Lightening Back To Blonde

Young girl with long brown hair
Photo: Valen Dinka/Shutterstock
Q: Okay, my 11-year-old daughter has (had) beautiful blonde hair. It's almost platinum blonde. She decided to color it a very dark brown and now wants to return to her blonde. We do not want to wait for it to grow out and have seen people that go from dark to light in a matter of days.
What can we do to get it blonde again? I do not want to damage her hair, but the dark is too dark on her skin tone and it just doesn't look right. Also, she has probably colored it about 5 times, total. I took her to a salon, and they told her it would take a year of treatments to get it back to blonde. Isn't there another option? Thank you.

A: Permanent hair color processes deposit color molecules into the hair shaft in order to alter the hair color. Generally speaking, the darker the hair color being applied, the more color molecules the process adds to the hair.
Lightening the hair uses the reverse of this process. The hair is lightened by dispersing the color molecules that are present in the hair shaft. The lighter you want the hair to be, the more these color molecules have to be dispersed.
By the very nature of the lightening process, dispersing these color molecules comes at a cost to the overall health and condition of the hair. This is why people are encouraged not to try to lighten the hair too far above the hair's natural level of lightness. This is also why good stylists and salons prefer to take the hair to dramatic lightness levels in stages. You need to be careful not to overstress or damage the hair.
Some people do report having good success using permanent color removers (such as Colorfix). These kits are designed to gently remove the permanent hair color from the hair. The trouble is that you will not be able to simply remove the permanent color and get a return to your hair's natural color.
Most users report the results as being much less "gentle" than claimed, and that the results are beige and bland-looking, and that the hair needs a "toner" applied afterward to give the hair a natural-looking color.
My advice is to follow the plan set forth by the stylist you spoke with. This seems to be the most non-damaging course of action for restoring the hair's natural color. There are indeed other options, and you might even find a salon that would be willing to take your daughter's hair from the dark brown to a pale platinum blonde in one visit, but you should be prepared for the risk of seriously damaging the hair.
See also:
Hair coloring
How to recognize damaged hair
Is it ok to dye a child's hair?
Where does the color go when you bleach dark hair?