I’d like to think that every person has their signature, identifying feature; something everyone knows them for. For some, it’s the choice to wear red lipstick every day; for others, it may be a handlebar mustache.
Personally, I think most people identify me by my blonde locks. Like any other doubting young adult, I’ve considered dying my hair darker, but there’s something about being a blonde that makes me feel ultra confident and brings out my true essence. You know what I’m talking about! It’s like the one outfit you reserve in your closet for your off days because you know it’ll instantly make you feel good and like yourself. That’s how I feel every time I get my color refreshed at the salon.
I’ve been highlighting and coloring my hair since 5th grade. I’ve probably been every shade of blonde imaginable: dirty, honey, champagne, platinum, silver, you name it. After years of trial and error I’ve had fried ends, orange roots, bad box dye jobs…again, you name what can go wrong with blonde hair, and it’s happened to me– except for maybe my hair falling out (KNOCK ON WOOD!!!!). Being blonde is not for the faint of heart or for those who prefer low maintenance but, if you’re a blonde, or you’re thinking about going blonde, here are some of my tips for managing one of the most precarious hair colors:
1. GO TO THE SALON.
I cannot stress the importance of this enough. I’ll admit it, in middle school I used to get my mom to do the whole pull-through-the-cap method at home. As wonderful and talented as my mother is, coloring hair blonde is not one of her strong suits. These photos are buried deep in the recesses of my tragic middle school existence, otherwise I’d show you. Let’s just say I looked like one of those girls who walk out of Mystic Tan looking like a Cheeto (minus the Cheeto tan).
It’s so easy to mess up blonde hair with an at home job, so the simple fact is: unless you’re completely comfortable with doing it yourself, just don’t. I’ve only done it myself once (when I went silver), but I was only comfortable doing this because I had researched how to do it extensively and my hair lifts quite easily. If I were born with naturally deep brown hair, I never would’ve done it myself. It’s also important to mention that if you’ve been box dying your hair darker colors before you go blonde, it will be extremely difficult to get even tone because box dyes do not budge easily, especially when layered over one another. If you’re planning on going blonde and have recently box dyed or dyed your hair dark, I would recommend letting the color fade out for a few weeks so it’ll be easier to lift. But the point is: it’s better to invest the money and have peace of mind that your hair is in the right hands. Make sure you let your hairstylist know your hair history (what kind of colors, if any, you’ve been using on it) when you go in for a consultation. ***With that being said, I’ve had bad experiences at salons too! Make sure you find a colorist that you trust and that understands the look you’re going for!
I would also like to note that many people say being blonde is extremely expensive if you go to the salon. This is both myth and fact. Most stylists recommend having your color redone about every 4 weeks; however, because I only highlight my hair, rather than an all over color, I can get away with going about every 6 to 8 weeks (if I’m being lazy, I might even wait longer…much to my stylist’s dismay). If you choose to go the highlighting route, it’s easier to make the color look like it’s naturally coming out of your scalp if your stylist places the color well. I most definitely have an unnatural, much paler shade of blonde in comparison to my God- given dirty blonde; however, because of strategic placement, the lengths of my hair just look like they’ve gotten (a lot of) sun in comparison to my roots.
I see Mark at Whispers on Wentworth here in Charleston! Highly recommend!
2. Tone Tone Tone.
Being blonde is a 24/7 job. It requires a lot of upkeep and care, and one of the things you have to constantly do is tone your color. When you color your hair blonde, the first initial process (usually a bleach of some sort) lifts existing color from your hair, leaving you with a pale yellowy color (sometimes orangey if you have darker hair). To counteract these unwanted brassy tones, you can use a toner to deposit color back onto the hair. Toners are essentially Demi-Permanent colors, meaning that they last longer than a Semi-Permanent (something like the wild Manic Panic shades that fade out with a few washes), but they aren’t Permanent. I’d say a toner typically lasts around 2 weeks or so. Additionally, they are severely less damaging than typical dyes, which makes them safe to use more frequently.
Toners will eliminate the brassy colors and replace them with the respective toner’s shade. The shade will vary in pigment depending on how cool (ashy) or warm (golden) you want your hair to be. Because purple is the opposite of orange on the color wheel, purple tones will cancel them out and leave a neutral blonde color. The more purple pigments that are in the toner will determine how cool toned your hair will come out. Essentially, you can pick a toner in a shade of blonde that suits you: sandy blonde, champagne blonde, ash blonde, etc.
Picking the right shade mostly hinges upon your personal preference and skin tone. It’s a myth that not everyone can go blonde!! Anyone can be a blonde, but you have to find the perfect shade to match your coloring. Typically, cooler and ashier shades of blonde flatter people with cool (pink) undertones in their skin; warmer and more golden shades of blonde will usually suit people with warm (yellow) undertones in their skin. If you have a neutral skin tone, well damn you’re lucky, because you can probably pull off any shade of blonde. Because my skin is quite pink, I tend to stick to ashier blondes.
Salons will typically tone your hair for you, but I would recommend purchasing one to have on hand in between trips to the salon. This will not only ensure that your color stays bright and fresh looking, but also saves you money on expensive salon visits because you’ll be able to prolong your color. Personally, toning my hair allows me the luxury of only coloring my hair about every 6-8 weeks, which also prevents my hair from getting damaged. My favorite toner is the Wella Color Charm (I use shade T18, Lightest Ash Blonde because I prefer my hair to be extremely cool toned). When I think my hair is looking a little dull or yellowy, I mix this with a 20 volume developer and leave it on my hair for about 10 minutes. After rinsing it out, I’m left with a more flattering cool toned blonde. You can purchase these products at Sally’s Beauty Supply.
Another way to keep your color looking fresh from week to week is with a purple shampoo and conditioner. It’s just like what it sounds: shampoo and conditioner that’s a highly pigmented shade of purple. Lathering these products into your hair and letting them soak for about 5 minutes in the shower will help temporarily counteract brassiness and yellowy/ orangey tones. You can leave it on longer if you want your hair to be extremely cool toned, but I would advise being careful doing this. Leaving it on for too long can result in a purple overcast, especially if your hair is quite pale. Luckily, because it’s temporary, it will wash out as soon as you use a clarifying shampoo. Even if you’re more on the golden side of blonde, I would still recommend using these (perhaps less often than an ash blonde) because they help brighten and freshen your color. I use Clairol Shimmer Lights, also available at Sally’s Beauty Supply.
3. Protein Treatments
As mentioned before, when going blonde, you typically have to lift color out of your hair to lighten it. Unfortunately, doing this can be very damaging because lifting color also removes the essential protein in your hair, Keratin, that keeps it shiny, smooth, and healthy. Without Keratin, your hair will often feel extremely brittle and dry. The best way to keep your hair strong and healthy is to use a Keratin shampoo and conditioner. Washing and conditioning your hair with these products will help restore and protect your hair from damage in the future. My favorite that I’ve been using for a while now is the Joico K-Pak Shampoo and Conditioner, available at Ulta and most salons. It’s a little more on the pricey side, but the bigger bottles take me about 8 months to go through and my hair has never looked healthier.
*** Disclaimer: Using protein shampoos and conditioners on your hair daily can also be detrimental. The protein will build up and make your hair dry and unmanageable. Try only using them two or three times a week to avoid this. You shouldn’t be washing your hair every day anyway as this strips it of essential oils. For days that you don’t wash your hair, invest in a good dry shampoo.
I hope these tips help you in your blonde endeavors! If you have any other questions, feel free to Tweet them to me @outre_mode!