Review with before and after pictures: John Frieda Sheer Blonde In-Shower lightening treatment and Controlled Lightening spray

You can find just about anything in Thailand but there are two you won’t – or at least not easily – and that’s self-tan and anything relating to blonde hair. For this reason, I always bring my own self tan (The Tan Lab in Dark and Skinny Tan Mousse) but the hair issue is new to me. I’ve never stayed away long enough for my blonde highlights to grow out. Until now. Eeeek!

Knowing I’d be away for at least three months and having read horror reviews about Westerners who’d dropped into local salons wanting blonde highlights and leaving with thick bands of orange I was just like ‘nope, nope, nope’ so I packed a whack of ‘DIY blonding goodies. These included John Frieda’s Sheer Blonde Go Blonder In-Shower Lightening treatment, John Frieda Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Controlled Lightening spray and their purple toning shampoo. (I’d been sent a huge amount of John Frieda prior to leaving as it was one of the last competition I ran on my blog. For the record, this is NOT a sponsored post.)

I’m too lazy to reshoot. This is the shot from my comp post.

Creating this post is important to me because, prior to leaving, I searched the internet in its moer looking for reviews on spray-on lightening products and the vast majority of posts and reviews are rubbish. Everyone’s like ‘This did nothing/ruined my hair and I think it’s shit!’ or ‘OMG, I love this is. I’ve used it forever!’ But don’t go into any useful detail or bother to show pictures. Or they’ll have an after pic and nothing from before so you get no indication as to what they started with. Bleh.

Anyway, rant over. Let’s just get stuck in. This is my horrific-looking hair after months of traveling having already left South Africa in need of a touch-up but not having time.

Kill me now.

My hair is actually clean and ‘dry’ in this pic, but slightly damp due to being super-duper sweaty. Still, you get the idea. Here’s another unflattering pic (thanks Salomie!) I happened to find on my phone and, while awful, you get an idea of my starting point.

Highlights = almost gone. Same goes for the chicken wings. And my dignity.

With very low expectations, I used John Frieda’s in-shower lightening treatment. It smells exactly light hair dye (that sharp ammonia smell) which lifted my spirits ‘cos I was all ‘Oooh, yes please! The more chemically the better the odds it’ll actually do something’. I felt like I was way beyond rubbing a bloody lemon on my hair and sitting in the sun. To hell with that. I wanted chemicals. I massaged the treatment it into my entire head of hair but concentrated on the roots. You’re supposed to leave it on for five minutes but me being me left it on for a solid fifteen. When I rinsed it out I was impressed! My roots had kind of blended in!

One helluva improvement, right?

Initially, you’ll notice that aside from lifting, the treatment adds a slightly over-all beige blonde tint to your hair which is temporary. This fades out after a few washes, but your hair is still left lighter. Craving MORE MORE MORE, I whipped out my SECOND tube of in-shower treatment (I brought two of them) and managed to lift my hair even more by doing the same thing. I was a happy bunny.

Roots? What roots?!

Right! So it’s clear that John Frieda’s in-shower treatment is the living best. I will definitely buy it when I’m back home in South Africa and use it to ‘blend’ my roots during times when I really want to stretch out (crazy expensive) highlight touch up appointments. Yay! Consider this is a new #budgetbabe trick in the bag!

Sadly, like all good things, my refreshed new ‘do didn’t last because my roots eventually started to grow again and I was all out of in-shower treatment. (For the record, my hair grows like weeds. I’ve cut it twice since being here, putting it in a pony, twisting it into a rope and then snipping straight across – my hairdresser is going to have a freakin’ aneurysm when she sees me again.)

Terrible pic but you get the idea. I was heading back into sludge-ville.

I’d run out of in-shower treatment and while I had a lust for blondeness, I wasn’t ready for box dye because, quite frankly, it terrifies me, so I decided to bite the bullet and reach for the lightening spray. Eeeeek!

Again, this is a pre-trip shot. Back in the golden days when my backpack was red instead of grey.

To begin, I spritzed HEAVILY on my shower wet hair, focusing on the roots and left for the day. Later, when I looked in the mirror, I could see it had lifted things a LOT. I’d gone from medium ash blonde (with a few of my own natural lighter streaks) to something that was lightly, but a little bit on the ‘strawberry side’.

Not ideal but we’re getting there.

I’d probably only need to use this one more time, right? So, that same day I whipped out the spray, did the exact same thing and BOOM – I transformed myself into Ginger Spice!

