The Brunette's Guide to Going Platinum (Without Ruining Your Hair)
Ever since I can remember, I’ve dreamt of owning a creamy blonde 'do. I was born with brunette curls (which I've spent the last year straightening via keratin) so I guess you could say I’m the poster girl for wanting what you don't naturally have. So when Kimmy K arrived at the Yeezy show earlier this year as a platinum blonde (again), I proclaimed to my team: "I would love to do that." Cue several stunned colleagues, including Byrdie beauty editor Lisa who said, "Mission accepted!" Before I really knew what had happened, I began my journey to white blonde.
Fast forward through two weeks of bragging to friends and family that I would soon be transformed into the newest Kardashian sister (Kauren?), or Glossier's Emily Weiss circa the platinum months, I found myself sitting in a chair at the new Edwards and Co Alexandria salon. I was surprisingly nervous—doubt around my spontaneous decision had finally started to set in—but after a brief consultation with colourist Tory I was ready to say au revoir to my natural brunette mane. (That Edwards & Co look after stellar blondes like Lara Worthington and Brooke Testoni also did much to calm my nerves.)
Tory applied a mixture of Lakme bleach and Olaplex to the mid-lengths and ends in small sections ensuring that all the hair was saturated. She left the first 1cm from the scalp product-free, using cotton wool to separate the sections. She explained that this was because the roots often lighten more quickly than the rest of the hair, so the cotton wool technique creates an even colour. This process took roughly two hours to apply and 45 minutes to develop. (Many magazines were read.)
Tory then applied the same mixture to my scalp, starting at the back and working her way around to the front. Another 45 minutes of developing time later, and we began the rinsing process. An Olaplex treatment was painted onto my hair and left for 20 minutes, after which came a toner, and 10-minute bleach bath to further lighten the ends. To finish off, Tory applied another Olaplex treatment (which explains why my hair felt amazingly unaffected post-bleach), then washed everything off with a restructuring shampoo and conditioner. The entire process to take my hair from one extreme to the other took bleach, toner, one talented colourist and eight whole hours.
Once the process was over—with genuine joy radiating from Lisa every single minute—the anticipation to see my new 'do was unbearable. (Note: I was sans mirror for the entire process.) Finally, it was time to take the first-look at my new reflection. It was everything from exciting, to confronting, to liberating, and shocking—all rolled into one. One minute I loved it, the next I was having an identity crisis. At one point I was convinced I needed to dye it back that very second. Dramatic? Completely.
As a newly minted blonde, the first and most prominent change I noticed was that my wardrobe choices changed considerably. My hemlines lengthened, my necklines heightened, and my favouritism for pink garments waned. My wardrobe became even more conservative than it had been. Surprisingly, my makeup routine didn't change in the slightest. I imagined I would no longer want to pencil in my dark brows, but conversely I feel that I need strong brows now more than ever. (Might have something to do with defining my fair-skinned face as it now appears to blend into my creamy hair.) I’ve always been an advocate for the no-makeup makeup look, which works perfectly with my new ‘do.
Notable mentions go to the past flames that got in touch within a day or two of my social media announcement; the men in my life who told me they like it better than brunette (typical—I hope they change their minds when I do dye it back one day); every single person in my life who told me how much they genuinely like it; the frayed denim shorts that have been pushed to the very bottom of my wardrobe (lest I feel like an 18-year-old on my way to Stereosonic); and the combined total of 608 likes and 156 comments on Instagram and Facebook (you’d think I’d gotten married with that level of engagement!).
Although I now have a very high maintenance hair routine (hello purple toners, repairative shampoos, deep conditioners, protein treatments, and weekly Olaplex sessions), I was surprised at just how low-maintenance my day-to-day routine has become. Since my bleached hair is now a lot less oily and nicely textured, it only needs to be washed twice a week rather than every other day. Seems minor, but this one point alone is actually #lifechanging.
Three weeks on and (besides the re-growth) I think I could easily stay a faux blonde for the rest of time, but I’ll need to wait and see what my hair condition, bank account, and low-maintenance-self has to say about that. Did my lifelong dream of donning a creamy blonde lob life up to its expectations? Completely.
I know you’ve been waiting for it, the big question—do blondes really have more fun? As much as I’d love to keep the stereotype alive, I’m undecided. So far, I think I’m having just as much fun as I did as a brunette. Disappointing, I know, but I’ve only just begun so watch this space…