Beauty: From Dark Brown to Platinum Blonde in 10 Hours

So after years of waffling, I finally did it – I went platinum! It wasn’t a spontaneous decision…I’ve done my research – I knew what to expect (searing pain and hair damage), I knew who does the best blondening work in North America (Aura Friedman at Sally Hershberger), and I knew that I was finally ready to take the leap (was I?).

After admiring Aura’s artist-like approach to hair colour for what felt like forever, and with an upcoming trip to NYC booked, I gave Sally Hershberger Downtown NYC a call…and had a bit of a rude awakening, realizing that I simply couldn’t afford Aura’s services. I mean, sure, I had the means to pay her rate, but then I would risk my husband divorcing me on a claim of insanity. I’m no model, no actress, and no trust fund baby, so Aura was out. Luckily, she highly recommended her assistant of several years – Lucille Javier. Lucille, a native Los Angeleno, moved to NYC a few years ago and never looked back, working with Aura and learning her unique painting technique. On their days off, Lucille and her boyfriend go around the city cutting homeless people’s hair, listening to their stories, and providing them with small, but much-needed everyday essentials. I knew that I had to meet this woman!

On the morning of my appointment, Lucille and I had the required pre-blondening consultation. With a stern look on her face, she told me what I already knew but needed to hear – bleach is harsh on the hair, it would cost a lot of money and time to maintain, and I should not expect “cookie cutter” results. Learning that my hair’s been dyed with a box colour within the last couple of years, I was advised that the dyed parts won’t be as easy to bleach as the “virgin” bits, and while my hair may not be snow-white by the end of my appointment, Lucille would do her darndest to make it as platinum as she could without compromising the health of my strands.

Seeing that her tough talk did not deter me one bit, she knew I was serious about going blonde, which meant that I passed the test, and was finally deemed ready to embark on my 10-hour blondening journey. Just 10 hours of my life to go from dark brown to platinum blonde!

To start, Lucille separated my hair into two sections, bleaching the length of my hair at the back first (but not the roots, as those lift faster due to the heat emanating from the scalp). Working with an assistant, Lucille covered the back of my head with blue goop, separating sections with cotton balls. Once the entire back was done, it was covered with plastic wrap, and was left to marinate for a while. Luckily, I knew that I had a long day ahead of me, and had my laptop with me to do some work (bring a book, or some other means of entertainment). Once my hair was sufficiently blonde, Lucille rinsed off the bleach, and got started on my front half. My in-between hair reminded me of a black and white cookie…which made me hungry. Thank goodness for salon-delivered tacos from the nearby cantina!Bring snacks if your salon isn’t food-friendly. 10 hours is a long time to go without food.

Up until this point, I felt no pain, but I knew that bleaching of the roots would be the true test of my pain tolerance. As soon as my roots were covered with bleach, the tingling began; the tingling then turned into slight discomfort – then to itchy irritation – until my scalp felt like it was on fire. Before you close this post and vow to never bleach your hair, I’ll tell you this – the pain was manageable. Yes, I did use the word “fire”, and the fact is it was very painful to have bleach on my scalp for what felt like hours. But at no point did I feel like I wanted to rinse it all off and stop the process. It wasn’t that bad. That morning, I arrived at the salon, expecting excruciating pain, tears, and having to be restrained, but all I really had to do was grit my teeth and wait until the glorious moment when cool water would be poured over my poor scalp, bringing sweet relief with it.

After I told Lucille that I was expecting to be in more pain (masochist much?), she mentioned that using Olaplex mixed with bleach tends to alleviate some of the burning, as does coming in with dirty-ish hair, and taking an Advil or two the morning of the appointment – all of the things I did (I told you I was prepared). Take note, platinum hopefuls.

Once my scalp was rinsed off, Lucille and her assistant did another round of bleach on sections that didn’t lift as well, before rinsing it all off yet again, and putting on the glossing treatment.

