks to your hair.


 I chose not to wash my hair the day before coloring, so that the natural oils the scalp produces would act as a defensive barrier against the chemicals in the dye.  

If you can’t live without washing your hair for a day, in the Lord’s vineyard there’s a little bit of everything, use a clarifying shampoo to get rid of the products that accumulated in the hair and to assure that it is really clean.

And avoid conditioner.


At this point, I was pretty nervous, more so because I was afraid of how the new color would look.

I decided to lighten it only two tones so that it stayed in harmoney with the color of my skin, and so the change wouldn’t be so dramatic.


One last recommendation. If you have very long hair, I recommend that you buy two boxes of dye to be able to safely dye all your hair.

Now, let’s prepare the elements to proceed with lightening our hair. Are you following me?


Materials needed

Just like with a happy meal box from the great M of hamburgers, your little box of dye is also a happy box, because it will provide all the necessary materials.

However, I was extremely cautious, and I added some additional elements.

Do you want to know what they were?


  • An old t-shirt to protect my clothes and my shoulders from any involuntary spillage of the dye
  • A brush
  • A pair of gloves, generally they come in the box
  • A plastic bowl
  • A shower cap


Now that we’ve gotten all the ingredients together, let’s move on to the application.


Step by step to lighten your hair with boxed dye

I followed the instructions on the box of dye word for word, even though I have to admit, I preferred to do the developer-dye mixture in a plastic bowl and use a brush for the application.

For me, it seemed like a better way to be able to distribute the product uniformly without missing any sections of my hair.

After all, I didn’t want to end up looking like a zebra.


Let’s go to the step by step.

  • Put on your old tshirt and gloves to protect your clothes and your skin.
  • Around your temples, behind your ears, and at the base of your head apply a bit of Vaseline. That way, your skin won’t be stained by the dye.
  • Mix in the plastic bowl the two components of the dye, being sure to mix them together well.
  • Divide your hair into sections to work better with the color.


Most professionals divide the hair in four parts: down the middle and then from ear to ear at the crown. First, dye the front sections because they are most visible, so you will need the complete processing time.

  • Always start at the roots when you dye your whole hair a different color because this area will need more time to develop the color.
  • Now, it’s time to wait for the miracle. Generally, the instructions recommend that you wait 35 to 40 minutes.
  • I waited thirty-five minutes and after, I proceeded to rinse.


 I recommend that you use cold water to rinse out the dye residue because hot water will strip out the pigments.  

The boxed dyes tend to come with a product to wash your hair after dyeing.

If this is the case, take advantage of the product, since those tend to be more gentle on the hair.


When my hair dried, I let it dry naturally, the result was amazing.

The dye had lightened my dark hair two tones, and it had ended up even and most importantly, it looked good with my features.

Finally, I had new light in my hair and I was more than happy.


Twenty days have passed since I lightened my hair and it looks fantastic, but I should tell you that of course, I used some extra care so that the color would look radiant.


Aftercare to maintain the color

After lightening your hair, I recommend that you wait at least 48 hours to wash it. That way, the dye will have time to settle in your hair fibers.

Do you think you can keep using the same shampoo you always do?


No. I recommend that you use shampoos and conditioners specifically designed for dyed hair since they will retain the color.

Also, I bought a shampoo with color that brings out the color of the dye and I alternate it with shampoo for dyed hair.


I also discovered that if I do a weekly hydrating treatment, the color pops more and it looks more vibrant.

Are you thinking of lightening your hair? Are you not totally sure because you don’t know what dye to use?

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