It takes the right combination of products and a not-very-tricky trick.
I LIKED Brayden's hair all yellow and screwy-looking. I think it looks better down, too, but he won't wear it that way. YOU'RE HERE TO LEARN AND I AM AN INTERNET BEAUTY EXPERT, YOU KREJ.
But alas, I treat my interns well and since white's what he wanted, white's what he's going to get. Thank god dude for the comment section, wherein Alle recommended Wella's T18 Lightest Ash Blonde toner, which was then seconded by bottle-blonde Kara. Phew, that took, like, a lot of thinking out of the equation and also my afternoon, so THANK YOU!
We picked two bottles of that up, along with another packet of bleach and a small bottle of the 30 volume toner that we used previously. I went in with more of a game plan this time--well, until it came to applying the toner, but we'll get to that--and wanted to start with the under-sections that didn't lighten as much as I'd like. (This is, after all, about ME. I'm the one who has to look at dude all the time.)
So I mixed a leftover half packet of powder bleach in with some of the developer, to make a paste that had the consistency of store-bought icing. I then applied the bleach to just the darker sections a la balayage. That's if you take balayage at it's most very literal interpretation, which is freehand hair-painting. This was nothing like you'd pay to have done, and some people drop mad dough for legit balayage. All I got was a pack of Skittles and peanut M&M's, when I ASKED FOR PEANUT BUTTER. He was then fired and immediately rehired on a conditional basis, whatever I think that means.
I then mixed another packet of powder bleach with more than the recommended two ounces of developer so that the consistency was a bit less viscous and more spreadable. Think room temperature squeeze butter for hair.
After letting the darker areas lighten for about 15 minutes, I applied the second round of bleach all over, letting it set for another 15.
This got us a pretty uniform lift. Some darker sections from underneath still showed through a little, but this made the end result appear more natural. You'll see.
It was around this time that things got a little heated. Maybe it was when I suggested a lil chemical peel, or that we do masque packets on the plane tomorrow, or that I blow out his hair... I can't remember. Whatever it was, he ended up shouting, "HEY, I'M NOT JUST, LIKE, YOUR LITTLE PLAY THING, OK?"
He rinsed out the bleach and shampooed in the shower--don't worry I told him to rinse back AWAY from his face so that he didn't get any little bleachies in his little eyesies.
His hair looked like straight-up Ramen at this point. Again, I'm a fan of the imperfect bleached yellow on dudes. It feels very punk, and punk is sexy. White's the word, though, so toner came next. I decided to take this in halves; he has too much hair to get the color on in one go-round. I mixed one bottle of the toner with twice as much developer as directed, and painted it on, starting at the roots.
So before this, I couldn't figure out why he hadn't felt any inkling of pain. We've all seen that ANTM episode where chick straight-up BAWLED while getting her hair platinum-ed, right? Brayden hadn't cried at this point, so I was worried I was doing something wrong.
No. Toner. Toner is what hurts.
"It's like, it's like... OK, OK, Annie, let's--oh my god. Can you rinse it out? Just get it off my neck, JUST OFF MY NECK."
I mean, I was concerned, sure. But it made sense. I was kind of expecting this. "OK, honey! I'll get to it!" I still had to get it on the lengths, so he needed to chill.
"It's OK... it's OK now I think. You know when something starts hurting so bad that you can't really feel it anymore? It's way worse than getting a tattoo. It feels like popsicles are shooting out of my brain."
When the toner started turning purple, about two minutes after applying, I realized that I had absolutely no clue how long to leave it on. Sure, the package said "up to" 30 minutes, but I was worried that leaving it on any longer than the five that I let it develop would result in purple hair.
I Googled "platinum blonde toner" like real quick and some dude avatar looking like my junior high assistant principal with brown hair and a goatee answered a Yahoo questions post recommending "no more than five minutes."
So I shoved intern's head into the sink and rinsed. I decided that since he was being such a little bitch baby about the first section, that we'd start with applying the toner to the ends on the other side, and work our way up to the roots.
For whatever reason the second side still looked a little yellow to me, so after rinsing the entire head, I mixed about a tablespoon of the toner in with some SUPER DREAMY CREAMY Redken Curvaceous Curl Dive deep conditioner and smoothed it into the left side to try to cut out the yellow some more. He said that this mix only burned a little so I wasn't worried about leaving it on too long, you know?
Then I finished applying just the deep conditioner to the rest of this hair and we let this set for another 20 minutes.
We rinsed to this:
Toner is seriously, like, beauty product magic. My sense of accomplishment skyrocketed when he told me, "THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I WANTED." I hope she doesn't read the site, but dude said it looked better than when his PROFESSIONAL HAIRSTYLIST friend did it before. She also didn't do his roots, because she wanted it to look more natural.
Also, somebody tell him that his ends won't be all straight and stringy like that if he'd just let his hair dry naturally and NOT put it in braids immediately upon exiting the shower.
Although, the white does look pretty amazing braided. The slightly darker sections peeking through a little give his hair way more dimension than if it were all stuffed-animal-filling white.
Also: texture. It's basically the same! Yes, his hair is noticeably drier. But it honestly doesn't feel very different when wet as mine did after getting a full head of highlight$$$. It curls the same and he didn't experience any breakage or hair loss in the shower. Remember though, his hair is SO COARSE and never undergoes any heat styling or even shampooing.
This technique on hair with less natural texture would probably be a disaster--the kinky curls help disguise any unevenness, but like I said, I feel like the unevenness looks nicer on him than a uniform white. Then again, I wouldn't have to use the "bleach a little here, bleach a little there, bleach again, OMFG WUT IS THIS TONER DOING?" technique on hair with a more relaxed texture. I'd definitely take a more planned, scientific approach on a different head of hair.
All in all, I'm pretty satisfied with myself! Thanks for all of your tips and suggestions yesterday: teamwerq.
And now for a moment of silence in remembrance of the ginge.