I was in my teens when I tried my first hair color after I convinced my mom that it wasn’t really dye and would only “accentuate my current color and make it shiny.” When I tried it, I was hooked. The transformation was barely recognizable, but the idea that I could change my look so easily delighted my creative heart. In the past thirty years, I’ve tried every hair color in the book including some notable surprises including Shit! Why is it Green?! and It’s Supposed to Be Blond But It’s Orange, both results of bathroom do-it-yourself jobs. But, like rearranging furniture or painting a room a new color, I’ve always loved the inspiration and gratification found in working with what I already have to create a new look. Reasons for switching hair color and styles have included but are not limited to:
- I’m bored.
- I failed miserably at something and need a new start.
- I’m grieving a loss and don’t know how to handle it. (I did a drastic hair color change after a miscarriage.)
- I saw a picture of Charlize Theron in a magazine, and I have to have her look–like, today.
- I bought a dress I’m so in love with, and dark hair would compliment it better.
- Fall is coming.
- Summer’s coming.
- I feel creatively stuck.
- I feel creatively inspired.
- I feel frumpy.
- I feel beautiful.
- I saw a picture of myself, and I don’t like the way my hair looks.
- I’m getting too many grays.
Reasons have ranged from insignificant fun to Maybe you should talk to a therapist about that. Either way, changing hair color has been a harmless form of creative exploration, and Redken has been a constant friend to me through the years. That said, after a signature brunette-and-bangs look that carried me through my early parenting years, I went blond last year–right before my 40th birthday. I wasn’t sure how long it would last, but I LOVE it. Like really love it. Yes, it’s a lot of upkeep, but it definitely masks grays much better, and there are some other perks I didn’t expect–one being that it dries my normally oily hair just enough that I can skip washing it a day and play around with dry shampoo looks (I could never do that as a brunette–always looked like I laid in butter overnight).
So many people have messaged, asking about what products I use to keep it blond, so I thought I’d give a Going Blond 411.
First order of business: TRUST YOUR STYLIST. Because I’m impulsive, of course when I decided to be blond, I wanted platinum-in-a-day. I even told my stylist that I know people have done it because I’ve seen it. Still, she refused (she’s also a friend who tells me like it is). She said for the kind of blond I wanted and to keep my hair healthy, it would take a while to get there. She also said if your stylist says you can go from brunette to super blond in a day, you need to can your stylist. In the middle of the gradual process, I once decided I wanted to go back brunette and she refused to do that too–ha! Because she knows me. “You’ve worked too long to get here, we’re not ruining your dedication in a day because you’re pulling one of your “I need change” cards.” I need a stylist who keeps me in line.
Here’s a little look back on the hair diaries over the years:
And finally, I got my ice blond! And without having stretchy, damaged hair.
I didn’t want a yellow blond, so we use an ash-based color. My stylist said it’s ALL ABOUT THE TONER! She puts a toner on after she highlights it. The toner gradually fades (making the hair a little blonder each week after processing), but it keeps it from looking brassy. The opposite of yellow is violet, so the if any hair is yellow, it will be beige after toner and white hair after bleached will be more violet after toner.
I also swear by violet shampoo and conditioner to keep the blond from getting too yellowy. I’ve got my entire hair routine down to 5 products:
- Clairol Shimmer Lights Shampoo & Conditioner – It’s suggested to use this three times a week in between regular shampoo, but I use it more like 5 days because I like the look of a blue-based blond.
- Shu Uemura Ultimate Reset Restoration Serum– I smooth a couple pumps of this into wet hair to protect it from drying out.
- Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray – Cult favorite–this stuff is AMAZING. But pricey. I spray a little at the roots once my hair is dry to give my hair some lift and to help achieve that messy-on-purpose look. If I’m feeling guilty about the splurge, I’ll take Oribe breaks with Batiste dry shampoo, but it’s not the same.
- Conair 1.25 in. Curling Iron – No fancy curling iron–this one is super inexpensive.
- Shu Uemura Shape Paste – This is the magic ingredient. I imagine Meg Ryan used it in You’ve Got Mail because that adorable texturized perfectly-out-of-place look is exactly what it does. When my shape paste starts running out, I get hives.
I’ve never been so committed to a hair routine and style, but I’m really loving it. The true test of staying blond for me comes in the fall when the mood shifts to cozy fireside warmth and dark rich tones.