What You Actually Need To Know Before Going Blonde

It’s a commitment!

by Jenni Robinson

Summer is here, and bright blondes and pastels are still as hot as bikini tops and cut-off shorts. Feeling ambitious? That's great, but think twice before booking a color appointment spontaneously. Nothing is wrong with being a seasonal blonde, as long as you know the consequences of this cute investment. Here are some tips to get you prepared—mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Jenni Robinson is a NYC-based hairdresser, specializing in color, cut, and editorial hair. She has an adorable blue dog named Edgar and works out of her speakeasy studio in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Follow her on Instagram for more hair inspiration. 

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Quite a few factors play into how much lift the hair can achieve in one visit. If your last hair-color job hasn’t completely grown out, there is a strong possibility you will have to return for some higher lifting after a month or two. Also, the darker your hair, the more processing you will have to undergo. Although it is possible to go from almost-black to platinum, know that there is a lot of warmth (or remaining pigment) to get through. Take it slow and get comfortable, because you're going to be in the shop for awhile. Great blondes take time—whether it's balayage, foil highlights, or a double-process blonde with a faded rose tone.

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So now you're a blonde. Clear out your schedule because you and your colorist are going to get to know each other pretty well over the next several months. You've got to keep up on the blonde, as well as toner or gloss—the defining component in balancing out the color of your blonde. With high lifting or bleaching, hair will gain quite a bit of porosity. This means the color eventually "falls out." What was a cool-toned blonde may become brassy, and fantasy tones will probably fade within three to four weeks.

As for roots, if you're trying to achieve the full-on blonde look, like Marilyn Monroe or Rita Ora, you've got to stay on top of it. The darker your hair, the more prominent the demarcation of your regrowth will be. Wait too long, and you'll be risking an uneven result or further damage. Trying to keep the color consistent means your colorist has to face the challenge of lifting the area between your roots and the previously lightened hair without causing further damage—much like when you went platinum the first time. 

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Visiting the colorist more frequently means you'll need to start a Blonde Fund. Whether it's depositing another toner or a root touch-up, prepare to pay up. Don’t waste your money on one-time blonde ambitions. Even when you're done being blonde, going back to a darker tone is costly, so get comfortable with holding off on buying that handbag until you get to the salon.

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Imagine a feather being stroked against the grain. That's pretty much what happens when hair is bleached—the outer layers (also known as the cuticle) need to be lifted to get to the actual hair shaft. Immediately after the process, your hair might feel a bit coarse and dry. Weakening of the hair is inevitable, so be prepared to style accordingly. Your current routine of “wash and go” might not be so easy; you have to minimize the heat, also, because that leads to more breakage. Hope you like that beachy, textured look!

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Although there is a lot to discuss concerning the definite possibility of damage, technology can be of service for maintaining the health of the hair throughout your life as a blonde. For an extra charge, many salons offer an additive to the lightener or color that rebuilds protein bonds broken during processing. This scientific breakthrough has done wonders in saving the condition of the hair. Regular at-home treatments also protect and repair the hair from previous lightening processes, while also prepping for future chemical services. Using reputable products to tame the frizz, protect the hair from heat and the sun, conditioning treatments, and more will also be a must. You can’t get away with just throwing some coconut oil in your hair this time. If your hair is in bad shape, a great color job won’t even be noticeable.

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One of the worst things you can do with your hair is play ping-pong with its color. When autumn arrives and you want to play up some sultry vibes with dark hair again, remember this: Underneath that color, your hair is still blonde. When you decide you want to lighten up, you will be damaging the cuticle once again to get rid of last season's darker shades. This will not only result in a fried mess, but the hair will be so brittle it will snap off. If you like a lot of change, go bold and then also go shorter—much, much shorter.

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As if your period doesn’t fuck your life up enough, when your hormones are in disarray your sebum has a different pH—including the oil produced on your scalp. This can lead to some serious sensitivities to color and can often affect the outcome. The same goes for lots of other beauty regimens, like getting a facial or getting waxed. Don’t risk it. Stay home, eat chocolate, and watch movies (or whatever makes you feel better). A week later, when your skin is glowing and you feel gorgeous, complete your look by getting your hair done. It'll be well worth the wait.

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This is the most important tip. Most salons offer consultations—of those, most offer them for free. That's right, y'all, you can talk to your colorist for free! They know everything mentioned above and so much more. If any of these truths of science pose a problem for you, allow yourself some time to collaborate with your colorist on something that would better suit your lifestyle, and think about it for a bit. Rushing into blonde, no matter how fun and spontaneous it can feel, doesn’t always work for everybody. It's better to discuss it with a professional beforehand. Roots are sexy, I know, but three-inch, dark roots can’t hide an obvious lack of maintenance. Let your colorist know if you are taking medications, have any notable health issues, or have skin sensitivities. Communication is necessary on both ends of the spectrum, so if you speak up and ask questions concerning what the future will hold for you as a blonde, you can put your mind at ease knowing your colorist has got your back.