Hair Colour Transformation

From red to blonde... in 9 hours


By Amy Lawrenson

Take a look back through What ELLE Wears and you'll see that I get bored with my hair colour pretty frequently.

I used to be very blonde, then decided to back to (almost) my natural red colour (you can see it here) to give my hair a rest and to get it to grow. I was also brunette in between!

Longer hair (almost) achieved, it was time to go back blonde. Little did I know how long that transformation would take...


Apparently going from red to blonde is only slightly easier to do than taking someone from jet black to blonde. Hmmm. It's 9am and I'm sat in FOUR London, the hair colour specialists based on Conduit Street, London. Charlie Double, Four London Colour Director and co-founder, tells me it could take a tad longer than the 6 hours that was first predicted and calls in Jenny Richards, FOUR London Colour Protege, to help with the process.


You see FOUR London doesn’t use bleach, in fact it’s a dirty word in this salon. But, my hair needed stripping. Twice. The whole process takes longer but it’s kinder to my hair – very important since I want to preserve the length!

Step 1: On goes the first non-bleach colour remover at the basin. I’m wrapped in cling film (and what looks like a black bin liner) and sat under a heater. It’s a bit whiffy, but I’m told it gently, but effectively drawers the colour out.

Step 2: That’s rinsed off, my hair is shampooed twice and blow-dried. I’m a brighter, lighter red.


Step 3: Back to the basin for another lot of colour remover, wrapped in cling film and back under the heater. It’s a cold day so I’m thankful for the warmth and my cuppa.


Step 4: Step 2 is repeated. This time I’m a brighter, ginger shade.

Step 5: After four shampoos and almost as many coffees I’m taken upstairs for a change of scenery and for the next step in the process.

Step 6: Known in the hair industry as ‘padding out’ a barrier cream is applied to my ‘virgin’ roots, tufts of cotton wool protects them further before a high lift tint is applied to my mid-lengths. My ends came up pretty blonde just with the removers so these are left out.



I peruse the juice menu, specially created with hair-loving ingredients.


Step 7: More tint is applied to my hair while I sit under the heaters once again. The heat encourages the products to work more efficiently but the novelty of the extra warmth has well and truly worn off now.

Step 8: The tints are washed out and my hair is shampooed for the fifth time.

Step 9: My hair is blow-dried (again) but the high lift tints have left my hair a little yellow (as both Charlie and Jenny had predicted), so another tint is applied to my hair that is a little darker and ashier. This will give a good even base colour before moving onto the highlights.

I’m positioned back under the heater and order myself a Strength juice...

Step 10: The sixth shampoo of the day, and then another blow-dry. Now my hair is finally ready for the highlights.


Step 11: Foils are applied to the top of my hair around the crown - this will create creamy highlights to lift my blonde. I order another coffee while my hair develops.

Step 12: After sitting under the heater my hair is treated to its final wash and blow-dry of the day. Charlie even lightens my brows to match my new hair - which has never once happened to me in a salon before but makes so much sense!

It's 6.15pm and I'm ready to head out into the night. It was a little dark by then, so I took a picture of my hair yesterday at work - so please excuse my poor attempt at a blow-dry!

After nine whole hours (people have given birth in a shorter time frame) my hair is blonde. It’s a long process but the team were brilliant and kept me updated with what they were doing at every step.

The science that goes in to selecting and mixing just the right colours is an art form that has made me think twice about ever dying my own hair again!

And after all that washing, blow-drying, products and heat my hair feels the same as it did before. Charlie warned me my ends might feel a bit ‘tacky’ when wet for a week or so but if they do it’s only a marginal change – when dry my hair looks and feels in the same condition it did before. A small miracle.

Blonde hair, for me, is always a work in progress. I love my new hair but will be taking it that bit blonder next time. I’ve well and truly been bitten by the blonde bug...

Prices at FOUR London are quoted on initial consultation. Click here to visit the FOUR London website...

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