Heads Up: You Can Now Lighten Your Hair In The Shower

Playing with your hair color at home can be a terrifying ordeal: An unfortunate Sun-In experience or a bad box dye job can scar you for life. But technology has come a long way since many of us sprayed peroxide into our strands by the pool with orange-y results — and John Frieda is aiming to win back your faith in DIY-lightening.
This January, the company is launching two in-shower treatments that will lighten your hair by up to one shade, and one formula that will darken your locks one or more shades, plus shampoo and conditioners to accompany them. The details: One deposits brown color to make hair darker, and the other two have peroxide in them to lighten strands. (Thanks to the dual-pump applicator of the treatments, you simply mix the developer and activator in your hand and smooth the foamy mixture through your hair like shampoo — then rinse after five minutes.) They'll be sold in drugstores and mass retailers for under $10 a pop this January.

To get all the details, we consulted hairstylist and spokesperson for John Frieda, Harry Josh, who you probably already know from his celebrity clients (Gisele's waves, all his), as well as his eponymous line of hair tools. But first, we asked a few unaffiliated celeb colorists for their take.

Of course, broaching the subject of at-home hair-lightening with pros is like walking into a hornet's nest. One colorist, who preferred to remain anonymous, replied via email: "I say play, experiment, create, and do whatever you feel like, as long as you're willing to pay the consequences...meaning time and money for a professional hair colorist to repair your post-peroxide copper blonde." (Ouch. Tell us how you really feel.) Needless to say, it's a heated topic. That aside, Josh assures us that, if used properly, you can expect results that you'll be happy with — and won't be anywhere near your middle school Sun-In experience.
R29: First things first, how did this product come about?
Harry Josh: "Basically every year John Frieda comes to me and asks 'What are you seeing that is going on, and what do you think people want next?' Of course, my requests are nearly impossible, but technology is becoming quite advanced so they, somehow, can [create what I ask for].

For this, I realized that 'color tweaking' is something that a lot of my clients need and can't do at home. This launch is really about a few products that bridge the hair appointment gap so you can wait just a little bit longer before going into the salon. We're talking about low peroxide hair treatments that lighten your hair just one level. It's subtle and soft."

R29: What are the best practices for using these lighteners?
H.J.: "Once a month, at most, for five to 10 minutes in the shower. The treatment will truly lift your hair up one level, and there isn't a real fear because it's quite mild, so you're not really getting into that scary category. The worst case is that it will do very little."

R29: Can it work on anyone? What if your hair is color treated?
H.J.: "[The lighteners] can work on anyone except [those with] chemically relaxed or fried hair; anyone with bleached-out locks, like Gwen Stefani-blonde shouldn't use it. [They're] really designed for medium brown to dirty blonde hair; anyone with dark brown hair or black hair, it's not going to do anything. The blonde lightener is really designed for light brown to dirty blonde hair, naturally or with highlights. [It's for the girl whose] roots are coming in, but she can't get into the salon; using this treatment once will soften her root line.

The texture of your hair is indicative, too. I found that those with fine hair seemed to get more results than those with thick hair."

R29: What's your best advice for using these?
H.J.: "Follow the directions! When you get into trouble is when you're doing it too often, or leaving it on too long. But since the visibly deeper one is actually depositing color, you can use it more often and for longer [than the lightening formula]. It adds shine and the more you use it, the deeper your hair will look. You're only going to be getting into problems and weird tones [with the lighteners] if you use [them] for longer than five minutes."

What do you think? Would you try these? Let us know in the comments below.

John Frieda Brilliant Brunette Visibly Brighter In-Shower Lightening Treatment, $8.99, available for a limited time at Target now (and at drugstores nationwide in January 2016).

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