Have you heard your stylist talking about pre-lighteners recently? If you’re not entirely sure what they’re on about, this post is for you. We asked Clare Lodge, Head of Colour at Paul Edmonds London hair and beauty salons, to give us the lowdown on pre-lighteners and tell us all we need to know about going lighter.
What does pre-lighten mean?
Pre-lightening is the new, professional term for what we used to refer to as ‘bleaching’. It is the process of removing natural hair colour in order to lighten colour all over and is usually followed with a glaze for blonde hair or a colour change (such as silver or pastels).
If you’re looking for that all-over ice-white effect (think Tilda Swinton or Michelle Williams, for example), or want a complete hair colour change to a shade lighter or brighter than your own, your stylist will apply a pre-lightener as a first step to achieving the look you’re going for.
Pre-lighteners are rarely used on their own without a second colour step, toner and glaze, as the resulting effect is a sickly, dull yellow. This can be great for film and TV work –Malfoy’s character in the Harry Potter films is a good example – but it’s not a look that suits the majority of us.
Is a pre-lightener right for my hair?
Pre-lightener works well on natural hair colours ranging from mid-brown to blonde. After one treatment, your stylist should be able to progress to the next stage of colour – whether that is a toner for blonde hair or a complete colour change.
If your hair is darker than mid-brown and you want to go much lighter, you may need more than one pre-lightener treatment. Whilst short hair may cope with two attempts in quick succession, repeated treatments can cause damage to longer hair so you will need a rest period in between. This doesn’t mean you’ll leave the salon with a half-finished look, though! Trust your stylist and let them work their magic – your colour change may not be instant, but they’ll make sure your hair looks fabulous throughout the entire process.
We also use pre-lighteners to gently lighten dark brown or black hair by a few shades, without causing damage. As with lighter hair, a second stage of colour is then added over the top.
If you have a particular colour effect in mind, book a consultation with a hair colour technician at a Paul Edmonds London salon. They are experts in state-of-the-art hair colour techniques and will advise the best route to achieving the look you desire.
Is pre-lightener bad for my hair?
The pre-lightener products we use now are very different from the harsh chemicals of years ago. They are far gentler and kinder to hair, with ingredients like beeswax and conditioners to reduce damage.
We can also add in supplementary treatments like Smartbond, L’Oreal’s answer to Olaplex. Smartbond is designed to strengthen the internal structure of hair to protect it during the lightening process and prevent breakage.
How long do the effects of a pre-lightener last?
Significant colour changes and lightening involve a commitment to regular maintenance appointments.
Roots will start to show after four weeks, or after six weeks on fairer hair. At this point, we can repeat the pre-lightening process on your roots or, if you’d like to grow it out, use highlights to hide them.
Which after-care products do you recommend to use at home?
By using the right combination of shampoos, conditioners and treatments at home you can keep your locks in good condition and maximise your new hair colour.
Shu Uemura products are a great place to start. I recommend the Shu Uemura Urban Moisture range for adding moisture and protecting hair from environmental aggressors like UV, pollution and oxidisation, which can cause yellowing, discolouration and dulling. Using this shampoo, conditioner, serum and hair masque regularly will keep blonde hair clean and cool.
If you find your hair colour does start to discolour or dull, your colourist can recommend products that will prolong its intensity. Try Shu Uemura Color Lustre Blond Froid (Cool Blonde) to reduce unwanted warmth and restore platinum tones, or Kerastase Blond Absolu to illuminate your colour and remove dulling agents.