I have to admit that before the gloss was applied to my hair, I looked like Lucius Malfoy – yellowish blonde and not very attractive. For my skin tone, Lucille and I decided to go with a slightly grey/silver tinge. I couldn’t go with a more fun colour due to my conservative day job, but grey was totally within the natural spectrum and therefore allowed.

After what felt like a thousandth visit to the sink, I was nearly there. At this point, my hair was quite long, and I was worried that it would be impossible to maintain (Soo Joo I am not). Luckily, Lucille suggested Tomo Nakajima ( the man responsible for Joan Jett’s “rocker chic” hair cut!!!), and pretty soon my long hair was chopped off into a chic long bob. One ginger blow out later, I was a silver fox, looking at my reflection in the mirror in awe of the lightness of my locks. I couldn’t believe how perfectly silvery my hair looked, and how decidedly healthy it felt. Ok, it obviously didn’t feel healthier than before the bleach, but it felt strong and not at all fried. It was a hair miracle! Hairicle?

Two months later, and I definitely don’t regret the blondening. I didn’t plan on staying blonde forever, and now, as you probably have seen in my outfit post, I am rocking some painted on dark roots. I really loved my all-over platinum look, and definitely think that if you’ve wanted to do this for a long time, you should just bite the bullet, find a great salon, and just do it! After all, it’s just hair. But what a difference can a colour make!

And here it is…the story of how I went from being a brunette to being a blonde in 10 hours.A few caveats for those considering this drastic change:

– Going platinum blonde, and especially going grey or silver is not for those looking to blend in. Everyone you know (and don’t know) will suddenly turn into fashion police and will offer their (unsolicited) opinion on your appearance – both positive and not. You will be stopped on the street by people that love your hair, your co-workers will scratch their heads and look quizzically at your newly light locks, you will get catcalled a lot, people will ask for tips on how to achieve your colour, and you’ll get A LOT of looks and double-takes (and teenagers screaming at you things like “DOPE HAIR!”). You will have to be able to not give a damn. If you’re the sensitive type, be forewarned – not everyone will love your new do, and that’s ok.

– Don’t try this at home. Don’t go to the cheapest salon you can find. Just don’t. Find a reputable stylist that specializes in bleach jobs, and entrust your mane to their skilled hands. It does make a difference, and your hair will thank you.

– If you plan on staying blonde for a while, then re-touching your roots every 4 weeks or so is a must. The longer you wait, the more damage your hair will sustain, and the more difficult it will be to blend it all in. Those yellow halo circles are the opposite of chic.

– Coloured gloss that’s applied on top of platinum hair to take your hair to pink, or silver, or blue, is not permanent and will have to be re-applied often. The initial silver gloss I got, disappeared after 2 washes, as it was quite light to begin with. Afterwards, I opted for a darker grey shade which lasted a bit longer (6 washes or so), so it really depends on how often you wash your hair and how dark you go.

– My scalp itched like crazy for a week post-blondening. It was also quite scabby (sorry, gross, I know). Try not to scratch your scalp, as you may cause a lot of breakage that way. Know that it will go away, and that next time (if there’s a next time), it won’t hurt as much and it won’t scab as much either.

– Maintenance is a bitch. Going into this, I knew that taking care of bleached hair was going to be more time-consuming than taking care of my regular hair…or so I thought. Not to be dramatic, but it is a lot of work. If you don’t want your hair to look like crunchy fried noodles, and if you don’t want your cool blonde shade to turn yellow, you’ll need both patience, and a lot of time. Lucille told me to treat my hair like fine china, and that’s pretty spot-on. I’ll devote another blog post to maintenance, but in the meantime, please know that you can’t be lazy and still have healthy bleached hair. Unless you’re a freak of nature, you’ll have to put in the time and effort to keep that thing on your head looking top-notch, instead of tragic.

That’s it for my words of platinum wisdom. This may be the longest blog post I have ever written, but it’s also one of my favouritest. Hope it helps some of you to decide whether to blonde or not to blonde, as well as what to expect when you’re expecting platinum blonde tresses. 

Photo Credits: 1 – Max Kopanygin

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