This post has been quite a long time coming. There’s a lot to cover here, and I wanted to be sure I did it justice, so I thank you for your patience. This post is lengthy I know, but it’s broken up into 3 sections and packed with great info. Part 1 is my hair story and routine. Part 2 is my interview with a professional hair-colorist. And Part 3 is the the questions you asked me on IG.
Part 1: My Hair/Routine
Let’s break down the facts about my hair: I have been bottle blonde for all of my adult life (from the age of 19 onwards). My natural hair color is very light (considered dark blonde), and is fine/thin in consistency. On the spectrum of dry to oily, I consider my hair on the drier side. I can usually go 2-3 days without washing (using no dry shampoo) before I see oil buildup.
My high-level routine: I usually wash my hair 2x per week. Sometimes more if I have a reason (an event or photoshoot, etc). I deep condition every time I wash, and also do a hair mask once a week. Unfortunately, I have to blow dry my hair for it to look decent. If I let my hair air dry, it’s pretty limp, wavy (but not in a good way), and lifeless. However, I still let my hair dry naturally at least once a week (and just throw it back in a ponytail) in order to give it a break from the heat of my dryer. When I blow dry my hair I sometimes also hit it with a straightener or a curling wand, depending on whether I want it stick straight or wavy. I am experimenting with products right now to see if I can find one that lets me air dry on the regular, rather than blow dry. But that will have to be another blog post.
Some of y’all probably know that I used to DIY my own blonde for many years. While it is technically possible to get this platinum life on your own, I don’t actually recommend DIY-ing (unless you’re in a major pinch). DIY-ing can cause a ton of irreversible damage to your locks. Remember, bleaching (even with a professional) is already very damaging. In San Francisco, I trust my hair with Jen Kuwabara at Tailored Salon for color, and Karrie Dies for my bob. I no longer DIY my own hair on the regular!
The products that I personally use and love for my hair.
Fanola No Yellow Shampoo: not the most clarifying shampoo out there, but this puppy WORKS to remove brassiness, and very quickly.
Kevin Murphy Blonde Angel Wash: works well, but is pricier than many other purple shampoos out there. Buy off Amazon at your own risk, I recommend buying through a salon.
Evo Fabuloso Platinum Blonde: a great conditioner that I leave on for about 5 minutes. Does a good job of removing brassiness without turning your hair purple.
Fanola No Yellow Mask: not as hydrating as Evo, but removes brassiness quicker. I only leave this on for a few minutes or it turns my hair lavender (temporarily).
Fanola Nutri Care Restructuring Mask: a great mask for all hair types. A little bit goes a long way.
Briogeo Don’t Despair Repair Mask: a super popular mask right now. Works well, but is a bit weighty on my fine hair.
L’anza Trauma Treatment: I comb this through wet hair after I wash/condition. It feels like nothing—never weighs my hair down.
Marrakesh Leave-in Treatment & Detangler: I’ll sometimes spritz this through wet hair if I plan on air drying. Smells fabulous.
Kusco-Murphy Setting Lotion: I spritz “the pink spray” into wet/damp hair before any heat or hot tools. A heat protectant is a necessity for color treated hair.
Marrakesh Mod Styling Cream: I run this through my hair when I air dry it. It helps keep my hair smooth and soft.
Marrakesh Oil Light: nourishes ends without weighing my hair down, and smells amazing.
Fanola Nutri Care Restructuring Fluid Crystals: another great nourishing oil, smells great.
Bumble & Bumble Pret-a-Powder: this is a powder and not an aerosol, but it’s my favorite.
Eva NYC Freshen Up: works well and smells amazing.
**I feel like I need to talk about Olaplex since it’s such a popular platinum hair product. I have used Olaplex (1 and 2) in the past when I DIY-ed my blonde. I honestly did not notice a difference. My current colorist uses Wella hair color, and their version of Olaplex. I just bought this Olaplex product from Sephora to try it out on my locks. I’m also interested in trying out their hair mask product as well. I will report back!
Park 2: Ask a Hair Color Professional:
I could not tackle this post without also consulting a true hair color professional. Introducing Ms. Jessie Peterson, hair colorist extraordinaire. I have known Jessie for 10 years (we used to live together in Brooklyn), and she has been doing hair for 15 years—previously at top tier salons in NYC, and currently at the high end salon, Scarlet, in Denver. She is a true hair magician and I whenever I’m in Denver I always try to get into her chair for a touch up.
Q: What is the overall process of taking someone from brunette to blonde? Take us the through the journey.
First, JOURNEY is the key word here! Many factors are involved… level of hair (how dark/light the hair is), budget, time, is the hair “virgin” or has it been colored? (Hair that has been previously colored can have a whole other list of “ifs”). From a technical perspective, I’ll imagine a fairly easy scenario. If someone has Level 7, VIRGIN (no color) hair, I would lighten the mid-lengths and ends first, process, remix, then go back (and before rinsing the ends) and apply lightener to scalp/roots. Heat from the head and body allow for a much faster process. This is necessary in order to get an even end result. Cover with a plastic processing cap and leave on for appropriate amount of time. Once everything looks even and ready, rinse, SHAMPOO TWICE (this is very important for the toner!), towel dry, mix and apply toner. Toner gives the hair a tonal value: Do you want cool? Warm? Beige? Neutral? When pre-lightening the hair with bleach, it rarely lifts perfect, and toning can even the porosity, cancel out unwanted tones (like yellow or orange), seal the hair cuticle and create shine. And Voila! Platinum hair!
Editors note: If this process sounds like it takes many hours, it does! When I get my hair colored, I’m usually in the salon for 4 hours or more.
Q: What things should a client consider before attempting to go platinum?
