My Hair Coloring Journey: Soap Capping and Toning

No More Orange Please!

Orange…That is what I am dealing with when it comes to dying my asian hair; it’s full of red/orange brassiness underneath all that mysterious black. Any kind of chemical processing, on my hair will eventually expose brassy tones as a color job fades. So to cope, last spring, I decided to dye my hair to ash brown, but unfortunately it came out way too dark, almost black, but at least no orange! But as summer rolled around, I noticed it was a very flat and boring color. Ash colors are great, but on darker brunettes, the cool tones are just lost, and unnecessary. I decided then to warm up to a strawberry blondish.  But without bleaching first and using just a 30 volume peroxide for lift, I achieved reddish brown hair…not too bad, but slowly, as winter set upon me, and several shampoos after, I noticed rusty orange had showed up harshly and suddenly to ruin the party.

It’s hard to see in this photo, but the brassiness that is peeking out from under neath is kind of visible. My ends are darker because I did a reverse hombre a while ago…
My arsenal for color correction: Bleach powder, 20 vol peroxide, shampoo and conditioner. The Wella color 7A (ash) is for toning that orange after lightening…

I realized my hair turned rusty because without bleaching and lightening my hair first before coloring, the brassy tendency of my hair type would always be exposed in the end. My hair color had to start out light enough to support whatever color I was putting in. So I decided I would do a soap cap to correct it. “Soap capping” aka “bleach bathing” is a formula of bleach and developer then diluted by shampoo meant to be a gentler method of lightening hair. It’s great for removing previous color or lightening a couple of levels. There are articles online on how to do soap capping to lighten hair but the ratio I used was 1:1.5 lightener to shampoo, lathered it into my hair and put a developing cap on it. And it worked. I went from brassy dark brown hair to orange hair! I know, it’s contradictory to have orange hair, exactly what I didn’t want, but once it got to a true orange color (and not the same brassy orange tint I disliked), it was ready to have an ashy color put on top to cover it.

Yikes! this is how it looked after treating with a soap cap! It got rid of the previous color, and lifted my hair to a level 6.5, I am now ready for toning/color…

So to neutralize the orange, I picked up a color with a lot of blue tones…basically an ASHy dark blonde in a level 7 (even though I was a level 6.5, I didn’t want to go darker with a level 6) And voila…the results were pretty nice. I am now rocking a light brown, with no signs of orange, even though I am still on the warmer color side; it’s impossible to totally irradiate the orange, because black hair just has so much of it. But I still think it turned out as close as I could get it with the most gentle and simple techniques.

Yay…no more orange…just a neutral light brown all the way. It’s a pretty colour, but I am not done yet…more to come…

So to recap, soap capping is an effective way to achieve gentle hair lightening. When a developer/bleach mixture is diluted with shampoo, it spreads more evenly, strips pigment slower, more predictably, and is safe enough to do at home on your whole head. If it isn’t light enough, you can wait a day or two and then re-soap cap so that your hair is less stressed out with the process.

My Tips for Safe Lightening at home:

  1. Watch the lightening like a hawk under that cap: Things can change every 5 or so minutes, so to get the amount of lightening you want with little error, keep checking the color as it works. And to prevent frying your hair, don’t leave a soap cap/lightener on longer than 50 min.
  2. Choose the weakest method of lightening and repeat if necessary: That is, don’t be in a hurry to get to what you want…Bleach, even when diluted with shampoo is still a very powerful chemical capable of damage. My first soap cap lifted my hair 2.5 shades! And it was only in my hair for 35 min.! Had I used full on bleach, I am pretty sure my hair would have been fried or too light in some areas! So be careful and go slow.
  3. Do redo darker hair spots: Sometimes, depending on where the hair is on the head, or previous chemical processes in the hair, the lifting results vary. For example my ends didn’t lift enough…I had to go back and redo  the ends the next night. But because I used a gentler method, redoing lightening in just some areas will be less damaging.

So am I done? As if!! I am actually aiming for a pinkish brown color. Keep on reading for my part 2 where I will be tinting my light brown hair with a pastel pink semi permanent…

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