When it comes to hair color, going lighter is usually something that you want to see a professional for, but if you truly feel bold enough to take the plunge on your own (and by that, we mean DIY blonding via an at-home bleach-and-tone), you need to be equipped with the right knowledge, technique and of course, products. Going blonde (or even just to a lighter brunette shade) can cause major damage—breakage split ends, and dryness to be specific, but there are ways you can lighten up your mane while also minimizing potential harm to your precious mane—and seriously, this is important because a bleach job gone wrong can leave you with gummy “cotton candy” like strands or even worse, no hair left behind at all.

Given the chemical makeup of bleach and comparable hair lightening substances (including both bleach as well as peroxide), the likelihood that you’ll see some form of damage (whether mild or moderate) is kind of inevitable, but we’ve highlighted a few safe at-home lightening products to help you combat the breakage and the brass without the help of a professional colorist.

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