- Level of hair: Natural colors are 1-10. 1 being black, 5 being brown, 10 being lightest blonde. Most people’s natural level are within 3-8.
- Condition of hair: Virgin? Processed? Highlighted? Porous? Damaged? Bleaching causes damage to the hair, so if you’re hair is already in bad shape, this can be a critical factor.
- Budget: This process can run $100+ an hour and take up to 3-4 hours.
- Timeline: Sometimes it takes 2-4 separate appointments to achieve the result you’re looking for.
- Maintenance: In order to keep your blonde looking fresh, touch ups can be required every 4-8 weeks.
Q: Do you have any tips for picking a shade of blonde? Warmer versus cooler?
Again, it depends on hair level you’re starting with. I would say that these days, most people prefer cool or neutral, over warm, as warm can turn into brassy very easily.
Q: Are there any hair types that should stay away from the blonde life?
Anything is possible, haha! People with levels 6 and below are going to have a harder time getting to a platinum level (level 10-11). Darker levels might need up to four sessions to achieve the result they are looking for. Darker levels expose much more red, orange, and yellow when lifting. Even lighter levels might need two sessions. And keep in mind if your hair is naturally dark, there is much more of a contrast with the new platinum color when your roots grow. So there will be more maintenance (more frequent touch up sessions) and the hair will probably be compromised more because of aggressive lifting.
Q: What are your tips for keeping bottle blonde hair healthy?
Use the appropriate products: A hair mask weekly. Purple or blue shampoo to eliminate brassiness. A leave-in conditioner that contains sun protection, maybe an oil, and limiting the daily amount of heat tools. If you’re a hot tool user, always use a styling product with heat protection.
Q: Can you tell us about some of your favorite hair products?
Oooooh so many! And there are so many good product lines, I’ve hardly even made a dent in the variety of products out there. But to name a few:
- Number 4 Hydrating Shampoo and Conditioner (never fails, I’ve used it for 8 years now)
- Kevin Murphy Cool Angel
- Sachajuan Intensive Hair Oil and their dry shampoo is the best
- Rahua (pretty much their whole line because it’s non-toxic)
- Lanza Trauma Treatment (one of my most favorites)
- Oligo Violet or Blue Shampoos and Conditioners for specifically for platinum peeps!
Q: Any final words of advice? Anything I didn’t ask that you think is important?
Do research before making drastic changes to your hair. Is your idea realistic? Do you have the budget and patience? Hair color is CHEMISTRY and nothing is guaranteed. Some stylists have more experience and education. Research your stylist before committing. If you’re new to hair color, check out their Instagram/portfolio and book a consultation to see if you’re on the same page. Be open minded, listen to the experts, and don’t expect the impossible.
Thank you Jessie for all your knowledge and incredibly thorough advice! If you’re in the Denver area, book your next hair appointment with this gal. And definitely give her a follow on Instagram!
Part 3: Your Questions
I asked y’all to send me your questions and you totally delivered. Here are the questions you asked that are not answered above in some form.
Q: How do you fight brassiness? Brassiness is the inevitable yellow/orange tones that show up in bottle blonde hair over a period of time. Cool tones fade faster than warm tones, so some brassiness is pretty much a guarantee if you’re a faux blondie. The easiest way to fight that unwanted warmth is with purple shampoos and conditioners which neutralize/cool down those warm tones. You can also book an appointment with your colorist for them to apply a toning gloss or glaze. This should last you a few weeks. I personally fight brassiness with purple shampoos and conditioners.
Q: How do you maintain your icy platinum between professional touchups? See above!
Q: Do you shampoo/condition with purple products every time? How often? I don’t use purple products every time I wash/condition. I probably use them once a week-ish. I’ll assess my hairs’ temperature (is it looking a little yellow?) and then adjust my shampoo/conditioners accordingly.
Q: Have you ever had chemical damage? How do you protect/prevent against damage and breakage? Yes! My hair is actually quite damaged. It is thin and relatively shiny naturally, which hides the damage, but trust me, it’s there. To prevent breakage I wash/blow dry infrequently, do weekly hair masks, avoid hot tools and over styling.
Q: How often do you touch up your roots? I usually see my hair gals every 2-3 months. My hair (thankfully) grows very slowly, and is naturally pretty light in color, so I can get away with less frequent touch ups than most.
Q: What’s your routine on wash days vs. non wash days? All products referenced are listed above in the first section. On wash days I wash with a purple shampoo, condition with purple conditioner if need be (depending on how much brassiness I have), hair mask for 10 minutes (not every time I wash, but once per week). I towel dry gently and apply a leave-in repair treatment or leave-in conditioner. I let my hair dry naturally for a few minutes (I never blow dry sopping wet hair) before applying a heat protectant and drying with my hairdryer and paddle brush. After drying I will either hit it with my straightener or my curling wand. Lastly, I finish with a hair oil on the ends.
On non wash days: If it’s day 2 or 3 hair, I usually run a brush through to detangle, then spritz with dry shampoo or Bumble & Bumble Prêt-á-Powder. If I’ve properly blow dried on wash day, then I don’t need to re-style with hot tools. If it’s day 4+ hair, I’ll tie my hair back in a little pony, spritz with dry shampoo/powder, and snap in a hair clip to distract from any wildness/greasiness.
Q: Tips for taming flyaways? Flyaways are little broken baby hairs that frizz up on your part. Long term strategy: work on your hair health (less washing and hot tools, more masking). Short term strategy: slap ’em with a tiny little bit of lightweight hair oil. For this, I like Marrakesh hair oil for fine hair.
Whew! If you made it all the way down here, I’m giving you a virtual high-five. I hope you found this post informative and helpful!