This was taken AFTER a quick, hysterical rinse with purple shampoo. It was ever so slightly worse.

I immediately got back into the shower, AGAIN, and MARINATED in silver shampoo. My God. Was I going to have to reach for that fucking box dye?! Fortunately, the result was a less intense shade of carrot but it was still there.

I call this ‘strawberry ash o’ death’. I feel like this is the shade Nicole Kidman goes when she tries to look blonde.

Now this is the point where girls tend to throw the product in the bin and hit up the internet to rant about how it turned their hair orange. But here’s the thing. When I see my hairdresser and she gives me highlights, but I dash away too quickly, having not sat under the heat lamp long enough, my hair doesn’t have time to lighten up through the full spectrum of dark to light. If you stop short, you can end up with a slightly strawberry blonde look as opposed to white/yellow which is what I like. The trick, to get to the lightest shade of pale where orange shifts to yellow and then ‘white’ (I’m using basic shade descriptors here, I don’t have the energy for crap like ‘caramel’, ‘beige’ and ‘gold’) is to keep going. To push through. So that’s exactly what I did. Instead of stopping, I sprayed some more. And what do you know? The orange bits started to lift.

Oh thank you God!

And so I kept going…

Yellow but better than orange, right?

And after one more session (all in the same day!) I got this!


Let’s take another look, shall we?

Yesssss! (The wet looking patch is where I used my fingers to brush on just a tad more spray to lift the darkest piece.)

So! Does my hair look like I just stepped out of a salon? Nope. But is it a damn site better than the sludgy colour I started with? Hell’s yes. I mean, to go from sludge to beach blonde with just two in-shower treatments and half a bottle of lightening spray, it’s nothing short of a miracle, right? Ja, I thought so too. I am now a very happy bunny and, as my roots grow out, I’ll keep using the spray to keep things light.

If you have hair that’s darker than mine. I.e. you’re a brunette as opposed to blonde I wouldn’t recommend this plan of attack. You’ll have to use it a lot longer to shift from very dark to beyond carrot and the result of having to use so much of it could be weird and flat-looking. But if you’re a blonde like me, I think you’ll find it a brilliant solution to lightening up sans hairdresser and without having to resort to the box. As far as condition goes, do I feel like it’s damaged my baby fine hair? Nope. Not in the least.

Anyway, I hope you find this useful. Lightening sprays do work. You just have to be fairly fair to begin with and brace yourself to push!

Love, love


11 thoughts on “Review with before and after pictures: John Frieda Sheer Blonde In-Shower lightening treatment and Controlled Lightening spray

  1. Aanhouer wen! You can also buy a box of home dye, but just use the developer, don’t mix the two… Brush on the roots and it will lift. Like homemade highlights lol. Or if you are brave whip out the peroxide and put a teensy tiny drop of gentian violet in your shampoo to counter the Billy Idol brass.. my Mom was a beeeeeeeeg home highlight/dye queen and this is how she did it

  2. Hello darling. If you use heat with those kinds of sprays they work even faster ie. Spray yourself wet and then blast those roots with a hairdryer, or you can go sit in the sun on the beach…
    And definitely only for your colour blonde and lighter. I used to do it at school and after 3 bottles I would get to the right blonde with my dark roots! LOL! Hope you still having fun… really wish we were still there… stay as long as you possibly can Xxxx

  3. Thanks for this awesome post!! I do the blonde highlights myself too. Yours looks so much better with the blonde, and looks amazing!!

    1. Thank you! It’s been ages now and I keep on just touching up with the lightening spray and it still looks great. And I don’t feel like it’s damaging my hair at all. In all, I’m super duper impressed!

    1. Amazing, hey?! The secret is to aggressively push through the strawberry blonde phase, NOT stop. It’s crazy but I’ve been back in SA since November last year and have only seen my hairdresser for highlights once. Since then, I’ve just been gaaning on with the spray and have been really happy with the results. Insane! I’m now saving the R600 I spend every 6 to 8 weeks 😛

  4. heyhey:)
    amazing post, thank you so much for being this thorough! i have one question left though: do you ever experience banding? like, when you spray your roots for a touch up and the spray gets on the old lightened parts, won’t those light up as well?
    i hope you get what i’m trying to say :))

    1. Hi Leni! I know exactly what you mean about banding and nope, it never does that. You obviously have a little regrowth as the lightened bits grow out but once this gets obvious you can just spray them again so it looks ombre and blends beautifully 🙂

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