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It doesn't matter if you have black hair naturally or if you dyed it to get it that way. If you're looking to change your coif color, start by stripping the color out of your hair. This involves a bleaching process, which literally takes the pigment out of your hair -- comparable to how bleach removes those awful tomato stains from your favorite white shirts -- leaving it a pale yellow tone. After that, you can dye your hair any color you want, as long as you follow the proper method.
The first step to changing your black hair color to any other color is bleaching. A 40-volume strength peroxide -- bleach -- is the strongest you can use and for that reason is typically used to achieve a blond shade. Oftentimes it takes two entire bleaching processes to reach a blond stage from black, because of how much color must get lifted off your hair. Unless you like the look of carrot-orange or banana-yellow locks, don't rinse your hair out until it reaches the pale blond stage.
The next shade up from black, a dark brown color can typically be achieved with 20-volume peroxide, or 30-volume to get from black to a light or ash brown. Regardless of your hair type or texture, it shouldn't take more than 20 minutes to reach a deep chocolate or medium brown color, or 25 for lighter brown tones.
To transform your ebony hair to a vibrant red shade, a 30-volume peroxide is typically used to lighten your dark hair to this stage. Coat your hair with the bleach mixture and allow it to soak into your strands to a red stage, about 25 to 30 minutes from a black color, on average. It's OK if you see orange-colored spots you'd rather not have there; you can get rid of those with toner afterward.
No matter what instructions you read or even if you've lightened your hair before, it's always crucial to do a strand test beforehand. To do this, you simply cut off a small section of hair and coloring only this hair instead of all your hair at once. This allows you to see the results on just a bit of your hair instead of allover -- frightening, right? -- in case you make a mistake with your hair lightener and need to adjust the mixture accordingly.
If your color doesn't turn out how you wanted -- if you see any unwanted brassy or orangish hues-- you can add a color after lightening to achieve the desired hue. A toner works, or a semi-permanent dye is also an ideal choice; the ammonia and peroxide-free product isn't as damaging on your hair, making it safer to use after just putting your hair through such a harsh, toxic process.
No matter what color you change your hair to, the initial stripping process to remove the black color is seriously damaging to your strands. The chemicals in the bleach suck the moisture out of your hair, leaving it feeling dry and brittle. To help this, use a deep conditioning treatment on your hair after your dye job to restore some of that lost moisture. Stick with color-safe hair products, which are gentler and less drying on your color-treated hair.