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Budget Beauty: At-home hair lightening

June 6th 2014 / Katie Robertson Google+ Katie Robertson

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Fancy a bit of blonde ambition this summer? If you know which products to use, it doesn't need to cost the earth

With summer well on the way, it’s the time of year when we want to add a little bit of sunshine into our style and liven up our locks. The only problem is, getting your hair lightened professionally is a pretty pricey commitment and, in my own flaxen-haired opinion, not a necessary one. With the range of jellies, dyes and lifting products now available, it’s never been easier to safely and successfully highlight your hair from the comfort of your own bathroom.

However, playing with hair colour at home comes with its fair share of precautions and necessary aftercare steps. Here are a couple of things to look out for:

‘When you lighten your hair, you strip the pigment and its lubricating outer layer of lipids - so make sure to use a deep conditioning mask once or twice a week as part of your hair routine’, says expert colourist Louise Galvin. The better the condition of your hair, the longer the colour will last. If possible, also try to avoid excessive chlorine and sun exposure in the immediate days after colouring as these tend to dry out your hair which can lead to premature fading and brittle ends. Also, try to be mindful of your complexion and skin tone. As a rough guide Louise recommends opting for shades that are a maximum of two to three times lighter than your natural colour.

So, after searching high and low here’s the round-up of the best budget at-home hair lightening kits that will have you channeling your inner Marilyn in no time.

Lee Stafford Sunkissed Lightening Spray, £7.99

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If there’s one hair trend that’s really managed to make its mark and remain a la mode in spite of evolving styles, it’s ombre. Making a fashionable comeback each season, this grunge-chic trend has graced everyone from Sarah Jessica-Parker and Rachel Bilson, to Khloe Kardashian and Mila Kunis.

Colouring the tips of your hair with a hair dye, unless you’re a professional, can often lead to colour blocking - not good. However, lightening sprays such as this one from Lee Stafford are a really simple and effective way to gradually lighten the ends in a naturally progressive way. Simply spritz onto the lower sections of the hair and using either a comb or your fingertips massage the product to ensure an even distribution. You’ll start to see the lightening after three to four uses, but make sure you leave a couple of days gap in between application as otherwise it can make your hair a little sticky.

Garnier Nutrisse Radiant Blonde Collection Hair Dyes, £5.49

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Dying your whole head of hair is a risky business, especially when going lighter as you can run in to all sorts of brassy coloured problems - for that reason I would suggest only opting for this method if you’re already a dark shade of blonde to avoid any, shall we say, copper crises.

Available in five different shades ranging from golden honey to platinum blonde, these Garnier dyes are by far the best. Enriched with fruit oils, they work to hydrate and nourish the hair leaving you with a silky soft and vibrant do. The creamy, non-drip formula also helps avoid the all too frequent carpet stains, whilst the light and fruity fragrance leaves you smelling as fresh as you look.

Tigi Bed Head Dumb Blonde Purple Toning Shampoo, £13.96

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I know what you’re all thinking - why is she recommending a product that looks like Barney the Dinosaurs vomit? My first thought too - but I discovered this toning shampoo a few months ago and now I’m totally and completely in love with it.

Specially formulated using purple toners, this shampoo works to banish brassiness and brighten blonde hair. Its super conditioning and a great product for serial hair dyers who need to neutralise copper tones or even for those who simply fancy a gradual all over brightener - a non-committal pick-me-up if you like. Use two or three times a week and leave in for 10 mins.

Lush Marilyn Hair Treatment, £9.50

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Named after the original blonde bombshell herself, this pot of au naturel goodness is ideal for anyone looking to reach their full platinum potential. As well as perfect for summer this look is mega on trend this season with bleach blondes being shown at a number of A/W 14 shows including Ralph Lauren and Topshop Unique.

This moisturising hair mask contains an army of natural lighteners and brighteners including lemon, chamomile and saffron infusions, plus essential oils to gently illuminate fair hair over time. Added linseed mucilage helps to soften and moisturise whilst olive oil works to strengthen the hair shaft helping to prevent brittle breakages. Apply straight onto dry hair and leave for 20 to 30 minutes. Note - don’t be afraid to apply liberally - I used near enough the entire pot in one go and was left with the perfect shade of white blonde tones.

A Squeeze Of Lemon, 75p

That’s right, don’t laugh - it’s an age old method previously used as far back as Ancient Greece (and most of us during our teenage years) to bring out your hair’s natural highlights.

Add a couple of squeezes to water, spritz in the desired areas and expose to sunlight. How does it work I hear you scoff? Well, lemon juice is a citric acid and when it heats up in the sun, it opens up the cuticle and the pigment is lifted out of the hair causing it to lighten. Now, I realise that sun is a rather unrealistic expectation for England, so this method is perhaps best saved for when holidaying abroad - a great way of extending your sunkissed highlights. You can even add a little orange juice into the mixture for a more golden glow.

L’Oreal Casting Sunkiss Jelly, £5.99

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Subtle enough to not look streaky but bold enough to show gradual glimmer and glow, this Casting Sunkiss Jelly from L’Oreal Paris is perfect for creating a beautiful balayage effect. Helping to create depth and dimension to hair this product was probably my favourite for its gloriously sunkissed finish.

Available in two strengths, this jelly is enriched with camellia oil to soothe and soften hair whilst the fruity fragrance leaves your hair feeling refreshed and revived. I saw immediate results after the first use so I’d recommend applying no more than twice a week. Massage on to wet or dry hair and blow dry until clean - with no rinsing needed you’re just a hop, skip and a jump away from the ultimate California girl glow.

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